- Posted January 11, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
The written word: Your personal essays
Confessions of a Former "Binge Eater"
On December 11, 2013, I celebrated my 10-year anniversary of healing from binge eating disorder. I decided to change after having a chest pain that I thought was going to kill me.
The chest pain was my third warning. The first warning was from that still, small voice that spoke to me as I binged on food regularly: "You are not hungry. Why are you eating like this?" But food had power over me then. I had binged my way up to 240 pounds - almost 100 pounds over my high school weight.
If you asked me then if I wanted some chocolate chip cookies, warm from the oven, my eyes would gleam, my heart race, and my mouth water. Mentally, I'd be rubbing my hands with glee. In hindsight, it was like the excitement of a drug addict about to get a fix. Food was my emotional "Novocaine," numbing me to the feelings I didn't want to feel.
My father had abandoned our family when I was a baby and even though I never knew him, I felt rejected by him. My thought was, "Why didn't he love me enough to stay?" That same rejection permeated my self-image as a child. I had always been shy and felt the weight of comparisons with more outgoing children.
Even though it was never said, the unspoken message I heard was, "You are not good enough." Eventually, I begin to believe that, internalizing what I thought others were thinking about me. So I tried to eat those painful feelings away.
The second warning was from my doctor at that time. On my last visit, he took me from the exam room into his private office. I knew the news wasn't going to be good. He said, "Kim, what you are doing to your heart by being obese is the same as asking an engine designed for a Volkswagen to carry the weight of a MAC Truck."
I knew he said it out of concern for me. But I couldn't handle the horror of what I was doing to myself. My grandmother had died of a stroke when she was just 47 year-old. I looked very much like she did; short woman, big belly.
I went out to my car and cried gut-wrenching tears. "I'll start a diet tomorrow," I promised myself. But I needed comfort now. I went to the grocery store and bought a coconut cake. I said I would only eat one slice. But that one slice turned into another, then another. Eventually, I just got a knife and fork, sat down in front of the cake and made the entire dessert my slice.
I felt better as I ate the pain away. But like night follows day, the shame and humiliation descended after the last bite. I felt helpless, lacking the power to stop.
However, that third warning gave me the power. After failing asleep on the sofa one night, the alarm clock in the morning startled me awake. I rose off of the sofa, prepared to run into the bedroom to turn it off. But a pain I have never felt before slammed into my chest. It was like someone had put their hand over my heart and crushed it. I was afraid to move. I knew if I did, I was going to die.
As I stood there with my hand over my heart, I heard a voice in my head: "It is not supposed to be this way." It was not a hateful, self-loathing voice like mine was. It was full of love and care. I knew that it was God speaking to me. I had a choice to believe Him or not. I decided to believe Him and that's when my life changed.
While my faith in God through Jesus Christ had been a part of my life since my late 20s, it was only in the last couple of years before this incident that I got a revelation about how much God loved me. That was the cornerstone of my healing from binge eating.
I needed new thoughts to counter the negative thoughts from my childhood. To counter the "You are not good enough" message, I used Psalm 139:14: "I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are your works and that my soul knows very well."
Did I stop binge eating completely overnight? No. But after the chest pain incident, it decreased by 90%. I learned methods of self-care that didn't involve food. Healing was a process that I walked through day by day as I learned to trust God with my negative emotions. In Him, I am good enough. I am loved. I am accepted. The more I believed that, the less painful emotions I felt the need to escape from.
"Binge eater" is not my identity. Today, I can say with 100% confidence that "I am Kimberly Taylor and I USED to binge eat." Because food is no longer the focus of my life, I am free to get on with the real purpose of my life. If you are suffering with this issue, I want to give you that there is life beyond binge eating. And life is good!