Spaghetti and Meatballs, Author John Freeman
(CC Attribution-2.0 Generic)
The Weight-Loss Battle
Again and again, you resolve to lose weight. At times, you make heroic efforts in this direction. You try fad diets, and supervised weight loss programs. You try home exercise equipment and gym memberships. You fast, may occasionally purge.
And you do lose weight, sometimes substantial amounts. But as soon as you have acquired an attractive wardrobe in a smaller size, your weight shoots up again. It is as if you were fighting a force outside yourself.
The pain of this is excruciating. Giving away – one after another – the pretty items of clothing that no longer fit, you feel as if the flesh were being ripped from your bones, piece by piece.
This happens time after time, over the years, stripping you of hope.
Self-Control and a Negative Inner Dialog
Disciplined in other areas of life, you revile yourself for a lack of self-control where food is concerned, further contributing to an inner dialog which is already wholly negative.
You do your best to live a life of integrity. But nothing you accomplish has value in your eyes, so long as you continue to have weight issues.
Scalding encounters with those who make clear their disgust at your appearance only reinforce your sense of worthlessness.
Weight Issues/Eating Disorders as a Substitute
Weight problems and eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, etc.) can arise from other causes than abuse . But when abuse of some kind has occurred, they frequently serve as substitutes – an alternate focus for our shame, safer places to put our pain.
We may agonize over the difficulty of losing weight. But, chances are, that is preferable to agonizing over the incest to which we were subjected. The difficulty of the struggle reflects the depth of the wound.
Food as a Coping Mechanism
As children, we used food to reward and punish ourselves. With little else at our disposal, we used it as a coping mechanism – a faulty one perhaps, but one that helped preserve our sanity.
And the weight issues which so tormented us served to keep the unwanted advances of other potential predators away. So, at any rate, it felt to us on the deepest level.
This is how we relive trauma. It finds expression in our ordinary lives. Functions like eating which should be natural, effortless, become instead emotionally charged, the battlefields on which we fight our demons.
The emotions we experience on those battlefields – helplessness, shame, self-hatred, rage, defeat – are the very ones we experienced during our abuse.
More shame is layered thickly over our failed attempts to deal with the scars of abuse. Often, without the assistance of trained professionals, we wrestle in the dark.
We alone hold the key to our release from this torment.
The force we have been fighting is not outside ourselves. It is, in fact, our childhood self – starved for real affection, and urgently seeking to fill her unmet needs. She deserves better than to be reviled for her efforts (however misguided).
We will finally succeed at losing weight as adults when we find better ways to meet our needs, treat our childhood self with kindness, and allow ourselves to succeed.
“Then He said to His disciples, ‘Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing’ ” (Luke 12: 22-23).
 Healthline, “6 Common Types of Eating Disorders (and Their Symptoms)” by Alina Petra MS, 10/30/19, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/common-eating-disorders#other.
Part 1 in this series was posted last week.
The 50 y.o. “Game of Thrones” actor James Gatt was arrested last month for alleged sexually explicit online communication with a minor. Police are now searching for other victims.
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