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Down over 140... The Process: Finding My Personal Power



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It’s been 18 months since my surgery, and I am a work in progress. I recently posted about the decision to have the sleeve. See, “Down Over 140…The Decision: Fears and Tears” Now I want to write a bit about the emotional changes that I personally had to go through. Maybe some of this will ring true for you, too.

As I contemplated this entry, I struggled with what to tell you, a complete stranger, about my process. Finally, I decided to be honest, so that you could know in your heart that if it’s possible for me to change, it is also possible for you.

I still think about food all day, every day. I so wish I didn’t, but I have come to know that I am a food addict, and I have to treat it like an addiction.

I grew up the oldest of 6 in a poor family. When I was 12, my dad left and my childhood instantly ended. Alcoholism, mental illness, chaos. That was to become my family life. At 18, my stepdad committed suicide. When I was 20 I was raped. When I was 21, I joined the Army. When I was 22, my brother committed suicide. When I was 28, my two-month old baby girl died. I struggled with anxiety attacks. I developed a life-altering auto-immune disease.

There were good things, too. Love. My other beautiful daughter. My sister—who was my best friend, my soul mate, my rock--we went through everything together. Getting my college degree over a period of 20 years! Getting promoted. Writing. Photography. My home. Friends.

But always, there was food…my constant companion. It never failed to nicely anesthetize me.

One night, just before my surgery, I was watching a weight loss show where they were talking about how you MUST deal with the issues from your past if you are going to succeed. I don’t know why this struck such a chord this time, but I really began to think about the girl I used to be and all the fear I still carried inside me.

It hit me like a tidal wave! I cried for the girl whose childhood abruptly ended at the age of 12. I cried for all that had been done to me. I cried because I had been so powerless. But then I realized with real clarity that I am no longer that powerless child! I had succeeded at everything I had truly worked for! I had a great job, and would never be dependent on anyone financially again! I had even learned to be assertive.

That night, I spoke to that little girl inside me. I made a promise to her. I told her that she would never be a victim again. That she was no longer powerless. That I was going to take care of her forever.

But could I do it without food?

One of the best things I did for myself was to line up an appointment with a therapist for one month after my surgery. Although that person did not work out and I ultimately found a therapist who specializes in addiction, it was such a comfort to me to have a support system in place. I haven’t gone to her more than a few times, but she is an anchor for me, and I know she’s there.

As I said in my previous post, my beloved sister died in my arms on December 28th. I had postponed having my knee replaced to take care of her, and I foolishly thought I’d be doing well enough by the end of February to get through it ok. Well, I wasn’t. March was one of the bleakest months of my entire life between the physical pain, drugs, bad weather, isolation, and grief.

So how did I get through it? How else? I ate. Ice cream. candy. Cookies. Let me tell you right now, you can put down a lot of calories every day in 100-calorie increments. That is why you need to know beyond a doubt that what they say is true: They operate on your stomach, not your brain.

So I spent March crying and eating. And then one day, as I was sobbing to my husband about my out-of-control eating, I wailed, “The worst part is, I’m letting myself down!”

“I’m letting myself down.” I could not back away from this statement.

I called my therapist to discuss the grief/eating cycle. She let me off the hook, saying, “Sometimes you just have to be in survival mode.” I got off the phone and thought about that a lot and realized even though I had been given permission to eat badly, eating badly no longer felt like my authentic self. For the first time, I knew that I had truly changed.

The old me believed that self care meant whatever felt good. The new me knows that self care can never equate to self destruction. The next day, all the junk food left the house.

I’m still sad. But I am empowered. I am not a victim, even of myself.

If you've hung in there through this long post I hope you'll leave me feedback and share your own story. In posting this, I sort of feel like I'm running down the street naked!

Soon, I plan to post on some of the logistical things I've found to work for me since my surgery. More practical! Less emotional!!

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"Old Me: Self care is whatever feels good. New Me: Self care can never be self destruction." I really like this! Thank you for sharing this part of your journey.

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I've read both your posts now and your honesty, clarity and sincerity are inspiring. Thank you for putting your "nekked" self out there for all to see. You have triumphed over much adversity. You have reparented your little girl self and made her feel safe. Your name should now be writer woman instead of writer girl. Many blessings to you as you continue your journey to the healthy self you deserve.

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You should hold your head high because you have made it through some things that no one should have to go through. I am sorry for you that you had to endure these things! Many folks would just give up and never do what you have done to face the past! Congrats to you! Clearly a very strong person!

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Thank you for the heartfelt honesty and your wonderful way with words.

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We choose who we want to be and you are a shining example of that. It takes a strong person to go through what you have and pick yourself up. I'm sure every person who reads your story is proud of you but nobody should be more proud than you. You are an amazing woman, keep going strong!

Jamie

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I love that you had a conversation with that 12 year old little girl inside you. I often think about going back to talk to "myself" but never have...maybe I should try it.

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Thank you for sharing. You are a beautiful person, strong and Courageous enough to help others by sharing your story. Sorry about your troubles. I've learn from you that the new way of taking care of one self can never be self destruction. That says a lot.

Congrats on your weight loss.

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Thank you for sharing your story. Self care, not self destruction is a powerful thought that will help me. I can see why you've got writer in your username!

I took some cognitive behavior therapy sessions a few years back and they have been helpful to me. I have also found that regular exercise is key to avoiding depression. I still don't like exercise, but I do it anyway!! I'm still on a learning curve about emotional eating. I just read an interesting article about nighttime eating, which is still a problem for me. It mentioned that many eat at night to decompress from the day. Duh!! Understanding that little factoid will help me recognize that behavior faster.

Can't wait to see your practical tips next.

Lynds

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Thank you got sharing your story and journey. This is an inspiration.

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I need to talk to the little girl in me and the young teen, and even the young adult...I know I have issues from over the years I need to work out in order to be happy and healthy. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I look forward to hearing more. Again, thank you.

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Thank you for having the courage to share your story with us. May you continue to be blessed throughout your journey. You are truly being a blessing to many by sharing your story including me.

#Livingmylifelikeitsgolden#

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This is the most amazing post I've ever read! You are a TRUE inspiration, by facing your past and fighting back day by day. My favorite part is when you said "The old me believed that self care meant whatever felt good. The new me knows that self care can never equate to self destruction"

Wow.... POWERFUL!!!!!

THANK YOU!!!!!

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It’s been 18 months since my surgery' date=' and I am a work in progress. I recently posted about the decision to have the sleeve. See, “Down Over 140…The Decision: Fears and Tears” Now I want to write a bit about the emotional changes that I personally had to go through. Maybe some of this will ring true for you, too.

As I contemplated this entry, I struggled with what to tell you, a complete stranger, about my process. Finally, I decided to be honest, so that you could know in your heart that if it’s possible for me to change, it is also possible for you.

I still think about food all day, every day. I so wish I didn’t, but I have come to know that I am a food addict, and I have to treat it like an addiction.

I grew up the oldest of 6 in a poor family. When I was 12, my dad left and my childhood instantly ended. Alcoholism, mental illness, chaos. That was to become my family life. At 18, my stepdad committed suicide. When I was 20 I was raped. When I was 21, I joined the Army. When I was 22, my brother committed suicide. When I was 28, my two-month old baby girl died. I struggled with anxiety attacks. I developed a life-altering auto-immune disease.

There were good things, too. Love. My other beautiful daughter. My sister—who was my best friend, my soul mate, my rock--we went through everything together. Getting my college degree over a period of 20 years! Getting promoted. Writing. Photography. My home. Friends.

But always, there was food…my constant companion. It never failed to nicely anesthetize me.

One night, just before my surgery, I was watching a weight loss show where they were talking about how you MUST deal with the issues from your past if you are going to succeed. I don’t know why this struck such a chord this time, but I really began to think about the girl I used to be and all the fear I still carried inside me.

It hit me like a tidal wave! I cried for the girl whose childhood abruptly ended at the age of 12. I cried for all that had been done to me. I cried because I had been so powerless. But then I realized with real clarity that I am no longer that powerless child! I had succeeded at everything I had truly worked for! I had a great job, and would never be dependent on anyone financially again! I had even learned to be assertive.

That night, I spoke to that little girl inside me. I made a promise to her. I told her that she would never be a victim again. That she was no longer powerless. That I was going to take care of her forever.

But could I do it without food?

One of the best things I did for myself was to line up an appointment with a therapist for one month after my surgery. Although that person did not work out and I ultimately found a therapist who specializes in addiction, it was such a comfort to me to have a support system in place. I haven’t gone to her more than a few times, but she is an anchor for me, and I know she’s there.

As I said in my previous post, my beloved sister died in my arms on December 28[sup']th[/sup]. I had postponed having my knee replaced to take care of her, and I foolishly thought I’d be doing well enough by the end of February to get through it ok. Well, I wasn’t. March was one of the bleakest months of my entire life between the physical pain, drugs, bad weather, isolation, and grief.

So how did I get through it? How else? I ate. Ice cream. candy. Cookies. Let me tell you right now, you can put down a lot of calories every day in 100-calorie increments. That is why you need to know beyond a doubt that what they say is true: They operate on your stomach, not your brain.

So I spent March crying and eating. And then one day, as I was sobbing to my husband about my out-of-control eating, I wailed, “The worst part is, I’m letting myself down!”

“I’m letting myself down.” I could not back away from this statement.

I called my therapist to discuss the grief/eating cycle. She let me off the hook, saying, “Sometimes you just have to be in survival mode.” I got off the phone and thought about that a lot and realized even though I had been given permission to eat badly, eating badly no longer felt like my authentic self. For the first time, I knew that I had truly changed.

The old me believed that self care meant whatever felt good. The new me knows that self care can never equate to self destruction. The next day, all the junk food left the house.

I’m still sad. But I am empowered. I am not a victim, even of myself.

If you've hung in there through this long post I hope you'll leave me feedback and share your own story. In posting this, I sort of feel like I'm running down the street naked!

Soon, I plan to post on some of the logistical things I've found to work for me since my surgery. More practical! Less emotional!!

You are so brave and so honest to share this..thank you

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