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

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All of your comments mean so much to me. If I have helped even one other person on this journey this post will be worth it. I couldn't even read it again for awhile! But when I did, I thought ,"geez, I sound like all I do is cry!" That couldn't be further from the truth! Having said that, many of your comments brought tears to my eyes.

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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!!

What a powerful post. You have had your share of tragedies but here you stand empowered to share. Bravo for being so honest and I wish you the best.

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Thank you for sharing your story. You are a brave and very strong woman. I came across your post when I did a search on emotional eating. I need help to get this aspect of my behavior better under control. It seems sometimes like I just give up and give in easily to my old behaviors and food demons despite having gone thru this surgery. I am so afraid I will be one of the surgery failures who gains all their weight back. That fear alone makes me want to eat Cookies and milk all day! Oy!

My life history has not been as difficult as yours and although I've had some tragic losses, overall most of my unhappiness in life can be directly connected to my weight problem and my use of food as a drug to get me thru all the difficult emotions. I applaud your strength to not give in to the siren song of comfort food.

pre-surgery weight 325; surgery date 2/28/2013; surgery weight 307; 8 weeks past-op weight 281.4; 12 weeks post-op 274; 4 month post-op 266.2; 5 month post-op 262.6

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Thank you for sharing your story. You are a survivor ,a worrior and you are a strong woman. Congratulations for winner your battles against food addiction. I will be coming back to this post"The old me believed that self care meant whatever felt good.The new me knows that self care can never equate to self destruction."

Sent from my iPad using the BariatricPal App

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    • SabrinaGoddess

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    • Arabesque

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