Being honest with myself: Chaos, Crisis, Codependency, and Compulsive Overeating

I am an addict.  Just not in the ways people think of addiction.  I used alcohol and marijuana in my youth, at times, but because those were the addictions that the adults in my world appeared to have, anytime I found myself going too far with those things, I withdrew from them and abstained for a time.  Those things eventually stopped having any real draw for me.  So, I thought I had escaped.  How wrong can a person in denial be?

I grew up in clutter, chaos, and crisis.  Codependency and compulsive overeating began by my early adolescence.

Clutter would accumulate throughout the apartment or wherever we were living.  When company would come, if I had a bedroom, that’s where the clutter would go in order to make the rest of the place look clean and uncluttered.  Not sure what happened when I didn’t have a room and just slept on the couch.

We moved frequently.  I was born in California, but got moved to Texas when I was too young to remember.

During these early years, I read voraciously and didn’t have much opportunity to interact with other kids.  Since I was primarily around adults, I learned to speak as an adult.  Because I spoke as an adult, the adults communicated with me on their level instead of my level.  This increased my sense of alienation from my peers. So, books and food were my comfort and my companions.  I escaped into the fantasy land of fiction – initially children’s fiction, sci-fi/fantasy, and romances, which later turned into adult versions of the same.  Food was a comfort and helped me numb out, so that I didn’t have to deal with emotions and thoughts that no one around me was willing or able to help me with.

I was already a stocky child, being half Mexican.  However, I got bigger and thicker, but not ever really fat, although that’s was I was called it enough that I came to believe it about myself.  I wasn’t a complete couch potato and I loved music and loved to dance and sing.  I would choreograph dances in the privacy of my home when I was alone.  I began gymnastics, joined flag team, and tried out for dance team.  I could go into a back bend from a standing position.  Years later I saw a picture of me at 14 in a back bend and the realization that I hadn’t been fat, hit me.  At the time I was looking at that picture, I weighed over 200 lbs.  I had created a self-fulfilling prophecy by accepting the label that others had put on me.

Almost 20 years later, here I sit, admitting that I have been a compulsive over eater, a COE.  Two weeks ago I discovered online meetings of OA – Overeater’s Anonymous.  In the time since finding these meetings, I have been checking in with them several times a day, instead of eating when I’m not hungry.  I’m experiencing my feelings in acknowledgement and acceptance that they are part of me and part of how I was created.  I’m being more present in my life, more active, more honest, more relaxed, and especially much more open to the guidance of my Higher Power, Jesus Christ – Lord of all creation and God of the universe.

My Jehovah-Jireh, the God who provides, has provided for me a place and an opportunity for me to be in fellowship with others who know what I’ve been through because they’ve been through it too.  It has almost always been easier for me to accept, acknowledge, and forgive others for their failings and downfalls, but seldom, if ever, myself.  Now, I’m learning to do that.

The dust of the chaos and the crises in my circumstances will settle and be still eventually.  I’m grateful to say that the chaos and crises inside of me have diminished and are starting to dissipate.  By the grace of God, I’m learning to LIVE in HOPE, FAITH, and LOVE one day at a time.

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4 comments

  1. Do you mean you meet online? Group therapy online? I didn’t know that was possible!! One question: Does this not make you think of food more often? Back in the day when I was just a bit overweight, my sister asked me to join Weight Watchers with her. (I understand it’s completely different now than it was then.) It worked as long as we stuck with the plan and we both lost the little bit of extra weight we’d gained . . . until Thanksgiving came and we “stopped for just one day.” Then we struggled along until Christmas and that ended it for both of us. Just tasting all that good food again made it impossible to go back. (We did go back in January, paying for all the meetings we’d missed and then never went back again!!) The problem I had with W.W. is it made me think of food 24/7 because we had to keep a food log of everything we ate and drank and we had to think about everything we were going to eat and drink each day, all week long until the next meeting. Then it began again!! I never thought about food so much in my life!!! I’d really appreciate you telling me the truth about this. Sometimes I “binge” on chocolate or ice cream, although my thoughts of bingeing and what I’ve read of other bloggers who binge — I don’t even come close. Yet in the years leading up to discovering the illness-I-didn’t-know-I-had through a breakdown, I kept gaining weight every year. Now I’m WAY fat. I don’t know if OEA would help, but I’d like to try it — unless it makes me focus on food 24/7. I think that, combined with all my mental and emotional illnesses would be too much for me to handle. I’m not saying it’s not good for others or not good for me in the future if I reach a better place with these various illnesses. I’m just saying for me, for right now.

    Thank you for posting and for allowing me to comment!! And thank you in advance for any reply/help you might give to me!!
    Kathy

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    1. Kathy,
      Overeaters Anonymous is a 12 Step, peer operated recovery support network. The meetings have a similar format to other 12 Step recovery meetings and it is not group therapy, since it is not moderated or hosted by mental health professionals. No food is specifically mentioned in the meetings because different people have different “triggers” or foods that will cause them to lose their abstinence. Abstinence is defined individually by each participant and not imposed by the group. There are example guidelines and it is highly recommended that you have an eating plan, however, the goal is to stop focusing on the food and identify the underlying issues that drive the compulsion to eat, binge, purge, or not eat. Here are some links: http://www.oa.org/ ~ the official Overeaters Anonymous website. Here is the link for The Recovery Group that hosts a comprehensive online support network for people who want to have OA support on the internet and via email: http://www.therecoverygroup.org/newcomers/index.html

      I hope these help,
      Be well

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