Reading a study this weekend about childhood obesity, and how important it is to share meals with your family at the table, I thought about a common trait of many of us WLSers. CLOSET EATING.
When I was a teenager at Herndon High School, I remember selling doughnuts to raise money for cheerleading uniforms. There must have been 250 boxes of doughnuts for me to deliver once the sales drive was complete. It was such a busy weekend trying to get them delivered and then when I got down to the final few boxes…
I took a dozen of the doughnuts and sat in my closet and ate them. One by one, until they were all gone but one. My reasoning? If I did not eat that last doughnut, I had not eaten a box of doughnuts. This is somewhat like eating a bag of chips but leaving a few, or a box of cookies and leaving one.
Now, looking back of course I wonder why the closet? It was pretty obvious there would be a box of doughnuts missing when it was all said and done. Who was I hiding from? This behavior continued into adulthood. I would often take a gallon of ice cream and go into my bedroom as an adult and shut the door. I would eat almost the entire gallon, then emerge from the room in a bubble of shame and guilt.
Halloween used to be my favorite time of the year. I would take my bag of candy and hide, for hours, in the closet. It was almost as if I had an insatiable hunger, but needed to hide to try and fill it. Of course I realize now that the hunger was not physical at all, but merely an emotional hunger. My inner child was throwing a temper tantrum of sorts trying to speak up and be heard. But, I continued to ignore her cries and chose to medicate and numb her pleas with food, especially SUGAR filled foods.
Sure, I was sugar coating my life! Things had happened to me that had left a bitter taste in my mouth. How would I deal with this other than, trying a sugar coating to make it sweet. Instead it made me super-morbidly-obese.
Eating behind closed doors allowed me to grow a shell, mask or let’s say shield around me. A false sense of shielding. Layers and layers packed on until, my true self was emerged inside the walls. My own personal hiding place or “closet”.
A couple of things I want to touch base on
1. I was not a victim, I was making a choice to eat and to hide while doing so. There were other choices such as working through what I was feeling. At the time though, it did not seem like an option.
2. There was no “hiding” from my inner self, the inner child, and true self are “me”.
There were a few factors involved here that helped me step up to the plate and move forward.
Accountability is a key component. I had to be accountable for what I was eating. Sitting at the table eating meals, is important, and it is important to pass that on to your children. I began to keep a small notebook with me at all times so I could journal not only my food intake but my feelings as I ate. Often there is guilt with eating along with shame, and when that happens put the food down and go write about how you feel and why you feel that way. So in other words journal not only what you are eating, also journal what’s eating you.
Responsibility was another important part of my healing, and that meant going up to the plate and taking ownership for things I was carrying with me and dealing with them. Now, each day, I continue to move through life and instead of gathering more issues and putting them in my closet to store up, I deal with each feeling as it happens.
Again, this is no room for a victim card here, instead I chose to be a warrior of life… I am a survivor!
Love and Light