Being yelled at and called names almost every day for the majority of your life hurts and damages you in a way that is hard to explain to other people. Being in a situation where someone is verbally abusing you and threatening worse is scary, especially when you are younger. When you learn that screaming back, going silent, or doing anything else doesn’t stop it sometimes you find other coping mechanisms. That’s what I did with food. That’s what I talk about when I talk about my family. That’s what I still sometimes struggle with it because in my family the position of chief verbal abuser has been passed down from one person to another until it’s at the last one, but still hanging on. That’s why sometimes when the screaming and name calling and threats start I revert back to feeling exactly like the kid I used to be.
I read a passage in When Love Is Food yesterday that fully spoke to me and to my situation (emphasis mine).
There is nothing boring about being a compulsive eater. You are either hating yourself because you are too fat, giddy with the prospect of being thinner, or ready to rip yourself apart when you binge. Chaos, intensity, and drama are normal in the day-to-day life of a compulsive eater. Suffering is a way of being in the world.
It is as if we act out the parent-child relationship inside us when we eat. If what we heard or thought we heard as children was that we were bad and therefore deserved what was coming to us, we act that out by eating until we are so uncomfortable we can’t move. It is not uncommon for someone who is not a compulsive eater to think it unfathomable to eat so much that she would be miserable. Why would anyone want to eat that much? What’s the point? The point is not the taste or the texture or the smell of the food; overeating is a means to give ourselves what we believe we deserve.
Compulsive eating is a dramatic restaging of the suffering and/or violence that we witness as children in our families. Our relationship to food is a microcosm of all that we learned about loving and being loved, about our self-worth. It is the stage upon which we reenact our childhood. If we were abused, we will abuse ourselves with food. The degree to which we are violent, abusive, self-punishing is in proportion to the degree of violence, abuse, and punishment we received. We learn how to do it by having it done to us.
Boom. Pow. Geneen Roth gets is. I think I knew she would which is why I put off reading her books (and going to therapy for so long). I thought I could just get rid of the eating problems. It turns out that is pretty easy to do, but it doesn’t necessarily fix the root of the problem. So now I’m working on that now.
ps – For the record I’m feeling happy and today is going to be a great day. This is all just stuff that came up from reading my book for therapy and it’s stuff I want to get out and seemed liked a good follow up thought to yesterday’s post. I’m eating well and headed to the gym after work. It’s going to be awesome! Hope you all have a great day!