I have been a user and abuser.
It’s not that I have never said this before but never in this place. I have used food almost as far back as I can remember. My earliest of years were when I learned to use food. It wasn’t until later and over time that I started abusing food. I could share for days on end about this, and I just may in fact do that. Now that I’ve actually said it in my blog, I will likely say more, a lot more. Because there really is so much more to this “use and abuse”. And I know that as I share things in my life, my sharing acts as a search light illuminating things unexamined.
But before I go on, for clarity, let me define what I personally mean when I say I’ve used and abused food.
I’ve used food to take the place of things that it has no real capacity to replace. I’ve given it that counterfeit power. I believe that I’ve thought I somehow had made that so, that food could actually replace things absent. And not just that. I have given food the counterfeit power to sooth hurts, ease fears, be a friend, remove all sorts of feelings, or stand in the gap for almost and just about anything missing. But really, I have just been choosing what is false over truth.
To be fair, there’s lots of documentation that food can chemically numb me out. That, combined with all the social components of food makes for a great source of distraction. And depending on my choices it will valiantly nourish even while it’s numbing and distracting. It can also leave me delightfully, though temporarily, satisfied in as far as it was designed to do. But the position I’ve given food to meet the list of substitutions I’ve shared, is a counterfeit power. It’s a lie.
As I briefly pause for just a second, I feel like I may have gotten too personal and private with my user/abuser declaration. But then, like a wave of sobriety, I say, “Really? Like you thought you were keeping it a secret?
I grew up around alcoholics, not my mom or dad, but in my extended family. No one had to say they used and abused alcohol with actual words, but they tattled on their truth pretty loudly. Maybe it was the glass they carried all day everyday, that looked like soda but I wasn’t allowed to take a sip. Maybe it was their slurred words. Maybe it was their breath. Maybe it was their stagger as they walked with me and held my kindergarten sized hand. Maybe it was their escalated violent eruptions. Maybe it was so many early deaths, and restricted lives. All of that probably told on the using and abusing they were doing, so that their words didn’t have to be said.
I have carried around myself in a body that has been a healthy weight and one the has been overweight. It has more time clocked for overweight than healthy weight over the course of my adult life. And by over weight I mean, for many years in my adult life you could easily identify me as obese, as obese goes. So, not unlike my family members self tattling testimonies to their addicted use of alcohol with glass in hand, I’ve clearly not been keeping any secrets. You can see that. Literally. You can see it.
I don’t have a glandular problem. For years I’ve joked about that mysteriously absent grandular problem. Darn it. Had I had one, that might be a reason I could use to place blame for the “why” of my waistline. Unless there’s a medical reason (rarely and uniquely diagnosed) that preceded my fat and weight gain, which there’s not, I can safely deduct that my excess weight is the testimony to having used and abused food. I don’t have to deduct. Believe me, it’s pretty clear. But for argument sake I wanted to draw the reasoning line between my family members with glasses they carry, and myself and the excess weight I carry. With us users and abusers, there’s rarely any hiding going on!
Now let me define abusing food.
I’m not calling it names, necessarily. I’m not kicking it, or shoving it into a wall. The only shoving of food I’ve done is into my mouth. Though that sounds harsh, at times that is exactly what I have done.
I’ve abused the beauty of food. I’ve altered its purpose to meet mine. And I’ve done so relentlessly. I’ve abused the relationship I was intended to have with nutrition. But most troubling and painful is how I have used food to abuse me. My using and abusing has run the gamut from too many french fries to too much celery. It’s happened in my heaviest overweight days behind me, and it happened as recent as last night. Regardless of any of my given body sizes, thick or thin, I have to be real with how I have used food to feel better, whatever better is, emotionally, physically and even spiritually.
So, ok. I said it. I have been a user and abuser. Note, I am intentionally choosing not to bring that declaration into the present. I’m purposefully not carrying that written/spoken truth of me into the now. My reason in sharing this today, as usual with me, is the hope that I am not alone. That in reaching back, through sharing, I will get pulled forward because someone else has also shared. But to be truly transparent, I had to tell the truth. I had to tell the truth to myself, about myself and for myself. Because truth does set us free. And my truth telling has a lot more to tell. So, right here in this blog space, I will tell the more, and share the more, in hopes there is more… more than this history of using and abusing.
So, ok. I said it.