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Eating Disorders

Ever since I can remember, my mother told me how overweight I was, and often called me a “hog” when I ate.   By the time I was ten years old, I had enough, and thought if I lost weight, she would stop being so mean.   I was wrong.  That summer before I went into fifth grade, faced anorexia- I starved myself.  I also reduced the size of my stomach by drinking a lot of water before eating.   My stomach shrunk so much, I barely could eat a couple of spoonfuls of food before feeling as if I was so full, I could barely move.   The result was I simply did not want to eat often, yet I had to.   Not only for my health, but to avoid my mother's wrath.   If I did not, my mother would yell at me, accusing me of wasting her money by not eating enough.  I also had a nasty problem that stemmed from my "diet"- when I would eat, I would become extremely nauseous most times, and as a result, I spent a lot of time in the bathroom just waiting to vomit.   This was another source of contention with my mother- she got mad I did this.  Yet, I felt there was no choice- I felt I could throw up violently at any moment.  Even though I never did, I was afraid not to be in the bathroom in case this time was different.

I ended my lack of eating by forcing myself to eat, ignoring the nausea, and “stop wasting money” again.   Mom’s comments returned to their old ways- I was once again a “hog” when I ate, and was “getting a little broad across the beam” which was her way of saying my behind was too big.  I also felt that awful nausea for about a year before it finally went away.

My fight with anorexia was never discussed, nor was the sickness that followed.  A doctor was never contacted, either.  I was left to face this battle alone, and pretend I was normal so as not to upset my mother.   As a result, I also went through a brief period of binge eating and making myself vomit in my early teens, and when my eating habits were found out (she never learned I threw up as well), my mother was cruel again.   Oddly, I do not remember how so.   I have blocked out many details of my life, and this time period was lost in the haze along with many others.  I do recall, however, the shame of eating.   I was shamed for eating too little, then too much.   I was never encouraged to find a happy medium, or to eat only when I was hungry.  Instead, I was insulted for what I ate, and how much.   I tried to make my mother happy by eating when she wanted me to, and eat what and as much as she wanted me to.  Often, I still was called a hog, but I stuffed that pain inside and went on.   I began eating more normal portions of food, yet I never faced what caused me to become anorexic in the first place.

Finally, I moved out when I was nineteen in 1990.  Freedom was a wonderful thing!  I was still subject to my mother’s insults, although much less frequently than when I was living with her, obviously.  In 1993 when I was 22, I lost weight.   For some odd reason, I just was not as hungry as I had been, so I naturally ate less.  The result was losing about ten pounds.  I was proud of myself, so I told my mother this news.   Her response was, “You probably have cancer and are going to die; that’s why you lost that weight.”   The result of that cruel comment was deep down, I felt I needed to gain it back to prove to her I was healthy so she would not have to worry I was sick.  That was the day I began emotional overeating.  For years, I did not even realize I was doing it, yet I was, and I packed on quite a few pounds.  At my heaviest, I was about 50 pounds overweight.

To this day, if I eat a meal with my parents, my mother wants to know what I am eating, and often criticizes me for eating something she would not, for me not eating enough or eating too much.   She also tries to get me to eat constantly when we are together.  Some things never change, I suppose.

Currently, I am closer to God than I have ever been, and that is helping me tremendously to maintain eating in a normal way.   He is showing me that I am worthwhile, no matter what the numbers on the scale say, or what people say.  He helps me manage eating- I talk to Him when I'm upset instead of running for food or running from food.  I also read Gwen Shamblen's book, "The Weigh Down Diet."  It really helped me to look at food in a much healthier way than I had before.

I never really faced the pain and anger I felt at my mother for her contribution to my battle with eating disorders before.   A while back, it came up when I caught part of a movie about two sisters who faced anorexia.   My own anger, hurt, shame and disappointment that I mean so little to my mother rose to the surface.  I had to admit to myself that I am still angry.   I asked God to tell me the truth about this situation, and He said that I did nothing wrong- what I did was normal under those abnormal circumstances.  Children want to please their parents, and when their parents are like my mother (demanding to be pleased no matter what pain it causes), extreme things happen. He also told me my mother is wounded, and deep down, she thinks my weight is a reflection on her.  She will not lose weight, so she thinks I need to be thin to reflect well on her.   Warped?  Yes, but this is how God says she thinks, and I believe it.  Understanding these things has helped me to realize that I am ok!   I am not the horrible person my mother told me I was- I am NORMAL!  I am normal for hurting and being angry that I was insulted for being sick.   I am normal for coping the way I did in such abnormal, abusive circumstances, by developing eating disorders.   I am also normal, because forgiving my mother did not happen overnight.

Today, I have forgiven her, but it took a while.   I have enough experience with recovering from abuse to know forgiveness takes time sometimes, and that is fine!

I believe my story is painfully typical of a child abused at the hands of narcissistic mother.  Narcissistic mothers think their children are simply extensions of them, so they must be perfect (yet not too perfect as to upstage them) and pretty (not too pretty, again, so they do not upstage their mother).  I have heard of many narcissistic mothers who were incredibly cruel to their daughters regarding the daughters' weight, even if she was a healthy weight.  Just because the daughter grows up does not mean this behavior stops.  For me, I have learned to ignore it.  I very seldom eat anything my mother wants me to eat, and I ignore her nasty comments about anything that I eat.  I try to avoid conversations about food, cooking or baking with my mother, and seldom eat in her presence.  I also ask God to remind me that I am not what my mother says I am, that I am more than numbers on a scale, which helps to keep unhealthy eating habits at bay



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