Chicks in Control - I think I belong here...

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08-13-2013, 03:51 AM
I posted this in the intro section but after reading through several sub-groups, this is where I fit in.

My name is Cathy. I have a long (long) history with food issues and dieting. For me food has been a substance and I'm in recovery from binge eating and bulimia. I have been as high as 285# and as low as 208# in the past 20 years. Mostly I seem to hover around the 250-260# area, weight left over from the binge eating and then merely overeating in the past 30 years in response to many triggers, the least trigger of all being actual hunger. I've gained and lost hundreds of pounds over those years on various diets both crazy and sound.

I have a crazy family with some being saner than others. One would think that at age 50+ I'd be over family issues and I am mostly. I could write a book on "How to Build a Fat Person." as I am partially the product of my mother's own body image and food issues.

I come from a long line of beauty conscious and appearance obsessed people on my mom's side. Fat was/is taboo. Anyone not slender was expected to "take care of it" even people of a normal, healthy weight that were built strong and fit. I came out of the womb as a sturdy (not fat) child and was subjected to diets and struggles for control over my body and appearance from around age 5. Every meal was a battleground, every clothes shopping trip a nightmare, every haircut or perm a disaster.

I learned to hate my body that betrayed me with it's needs and imperfections and began to live in my head as a young girl, well before puberty when that type of thing normally occurs. I used to hear nearly every day growing up that I could be "Miss America" if I lost weight, curl my hair, blah, blah, blah. What no one, myself included, stopped to consider was whether I wanted to be "Miss America" or whether that goal in itself was even a worthy one. As it turns out, I am a very reluctant "beauty".

I began sneaking food at a young age, at first because I was hungry, then because it helped provide comfort and fill emotional voids in our unkind household. Fortunately I was athletic and my physical activity countered my eating issues. My problems with weight gain began when I entered the work world and could no longer be as active. I countered the weight gain with crazy fad diets that kept my weight at least in proportion though 20 pounds heavier than I was in my teens.

In 1985 I had a disastrous encounter with quid pro quo sexual harassment with my young male trainer at work. I started bingeing to relieve the stress because in my very male dominated para-military profession, 1985 was the stone age. There were no reporting venues and those that did attempt to report via the chain of command were subjected to systemic retaliation for breaking the good old boy code. So I kept my head down and resisted at work and binged at home knowing subconsciously that a fat girl would not present such a target for predatory men. I didn't like what I was beginning to look like though (having fully assimilated my family's lookism towards myself) and I was outgrowing my wardrobe at a rapid pace so I began purging. Ultimately purging became unsustainable but I was stuck with my bingeing habit to relieve stress.

I binged for 4-5 years and gained roughly 100 pounds. Naturally I was ashamed of my appearance and my family was as well. I received tons of advice, meddling, controlling behaviors and distancing every time I went home for whatever holiday, funeral, reunion that called me back. I was fine with the distancing part and eventually found that my 100 extra pounds was an effective FU to my shallow family, (in the end a big FU to myself as well) a way of keeping visible "in your face" but counterproductive control over my own body. I met my lovely husband who accepted me as I was in 1989 right after an especially terrible spate of binges that left me afraid for my life and I was able to stop the bingeing at roughly that time and went to plain old compulsive overeating instead.

Since then I have been ineffectively dieting periodically, trying different programs veering between "control" and less than stellar eating. I found myself diagnosed as a Type II diabetic in 1997 and have not been able to incorporate enough long term changes in my lifestyle to go off medication. In fact the dosage has gone up as the disease progresses. Throughout I've been very active, almost fit really, only avoiding very strenuous activity like mountain hiking. Being fat has been useful to me in many ways until recently where middle age has taken care of the predatory male and high visibility issues and I no longer need or want the FU fat.

Two years ago a family secret was revealed to me in a wine fueled moment by my mother and I was driven right into therapy by it. Suddenly everything made sense but it was too big of a ball of wax to deal with by myself. I spent that spring and summer afterward in therapy unwinding the knots that comprised my life and my beliefs about myself and my family. Issues have slowly been sorting themselves out over time since then. One of those issues is that of food and eating.

Now I find myself not waking in the morning plotting, planning, thinking of the things I can eat. What a victory! I realize that for me it will not be a program or a diet but rather a process of mindfulness somewhat akin to prayer to feel real hunger, eat with gratitude those things that are generally good for me, stop when I'm full and keep "treats" in their place. No rule or diet will cure what ails me in particular. I found a book (I always find things when I'm ready for them) called Women, Food and God by Geneen Roth and it speaks to my particular issues directly.

I am here looking for community. Most dieters that haven't wrestled with addictive behaviors like bingeing/purging will not be able to relate to this. Since my food knot started to unwind, I've lost roughly 25 pounds over the summer without trying really. I look forward to meeting new online friends to talk with about these things. As accepting as my husband is, he can eat anything and stay within bounds of normal and he tries, but he can't really understand or relate.

Thanks for reading.

aka vintagecat

08-13-2013, 06:06 PM
Hello Cathy and welcome. You are with sisters. Intelligent women who "know" what to do, but are stuck in the claws of compulsive overeating. Dropping the rock so to speak about past issues can actually be helpful; allowing you to just deal with the reality of today. Anyone who has not felt the true compulsion to eat that cookie, or the shame of sneaking food, lying about what you eat, or just truly with all your heart wanting to wake up a different person can't understand in the way that those who have experienced it can. There is hope and recovery. Eating to nourish your body is a great start. Again - welcome :)

PS: No idea what my top was as I ran from scales. At least 260 or more at 5'-5". But even at semi-normal weights I was a nut job about food/weight/looks.

08-14-2013, 12:23 AM
I can relate to some of your family issues. My mother had no sympathy for fat people. Whenever we were walking on the street and she spotted a fat person, she'd make a comment like, "It's disgusting how some people let themselves go." If I gained five pounds, she'd be the first to notice and comment. I hope you can reach the "whatever" point with your family issues. It's never too late to work on letting this kind of stuff roll off our backs.


08-14-2013, 10:12 AM
Welcome, Cathy! :welcome2:

Wow- your post is so powerful to me. I relate so much to your story.

My mother was petite, but all 3 of her kids were very overweight. Everyone on my father's side is big.

When I was 8 years old, my mother put me on diet pills and a liquid diet. By the time I was 11, I had been tormented in school so much and yelled at about my weight at home, I tried to kill myself by swallowing every pill in the house that I could find. All that happened was that I had a stomach ache. No one at home noticed or cared.

When I was about 15 and going to my first dance, my mother looked at me and said: "you are fat and dumb and no boy is ever going to want you".

Fast forward to when I was 27. I had graduated from law school where I met my DH and we were recently married and having a few problems. I stupidly confided in my father, who said to me "you are lucky that anyone wants you. You will never do better than him." (My husband and I have now been married over 30 years. He is loving and supportive. He too has a weight problem and we are doing WW together. He is my best friend.)

When I was about to turn 40, my 49 year old brother died of morbid obesity.

I have worked hard to get over the past. I am back on WW but what has helped me the most is 3FCs. This is a wonderful place to find support.

Please know that I will be here cheering you on! :hug:

08-16-2013, 03:04 PM
Thanks ladies for the warm welcome.

Cat cuddler: A lot of harm is done by putting children on diets whether they might need it or not. Your situation was cruel in ways mine was not. Those terrible things at least were not directly said but definitely implied because I was "damaged goods" to them. Looking back at photos I wasn't even close to being fat when my mom was putting me on diets. I always thought I was fat as a child but when I went into therapy my counselor asked for childhood photos.

The photos were in a dusty old envelope that I never looked at. When she asked me to lay them out in chronological age and I pinpointed some of the trauma points that we had been talking about with the ages in the photos, I could see for the first time that I wasn't fat or even slightly overweight at any point in my childhood.

The problem was my mother's own body image issues. The fat that she imagined that I had was her own imagined fat. I suppose because I looked just like her she dumped her issues onto me and the old family secrets, of which there are many, had me bearing the burdens as the eldest child like the biblical scapegoat of her unhappy situation in life. I was a lovely but sad looking child but I really didn't know it nor did I care at the time. I just wanted to be left alone to be a child.

Let's just say that the years of stoppered up rage and grief that came up in therapy was a lot to cope with but fortunately I'm on the back side of it and I realized that compulsive eating was my attempt to numb and block the pain. I feel free from having to "use" for the first time in my life. I feel genuine joy and authenticity. I tell my story so people understand the journey that I'm on. I owe my counselor a debt of gratitude.

Ironically though, I'm the only overweight person in my family. In a long line of family. That's what I meant about "how to create a fat person" and also what I meant that my fat was a big FU to the veneer of perfection that is the face that is to be presented to the world in the gospel according to mom. I don't care now nor do I need the fat or the FU stance. It is what it is. My body is my body, a place for my soul to live and means to express itself.

A couple of months after I went through my shrinkage my husband and I needed to be on hand to help mom after knee surgery. She needled me about my hair (another thing that has vexed her, my very straight hair) and I told her, "Mom, it's just my hair, my hair will always be like this, deal with it." whereas before I'd have been defensive and try to justify the imperfection that is my hair.

I'm not the only one with issues about our family. My closest sister in age went into therapy and is balking at tapping into her own pain and anger because her issues are about perfection and control. Her therapist says accurately that we are yin and yang products of our childhood situation. She is perfect seemingly. She's a size 2 on a fat day, made a very good but IMO a bit of a tense marriage (trophy wife) lives in a beautifully restored Victorian home in the best neighborhood in an upscale city with a summer and ski cottage in the mountains. She plays national level tennis and has won awards for her films.

We talk about our separate journeys. She realizes that she needs to get to the other side like I have. She sees the changes and newly found peace that I have but is struggling with her own imperfections and the loss of control that I have embraced and owned all these years.

It's ongoing. All these years I have carried my mother's water so to speak and I may yet continue to as the only retired child as she ages. I have compassion for her and see her faults clearly but I still love her though she has harmed me and though she has no insight to ever see or take ownership of what she has done. It seems that there might be a karmic debt to be paid. That is the only sense I can make of the situation. Mom still loathes her own imperfections, those same 20 fictitious pounds that she does battle with even at 76 years old, the gray and cowlick in her hair, her wrinkles. God. She has no peace. Her life is struggle against inevitability, things that can't be changed and imperfection. It's sad really. Her blindness and the waste of what is for what "could be" has my compassion.

So my journey here is about unwinding old habits and automatic behaviors in regards to eating. I don't feel the compulsion to stopper rage or grief with food or overeating. I sincerely appreciate the welcome. I hope to get to know you all better.


08-16-2013, 04:33 PM

I love reading your posts.

I happened to see a picture of myself when I was about ten. I expected to see a
grossly overweight, hideous kid. Instead, what I saw in the picture was a perfectly nice, slightly overweight, normal little girl. It completely shocked me since at that age, I never wanted to be seen because someone was often saying something cruel.

I learned over time that my parents took out the frustrations of their own lives on us (bad marriage, bankruptcy, alcoholism, my mother's bipolar disorder). It had very little if anything to do with me.

I am now working on not using food for comfort, and trying to learn to forgive and let go. In addition to learning new habits, I hope to find some peace.