**Trigger Warning: Abuse and its effects are mentioned below**
Yesterday I did a couple quick podcasts on my wee problem with binge eating, the only truly disordered eating issue I have left. Speaking about it reminded me that it goes much deeper than the occasional health food binge and I feel it’s so important to share all of what I can remember regarding my odd relationship with food over my almost 39 years.
“...food problems often stem from emotional problems and commonly trauma and/or childhood abuse.”
The reason it’s so important is because food problems often stem from emotional problems and commonly trauma and/or childhood abuse. It of course is not always the case, but the more I read and learn of others’ stories, the more it hits home and it‘s important to me to tell the whole truth so others are aware of potential signs that something isn’t quite right with a child or even for themselves; just for comfort in knowing they‘re not alone in this.
My issues with food stem as far back as very early childhood, likely beginning when the man my mother moved my older brothers and I in with when I was just a toddler, started abusing me and told me that it was because I owed him for taking me, my mom and three older brothers in.
Alone with him I was ‘a little bitch’ and around my brothers I was ‘a little princess.’ They did not receive the same special treatment I did which I so adamantly refused. Lucky them.
And so the psychological warfare in ‘The King’s’ house began.
They would soon start referring to me as a ‘little whore,’ which they would likely now claim was just a joke and I should get over it. Little did they know how close to home their innocent comments hit, leaving me more terrorized, traumatized and dissociated by the day. They too were kids at the time, so I don’t have hard feelings. Later we would be less distant once fully outside of that situation, though ties are now severed at my insistence and their indifference.
“Everyone assumed I was just an awkward and ‘sweet’ girl; I felt like a freak.”
I can recall going to friends’ houses early on and feeling so incredibly guilty, self conscious and shameful while eating the food offered me. I began to often times refuse to eat as I felt so unworthy and awkward. I felt awkward eating while on babysitting jobs or letting adults pay me for the job due to feelings of unworthiness and guilt for taking money; I was extremely uncomfortable with the exchange. Everyone assumed I was just an awkward and ‘sweet’ girl; I felt like a freak.
We had plenty to eat in The King’s house, but obviously the abuse and behind-closed-doors events were impacting my still developing brain and body and I was being conditioned for a lifetime of guilt, shame, and feelings of unworthiness. This is something I so wish I could save all children from, but for now all I can do is share my story in hopes to reach anyone it might help.
I started sneaking food early on and eating it in my bedroom. I even felt odd eating in front of my own family at times and to be honest, I’m sure any 4 boy: 1 girl household will yield some usual table time aggravation.
The secretive binges became more frequent and were often followed up with an aversion to food and to getting nourishment. Looking back I do think I was quite confused, trapped, and felt undeserving.
Also, though, it was one of the few things I could control.
“I remember day dreaming that I would just disappear.“
My memory is still pretty hazy surrounding a lot of stuff, but some things are clear as day, such as at one point in my early-mid teens needing so badly to have some control over my body that I seriously restricted calories and was going for long runs daily with the goal of getting under 100 pounds as soon as possible. I remember day dreaming that I would just disappear.
I recall marking on a calendar how many weeks it would take to achieve this. I didn’t know much of nutrition so I just ate very little, at one point Blow Pops and pickles were my go-tos! I now understand just how much this dangerous nutrient depleting yo-yo’ing was setting me up for serious gut issues right along with the impact of the trauma and aftermath itself.
Early high school I agreed to help a family friend with her newborn triplets which would require a stay in their cabin in the mountains and little did I know how incredibly uncomfortable and guilty I would feel partaking in enjoying the meals they prepared.
I went to great lengths to hide my eating issues for it was clear that my friends weren’t suffering from quite the same weirdness I was and it was yet another reason to feel ashamed and perpetuate that cycle in private.
“The guilt and shame ate away at me, though I couldn’t face the truth of why..“
I was horrified when my mother found a bunch of food wrappers hidden under my bed when she had thought I was in one of my ‘not eating’ phases. The guilt and shame ate away at me, though I couldn’t face the truth of why; I’d begun dissociating years before.
I think it was middle school or early high school that I began to have an aversion to germs or maybe I just told myself I did, but I remember I would turn around on the bench in the cafeteria and hold my tray on my lap to eat. It’s amazing I had friends at all! 🤣
My high school years are a blur but I know I bounced between doing ok and very serious and sometimes suicidal depression. I was unknowingly making things even worse for myself by playing a dangerous game of binge and starve, and repeat.
It started as something I could control and rapidly took over completely. By late high school I was unable and unwilling to even sit in the cafeteria with my friends, so I sat in the school library where friends would drop in on me to say hello.
I was just sort of different and everyone knew it. I was just ’being Meg’ 🤷♀️. Little did anyone know what was lurking beneath my mysterious layers. I couldn‘t face it myself.
And so the vicious cycle of stuffing my face to further stuff down unspeakable horrors and making up for it through starvation, continued.
I vaguely remember in early teenhood, acting in strange ways to get attention from my friends as a subtle way to reach out for help, but I wasn’t safe to tell the truth.
Instead I used food to placate, numb, and medicate. I used it to starve and to punish myself for reasons unknown.
The words I spent decades forgetting began to creep in during Inner Child work while desperate to get healthy for my daughter last spring. The words which had begun my lifetime of self loathing and confusion and shame.
The words of a very sick man, tormented by his own demons of the past and drugs of the present.
“You owe me, You Little Bitch.”
And so, those damaging words slipped from my delicate consciousness, yet remained trapped in my subconscious, gnawing away at the depths of my soul and tormenting the child still inside me, the child who never had a chance to get help or to heal.
“I ran but I couldn’t hide...”
It’s not too surprising that my eating habits normalized somewhat once I got away to college and away from the man who was the main source of my turmoil. I ran but I couldn’t hide, and for years afterwards I’d be plagued with nightmares during the rare hours of real sleep; recurring dreams of digging through dirt and trash for food. These dreams always took place in or near my childhood home, the demons haunting me still and the niggling body shame and binge cycle rearing its ugly head on occasion, later to be overshadowed by a new and even more dangerous drug of choice: alcohol.
That is for another post. The point of this one is to take a step back and realize where my current binge eating problem comes from, to acknowledge it and know that it’s ok that it is here, it doesn’t define my worth, and that I will overcome this, too.
The little girl inside of me still needs to be reassured from time to time that she is free, safe and loved and has nothing to be ashamed of. She does not owe anyone anything and she doesn’t need to hide her pleasure of food or to overeat to make up for emptiness or loneliness any longer.
She is free and safe to feel the full range of emotions including joy, without waiting for the other shoe to drop and disaster to strike.
This little girl is loved like my own. This little girl is free. This little girl is me. 🙏🏼❤️🙏🏼
**We all have small children, younger versions of ourselves still inside of us, calling the shots. I’ve learned the importance of giving these littles a chance to be heard and to heal because until they are, we will not fully act from our adult selves but from our wounded children within. This drives disordered eating, depression, addiction, self sabotage and worse. Do consider seeking help to help your little heal. You both deserve it and you are not alone.
Like my Facebook page Meg Happens and subscribe to MegHappens.com to receive notifications of new posts and podcasts and please read my blog post on Healing My Inner Child. Check out the resources below it which helped me on my own journey. Only one year later and my littles are free, happy and smiling from within me most of the time now.
Happy Healing! 🙌🏼