I used a lot of things to help me survive and cope with neglect, shame, criticism, condemnation and abuse in childhood. I used those same strategies and slightly more sophisticated versions when I became a 22 year old bride, married to a sex addict. The binge and purge cycle held my hand thru decades of trauma. This is my attempt to bless and thank her for helping me survive.
I have heard before that many women in abusive relationships or toxic environments gain a lot of weight. One theory behind this is because the body weight serves as a “protective armor” to keep her husband away, either sexually, and/or emotionally. It acts as a metaphorical shield – protecting her delicate soul inside that sits neglected, abandoned and hurting. Ultimately, the weight sedates the pain and creates a sense of safety.
Speaking for myself, food has always served as a form of medication. A bag of popcorn is a quick elixer to numb the feelings I cannot tolerate, sort thru or explain. I could wash that down with fries, a cheeseburger, maybe a favorite ice cream. Pizza? Why not, I’ll eat the whole thing! Did I mention that sometimes variations of this happen all in one sitting? Incredible, is it not? That the human body – when eating to numb and protect can physically hold all of this at one time.
I can write about this now, with no shame because I know where I have been and I know where I am going. The enemy can no longer use condemnation to block me from my own freedom.
At my heaviest, I weighed 218 pounds and at my lightest I weighed 135 pounds. Now, I am somewhere in the middle sitting in a place of balance. (And do I still love ice cream and popcorn? Yes, I do!) I share this to demonstrate these two extremes on the scale, represent the manic environments endured living with an abusive sex addict. They represent binges fueled by lies acquired in childhood that I was never enough, or I am “too much”. I work thru the lie: “I am a failure if I don’t perform well”. With each binge, I fell further and further down the rabbit hole of defeat. I definitely did not have value if I ate ice cream, or skipped a workout or didn’t eat my green vegetables. Round and around the wheel of shame I ran.
I’ve learned since, that even this can be re-framed. So much of recovery for a woman is learning how to RE-FRAME HER PAIN. If a woman can do this – she is well on her way to walking in healing. Rather than condemnation for a behavior my body chooses from time to time. Immanuel (God With Us), is invited into the binge, when I go there He is happy to be with me in the confusion and turmoil that I feel I must medicate. He is not swayed by my old pattern of seeking safety. He is not deterred by my confusion. He knows that brain pathways take time to be re-wired! He rests with me, He is delighted to be with me as we swallow each salty chip, He gently says – “My Daughter, you are the same beauty, from the day I formed you, to the day you’ve invited me into this place and pain. I stay. I am here.” Jesus knows where I have been and He knows where I am going.
I wrote this ‘blessing’ to my binge. Things that we have done to survive and protect ourselves – those strategies did their job… they kept us safe. Toby Mac has a great quote: “Don’t judge people for the choices they make, when you don’t know the options they had to choose from.” Relying on food to cope with abuse and loss protected me, but now – I am safe; spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically. I am choosing to live an addiction/compulsive free lifestyle so now it is time to learn healthy ways to move thru pain. As Jesus told the woman in the square, “Then neither do I condemn you,”Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” -John 8:11 I believe Jesus was telling this woman, “darling, you don’t need to do this anymore – I have healed, I have made you safe – you are becoming whole – move into the new and it is okay to leave this behind now.” How gentle and kind He must have been.
Sister, as you read this blessing, perhaps you have never thought of RE-FRAMING your coping strategies in this way before. Maybe you are still on the loop of condemnation and performance? (Trust me, I revisit that loop on the daily)
If you are safe, or you are working to become firm in your reality (if you are still married) – what behavior has served to seek protection and control (safety)?
Would you consider blessing what used to serve you but now is no longer of use?
“God Bless this food which we are about to receive”
“May it bless my body and give me strength”
“Give us this day, our daily bread”
“Why do you spend money on food – which does not satisfy?”