I think I was born hungry.
Hungry for a thousand different things.
I have always been a person who lives from a place that is wildly desirous, constantly aware of all these blank and open places inside me, trying to fill them up with all the things I find beautiful. I know this to be a futile pursuit, since the only thing that is everything enough to fill those spaces is the God who made me.
But this…this is the story of the relentless and ugly trying. This is one of the small ways in which I attempt, in a very tangible way, to fill myself up. To curb the ache that comes with being human, with being made for a place not here.
Here’s my ugly truth.
I have a really terrible relationship with food.
I don’t talk about this often. In fact, to my knowledge, I’ve only ever talked about this to my friend Darlena, who I met last year when I hired her as a personal trainer. I think she’s maybe the only person I’ve ever said the word “binge” to in a context that was both in relation to my own personal eating patterns and not-at-all joking.
But that’s my ugly truth. I am a binge eater.
It started young. I hit a growth spurt young, and by the time I hit high school, I was very nearly six feet tall. At that point, I was thin as a rail, despite the fact that I ate three square meals a day and plenty of snacks. I was constantly hungry, like my body couldn’t keep up with the rate at which I was growing and the speed of my metabolism.
I remember coming home from school often and sitting down with a bag of chips in one hand and a box of fudge rounds in the other. That salty-sweet combination is still my kryptonite, by the way. With one real difference. I’m thirty now, not fifteen; I have the metabolism of a grown woman, not a teenager in the middle of a massive growth spurt. So it fuels and affects my body and my weight and my energy in a very different way now.
But habits, you know? Habits are such a real thing, and such a hard thing to break.
And over the years, the motivations behind the habits start to evolve. When I was a kid, it was because I was hungry, and I could have eaten anything in sight. As I grew up, it was because it tasted good. At some point, it started to become a comfort thing. A stress release. Relief from boredom. Numbing from the loneliness that is part of the package deal of being human.
And these past few months, I’ve started to notice, really notice, how truly out of control it is. I’ll take a perfectly healthy lunch to school, and then buy two small bags of chips, a couple candy bars, and a soda and literally eat just that for lunch. Order a family-sized order of cheese-covered breadsticks for lunch, and eat it in a sitting. Curl up with chips and dip and eat until I feel sick. I don’t even think about it. I don’t let myself think about it. It’s impulse and action, impulse and action. I don’t let myself think about it because I am a smart girl, and I know what this is doing to my health. Because I will talk myself out of it, and I don’t want a chance to talk myself out of it.
And I hide it. I’m so good at hiding it that, if it weren’t for the thirty pounds I’ve added to my frame in the past three years, I don’t think anyone would know. I think I’m most disturbed by that, you know? By the great lengths I go to, hiding it from Josh. I toss my healthy lunch in the trash can and take my Pyrex home empty so he doesn’t notice I didn’t eat it. I get cash back from time to time when I buy groceries so I have it lying around to purchase snacks without any record of it in our bank account. I have lied to him on multiple occasions about buying a fast-food lunch for a friend or coworker when I really just bought lunch for me. Not because he would shame me for any of it (although he would be concerned because my emotional and physical health is always his biggest priority), but because I’m ashamed. I’m so damn ashamed of my habits, of how bad it’s gotten.
My mom makes this joke, and has since I was a kid; she laughs about how she doesn’t eat to live, she lives to eat. And I hate that. I hate it because in so many ways, I see it in myself. I see the way my habits run me. I see the direction I want to go, and I see my habits dragging me in the opposite direction, and sometimes I feel absolutely powerless.
My relationship with food feels like the heaviest of chains wrapped around my body, rooting me to where I am. I know how this ends. I have countless examples of how this ends. In people I share DNA and a bloodline with, and in people I share life with. I have watched, and seen firsthand the havoc their eating habits have wreaked on their bodies and minds and hearts and overall personhood. I get so upset with myself because I know where I am going if I don’t change things.
I have had so many friends ask the past few weeks why I became a distributor for Advocare, why I’m doing the 24 Day Challenge when I’m generally not a “product” kind of person.
This is my reason for Advocare. This is my why. Because it’s not just the products. It’s the people. The structure, the support, the community.
The first time I did the 24 Day Challenge, in 2013, was because I wanted to lose some weight. Which isn’t a bad goal, but that was the end of it at that point. Just lose a couple pounds, which I did; and put it right back on because I never addressed the underlying issues that got me there in the first place.
I need help. I need help putting some space between me and my habits. I need structure and support and community. I see myself so clearly right now, more clearly than I ever have. And it’s an incredibly difficult picture to look at. Not because I don’t look the way I want to, but because I WAS MADE FOR MORE THAN THIS. I was made for more than to be a slave to my habits, than to watch my health slip away from me. I was made for more than hiding. Mentally, emotionally, physically…I am worth so much more than this. I know I am.
I am so hungry for so many things, and I was built with that hunger. I believe that. I believe the God who created me made me with a wildly expansive spirit and heart for a reason. But it aches so bad sometimes, this being a wide open space. So I just keep trying to fill it up with what does not satisfy. I could write a novel on all the things I’ve tried to fill it up with, and a whole other novel on all the ways those things have never worked. I have to stop trying to fill up spaces that are wild and untamed and open for a divine reason.
I need to find a better way, and I need help getting there. I cannot do this on my own. I have tried for a really long time, and it’s taken my body and my soul to ugly places.
I’m finally coming to a place where I’m okay with saying where I am and saying that it’s not okay and saying that I can’t get away from where I am on my own.
This. This is my why.