I never wanted anyone to see me when I was shoving food into my mouth. I ate in private in my home—hiding from my mother, father, and brother—because I was afraid to get in trouble with my mom. But it quickly grew to hide it from anyone around me. I felt that how much, and how quickly, ate was disgusting, embarrassing, and my secret.
By the time I was in my 20s, talking to friends at a party was merely tolerated until I could get to the dessert table. Hovering around the dessert table, then sneaking the treats off in a corner, was my main objective.
When I was older and threw parties, I couldn’t wait for the party to be over to scarf down leftover desserts. If anyone asked, I would lie and say I stuffed the desserts down the garbage disposal or threw them away outside.
The self-loathing I felt was immense, but I was powerless to stop eating—it controlled me.
During these 30 years, I dated, and subsequently, married a man who emotionally and verbally abused me. Now, I was not only binge eating, but also emotionally eating as well. I cried so many tears of confusion and pain, wondering why I was being treated so badly and wondering if it was normal and if I deserved it. I turned to food to bring me love and comfort.
One night, after being married for a little over a year, we pulled into our driveway after a dinner out. We sat in the driveway while we talked about having children. He told me that I would have to go back to work as soon as my maternity leave was over because he didn’t want to change the comfortable lifestyle he had become accustomed to.
At that moment I knew our relationship was not healthy for me. I realized that I didn’t want to have a child that was like him in any way, shape, or form. It took me six months to build up the courage to leave him. I was with him off and on for a total of eight years until I finally got the strength to divorce him. Though I was no longer going through the emotional upheaval he caused me on a regular basis, the emotional eating lingered.
About 12 years later, when I was just a few months shy of my 40th birthday, I was watching TV and heard the words “compulsive overeater.” I can’t say for sure whether or not I heard that term before, but this time it struck me. I went to my computer and started googling. I soon found myself on the Overeaters Anonymous (OA) website where it prominently asked: Are you one of us? It displayed a list of questions about behaviors with food. I answered yes to almost all of them. I was diagnosed as a compulsive overeater and binge eater. That diagnosis was the catalyst that changed my life for the better.