“It’s okay because they love me,” – if I had a quarter for every time these words escaped my mouth or invaded my head space I’d be rich. Because the truth is my never-ending search for unconditional love led me to these thoughts over and over again.
From as young as five I can remember that feeling of “Nobody else wanted me,” that evolved from being given up for adoption. With the exception of my Father I never truly felt loved by my family; I felt abused, lied to and held back by their presence in my life and I started to live in a world of ifs and when’s. “If I do this, maybe life will get better.” Before I had even realized it I had successfully become an escapist, spending more time in my little fantasy world of what if and maybe when than in reality.
When I started to realized that boys and relationships offered “love” at the age of fourteen, I was willing to do anything to get it. Somewhere along the way I had adopted Prince Charming Syndrome. More than anything I wanted some boy to come along and rescue me and make my world a better place by bringing something that I sought after into my life; happiness. I equated sex with love and love with happiness; after all, my daddy had taught me that if you had love, you had everything.
At eighteen, I took the first opportunity I had to get out of the house: his name was Eric, a guy six years my senior with a steady job working at the biggest internet service provider in the country at the time. He taught me computers, how to play Magic: the Gathering, and he offered me a new life and something that I desperately wanted… a family. I look back on that relationship now with more regret than any I have had since then; how poorly I treated him and how little I appreciated him, because I didn’t understand yet the value in these things.
The biggest problem at this point was that I didn’t understand the concept of loving myself. It wasn’t a skill I had learned or been taught. I never thought I was pretty, I never thought I was anything except someone’s burden or inconvenience and those feelings of inadequacy led me into a lifestyle where I sought out men that wanted to make decisions for me, tell me what to do, and were willing to take care of me in return for my agreement to allow them do so.
And this is where addiction started to take over my life. This was the moment that I opened the door and let the devil come in. A downward spiral began and before I knew it, food was my confidante. I turned to food for everything. The emotion did not matter, sadness, anger, stress, even the rare times I felt happy, food was a constant part of my emotional world. The more I buried myself in food and the more weight I gained the worse it got. Before I knew it I weighed 420 lbs. and had less love for myself than I had ever had before. I hated myself, and as such, it was easy to start letting people abuse me again; I felt as though I deserved it.
“It’s okay because he loves me.” – This was my answer to be abused physically, verbally and emotionally for years to come. Whether it was some fleeting romance, or a serious long-term relationship, it didn’t matter how abused and battered I felt, because in my head I truly believed that nobody else would ever love me and that having someone love me was better than the alternative.
I share this story with you not so that I can garner your sympathy, but so that I can help you understand that I’ve been there. I have felt that cloud of darkness over my life for so long that when the light shines in, I instantly recoil and think the touch of it on my skin might physically hurt me.
Self-love, Self-Respect, Self-Worth; these are things I have only begun to learn as a bi-product of my weight loss, my involvement in the weight loss community and most profoundly, the education process to becoming a Motivational Speaker, Weight Loss Coach, Wellness Coach, and someday, Personal Trainer.
There are times in my life today that my first reaction to something that is making me unhappy isn’t “How do I fix this,” or “How do I re-route the path I am on?” There are times that my first reaction to someone in my life doing something that upsets me is to keep it bottled inside and tell myself it’s ok because they aren’t where they need to be in their own journey yet and because they don’t mean to hurt me, after all… they love me.
I have always said that when it comes to successful and long-term weight loss you have to address what is going on in your head. If you don’t figure out what led you to the unhealthy behaviors that drove you to obesity, then the chances of you ending up on that train again are extremely high. Sometimes it is hard for us to admit that we have an addiction. For some of us, it is hard for us to admit what those addictions are.
I personally was afraid that my food addiction would translate into a chemical dependency, which is what I was educated and warned most about. There were times during the last year that I worried that perhaps my addiction had transferred into a shopping addiction, or worse, there was a point that some people in the community had me convinced I might be addicted to plastic surgery. What I have come to find though, is that at the crux of my addiction was a lack of self-respect, a lack of self-worth, and that when I found those things, the rest started to fall in place.
I no longer look at photos of myself as a little girl and think “Nobody ever loved me, nobody will ever love me, and I am unworthy of being loved.” – Now I look at those photos and I say to myself, “How sad it was that they didn’t see my potential, but I see it now.” Today, I love myself, I respect myself, and for the first time in my entire life I am proud of what I have done, what I have accomplished, who I am and what I am about. Never again will I look at someone who has hurt me or caused me pain and think, “It’s okay because they love me.” It’s taken me nearly a year of self-searching, trying to understand my own emotions and a lot of cognitive processing to come to a place where I can honestly say, “It’s not okay, and it’s not about whether or not someone else loves me, it’s about whether or not I love myself.”
We reach a point in our life and–I believe–in our weight loss journey where we have to stop, take a deep breath and be willing to face our inner demons and the things we fear the most so that we stop listening to their voices. Changing these thought processes, and finding ways to silence those negative voices and finding the courage to face our emotional fears is all part of the transformation process. The first step being acknowledging that you are only miserable and unhappy if you allow yourself to be, and that today can be the start of a different journey. Today can be the day that you make a promise to yourself to live a happy healthy life. Today can be the day that you love yourself enough to keep that promise.