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Selena's Story: Uncovering the Real Problem

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I was born in June of 1960 in Chico, California. I am the middle child of three—I have two brothers. I live about 20 miles north of Seattle, and I love it here. I have two sons that I home school and I'm a single parent. I'm an RN and work as little as possible outside the home!

My family moved from place to place frequently, and I went to many different schools. This wouldn't have been so bad, but my family was severely dysfunctional and abusive. My dad was an alcoholic and beat our mom for being fat and keeping a messy house. He terrorized us children with his unpredictable anger—anything could happen. My mom didn't protect us children—she probably couldn't. She had a compulsive eating problem (who wouldn't in her situation?).

I have recovered from a compulsive eating problem. I realize now that I was set up to have an eating problem just by the upbringing that I had. I've had a whole range of eating disorders—from anorexia to bulimia, with compulsive overeating in between. It's only been in the last two years, though, that I've admitted to myself that I have a problem. I always just thought that I was fat and lazy, with no will power. And the sad part is, that I'm genetically thin, but have felt fat since I started developing as a teenager. I weighed 130 pounds on a 5'10" frame, and I thought that I was a cow! Then, after the birth of my first child 11 years ago, I weighed 150 pounds. I felt so huge! I constantly wanted to be thinner, but I felt that I was a failure at dieting so I didn't even try anymore. Now I realize that quitting dieting was the best thing that I could've done for myself.

Feeling fat, hating my body, and dieting is what started my eating disorder. I felt out of control and always wanted to be thinner. I didn't feel in control over much of anything else in my life, so I thought that I could at least have control over my food and weight. But the more I tried to control these things, the more out of control my eating got.

After having my second baby April of 1995, I never lost any of the pregnancy weight. I decided to go to my doctor to get diet drugs and go to a therapist to help me get some "will power" and lose weight. My doctor prescribed the drugs to me (of course) and gave me a lecture on eating right and exercising. I told her that I ate healthy—I just didn't mention that I binged in between. She didn't even explore the possibility that perhaps I had an eating problem. At that time I was only just beginning to suspect that I had a problem. After years of starving myself, bingeing, purging, dieting, exercising, and hating myself—I finally began to suspect that I had a problem!

The drugs made me sick, and I realized that maybe something was really wrong in that I was willing to make myself sick to lose weight. So, September 1996, I went to the therapist, and she introduced me to the Overcoming Overeating approach. I was really angry at first, because she told me that I had a problem that couldn't be cured by dieting. In fact, dieting is what caused me to have the problem in the first place! Working with the Overcoming Overeating approach was very hard for me at first (and it still is sometimes). I had to undo 24 years of beliefs. Sometimes I felt like I was being pulled apart at the seams! As I began to be able to sit with my emotions and not eat over them, I began to remember what had happened to me in my childhood. I ran the whole range of powerful emotions, and it was really scary because I was so used to eating whenever I had uncomfortable emotions. But I was at the stage that I was unwilling to dump my recovery just because it was getting difficult. I developed the conviction that I could make it through anything and that I would take care of and nurture myself as much as I needed. I would do anything for myself and would never abandon myself again! Developing this inner caretaker has given me the strength and sense of worthiness that has enabled me to recover from the eating problem and my dysfunctional family history.

Now I'm heavier than I've ever been, and I don't feel nearly as fat as I used to! I look at my body every day in the mirror and try to be objective. I watch the bad body thoughts (dissatisfied body thoughts) as they come, and apologize to myself immediately for having such horrible thoughts about my beloved body. All of this hard work has really paid off! I often feel sexy, large, feminine, strong and beautiful. I rarely felt this way when I was skinny—I only felt fat! I still have problems with bad body thoughts, but I'm on the road to learning to love myself the way that I am now. I recovered from compulsive eating by giving up all control over food. I've learned that food doesn't need to be controlled! I'm learning to trust my body to tell me what it needs and how much. I'm learning to eat more for physiological reasons and less for emotional reasons. I've recently discovered that I have underlying fears of losing weight, and I've only just started to tackle my fear of being thin. It turns out that this is pretty normal. I can learn to accept myself at any weight, and I'm ready to learn to eat only from physical hunger—even if it means losing weight. If you'd asked me two years ago if I wanted to lose weight, I would've answered, "YES!" I had no idea that I needed to be heavy!

I never weigh myself anymore—it's much too disrespectful to my body to judge it by a number. I also got rid of all my clothing that didn't fit and bought a whole new wardrobe. What a joy to have beautiful clothing that fits comfortably! Another important thing that I do to help me recover is to carry food around with me at all times. I have a large canvas bag that I stock every day or so with all the food that I might want to eat. I also filled my house with much more food than I could possibly eat, although I'm noticing that I don't need as much food in my house as I needed last year. I even bought a second refrigerator to hold my food! I don't use it much anymore, but it really came in handy in my first year of working with Overcoming Overeating. I have vowed never to deprive myself of food again. With all this food around I feel so much more relaxed, and I'm finding that I'm eating much less than I did when I was still into depriving myself. Now that I know that I can eat whenever I want, and eat for any reason, I find myself more and more being able to just sit with myself and feel my feelings rather than having to medicate myself with food. Food has become as boring as diet food—except when I'm hungry. Then food tastes wonderful!

I am so thankful for my healing. I am so thankful for the Overcoming Overeating approach that has helped me to heal!

– Selena

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