Trauma, abuse and the fat shield

Hello all,
This post was a long time coming.
I am writing this post because quite frankly, I can't not write this post.
This post's topic is the whole reason I had 130 lbs to lose.
This post  is necessary because I see people daily who I know, and or suspect have a 'fat shield' for this very reason.
YOu don't get fat because you love lugging hundreds of extra pounds around.
You are eating to fill a void.
Don't bullshit me.
To fill a void or create a barrier.
Some people fill the void with other substances...
Some people create a barrier by being gregarious...funloving...but always at a distance emotionally.
I created a barrier through my fat.
You want to know why I don't weigh in anymore.
because even now....the lower weight creates a persistent feeling of dread.
I fear being VULNERABLE.
I fear being VICTIMIZED.
I fear being NOTICED.
As my husband says: "He noticed me...nom nom nom."
When men notice me, I get very uncomfortable.
The lower my weight went..the worse it got.
The stasis over the last year has a lot to do with the persistent feelings of dread.
Simply keeping myself where I am has been a challenge.
When I see someone who is morbidly obese and they can't figure why...why can't they let the weight go..
I know.
It's a shield to protect them.
Or it's a void that they are filling.
And they are wondering..
If I give up this comfort...or this shield.
What will I be getting in return.
I know what they will be getting in return.
And still I struggle.
So don't think I don't understand.
Just because someone is now thin....Don't think they don't understand where you are.
I do.
I am going to finish this...
NOT in a grand eloquent way..
Like a ballet.
But hard till the finish.
I NEED to get to my goal weight.
When I say I do this to WIN...it isn't for a pants size.
It's so what happened to me does not define me in a negative way.
I have to do this so that I can PROVE that anyone can overcome anything.
Because I know it isn't true.
so don't do this because you think it will give you a potential mate or children..
or a great ass.
or more money.
Do it for you...so you KNOW what you are capable of...
SO you can live a long healthy life, knowing you are in charge of nearly everything you put your heart and mind to.
If you are on the fence about this, do it.
It won't make  you happy....but it will make you awake...
because you can't use your crutch
you will have to face your feelings.
You will have to face your fears.
You will have to face the results of your poor choices.
And then you will discover you can change them.
That the past is the past and the future is what you make of it.
For good or ill.
YOu can do this.
And so can I.


Hanlie said...

Oh I agree. There is always an element of fear and hiding when you see someone with lots of extra weight. What surprised me the most about this was that a lot of the weight I'd accumulated was to protect me from myself! I'm still unraveling that particular tangle of string, but I've made a lot of progress and am dealing with things these days. And I'm happy!

Great post, Chris!

Rettakat said...

Yep, truer words were never spoken. Sometimes it's hard to hear, but it's still true.

Anonymous said...

To fill a void. To create a barrier.

I would add one more reason (which you alluded to towards the end) and that is to self-medicate. That crutch, if you will.

Feeling anxious--> eat. Feeling angry---> eat. Feeling overwhelmed---> eat.

You get the idea. There may not be a void to be filled, it may be a feeling to be smothered. Or all of the above.

Something occurred to me just yesterday about that fear of being a lower weight. I feel it, too. At the same time I feel excited to see the numbers go down, I feel a tensing of my muscles. Just an inner clench if you will. So bizarre.

Anyway, this is my thought: When I want to lose weight more than I am afraid to weigh less, I'll lose weight.

Maybe not profound, but it's turned my focus to the "want to" rather than the "fear of" with the intent of reminding myself how important it is for me to "improve my health by eating appropriately" (Code for shed these pounds.).

Great post, Chris. It was like a nod to me that I really do need to pay attention to this bizarre fear of being a normal weight--and adjust my thinking to conquer it.


Helen said...

This post also explains why goal weight maintenance is so hard... and why it is so very important to face down your fears.

Anonymous said...

To fill a void and to self medicate....I think that describes the reason for my last weight gain. My youngest started school and I didn't know what to do. I felt useless. I felt like I had no purpose or direction. I'd been a stay at home mother for over 20 years. I'm use to chaos and confusion. It kept me busy. It didn't have time to think. There's nobody home and the house is quiet. It put me in a real funk.

The weight gain has given me a purpose.

Dagny said...

Christine, I think the reasons you give why you wanted to lose weight validates something I've believed for a long time---that the original driver behind weight gain is eventually replaced by the stress and anxiety caused by the weight gain itself and the behaviors and health/living condition that accompany it. After awhile, the original driver is no longer "top of mind" and negative self-image and diminished self-esteem are caused by the weight.

Our society has long ascribed to the concept that thoughts influence action and we have to change our thoughts before we can change our actions but I firmly believe the opposite: Action influences thought! When you took control of your behavior and experienced the positive changes in your body that came along with weight loss and improved physical ability achieved through exercise, your thoughts began to change profoundly! Your perspective on the original driver is even dramatically changed, now viewed through the filter of self-empowerment and pride achieved through POSITIVE ACTION!!!

Light and strength---
Dagny in Chicago

Untold said...

Being okay with myself. That is the real kicker with myself. It is helpful to read not only that other struggle, but to read why. I've realized that I have a lot more work to do than just losing the pounds. Thank you Chris. Thank you for your honest and insights. You continue to inspire me. Loves.

'Yellow Rose' Jasmine said...

You have hit the nail on the head yet again. You continue to strip away those layers...
My own 'issues' were so glaringly obvious that I can't imagine how I ever managed to ignore them. For me it went a lot like this: take a phone call or make a visit to severely unhealthy family, get used and abused, eat to comfort away or stuff feelings, feel like crap, have family accept me more because I wasn't TOO successful- if I couldn't manage to be a drugged out loser, at least I was fat like them and couldn't get all my s*!t together or else they'd have to belittle me down to their level, also make sure to choose friends who treated me similarly, etc., etc.
Exhausting and of course then there was no time or energy left to care about me. I remember the first time I really SAW myself thin and I just about lost it. I looked at a picture and realized that woman is thin and yes, vulnerable. Holy crap, the feelings make me nervous even now.
Yes indeed, you are SO right about this.

Anne H said...

We focus on the food... and yet we all know the REAL healing is an inside job.
I celebrate every thing - every little victory!
YAY! for the person that even tries.
EVEN to take one step takes all the Bravery in the world. Great post!
PS.... my word verification here is "dedest"!

Anonymous said...

Provocative and courageous post! (I also like Anne H's comment!) If compulsive overeating hadn't helped me cope with overwhelming feelings, I doubt I would have survived. My research and personal experiences suggest that compulsive overeating is, at least for SOME people, physiologically driven by hormonal surges which originate as attempts by the body to achieve homeostasis under conditions of (extreme) stress. In my own case, the stress originated during childhood with long term, severe abuse. Doesn't mean recovery is impossible for folks like me, but may require very different ways of framing the salient issues. Thus, for me, the focus must remain on communication within self and with others who can offer support and/or share their own experiences. It is NOT helpful for me to focus on fixing or controlling outcomes (such as weight, diet, or exercise); in fact, those preoccupations can function as distractions that prevent me from connecting with authentic feelings and distance me from more direct engagement with important emotional triggers and inner connections. Thus they function as substitutes for overeating, for a while, yet offer me little support needed for inner healing. To be clear: I am writing about my own experiences and interpretations, not making generalizations to anyone else. (((hugs))) And much courage all around! :)

Jo said...

Another great post! Thanks for making us look inside ourselves. Sometimes not a very pretty place.

Putz said...

you love me, don't you?????

Amber said...

As always a great post! Thanks Chris!

Jennneil said...

I just found your blog. Thank you! I just realized last night the panic I have about weight loss. Mine is connected to many things - a sexual abuse history, being "left" by my husband of 20 years, and surviving cancer. The fear I'm most in touch with is the cancer fear. I somehow associate weight loss with sickness. Right now, I weigh 224. I've lost 20 pounds. But when I hit that 20 pound mark this week, I began to freak out. Finally realized that the sick thinking process was:
Weight loss is a sign of cancer.
I'm losing weight.
I must have cancer again.

Thanks again for this post. It's wonderful!

Mama said...

Such a good post. A good reminder that there is almost always something behind the fat. I know I didn't get fat because I love food, I got fat because I abuse food. Your blog always does so much for me, thanks Chris!

Clydesdale Jogger said...

I don't have a lot of words to say. Just these: Thank you.

carla said...

you need to write a book.
or just compile all THESE into a book.


Cara said...

I hear you! :)
So very true!

Anonymous said...

Excellent, excellent post. Thank you!!!