Growing up, we were poor. Poverty, I have learned as an adult, comes with its own traumas (though I often wonder if some of that trauma comes from those who have never been poor, looking in at poverty with fear).
A lot of people grow up poor and plenty of them grow up into adults who can manage their lives very well. I, for example, manage my life well. Let me count the ways:
- I am a caring, present, and conscious parent who shows up for my daughter every day; I do my best because being a mother matters more than anything to me
- I have a prestgious job with a high degree and through this position I teach, I publish, and I feel that I can affect some change in the world; my job matters to me and I feel that I do important work
- I have a healthy marriage with open communication in a respectful union after leaving a 10-year marriage previously that was psychologically and emotionally abusive; I learned how to recover from the abuse and rebuild my life more in the way that I wanted it
- I take the time to care for myself emotionally, physically, and spiritually through many methods and a lot of exploration and experimentation because I value my relationship with myself and I know that in order to be good in my other roles, I need to love myself
- I am a good listener who is able to hear what my loved one say; I can hold space for them
Everyone, even kids who grew up poor, tends to have a lot of things they’re good at when they become adults, and are able to rise up against a lot of trauma of all kinds.
My lifelong addiction to food — which has manifested as bulimia, exercise obsession, fasting, overeating/bingeing, starvation, and other forms of self-harm with food — is somewhat connected to my family’s poverty growing up. But I am learning that I was likely to have some kind of addiction due to how I was raised; it just happens to be food because food was scarce and coveted and that is how it projected onto my trauma body.
The primary function of food for me is to numb out.
In almost every other way, I am very emotionally-intelligent. I truly allow myself to feel my feelings when they arise because I believe that this is healing and helps to avoid problems down the line, like illness of many kinds.
And yet there are some emotions or emotional situations in which I seek to numb away my feelings because they seem too giant to confront head on. I mean, name it: shame, overwhelm, disappointment, confusion — these are the primary culprits in my life. And as an adult, I take full responsibility for how I deal with these difficult feelings. As an adult, the responsibility is on me to heal myself and to be the nurturer to my inner self that I have always needed.
Just knowing this is an important tool to help combat my addiction and its various manifestations.
I am a perfectionist and have worked hard to break that aspect down to understand it better. This has helped me greatly to deal with feelings of shame. I do feel like I am “good enough” most times, now. However, shame still rears its head and I need to have tools in place to grab so that I don’t grab food.
This is easier said than done.
I’ve been re-reading Julie Simon’s book When Food is Comfort because it is so helpful. It offers a lot of practical tools to use that I have used many times.
I feel like now is a good time to revisit this book to remind myself to apply these tools as I want to move out of this period in my life that seems shadowed by food addiction again. It comes in waves, periods, I guess.
The time has come to open up to a deeper exploration of this addiction, again.
I know that I have the courage and strength to address the underlying issues that motivate a tendancy toward self-harm with food and self-sabotage.