Negative Belief Systems about Weight and Body Part two

path to mental health recovery
there is no perfect path on this journey

WHY did I want someone else to be fat?  Where did a thought like that come from in the first place? And looking deeper into the answers to those questions was where the bigger secrets and hidden answers were found.

This post is continued from “Survival Methods and Eating Disorders ~ Part One and is part of a series of articles about eating disorders, weight and body issues here on Emerging from Broken.

As I started to think about those questions, I asked myself if I felt this way about everyone that I had not seen for awhile and I realized that I only felt this way about women who had hurt me, used me or discounted me. I thought about a few other women in my life, especially in the past, and the answer that I came up with for them was the same. Yes, I hoped that women who had hurt me had gotten fat. I thought about women in my past and present that had treated me fairly and with some equality and equal value and realized that I wished no such “fat fate” upon them.  That got me really thinking. So why do I hope that these other women had gotten fat? And furthermore I realized that I have thought this way for a very very long time. It is important to note here that my magic survival system could have stayed right there and decided that I was a nasty woman with nasty thoughts and nasty wishes for bad things to happen to others. But I know better than to stay there.

I asked myself ~ what does fat “mean” to me? What do I think about it, how do I feel about it? As I pondered these questions, I realized that I somehow think (and believe) that “fat” and weight gain are a fitting punishment for these women. They “deserve to be fat” because they had devalued me so much.

(** Remember that I am in direct contact with my belief system and this is NOT about the truth at all. I KNOW it is not true that people “deserve” to be fat! And I know that happiness IS possible when I am overweight! I am overweight! It’s just what my belief system thinks. These are good examples of those lies I always talk about that need to be corrected.)

Then I processed why I believed that weight gain was a punishment and not just a punishment, but a “fitting punishment”.   My mind didn’t hesitate to remind me that no one could ever be happy fat. In my minds eye I even saw my chin jut out like a defiant child might so when feeling justified about being mean, but deep down knowing that something was wrong with the whole picture; thinking this way was really not about them but about me. My mind jumped immediately to looking at how I feel about my own body.

If fat and weight gain is a punishment for them, then do I feel that way about my own body?

Do I believe that my own extra weight (about 40 pounds) is a deserved punishment? I know that I believe my extra weight is sometimes about protection.  I know that 2 years ago when I slowly started to gain it, was during and after a period of time where I felt discounted, betrayed and a little rejected by some important people in my life and my weight gain has always followed a time of abuse.  Prior to this tine I had only been overweight after very abusive situations such as when I was raped ~ but my eating disorders are not single faceted either. I have dealt with huge body issues over time that were related to many other belief systems, most of which have been sorted out. In some respects it has been very healthy for me to gain weight in that I lessened my obsession with control and learned acceptance of my body.

But thinking of someone deserving to be overweight and thinking of fat as a punishment and considering that I might deep down in my belief system think that I deserve that same punishment too……… I had not considered that idea in this way before now. This realization turns out to be one more piece in the puzzle of figuring out my belief system about food issues, compulsive overeating and body issues.

The answer is yes. Yes I do think that weight is a punishment, for others that have hurt me and that excess weight is a punishment for me. Deep down I was, and sometimes still am high on the list of people who I think have hurt me so that fits.  Fat and excess weight is all those things that we talk about ~ fat is protection; fat is rejection; fat is punishment; only perfection is good enough but at the same time anything close to perfection is dangerous. Somewhere in all of this, the keys to freedom from weight and body issues are hiding.

And since I always say that the truth will set you free, it is important to add these reminders;

~I am not one of the people that hurt me. That is an old belief, like a leftover from the old days that I still have to remind myself is a lie. It is important to examine the roots of that lie in order to make progress with most of the issues we talk about in here in EFB.

~When it comes to my body, I no longer trust myself. There are two parts to this one:

a)    I am very aware of trust issues with those people in my life that I know are not safe to trust.  I have the feelings about myself mixed in with them which is what happens in childhood if we have been abused or devalued in any way.

b)    I have let myself down in this particular area when I have promised myself that I will take better care of my physical health and then I don’t keep that promise. This is a huge area that I will address more in a future post.

And finally

~ Fat is not protection. Fat is not rejection. Food is NOT love.

~Looks do not equal acceptance nor in any way do they have anything to do with self acceptance. Remember that most of my life I have been a normal weight, but my self esteem was in the toilet anyway.

~ Fat is not a feeling and this whole thing is not about food OR perfection.  

To be continued…….

Please share your thoughts about this subject. I know it is huge and that this is just one tiny picture in an ocean of snapshots.

Darlene Ouimet

Emerging from Broken on FaceBook

50 response to "Negative Belief Systems about Weight and Body Part two"

  1. By: Star Posted: 29th May

    I don’t know if you thought of this, but perhaps your wish for them to be fat was not so much for the physical punishment, but the emotional punishment. Seems to me what you were really wishing for was the isolation, the mistreatment, the abuse that overweight people get from the outside, plus all the guilt, loneliness, shame and self hate that overweight people are made to feel inside? Or maybe you did and I didn’t read between the lines enough. I just know the one time I wished it on someone, it wasn’t the physical at all, it was the emotional impact I felt she deserved. I felt if she had to go through it, to know it so intimately, to not get every man she wanted, she might be a little less cruel.

    Just my thoughts, for what they are worth.


  2. By: Amira Posted: 23rd January

    Darlene–you are welcome as always, and its so nice to be able to come here and understand things that a year ago I had no clue about and only connected the dots from forcing myself to face things that were ugly and sad and scary, and knowing that no matter how bad it got, eventually it would all be ok. Which leads me to what I was going to say to Lisa 🙂

    Lisa–you said you take “one step forward and two steps back” basically, which is how me and Darlene and probably every other person in the entire world has healed, so you are not alone. Let me ask you this, you see how much I post here right, would you say that I am anywhere along my journey other than the beginning? Yes, right? (If you say no, I would admire your honesty LOL!) Anyways, assuming Im actually healing and its not in my head, would you believe that six weeks ago, I was almost suicidal, again? Over something I dont even remember now (it was some fight with my husband, over money I think, Im not really sure, but whatever it was, it was my fault and made me feel worthless and stupid and like I was back to square one and never getting any better, which made me feel like shit about myself and made me think Id be better off dead….see the circular thinking?) So even those of us “farther down the path” still go backwards sometimes and only (Im assuming this of course) after we get very far down the path and have great coping skills for just about every stressful situation, are we able to not go as far backwards as forwards every time, and I am sure (at least it is true for me) that depending on how big our issues and how skewed our thinking is in a particular area (for me its feeling inferior and incompetent and being made to feel like a failure, even if IM the one making that feeling happen, or the fear of being abandoned, those two are HUGE for me) is how long it takes us to develop coping skills in that area. Like for instance, screwing up financially (when Im the one “in charge” of the budget mostly) really made me feel bad about myself and think I wasnt strong enough to stand up to my sister and not spend money without talking to my husband and her thinking he is “controlling me” which is a HUGE triggering issue for me (assuming thats the same fight Im talking about, we had several about a similar thing, and I think this was it) which has been going on for decades, the not standing up to my family thing and letting them walk all over me, and it infuriates my husband, which makes me feel even more like shit, so its a very old very deep wound, that is no where near healed, so for me to slip backwards with that trigger is EASY and takes only an arguement, but for something like my kids not doing what I ask them without huge fighting and arguing (which maybe for some people who were abused, that triggers something, but for me its only hard when Im triggered by something else (like the money issue) and already having a bad day) it takes almost constant upheaval for a whole day for that to make me “go backwards” and even then its only to the extent that I yell at them for it and get angry, which is pretty typical for most parents I would assume, but because I used to be so weak with my coping skills, something like the kids arguing and me yelling, would trigger the “you are a shitty parent” voice from my mother, and lead me down the “you are worthless and should be dead” thinking and Id go wayyyyy backwards again…but as I have gone further down my path of healing, I see the progress in those less traumatic areas, and THAT gives me strength to keep going.

    One thing that helped me a lot in the beginning was a therapist that told me to look at healing like a bridge, you start at one side and go to the other, and just because the bridge is really long, doesnt mean you only appreciate the view from the bridge at the end, sometimes the middle of the bridge is better than the end, sometimes the beginning is the best, and the journey across the healing bridge, could take all your life in some areas, and others not so long, so basically dont try to race across the bridge because you might miss something beautiful in the middle by going too fast, but dont be afraid to take the next step because if you dont see the bridge at all, you wont ever see the pretty parts either, and just because you might go back over part of the bridge (take the “steps backward”) doesnt mean you wont get a different view than you saw the first time you were there, because life is always changing and you might see something you didnt the first (or the tenth) time.
    Does that make sense? We did art therapy around that bridge and I have a visual picture of the bridge as my journey in my head, and that has really helped me, and i hope it helps you (and anyone else that benefits) too!

    Paulette, Im so glad you are receptive to trying no gluten, it really does make a difference! It also could be other foods too, my body is very sensitive to food additives like artificial colors and flavors and Aspartame in particular gave me horrific mood swings and those “reactions” and other food allergy issues had a lot of effect on me emotionally and neurologically rather than things like hives and itching so just because you dont itch when you eat something, doesnt mean its not an allergy or at least a sensitivity (which is part of why I accepted the “bipolar” diagnosis in the beginning, and not until Id been off the artificial things for about six months and on no meds, did I really get clear that I was not actually bipolar) and there is one thing in particular, one additive, Im not sure which one since I dont eat it anymore, but one of them, made me really depressed about 8 hours after I ate it and it took me a long time to figure that out, but like I said with the gluten, with some stuff I did eliminations and then the “tests” to see how it reacted, and I did them several times, kinda like baby food introductions for infants to watch for allergic reactions (thats where i got the idea from anyway)

    an easy place to find a comprehensive list of grocery store processed foods that are artificial free (and also designates gluten free, casein (milk protein) free, MSG free, and other things) is a site that is targeted for children with ADHD and is how I found it, looking for medication alternatives for my children, is and it is FANTASTIC!!! I really love the shopping guide (and they even have one for restaurants that is included when you order the other one) they also have a lot of the “parents” of these kids that have seen improvements in the kids and eliminated things themselves just out of convenience of not having to separate artificlal foods and hide them from the kids and whatnot that have noticed HUGE changes in themselves, and there is a message board for members that is extremely helpful! So check it out if, especially if you notice improvement with the gluten 🙂

    Good luck to you! I know it made a world of difference for me (if you need to contact me directly for more info, ask Darlene for my email, I dont want to post it publicly but I dont mind talking to people from the blog 🙂

  3. By: Paulette Posted: 22nd January

    Amira … Thank you so much for sharing about the gluten thing – I will DEFINITELY look into that!!

  4. By: Elizabeth Posted: 22nd January

    Darlene, you shine a light in every corner. Thanks for such a penetrating look at how we think about our bodies and how we transfer how WE think on to other people.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 22nd January

      Hi Lisa,
      First of all, I can relate to what you have described. I call it the spin. I had to stop thinking about all of it at once to get out of that spin. Perhaps you could think of your progress from a different angle. The way that I see it is that you HAVE made a beginning. Each step you take is a step forward. We only seem to want to acknowledge the steps “backwards”. For years I did this; took a few steps forward, did a few positive things and they I did something like ate a whole bag of chips and then told myself that I was a failure and that I would never make that new beginning. I could do 20 positive things and one negative thing and wham, I put myself back to square one. I could never celebrate the little things that I did towards learning self care and self love. When I started to view this differently, and acknowledge myself for the little things that I WAS doing that were positive instead of only acknowledging the things that I was doing but wanted to stop doing, somehow I was able to do more of the positive things… it was like giving myself a break and cutting myself some slack.
      That is what worked for me anyway,
      Thanks for sharing this Lisa, because many of us feel this exact same way!
      Hugs, Darlene

      Hi Amira
      This is great processing work you are doing here. I always thought that I would find this one big key to the whole thing but there isn’t only one. There is so much “round and round” and in that round and round there are 20 things mixed together which gets confusing. I had to pick out one thing at a time and THEN look at them in relation to each other.
      I went to the mountains yesterday and I had some great insights while I was away about the roots of anxiety. I will be writing about them soon.
      I like that you are learning how to love yourself in your overweight body. The way that I have come to see this is that self love is self love. It is not dependant on how much weight I have or not.. it is not dependant on how much recovery I have or not. Does that make sense??
      Thanks so much for Sharing Amira!
      Hugs, Darlene

      Hi Elizabeth,
      Thank you for being here and for your encouragement. I am gald that you are part of this blog and part of my journey!
      Hugs, Darlene

  5. By: Amira Posted: 21st January

    As ususal, there were several things that stuck out to me in the post and in the comments, and I usually ramble like crazy, but Im going to try to focus today 🙂

    Darlene-you wrote “~Looks do not equal acceptance nor in any way do they have anything to do with self acceptance. Remember that most of my life I have been a normal weight, but my self esteem was in the toilet anyway.” I wish I would have heard this 25 years ago! I think for me, its always been about looks partially because I have a physical disability that makes me “different” from other people on the outside, and that was never something that was accepted or ok in my family, at least I never felt like it was, and of course since the imperfection was completely out of my control, I could do NOTHING to gain acceptance or approval, because I couldnt change it or “fix” it in any way, so I have always felt, and still feel to some degree, irreparable and less than others, even though its not “my fault”.

    So for me, I guess maybe as a way to try and gain acceptance from others, since it didnt seem like I was ever going to get it from the people that mattered most, I had to be as “perfect” as possible, even though I knew it wouldnt ever be good enough, it had to be better than nothing, and maybe someone, somewhere, someday would love me for being “almost perfect” so I became this chameleon of sorts, being exactly who the person I was trying to gain acceptance from wanted me to be. I had NO sense of self, no sense of belonging, no sense of security, peace, love, joy, nothing. It was all about trying to be “good enough” and since my family always saw me as “damaged”, I was told that I had to have someone to “take care of me” and if I didnt do/say/think/act the way whoever was “taking care of me” wanted me to, then what would happen to me, since I never believed I was capable of caring for myself. So that only increased the physical aspect of appearance, because I was told that the key to getting/keeping a man was to please him sexually (and since I couldnt take care of myself, I had to find some man who would be willing to accept a “damaged” girl and take care of her, and had to offer “something” in return for that) and I think that was reinforced in so many ways, by my family, tv, romance novels, and of course the “men” werent going to challenge that assumption. So I felt like to be fat, was like a death sentence, because if he(the caretaker) left because I gained weight, then I wouldnt be able to survive, and no one else would want to take care of a fat, damaged girl either. So to me, overweight wasnt just broken, it was dead.

    The weird thing was, which I didnt realize until very recently actually, I was never super thin, or overweight, I was just a normal size, but because men were interested in me, that was “good enough” for me, although I knew it wasnt good enough for my family…so the constant flow of men through my life, validated me somehow and made me have a very false sense of self worth that I never even realize was completely unfounded and was just because a man with no values and no morals, will sleep with any woman who will let him. So appearance and weight was all about having some kind of control over my life and not leaving EVERYTHING in someone else’s hands, because if I am attractive enough to have at least two men interested in me, there was always somewhere else to go if something went wrong.

    So for me, gaining weight (because of trying to make my husband think Im good enough (and eating and food are important to him) in addition to psychiatric drugs that made me gain weight by breathing air!!!!(not really, but it felt like it) So I ate a lot because he liked to eat and eventually the medication made me sick if I went hungry for too long, so I had to eat or I would just be ill all the time.) was a serious problem, and not just from a self esteem viewpoint. Then came the day (after years of serious depression because I couldnt lose the weight no matter how little I ate) that my husband said I wasnt attractive physically to him. Ugh, I have written about that a thousand times, but I cant even express the emotions that I felt at that moment. It was so much more than a “honey you need to change some things in your life” motivator (which is how he intended it to be) but because of all those internal beliefs rooted to the core of my being from birth, it was the equivalent of killing me, and any trust or love or thoughts or feelings for anyone or anything other than fear and loathing for myself ceased to exist.

    The only thing that allowed that to change, was YEARS of introspection and getting to the bottom of all these beliefs I held about myself. The real kicker for me, I think, is when I was diagnosed with “dependent personality disorder” I was FURIOUS with that doctor. I couldnt even begin to explain how much I wanted to take care of myself and do for myself and be happy with who I was, but that I had absolutely no faith in myself and no faith in anyone else and ZERO life skills to fall back on. My husband has literally had to teach me things like how to load the dishwasher so the dishes get clean, rather than just throwing them in however you want…or how to wash laundry. I literally NEVER was taught anything, I remember the ONE skill I was taught, by my father, was how to mop a floor, and he made me do it over, and over, and over and over again until I did it correctly and I was about 9 years old, and that is one of the best memories I have of my dad. Other than that, I was just ignored for the majority of my life by most people, until I was old enough to “get a man”, Im guessing because it was assumed I was incapable of doing anything on my own, so why bother teaching me.

    Now that I see all that clearly, its no wonder that I suffered so many incidents of sexual abuse, by so many people….and that realization, has given me the strength to do things I may never have tried, and to feel things I have never wanted to feel, and to just take every single opportunity to be independent and self sufficient that I can, if for no other reason, than to prove to me, that I am so much more than my body, and that I have worth far beyond what I can do in the bedroom. My self esteem has always been “in the toilet” and it had NOTHING to do with my weight, ever.

    Paulette–you said “That’s my thing – I definitely use food to calm the anxiety … but have yet to really and completely understand what triggers the anxiety. So frustrating!”

    This was EXACTLY why I ate at first, because it seemed to be the only thing that helped the seemingly insurmountable anxiety, and it kept me from losing weight, because I didnt know how to “get rid of” the anxiety and I couldnt function with it. It took me a LONG time to figure it all out, and I almost ended up addicted to my anxiety meds,and having already gone down the drug addiction road, I knew I couldnt do that again. So I started looking for non medical treatments that could help, since I couldnt take the meds anymore and the anxiety was unbearable and I couldnt gain any more weight and stay sane. Anyways, I tried magnesium supplements (which are very helpful) but for me that was not nearly enough, and I asked my doctor what to do, and she gave me vitamins and a new diet plan (for food allergies) and it eliminated gluten from my diet, and I realized that my anxiety (and anger/mood swings) were almost completely gone, the ENTIRE time I was gluten free, and then I did little “tests” where I would eat gluten and see what happened, and EVERY time, my anxiety came back and I was mean and moody. So the key for me, was no more gluten. It has helped tremendously, so you might want to look into diet changes for the anxiety issues.

    The best thing about gaining over 100 lbs, for me, has been that it has allowed me to see that I still am loveable, and valuable, and matter to others and can still be a positive presence in the world, even in a large body and it has forced me to confront the lies that i never saw until I was too fat to ignore them. Im learning to love me in this overweight body, and I hope that when Im back to a normal weight, I will love me even more.

  6. By: Paulette Posted: 21st January

    Lisa B … it will come slowly – and if I may say, from my own experience, I found I had to be ready and I gave myself some breathing room. It’s not easy facing those fears and it’s not easy facing the pain – but facing it is far easier than living in the slump. I know this well, been there – done that! I hope that this encourages you to not let the negative thinking affect you or get you down … think positive things about yourself and your life … you are worth it, you’re worth the work … as for how to keep going – sometimes its one day at a time, sometimes even one hour at a time … as long as its moving forward, every little inch counts. 🙂

  7. By: Lisa B. Posted: 21st January

    Darlene and everyone,

    I’ve been off the blog for a few days…not reading, not writing, not doing anything healthy for myself. I’m so glad everyone here seems to be having some kind of breakthrough…it gives me hope that breakthrough is possible. But the opposite is where I’ve been over the last few days. I’ve been moving backwards it seems. Food and weight are huge issues for me. I too eat to stuff feelings because I don’t want to feel them. I also use other “socially acceptable” addictions…like TV and books and other things. I also smoke. The reason I know I am using these things in an unhealthy way is that I need so many of them to keep the demons at bay. Eat a huge meal – or not even a meal, often a big bag of chips (with dip of course) – smoke a cigarette, then read (several books at a time, usually, and none of them self help…lol) while playing on Facebook, chatting with a friend online, watching TV…all at the same time. All the time, my journal sits next to me…beckoning me. I know what awaits there…probably some pain, but DEFINITELY some healing. I KNOW it is there. And yet I don’t do it. And then I get into a conversation with myself that none of this matters…nothing that happened when I was a child, none of the bad messages or lies. All that matters is today. I can choose differently today. And I don’t. Which means I’m just lazy and stupid and what’s the point anyway?

    This, obviously is a very circular and a very unhealthy way of thinking. I don’t want to be fat and unhappy forever. I don’t want to use food as protection. I want to protect myself the way I was never protected. I want to feel emotions in appropriate ways. I want to develop a healthy relationship with food (while still enjoying it) and not feel like I have to hide myself away because I only get in the way when I’m out there in the world. I only annoy people. So it’s probably best to just stay where I am. I don’t want to feel this way anymore.

    Having said that, I can’t seem to stick to any steps I take to breakthrough. I just take a few steps. Comment on a blog post. Or two. Go to the gym three days in a row. Write in my journal for a couple of days. And then the doom returns and the “lazy” label and the “why bother?” conversation. And I am fully cognizant that these are all delaying tactics.

    But I don’t know how to begin. That’s not really true. I know how to begin. I just don’t know how to keep going.

  8. By: Paulette Posted: 21st January

    So funny that you should say all that because inside I know that when I overcome, it will change all my relationships for the better. My kids are 10 to 14 and I notice the exact same thing – the more I heal, the more I change which changes things around me and it does make all the hard stuff worth it! Thanks for that encouragement!!

  9. By: Paulette Posted: 21st January

    Kelly’s post @ 10:21pm … I could so relate to what you wrote Kelly – that is how I look at my overweight – it is a symptom of not allowing myself to feel or have a voice. I look at it as my adult self still treating the little girl I used to be, the same way my family has treated me. How warped is that?!

    Therapeutic writing does wonders! When I did this last night – this is basically the breakthrough I had – I wasn’t allowing that little abused girl have a voice, I wasn’t allowing her to feel even though the silent screams were deafening! I know this will be a slow process getting it all out – but finding that root is amazing. Painful, yet amazing. Painful in that I treat myself the way I said I would never (and don’t) ever treat my kids – it makes me ill thinking that I can’t show the same love towards myself as I do my own children – my own children who I allow to have a voice, who I allow to stick up for themselves. Coming to this realization is quite overwhelming … but also emancipating.

    Anyway, I blogged about it:

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 21st January

      I have discovered this too, that sometimes I use food to do to myself what abusers did to me. I learned to pick up where they left off. I used to use drugs to accomplish the same end. (never worked either) Recovery happens in stages for me. I rarely stress eat anymore nor do I have the same coping methods around food that I used to have ~ but sometimes I still want to escape myself. The longer that I do this self validation work, the more I see how deep it goes. But I am willing to keep going deeper because the sun gets brighter and my world gets better with each new discovery. And it is very helpful to look at how we feel about our own kids and how we relate to them, in order to see how much LESS we give to ourselves. The more I validate myself, the better I am with my kids too! Even though I was fairly happy with the way that I was with them before!
      ~ I have three teenagers ages 13 to 19 ~ the more I love me, the more settled that I become. The more settled that I become within myself, the more accepting of everyone else that I become. And that makes the hard stuff worth it!
      I loved your blog post! Thanks for sharing it with us!
      Hugs, Darlene

      p.s. and now I am going to do a little self care and take a trip to the mountains for the rest of the day with my husband! (just the two of us) ~ please feel free to keep this conversation going and I will catch up later on!
      LOVE Darlene

  10. By: Jasmine Posted: 21st January

    Yes, I did feel that I deserved all the abuse and rejection because I was fat. And even after losing 40+ pounds in 6 months many years later, I still felt that I don’t deserve to be happy. I needed to be underweight to be satisfied (as if there will ever be a “lowest” weight).

    EDs are not about food, little about body image, and everything about control. When I went into therapy to deal with the effects of abuse, I didn’t even know that my relationship with food was anything wrong. In fact, I only knew that something was wrong 2 months before therapy ended. But the amazing thing was that as I began to gain a little more of the healthy control in life, my grip over food begin to loosen.

    There is a reason why abused women turn to food, just like others will turn to drugs or promiscuity.

  11. By: Kelly Posted: 20th January

    Hi Darlene – I just recently began reading your blog, which has been a validating resource for me. Without going into too much detail at this time, I will say that I experienced severe childhood abuse – emotional, physical and sexual – from various members of my immediately family. I have also struggled with weight issues for most of my life. Your closing comment on this blog post (“Fat is not a feeling”) really struck me, because that is exactly opposite from the premise my therapist and I have been working around. I offer this only for your consideration: fat IS feelings…at least for some of us.

    As a child, I learned to shut down any feelings or emotions I had because I simply couldn’t handle them. They were too scary, too angry, too sad. It was as though feeling those feelings would have exponentially increased my vulnerability. Still in self-protection mode, I have retained that pattern of non-feeling into my adulthood. Eating has been a way to help me not feel those emotions I don’t want to feel, and I have come to see the extra weight on my body as the physical embodiment of the feelings I don’t (can’t) allow myself to experience.

    For me, believing that “fat IS feelings” helps me see myself – my body – with more empathy and understanding. And that, in turn, is helping me *begin* to change my eating behaviors and my thought patterns around emotions.

    Thanks for your courage and insights.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 21st January

      Hi Kelly,
      Welcome! You bring up a valid point ~ that the body weight is the manifestation of the feelings that I don’t allow myself to feel. I have actually thought about this in the past too and it is true and I agree that it is a great way to look at it. Thanks for being here and for this contribution. I really hope that everyone reads your comment Kelly.
      Hugs, Darlene

      p.s. about my own comment ~ when I said that fat is not a feeling (in the singular) ~ I was referring to the statement when I say to myself “I feel fat” (because I “feel fat” when I am not fat at all) but looking at it your way is a better way to look at it!

      Hi Jasmine
      You make great points also. The root of this problem is not about food or body image, and it is exactly the same as using drugs and any other coping method for that matter. The problem is that using food (eating it or not eating it) to escape, doesn’t work and only causes more problems.
      Thanks for this comment Jasmine!
      Hugs, Darlene

  12. By: Paulette Posted: 20th January

    That’s my thing – I definitely use food to calm the anxiety … but have yet to really and completely understand what triggers the anxiety. So frustrating!

  13. By: Angela Contreras Posted: 20th January

    Hi Fi I understand hiding I do at times living with Lupus and Diabetes I was diagnosed with Diabetes in 08 and lupus in 04. While I was hiding and trying to be away from people. I found myself writing and it turned into more writings for a website so it was healing. I still eat for the wrong reasons it is a work in progress I am an over eater and always will be. Just have to keep it at a balance and I don’t know how to do it. I know who but don’t know how to keep it up. As long as I follow an eating plan it works but I go off it to often so gain weight up and down. I know it is not good to do that. Food still makes me feel safe even thought I know it is not and it is just a lie I tell myself but food is a hard addiction for me to stop using food to help me feel better. Wish you the best.

  14. By: Fi MacLeod Posted: 20th January

    For me being ‘fat’, being ‘overweight’ was normal. I’ve never known anything else at any stage of my life. I was a fat baby, a fat kid, a fat adolescent and became a fat adult. My parents starved and force fed me as a way of controlling, abusing, punishing and manipulating me throughout childhood.

    I never knew a healthy attitude to food. Fat was the norm but boy have I always hated it? Yes, I sure have – but I also saw fat as being protective.

    Being fat’s always been a negative for me too. And I always felt I was fat because I was so broken and messed up inside and there was no hope for me to ever be anything else but fat because that’s what I’ve always been. And I deserved to be fat because I was such an awful horrible person or so I’d been led to believe. Talk about messed up belief systems!!

    But being fat grew into 2 eating disorders and emotional eating – feeling bad and a failure but unable to get off the endless cycle but eating because I was feeling bad then feeling even worse for having eaten for feeling bad – and now it’s probably indirectly caused the diabetes I’ve just been diagnosed with – and I do not know how on earth to turn it around except a way has to be found.

    And maybe finding the courage to comment after spending a week hiding away following the diabetes diagnosis is the first step.

    Yeah it sure is a huge subject. But I agree being fat is not about food, it’s about SOOOOO much more than that.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 21st January

      Hi Fi
      I love your description of the “endless cycle” ~ That is exactly how it goes. (and with all coping methods if you think about it) It is very hard to learn healthy attitudes when we never learned them in the first place. My mother actually did provide good nutrition and eating habits. What went wrong was that she taught me my body was all I had; that it was my value.. messages that we have deep down get mixed in with using food as a drug and it gets complicated to sort them out because there are usually so many!

      Everyone ~ The comments about illness and anxiety reminded me of something; When I was in my thirties I had really bad arthritis and I bought this book about healing illness through diet. I followed it to the letter and I overcame the arthritis. Turns out it was related to unhealthy eating habits and basically the book was about reducing the acidity in my body ~ all this to say that I have once again developed this arthritis and this time I can’t seem to stick to the healthy food plan that I used the last time to reduce the acidity! I can do it for a week or two but then I get so much “clarity” about the depth of my thoughts that I can hardly stand it. I know this is the root of why it is so hard to give up a coping method. It is because of the fear of facing the very thing that I am avoiding by using a coping method!

      Thanks for sharing Fi and it is great to have you back!
      Hugs, Darlene

  15. By: Angela Contreras Posted: 20th January

    Paulette, I felt the same and beat myself up for many many years. God is doing for me what I cannot do for myself. I have a lot of healing to go. I feel it is a process for the rest of my life. I don’t believe I will be completely healed 100% cause as long as I am in this human body I will have things I have to work on. What helps me fee more whole and complete is this saying I say ” I am complete and Whole I am a beautiful child of God.” I know God loves us we are his children he loved us way before we even were born into these human bodies that we have. We are whole and complete in God’s eyes. We are just learning how to live being Human. I strongly believe that we are Spiritual beings having a human experience, first and for most we are Spiritual beings and we are Perfect Spiritual beings. We are also human so being human is why we have these situations that happen. Abuse and sickness and so on.

    I am over weight because 1 I love food 2 I started gaining when I was on Prednsisone. Thank God I am off of it. I don’t feel like I am bad because I am fat. I like myself most of the time. Some of the time I can say I love myself. I do not like the weight but I dont feel that dooming feeling because I have been in recovery and working on myself doing the foot work to be able to live with myself and be half way sane and serene for the most part I am. That is only because of the love and faith I have in God.

  16. By: Paulette Posted: 20th January

    Great points Darlene – thank you! Some folk can be broken while still maintaining a healthy body weight – for sure.
    For me, I know the weight, which is linked to emotional eating – which gets out of control when anxiety is heightened, and anxiety is often a result of anything that triggers me. If I feel taken advantage of or weak or feel like a failure (which is more than I care to admit), I eat – even thinking about those questions I can’t answer regarding my own recovery give me anxiety. It’s a frustrating place to be and it often feels totally debilitating. I hate struggling with it – hate it! hate it! hate it!!

  17. By: Paulette Posted: 20th January

    To Angela – such kind words!

    Having mothers like ours is … well, … no fun – let’s put it that way. I beat myself up for years thinking I was such a terrible person for her to not love me. I know now that it was just never in her to give and that she never saw ‘me.’ ‘Love’ to her isn’t love – ‘love’ to her is her ability to control and being ‘worshipped.’

    I am healing – so much of it I was able to do on my own (with God) – but it was the exterior stuff on how to be a good mom and wife and learning how to love, and learning by God’s teaching, that I do have value and worth – but it came from Him and not from me. I became a child of God when I accepted Jesus as Saviour when I was 26 yrs old. I’m now 45. His joy and strength has got me through A LOT and I love Him deeply because of all he’s done. But what has been toughest to overcome is that which is rooted deep at the core of me that still needs to be found before I can uproot it. I look at it as finding the weed in a bed of wildflowers – ya kind of have to know what you’re looking for before you can uproot it … who knows, maybe I’m just rambling nonsense! 🙂

    I want so much to overcome all this and to get on with my life. I want to feel empowered and fearless. And most of all, I want to feel whole and I feel I am closer to that goal now than I have ever been. 🙂

  18. By: Paulette Posted: 20th January

    Darlene … So interesting that you’d say, “I am not broken because I am overweight” but I’ve viewed it as “I’m overweight because I’m broken” and have often wondered if other women too are overweight because they are OR they FEEL broken on the inside. Just a thought. Anyway, its how I feel right now – ‘that I am overweight because I am broken, on the inside’ and I hope that therapy will reveal to me how to fix it. And that God will give me the strength to to actually do it! :o)

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 20th January

      Hi Paulette,
      I maybe should have worded that differently. I know that my weight was always part of my broken, except that I didn’t have that much of a weight problem BEFORE I stopped dissociating but I had a weight obsession problem. No one really ever saw it except a few times when I was overweight or underweight. Weight can absolutely be a “symptom” of brokenness but it isn’t the defining factor. (I am not sure how to explain it) Lots of people that are overweight or underweight or the perfect weight are broken. And lots of them are not, or they don’t define themselves that way. When I went through the biggest and hardest part of my process I was never overweight ~ all those years. So because I gained weight now, I can’t say that I am broken again. I am not suggesting that you don’t say you are broken just that weight is not really the measuring stick, if that makes sense? My doctor told me that I gained weight because of menopause this last 2 years and she said that it would take up to 5 years to straighten out.. and that could be true ~ but it isn’t the point.
      I love this conversation Paulette! Some of your comments on this post are giving me all sorts of ideas for future posts!
      Hugs, Darlene

  19. By: Angela Contreras Posted: 20th January

    Paulette… It sounds like we had the same mother. I believe your healing. You have love for others that is healing. What helps me is going within myself. I believe God is with in us each and everyone of us God is also outside of us. God is everything, everywhere and God resides in you. God is within you Paulette. God made you and God does not make junk. I use a affirmations and one affirmation that I have used from the beginning of my search in healing and recovery is:

    “I am the place where God shines through for He and I are one not two, I need not fret, nor fear nor plan, He wants me here and as I am, and if I be relaxed and free he’ll carry out His plans for me.”

    I do a lot of positive self talk to myself when I get negative thoughts I try to change my thoughts to positive thoughts, like the thought of God. The thought of Love, Joy, Peace and Serenity. When I think those thoughts I am in the moment not the future.

    I look in the mirror look into my eyes and say “Angela I love you and I give myself a hug while my eyes are looking into my eyes. I then say “Angela You are a Beautiful child of God.”

    Those are some of the self positive talk I give myself and it helps. Some times I cry when I do it but the more I do it the better I start to feel. Writing notes positive notes on the mirror helps me.

    Paulette you are healing as we speak.

    I used to look for love and approval from my mom and the more I looked the worse I felt. Once I came to see that all the love and Approval I need is from God. Now I am human so I still some times go through feeling I need approval from someone else. But I have experienced that God brings the people to us who we need in are lives. Embrace the Love of God you have the Love of God right inside of you. God is all around you and is keeping you safe. Just reach out and feel the love and let is surround you. Keeping positive thoughts and sending you hugs and Love.. Angela…

  20. By: Paulette Posted: 20th January

    Angela ~ Just reading what you wrote, something hit me. My self worth was way in the toilet all the years of my life. My worth has been so based on what my mother thinks of me and my actions. Trouble was, there was no pleasing this woman no matter how hard I tried. In my mid-twenties I have up for awhile and lived as I wished which made my inner turmoil worse. When I became a Christian – it was like I fully betrayed her because that meant God was now my All – not her. However, that did not change my worth and how it was based on what my mother thought!! I suppose it still is to some degree and I hope to get this pulled out by the ROOT! I’m so tired of carrying it around – I know that even still there is some part of me that still yearns (although its more insignificant than it ever used to be) for her approval – for her actions to line up with her words that tell me I’ve done a good job. I know intellectually that this will never happen, but my heart still yearns for it and that is where that nasty root is.

    Goes to show how critically important it is to a child to have their mother’s approval in what they do – and more than that, unconditional love, which is what I never got. My mother’s love was always conditional – and the conditions were always so out of reach that I could never attain that level of perfection she expected. This meant to me that her love was unattainable. I eventually just gave up trying to get it.

    So often now, I don’t wish other people fatter than me … now when I look at anyone overweight, I wonder instead what broke them – because underneath those layers, I’ll bet there is a broken person underneath, broken by something – it could be abuse, or loss, or illness, etc. I probably have greater compassion for overweight folk than I ever did before. Is this part of the healing?? I don’t know … but I sure hope it is. Maybe I need to see myself also as someone broken who needs and yearns for compassion and mending … will that come from somewhere outside myself or from within myself?? I don’t know … but however it comes, I will embrace it and go with it!! I want so much to overcome!

  21. By: Angela Contreras Posted: 20th January

    Oh I also catch myself wishing others were fat. People I have not seen in years I wish they were fatter then me..LOL I can laugh at my thinking now but it does happen from time to time.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 20th January

      Hi Paulette,
      And that is the whole thing. Defining when it began, the history, the feelings, the roots of the belief system. I want to talk a look at all of it. I have some murky areas too. This is the first subject on Emerging from Broken that I have written about where I am not 100% resolved in my own life about my body issues; but I am happy enough and have enough self acceptance now to talk about them.
      I have the same issue about looking in the mirror and seeing my mother. and that makes me want to escape my body ~ and wanting to escape my body makes me lose awareness of my body (like dissociating from it) and that leads me to not be conscious of what I am eating… and round and round it goes. And there are many issues. There are feelings of not deserving to be attractive mixed in with feelings about it being dangerous to be attractive. I am ready to sort it out!
      I am glad that I have others to share in the journey with!
      Hugs, Darlene

      Hi Angela,
      Yes, the history ~ the parts we know about and the mysteries we can’t figure out yet… that is the process. I liked men whistling at me… it was thrilling (both wonderful and terrifying) and I got my identity from all that and it made me feel ashamed; then when I got married at 29 and had kids I shut it down. I know that this is a big tangled mess, but I have tackled bigger ones then this one! I have memory of stealing an extra cupcake ~ I think about it every time I think about this issue but can’t put my finger on why I am so fixated on that memory. Maybe I should write about it!
      It is all these little things that we are writing about, that add up to the whole picture. Freedom is in there too! and it is not so much freedom from the weight that I am talking about ~ it is freedom from the thoughts of it, the wrong beliefs about it, the “burden” of it. It is about loving myself AND accepting my age, my weight, knowing that it all goes together as a package deal.
      Hugs, Darlene

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 20th January

      What you have shared it key KEY for all struggles, not just the weight or body stuff. you said ” My worth has been so based on what my mother thinks of me and my actions.” and that is where the stick point is. We learn disapproval ~ we believe it. As you said, that is where the nasty root is. I got so stuck in thinking the healing would come from somewhere outside myself. But today i know that it always comes from within myself. I can take actions, have mentors, read books, but in the end, I have to do the work.

      I had to take a look about my definition of wholeness when I realized that I still believed that overweight is broken; that was about me too. The only difference between overweight and not overweight, is that we can see it. I have met a lot of very broken people in beautiful bodies. I had to realize my own definition of broken and today I don’t define weight that way anymore. I am not broken because I am overweight. I also had to look at my definition of wholeness. The weight/body issue is only one issue ~ and wholeness is about embracing the journey.

      These comments are really wonderful and full of depth. I could write several more blog posts from the comments!
      Hugs, Darlene

  22. By: Angela Contreras Posted: 20th January

    Darlene… I really relate to every thing you shared. I was a normal weight all my life until my late 20s and it went up from there. I always thought I was fat and ugly when I was thin and looked beautiful. Now being over 100 pounds over weight I like myself. I do not like being over weight but I do not hate myself. I have found exactly what you said that food is a comfort and safety for me. The abuse sexual abuse when I was thinner men would look at mean and whistle at me when I walked and I would close up and get so mad, I got so angry my anger turned inward and I would eat and hit myself cut myself yell and scream. I hated who I was and did not know where all the rage came from. I was raging for years. The raging started as a child very young hitting my head on the walls at two years old. Started cutting myself at about 6 that I remember. Got my mom evicted out of apartments. My mom put me on diets since I was 5 years old. She was a ballet teacher and she wanted me to be a ballerina, I was put on scales weekly. I was not fat at all. I had a huge problem with food. She had me eat what every I want on Sundays and pretty much eat very little through the week. When I was young in elementary school the teachers were ups set cause i had not lunch money or no lunch bad they called my mom. I grew up very mixed up with all things. Food being a huge addiction along with drugs and alcohol. I so relate to what you share with us. Thank you.. Hugs Angela

  23. By: Paulette Posted: 19th January

    Darlene … I can’t wait for the next one. I was chubby as a little kid until I was about 13 years old when my one and only friend told me I was fat. Her name was Marianne and I was so hurt. It felt like she punched me in the gut! Well, I ate hardly anything and exercised every day almost non-stop. Even watching evening TV – I had to be exercising. I have always been an all-or-nothing girl … this pace-yourself stuff is REALLY hard for me and I get so FRUSTRATED when I can’t be the all-or-nothing girl!!

    I managed to stay active after that and maintain a healthy weight until I became a Christian – this is when my mother’s abuse stepped up radically. The weight gain got worse with pregnancies. I gained over 60 pounds with first baby – lost 40 lbs when I got pregnant with baby #2 – after this baby gained 60 pounds – didn’t lose it when I got pregnant with baby #3 – but I didn’t gain anymore either – I was the same weight after having him as I was when I got pregnant with him. Three years ago I lost about 68 pounds – and I have now gained it all back – most of it in the last year with all the family crap. My anxiety reached an all time high and so did my reach for food – snack food. Energy plummeted which meant the gym became a bygone. It’s so hard for me getting to the root of this. I know its somehow abuse-related, and I hope to get to the bottom of it. I hope that as you write on this subject, that there will be a breakthrough for me.

    Even with this post – I too have felt the same as you – taking joy in the weight gain of those who hurt me. Like my mother who is severely overweight. And my extra weight bothers me so much because I DO NOT want to be my mother or look like my mother. I’ve had a few people tell me I look like her and I find myself seething! Not because I hate her (I don’t think), but because I just don’t want to look like her – she’s an abuser and I don’t want to be defined that way – that’s how I see that.

    I often wonder if the reason why I don’t take charge of my health is if maybe its rooted so deep in my core that I believe I don’t deserve to look attractive. I don’t know. I’ve thought the weight is a protective barrier maybe. I don’t know. Could it be that I am punishing myself for something that is beyond my control anyway?? I don’t know. I don’t know!! And its driving me crazy!

  24. By: Shell Posted: 19th January

    Good thoughts. Both sides of that make sense to me. Thank you for sharing your journey.

    btw, in the 5th paragraph, I believe you meant to say that it is a lie that it is IMpossible to be happy when one is fat.

    Thanks again.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 19th January

      Hi Jackie,
      That is really awful that you had to go through that. I don’t if we actually “let” people make fun of us or if we just can’t do anything about it because we had come to feel so down about ourselves. When I think about being abused in any way I didn’t ever really consider that I had a choice in the first place.
      Thanks for sharing!
      Hugs, Darlene

      Hi Shell
      THANK YOU for catching big typo. Yikes that was a bad one. I really appreciate you pointing it out.
      Thank you for your comment too!
      Hugs, Darlene

  25. By: Jackie Posted: 19th January

    Interestin readin…when you’re faced with those friends who are “different” in weight, you find it more difficult to relate to them for fear of bein made fun of or put down or even laughed at by those same who you call “friend”. I remember goin through High School lookin like a target for laughter most the time and endin up the brunt of jokes due to my “looks” and such. I would not eat lunch on many occasion due to the “fun” found of me. I was an outcast to most in my grade due to my apparel / looks / and ways bout me. I learned to adjust by turnin their hate inward on myself and I did it this way for most my high school years. I let others make fun of me b/c I was to stupid to stand up for myself. I was always afraid if I did, I’d get whopped down later. High school wasn’t a grand thing for me b/c I always let everyone “get” to me on things they said and would do to me as a joke. Did I deserve it….no, did I take it…ya….why…b/c I felt so alone as is so why not ya know. Anyway I graduated and couldn’t wait to be gone of those years in High School.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.