Individuals who have experienced sexual violence in any form, no matter what age the assault occurred, are sadly often left with trying to cope and make sense of what happened. The trauma forever changes the person, and each person is different in how they process the traumatic event. There are multitudes of ways individuals might cope. The pain often becomes too great to bear, and for some, this might lead to struggling with addiction. In many cases, it doesn’t take much for a person to become addicted. One taste, one drink, a smell, or a picture (just to name a few) is all it could take for a person to become “hooked.” This new experience produces a good feeling leading to wanting more. The more one does something; it becomes easy to be addicted to it. The word addict is scary enough but when the addict is you, it suddenly becomes more real. I am an addict. I am addicted to food as a result from all the abuse I suffered through.
My whole life has been based around food. I used food as protection and as a mask to hide behind. I thought by eating more, it would be a cover to what was happening to me. I couldn’t control the abuse, but I could control what I put in my mouth. I thought if I ate more then I would be left alone. My feelings didn’t matter. I didn’t matter. But food did. Food became my best friend. I gained weight, but that didn’t change or stop the abuse. I ate more and more to stuff away what I was feeling and try to forget.
My life changed and my whole entire world was turned upside down when I graduated high school and left for college. I was suddenly placed in unfamiliar territory. I no longer had the same access to food all the time. I had to purchase a meal plan. I had to walk from the dorms to the college for meals. I went from eating as an obsession to hardly eating at all. This led to another problem. I was starving myself, and I was using walking as my new fixation. I lost almost 80 in less than 2 months.
This “hidden” addiction I have has been just as harmful as the effects from alcohol, drugs, or any other addiction. I know I can stop this if I want…or can I? Today, I still struggle with my addiction. I will sometimes emotionally eat or not eat at all. I also realize that only I can change old habits. I began a journey to self-wholeness. I am trying to change the way I view myself. I tell myself I am worth it, and I do matter. I decided to use mindfulness to help me overcome. I ask myself before I eat, “am I eating because I am hungry? Or am I eating to hide or stuff feelings?” The mindfulness has helped slow down my consumption of food, as well as when and how much I eat. The battle is ongoing. Healing takes time. I am happy to say that my emotional eating addiction is slowing down. While it is still there, I no longer feel the desire to use food as a shield. And that’s progress.