I knew I shouldn’t have bought it yesterday when I went grocery shopping but I couldn’t just help myself. Not when they had taken a 25% discount off it too. Now the bowl of ice-cream called out to me from the fridge asking me to take just a scoop. I looked down at my wriggly 120 kg frame; the protruding stomach my girdle was struggling to cover, my thunder thighs, all the extra flab that jiggled when I walked and I made a decision. Taking just one scoop could not do any more damage to my already unwieldy frame.
After finishing the bowl, I felt the inevitable stab of guilt, of disgust, of self-loathing. And I began to wonder how I started this downward spiral. I hadn’t always been this way.
As a child, I grew up with very bad acne. It was so bad that my classmates named me: ‘Pimply Fanny’. I was a sensitive child and their words hurt me badly as well as their actions. They even took turns trying to pick at my pimples. My parents were too busy to care; my mother only told me that I would grow out of it when I got older. I couldn’t understand why I was this way. My mother had beautiful, flawless skin and then I was told I took after Aunt Jasmine who suffered from acne too as a child. Aunt Jasmine however was so lively and full of spunk I could not imagine anyone ever taunting her. I felt so alone. One day, a boy came to pull my hair and said: “You’re so ugly. That’s why no one ever wants to play with you.” That cut me deep. He had told me what I always suspected. That day, I cried my eyes out when I got home. But no one was at home that day to comfort me. After I finished crying, I opened the fridge and saw a half eaten cake in it. An impulse seized me and I took it out of the fridge and demolished it. I felt so much better after that. That was the beginning of my using food as a means of comfort.
After a while, I grew from Pimply fanny to Chunky Fanny. But the teasing didn’t seem to hurt me as much because it seemed I had discovered a friend in food. Food wouldn’t abuse you or pull your hair. Food was malleable-it did whatever you wanted it to do. Over the years, I used food as an escape alternately gaining weight and losing some. The sadder I got, the more weight I put on.
I met my husband Tom at one of my catering events. (Yes, I had to become a caterer. How could I give up the opportunity of working with food?) I couldn’t believe he wanted me. I lost so much weight effortlessly because Tom became my drug. We got married and I was deliriously happy for two years. Then the doctors told us we couldn’t have a baby. Tom and I were not enough drugs for each other. I turned to food and he turned to drink. It was only a matter of time before he left me.
Last month, he wrote a note for me when I was out to work and I haven’t seen him since then. I have added over 10kg in the last month and counting. I stare into the empty bowl of ice-cream and see myself. An empty, depressed, middle-aged, fat woman on the verge of hopelessness. I knew something had to give.
That night I listen to a re-run of an old Billy Graham’s crusade. His voice was filled with hope as he urged the people to come forward. The kind of hope I wanted to have again. Then I knelt in front of the television and made another decision. I would switch allegiances. If God cared about me as much as Billy said he did, I didn’t need food as a comfort.
I went to bed and slept for the first time without waking up to take a midnight snack. This morning I got up and looked at the fridge and smiled to myself. I was going to replace my early morning milk-shake by taking a long walk.
P.S: Addictions are never easy to get rid of. Whether it’s food, drink, drugs or porn. But God promises us freedom when we put our trust in Him. Sometimes, all we need to do is switch allegiances and decide Whom we are going to serve. Have you ever had an addiction? How did you deal with it?