Friday, 12 October 2012

Childhood sexual abuse, obesity as protection and anxiety around weight loss...

I have always watched programs like 'The Biggest Loser' and 'Supersize VS Superskinny', and - I admit - kind of rolled my eyes when they get to parts where they dig out old photos and go into the emotional reasons behind their over-eating. I would sit there thinking that it was all over-dramatized for the benefit of the camera and the audience. I'd sit there saying to the screen, "Yeah, right - You just like eating too much and you know it!".

However, I say this now with shame and sobriety, as I believe that I have discovered in my past, a major key to my obesity and weight gain. I understand now that a persons' past, their subconscious, their fears and doubts may contribute to their eating habits, as may well be the case for me.

I have yo-yo'd up and down before and just put it down to low will power, enjoyment of food, comfort eating, lack of self discipline, etc, which, in part, it is. But I now believe that there is something else going on and I think I've finally figured it out, entirely accidentally. I kind of stumbled upon the realization, but now I wonder how it was never obvious before.

I was sexually abused as a young girl. I never had any issues with my weight as a child. I was fairly thin, naturally (and also owing to my mum being pretty hard up financially):

Me in black in the middle, aged 10

I gained weight rapidly after the abuse stopped, when I was about 14 years old and I was very overweight until I was 16/17.

Me on the left, aged 15

Then by 18, I lost a lot of weight through starvation and extreme amounts of exercise:

I didn't give much thought as to why, to be honest, but I've yo-yo'd up and down since then. I was very overweight late last year, and now I'm getting to be a more 'normal' size. But I've been falling into bad habits this last few weeks...

It's like I know I'm sabotaging my hard work, but I go ahead and do it anyway. So, WHY? I think it has everything to do with my past. Recently, I have felt anxiety when I have noticed my slender wrists and veins in my hands. I've also noticed a few appreciative glances from men, and felt disturbed by it. I feel ANXIOUS about being slim. It wasn't your typical epiphany, it has taken me a while to slot the pieces together, but I'm starting to wonder: Perhaps what I am feeling anxious about, is being desirable?

It's not that I don't want to be attractive, I DO. A big motivator in my weight loss so far, has been wanting my husband to be attracted to me. But on a largely subconscious way, I am aware of anxiety around getting slim. The 'click' moment came while out running a little over a week ago, when I said to myself, "I'm vulnerable". And that's exactly it. I feel vulnerable because I am getting thin. I know it makes no sense, but I also know it makes me want to eat. Lots.

I am kicking myself. I don't want to be fat. I do want to be thin. I do want to be attractive. I do want to be healthy. But I feel like my weight protects me, if not from anything real then at least from anxiety. And there is, after all, nothing more deserving of fear than fear itself.

The last time I was out running, I got scared. Because it occurred to me that people might actually think to attack me now, and I didn't feel safe. Those thoughts had never entered my head when out running before. I've always felt empowered and strong when running - like I am a powerful and formidable force.

When I started to get scared I told myself I was being silly, and put it out of my mind until I got home (but I haven't been out running since). Until now, I hadn't put two and two together. I hadn't considered that there might be a connection between that fear, and my past or my new, slighter figure.

But now that I think about it... I believe that the fear of danger when out running has come about because I don't have the extra weight to protect me - because who would rape a fat girl, right? I know it doesn't make any sense. I know the weight doesn't really protect me, but I felt safe with it on and now I feel vulnerable. It's the only way that I can put it. I miss running... but something strong has held me back from getting out of the door for over a week now. I feel like I want to go, but I don't.

What a sucky, sucky place. I'm totally horrified at the idea of ending up back where I was: miserable with my weight, unhealthy, unattractive, self-loathing, not feeling worthy... But at the same time, I am very aware that I'm anxious and I feel vulnerable. I am sabotaging my diet, I'm not working out, I'm eating the wrong foods... I've had several, several thousand calorie binges lately, intentionally - I've gone to the shops specifically to buy binge foods. And done it in secret. I've spent so much money on food.

And on top of everything, putting two and two together and realizing this may be related to the abuse, has got me thinking about the past. And got me feeling angry and frustrated and depressed, that it feels like this will be a life-long battle, and that I will never truly be free of him. I feel like I'll always, on some level, no matter how much it seems that I'm 'better', be that abused little girl. A victim. And I just want to run to the shops and stuff my face until I'm numb inside.