My Shame-Filled Love Affair with Food.
Food has been my lifelong lover.
Food has never left me, never hurt me, never shamed me, and never talked back.
Food lets me indulge with reckless abandon always, no matter what, no matter where, no matter how…
Eat in pleasure.
Eat in pain.
Be good, eat.
Be bad, eat.
Food does not judge.
Food joins me in my victories and failures, without discrimination, always, never flailing, never faltering, never leaving me in any bliss or any mess I have ever made.
Unlike humans, food has never discarded me when I make mistakes, asked me what was wrong with me in my struggles, told me I was not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough, or that I was incapable.
Food has never died.
Food has never abandoned me.
Food is always there for me.
Food has loved me for 48 years like no other.
Food is the only unconditional love I have ever known.
Typing that, seeing that in black and white, fully processing that as the foundational truth of my lifelong, shame-filled love affair with food, allowing the depths of that statement, that sadness, to settle into the remaining unhealed cracks of my soul….Whew! I need to breath it in again, feel it fully and allow myself to sit in that truth and grieve for as long as it takes.
Food is the only unconditional love I have ever known.
When I left my 14-year-long emotionally abusive marriage, the unraveling of my codependent dysfunctional human relationship also, unbeknownst to me, began the unraveling of my dysfunctional love affair with food.
My daughter was 3 when I left. Since the day she began eating solid food, I was adamant about nourishing her precious body in the purest, healthiest way possible.
My child only ate organic, whole foods, while I stuffed down my marriage, my misery, my life, my ceaseless, never-ending pain with chemical-filled feasts of slow-acting poison, hoping subconsciously every single day that the toxins would kill me sooner rather than later.
It took me six months after leaving to wake up from the trauma and drama that had been my marriage. At that time, I could only wake just enough enough to realize I was deeply depressed. I was physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually unhealthier than I had ever been in my life.
This was rock bottom.
Finally, I had had enough. It was time to claw my way up and out of the dark hole where I lived for entirely too long.
I already knew a lot about the miracles of food and the healing magic provided by the abundance of our natural medicines on Earth.
When my daughter started school at 18 months, she came home, like most kids do, with the daycare super-bug. The infection that would not die made its way through our little family non-stop for six weeks straight. I gave my baby every pharmaceutical medicine imaginable to stop her pain and to end my torturous sleep-deprivation.
Whatever it is, give it to me. I need the magic pill… Please, heal her and return my family to sanity!
That was my mantra until the day they told me she was asthmatic, would need a nebulizer and to be on meds for the rest of her life. On that day, Mama Bear finally came out of hibernation and said, “No more!”
That afternoon, I researched green smoothies for kids.
Two days later, filled to the brim with pure, natural vitamins and minerals, my daughter was returned to her natural state of vibrant, healthy perfection. Asthma miraculously healed in less than 48 hours.
Now, reflecting back on the knowledge I had, the loving, nurturing gift I gave my child and my continued unhealthy food choices, I realize my self-hatred was so deep that I did not feel worthy of anything except dying a slow, miserable death all day every single day through the poisoning of my body, mind and spirit.
It was only in my deep depression, looking up from rock bottom, that I finally decided not that I deserved more, as I still lived in the depths of my self-loathing, but I determined that if I didn’t change up the game, I was going to kill myself, and my children, now products of divorce, deserved a mother.
I began researching natural depression-cures. Low and behold, there were links between gluten, processed foods and depression, as well as between gluten and many other issues that my tired, sick body was displaying.
The day I gave up gluten and all other processed foods, I had a sinus infection and cough that had been hanging on for months, I woke every morning with icky, caked-on eye goop, aches, pains and creaks that I just rationalized were normal after 40, an ever-present dull headache, adult acne covering much of my body, and a multitude of other outward manifestations of the level of sickness permeating every cell of my being.
Three days after eliminating processed foods, my body began to fall in love with herself for the first time.
Sinus infection and cough, gone.
Chronic aches and pains, gone.
Hope finally returning.
I wish I could tell you that was it, emotional eating, food addiction, cured, but, for me, this was only the beginning of a courtship, the possibility of love looming, there was still much work to be done.
80 pounds fell from my body over the next six months. All health issues I had took care of themselves, and I began to see that the same love I had for my daughter’s precious body worked equally well for mine and that I deserved it.
I physically felt better than I had in my 20s, and my super-fit primary care physician actually asked me what I was doing to maintain such vibrant health as she had never seen a plus-sized woman with a family history of cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure transcend all those genetic obstacles to ultimately be only “slightly deficient in vitamin D.”
The results of my physical healing led me to the additional work of therapy, mental and spiritual healing, that has since brought me to a place of whole health and peace that I didn’t even know could possibly exist.
Today I regularly give my body complete and total rest, peace, quiet and stillness, through intermittent fasting. Initially, I would set the intention during the fast to be shown what emotions my food intake and dietary habits were obscuring.
Remaining worthiness issues, fears and any other emotions I used to eat to cover, making their way to the surface as the distraction of food/digestion, no longer hides the lingering calls of my soul to be seen, heard and deeply loved.
My journey home to loving my body also provided me the opportunity to examine my relationship with exercise.
The “no pain, no gain” Crossfit, boot camp exercise mentality, for me, just never resonated with how I choose to love my body.
I often hear people, women especially, say they hate parts of their bodies, how they want to lose them or change them. It’s commonplace. It is the norm, but I will ask, is it loving?
Hate is not loving for sure, I think we can all agree on that, but is wanting to lose something or change it a loving declaration?
For me, learning to shift my unconditional love affair with food to an unconditional love of my body, I asked myself, if it was not my body and it was actually another person I wanted to lose or change, would that be unconditionally loving?
And there was my answer.
My beautiful, precious, perfect-exactly-as-it-is body deserves the complete and total unconditional love I would give any human, accepting them exactly as they are, and joining with them in the creation of pleasure, bliss and joy.
As I approached the movement of my body from this loving place, I determined that making my soul sing with loving movement is the only form of exercise that resonates in my newfound love affair with my precious body.
Today I move her through scuba diving, my deep love of immersion in underwater moving meditation, making my body, mind and soul so happy!
I love walks through nature, so present, so mindful, so full of love!
I recently started ecstatic dance. The feeling of the Divine moving through me for two hours straight gifted me with a bliss-fueled stamina that I’d only even experienced while making love. To say that this was an unexpected gift is an extreme, pleasure- and love-filled understatement!
So, as I share my journey with you, my ultimate epiphany through my personal process is that raising my love vibration is, was, and always will be my only answer, loving my body more, feeding her with love, moving her with love, resting her with love, has held all the answers I’ll ever need in this journey.
I invite you to join me, to cultivate the love inside you that you so freely give to others, to treat every part of you with total and complete lovingkindness and unconditional love.
We know that hate does not work in healing, and it is time we treat our bodies to that truth, ultimately healing our planet from the inside out, one beautiful perfect-exactly-as-it-is human body at a time.
Christie Del Vesco is a College Administrator and Professor, a Universalist Minister, a member of the RAINN (Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network) Speakers Bureau and single mom. She’s a children’s advocate, a survivor of many forms of sexual violence, and a voice for the survivors who have yet to find their own. Chris is a firm believer that we go through what we do, to help others when they go through the same. She also believes if we would all just “be the change,” we can change the world.