Wellness through mind, body, and spirit

You read this everywhere.  Social media, magazines at the grocery store check out line, at book stores, and too many other places to name.  You see it in videos on YouTube and in the news.  What the heck does it even mean?  Especially to someone that has an eating disorder.

This is going to be long, please forgive me.  My only hope is that I can help someone else in their struggle with food and their body.

I’ve read that food can help a body heal from all types of cancer, not just breast cancer.  I’ve been encouraged by many these past couple of weeks to eat a more healthy diet.  I even went so far as to ask for help from my Facebook friends and family to help me put a daily menu together.  Why?  Because I don’t have a clue where to start.

Eating is something a person has to do everyday.  Food is energy for the body.  I’ve been told that many times.  This breast cancer thing has spun my head around – not that I’m afraid of it because I’m not.  It has caused some triggers in my brain to fire off causing an “Epiphany” of sorts.

I don’t speak of my past.  It is, just that, the past.  But I will have to share my past in order for you to understand what I have recently realized about me and my eating disorder.  I don’t have anorexia, or bulimia.  Anorexia sufferers are afraid to put on weight and know that food causes that to happen.  They avoid it like the plague in their struggle with it everyday.  Bulimics eat, then make themselves throw up.  They cope with this disorder until it gets the best of them and they eat non stop for a period of time.  Out of control it becomes.  Then they do what they know to do.  They go throw up.

I just don’t eat.  It is a waste of time in my opinion.  Cooking, cleaning, dealing with leftovers that will not be eaten.  I’m not hungry so why is everyone else in my family hungry?  Frankly, I can have, and have had, angry outbursts over this issue many times.  I do eat, though.  Late in the day.  Once a day.  Not all day long, just one large meal and that’s it.

I’m overweight.  I’m on the tipping point of being obese.  Am I ashamed of my body?  At times but not always.  Do I get frustrated at my body weight?  Yes.  How can I not lose weight when I don’t eat?  Well, my poor body is in “Starvation Mode” and has been for 61 years.

I’ve had enough therapists and counselors in my life helping me with other issues so I kind of know how this works.  How my past affects me today.  So now I will take you back there.

When I was about six or seven years old I was told by  my father that my mother didn’t want to have anything to do with me.  Now this is “hearsay” and I cannot testify to the veracity of his words.

The story he related to me was at the age of 3 months I had gotten sick with double pneumonia.  I couldn’t breathe.  He had just come home from a long day of brick laying to find my  mother in bed while I was mewling in an attempt to cry and breathe.  He told me he had asked my mother why she hadn’t noticed or taken me to the doctor.  According to my father, my mother’s words were “Just let her die!”.

My mother had some kind of mental illness.  She was in and out of mental institutions all of my childhood.  She would be gone for weeks or months at a time.  My father was a brick layer who traveled many miles for his work.  He would leave before day break and would return long after sundown.

So as you can imagine, I was left alone.  The feeding and diaper changing happened before my father left for work and after he came home at night.  The rest of the day was who knows what.

My sister and I grew up in an environment where food was not a priority.  We never had breakfast or lunch.  Dinner was hit and miss.  When our mother was  home from the mental institutions she would prepare dinner for us.  Our father was mostly absent.  He did cook a few times.  Today, I think I can only count about 10 times that we actually had food prepared by either parent for a meal.

That left my sister and I to fend for ourselves.  I do remember opening cans of spinach, draining the liquid, and eating it out of the can.  I do remember getting into trouble for doing so.  Big trouble.  I was told by my father that I was selfish.

This kind of an environment raises questions about a child’s self worth.

My sister and I didn’t get lunch at school when we were old enough to go.  Not on a daily basis anyway.  There were a few times we ate school lunch but by and large I spent my lunch period outside playing on the recess grounds.

My sister and I were placed in foster homes when I was 11 and she was 10.  By this time I was already quite overweight and malnourished.  My sister was malnourished as well, but she was not overweight.  I was shamed by our first foster family for me being so fat.  This was the first time in my life where breakfast was eaten before school.  We had lunch at school.  Dinner was served in the evening.  I remember eating like there was no tomorrow.  Again, I got in trouble for eating and was labeled as selfish.

My second foster family, I lived with them for the next six years.  Once again there were daily meals and I could not help myself.  I would eat anything I could.

I didn’t learn how to prepare food nor how to take care of myself when I came of age and went off on my own.  So, after I turned 18 and was out in the world on my own I reverted back to not eating.  Because I didn’t know how to prepare foods.  Frankly, I wasn’t interested in learning how to cook either.  I had better things to do with my time than waste it on cooking and cleaning.

Not long after I turned 18 I met my children’s father.  We had three girls and one boy together.  That was a dreadful time in our lives.  All I’m going to say about that time is getting money from him to feed our children when he disappeared in our lives for long periods of time was extremely difficult.  I made sure my children had food to eat and didn’t worry about myself.

When I was pregnant with my last child her father served me with divorce papers.  Which I was thrilled to receive.  The thing I didn’t see coming was his family would take my other three children from me for the next 12 years on the pretense of taking them to the zoo and would be back in a couple days.

Once again.  Take care of my child to ensure she was fed but didn’t take care of myself.  Times were tough for us.  Money was a commodity that was not plentiful.  I struggled to keep her having lunch at school when she was old enough to go.  Breakfast was not something I made for her on a regular basis.  I was always in a hurry to get to work and would give her something to take along on our trip to daycare or school.  Our dinners were anything but healthy over the 11 years that my daughter and I grew up together.

My daughter and Joe’s youngest daughter got us together.  My whole life changed in 1990.  Now there were a whole lot of people, 5 of them, that wanted to eat.  What’s for breakfast?  What are we having for lunch?  What are  you making for dinner?  It was relentless.  It felt like I lived in the kitchen.  There were many angry outbursts over the whole issue of eating all the time.  What was WRONG with these people.  The three children that had been out of my life for 12 years came back in it.  Now there are 8 people asking me what we are eating.

Days passed.  Years passed.  The food thing never went away.  Everyone always wants to eat.  I don’t want to.

Now I am in a place where I am aware of my food issues and where they come from.  I think that my breast cancer is caused, largely, by starving my body for six decades.  This insight was whispered to me by God, triggered in my brain because of all the things I’ve been reading, or as simple as still being in touch with the therapy and counseling methods of introspection I’ve had in my life for at least 5 decades.  Whatever you choose to believe about my “awakening” is how it will be.  I choose to believe that I am at a place in my life where God knows I am ready for change.

As much as people don’t want to believe it, there is a vast majority of children who go to bed hungry.  Here in the United States.  Hungry children can’t focus in school because of malnutrition.  Joe has said he can’t believe there are children that are going hungry.  He didn’t experience that in his childhood so he can’t understand it.  I do.

I’ve created a meal plan for Joe and I.  Trying to eat healthy-er than we have before.  Neither Joe nor I are diabetic which is a miracle in itself.  Am I adhering to the meal plan?  Honestly, no.  I let my old habits and days events take over.  I still don’t eat most of the time but I am trying to do better.

Menu planning

Menu planning

I am getting more fruits and vegetables in our house.  I will, and do, eat them.

Salads

Salads

Grapes

Grapes

Berries

Berries

I am eating chicken.  Reluctantly though.  Fish….well that one will be a while coming.  I will celebrate adding more chicken in my meals first, then later I will THINK about adding fish.

Okay, so what are your childhood memories around food?  Do you love to eat?  How do you feel about food?  Do you eat to live?  Do you live to eat?  Or do you have to learn, like me, to just eat?  Basically I eat to shut off the growling in my stomach when I can no longer ignore it.  I’m working on it.  One day at a time.

Leslie

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. chellebblog
    Jul 21, 2016 @ 15:45:17

    I grew up in a military home where meals were always prepared and you ate what was on the table. My mom wasn’t the best cook, but she tried and that’s what counted. Even my dad cooked when we went camping or when he was home. I learned to cook from my grandmother who always ate what she wanted and said “to hell” with diets. It wasn’t until her doctor put her on a very restricted diet that within the year she was gone. I cooked for my children and husband and then went to culinary school. With a son who is diabetic and I with cancer, I started looking into how foods affect us. The main conclusion I came to was that you do best eating what you like but doing it in moderation and coupled with exercise, most will loose weight. I’m not talking about all carbs and sweets here, I’m talking about food. Chicken, pork, beef, fish, seafood, fresh vegetables, fruits and grains. I try to stay away from processed and canned foods as best I can. I use butter instead of margarine. I don’t care what people say, if I can’t pronounce the ingredients I won’t buy it; I can pronounce “butter”. I save and use bacon grease, I make homemade breads and rolls. This doesn’t mean I don’t eat desert, my favorites are vanilla ice cream with berries or even ice cold watermelon. I just limit the amount I eat. Most days I only eat one meal a day, sometimes two. I feed my body when it’s hungry, drink plenty of water, ice tea and lemon aide. I try to stay away from sodas as much as possible but that doesn’t mean I don’t have one once in a while. When I cook, I don’t just throw things together, I look at what I have and decide what I can create with those ingredients. This was the way it was years ago when people didn’t have all the health problems they have today. They cooked what they grew or bought from the local farmers market. I firmly believe that most of the health problems today are so prevalent because of the way foods are treated and processed. Fast food in my house is what can be prepared in under 30 minutes.

    Reply

    • Message In A Fold
      Jul 24, 2016 @ 09:48:53

      Thank you, Michelle, for your awesome comment. There are so many articles, websites, and social media blurbs about the subject of food. Eat this, don’t eat that. Eat all raw foods, don’t eat all raw foods. Eat clean. Didn’t know I had been eating dirty :/ There is an over abundance of information today that it can just make a person quit and not do anything.

      So that is why I appreciate your comment about eating all foods but in moderation. Bacon! What meal is not complete without bacon in it 😀 LOL And butter…real butter!

      Hugs to you my sweet friend – Leslie

      Reply

  2. pearl
    Jul 21, 2016 @ 22:55:33

    hello dear friend. we all have a childhood story, some good and some bad but my heart broke over your story. i can’t even begin to know what it was like for you and your sister. thank god you survived and became a strong and determined woman to beat this. sending my love and wishes for your restored health. from your bionic friend. xxxxx

    Reply

    • Message In A Fold
      Jul 24, 2016 @ 09:43:26

      Pearl….my sweet Bionic Friend. I appreciate you so much and am very thankful you came into my life a few years ago. Though you live way Down Under, I often feel as though we are not so far away.

      I can’t even tell you how much your SASSY card meant to me. I’m still playing with the aperture thingy each time I pick it up. LOL

      Love you my Bionic Friend – Leslie

      Reply

  3. DeeAnn
    Jul 22, 2016 @ 06:46:49

    Leslie, this story hit me so hard. I had tears running down my face while reading it. I wrote in a comment several weeks ago about my own health problems. They are due to an eating disorder. I am ashamed to say I am almost 45. In my teen years I suffered Bulimia and Anorexia. I worked hard to overcome these eating disorders but they live with you always. I have not had an easy life. My Mother died when I was a baby. My Father died when I was sixteen. The only Mother I knew was my Stepmother and she was abusive. She left her own children because they had mental disabilities. She only loves things that are beautiful. She was constantly telling me to never get fat. If I had a overweight girlfriend she would go ballistic and tell me I can’t be seen with somebody overweight. She started me on a path of eating disorders that have never healed. By the time I was 21 I weight 87lbs and I am 5’9″. I have lost two children. I have been abused, raped, and I am a attempted murder survivor. All due to my Mother. I met a wonderful boy when I was twenty who is the love of my life. We have been together 23 years. He has loved me unconditionally. I am always trying to be perfect for him in case I lose him. I am not going to lose him. It is quite inane for me to act this way. I know this deep in my heart but I never can get her words out of my head. My husband & I have terrible losses in the past few years. I have always ate healthy but in the past couple of years I was not eating too healthy. I chalked it up to menopause and food cravings. I was terrified of putting on weight. I started taking senna seeds. I started to abuse them and did not realize it. When I got sick recently it was a hammer in my face to realize I had triggered an eating disorder due to grief, stress & loss. I was bingeing and purging. My body is malnourished, starved and very sick. I eat only one meal a day too. Now, I am eating three small meals a day. I am supposed to eat five or six. I can’t do that. I tried & I couldn’t. I have a long road to recovery. I wrote this long comment because your post touched me so much. I also hope that maybe somebody sees both our posts that they are not alone and receive help too. I don’t body shame women. I think all women are beautiful. I really truly do. My Mother has acutally hit me for saying a woman is beautiful that she has found ugly. We are a sisterhood and we are beautiful. There is a reason why men worship us. 😉 Sadly, I do not give myself this kind of love. I body shame myself. I have been told I am very beautiful and look like model. I don’t see this. I am seeing it now that I got sick. I don’t want to lose my life because of an eating disorder and abuse. Please always write your beautiful posts. I have been thinking of you and hoping your treatments are going well. Lots of hugs.

    Reply

    • Message In A Fold
      Jul 24, 2016 @ 09:40:13

      DeeAnn. My heart was greatly affected by your ongoing struggle with your eating disorder. The very people that are meant to protect and nourish us are, generally, the ones that try to destroy us.

      DeeAnn, you are a testimony to strength. Surviving insurmountable odds as a child with a self absorbed parent to become the warm, thoughtful, loving, and kind person you have made yourself into. Yes, you still have an eating disorder and probably will have the remainder of your life….as I will have. That is not what defines you though. What defines you is your character. How you have learned to be a different person from your role model. You are a role model now to countless other young people and adults.

      I’m so very proud to call you my friend, and comrade in disorder.

      Joe and I will celebrate 26 years this coming August. I spent the first 9 years trying to get him to beat the hell out of me. He didn’t raise or lay a hand on me and I just could not understand why. It took me way too many years to learn to trust him and I’m so glad that I finally gave up the quest to be beaten. Because I deserve to be loved and treated with respect. AS DO YOU DEEANN.

      Your husband is like mine. Piloting a ship in heavy seas some days, other days they see the signs of bad weather ahead and tack their sails to go around it. But both of our husbands get us safely to port each and every day.

      Thank you, DeeAnn, for your honest comment on my post. This has got to help someone out there struggling and don’t know why their life is in such a mess. I appreciate you very much.

      Hugs my sweet friend – Leslie

      Reply

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