Up to 20 years old…
My parents divorced when I was four and a half due to an alcoholic father. He left around that time disappearing after 10 years , coming back in time for my 15th birthday. My mother resented me for being born and "ruining her life." Of course, I understand it wasn't my fault, but the lack of love on her part scarred me for the rest of my life.
Despite my father's alcoholism, I was still "daddy's little girl" so his leaving left an abyss that could only be filled by my "daddy" and no one else. So when my mother's boyfriend came along this void was somewhat occupied by him. When I was 9 he used this by saying, as he touched my genitals, "shh…it's okay…don't tell anyone…they'll take me away to jail." To my little mind that was worse than death, enduring the pain of "daddy" leaving again. That was the key that locked a secret that would be only be let out of its vault just after my 20th birthday, when the abuse stopped.
Yes, I was abused until I was 20 years old. Some may not understand that and for those I feel compelled to explain. See, I've already eluded to him being a very manipulative person. He kept me locked away in a prison of manipulation, brain washing, psychological abuse, guilt-tripping, emotional blackmail, religious abuse (he used the Bible to justify what he was doing…but he did pray for me every day…lol), isolation, fear, control and fostering a wedge between my mother and I. He did not allow me to interact with the "big bad outside world". No, he never held a gun to my head. He never had to. I was under is COMPLETE control for him to do with as he pleased. And he did do with me as he pleased.
You may ask, "where was your mother during all of this?". She was "asleep" in the next room. She claimed until her death that she never knew. But I've realized since and, given the situation, I believe she used me to keep him (our main source of support) around. This is ironic since he struggled to keep a job. But that is another story.
You may ask, "did he do it to my sister 12 years my junior?". According to her, he did not. You may ask if he did this to others. To that I answer "I don't know…probably". He's 39 years older than me so the answer is probably "yes".
Around the time the childhood sexual abuse (around 8-9 years old) began I started putting on the pounds. The fledgling compulsive overeating disorder was to become a serious and life-threatening one. By the time I graduated high-school I was 250 pounds. By the time I was 20 I was over 300 pounds.
20 to 36 years old…
By the time I reached 36 I was over 400 pounds and a very lonely, depressed and unhappy person. I spent, what would be, 20+ years in and out of therapy. I tried so hard to fix all the broken pieces of my life. I endured heart-ache, pain, crushes. I had extremely, extremely little romantic encounters. There were no "boyfriends". In this time-frame I has sex one time when I was 28 with someone I would not consider a "boyfriend". I freaked out and scared the poor guy when I got hysterical. I avoided and did not allow physical contact with me aside from the occasional hug. Yes, I went 16 years with extremely little touch, affection and of course sex.
36-41 years old…
By the time I reached 36 I was ready to make a change in my life. I joined a 12-step program for weight loss. It was during this phase of my life in therapy that I became aware of a lot of the "whys" and "hows" of my psychological problems and the ramifications of the abuse endured in childhood. In a year and half I lost 234 pounds (215 in the 12-step program). I had become sexually active, took dance lessons for the first time in my life and really enjoyed my new-found freedom from all the weight I had put on over the years.
The joy of those moments were short-lived. Within 2 months I began to gradually gain all of the weight back plus more. Within 6 months my knees would no longer allow me to enjoy dancing. I found so much pleasure in those twirls on the dance floor. Ahhh, good memories. There was nothing like the euphoria that came with losing the weight and all the benefits from it.
But all that came crashing down. I found myself continuing the self-abuse with food and with a new and fledgling addiction to sex. See, I had gone all those years without feeling love. There were ramifications from being without touch and affection. For those were irrevocably connected to love because the sexual abuse infused all of them with together. My ideas of sex, love, affection and self-worth were all tied together. The idea of being close to someone meant sex had to be involved. I wanted closeness, affection, love, etc., but the only way my psyche will register love is with sex. In order to get love, I have to have sex. In order to get affection I have to have sex. In order for someone to think I'm anything I have to have sex with them.
I went on all-out rampage to find love. I searched for it in every guy I took home and continued to look for it in the arms of strangers. I didn't give any encounters a chance to develop into something meaningful so they were seriously doomed to failure.
I found extremely little "love" on the sex sites where I have became addicted to the attention I found at them. During this time period I had 2 relationships which lasted more than 3 months. Yes, those began as sex-on-the-first-date encounters. The rest of the nearly 100 men I've been with have been mostly one-time encounters. A few of them have been friends with benefits. A few have been total strangers.
I eventually got to the point where I was chatting on a sex site and within that first conversation giving the guy my address. He'd come over, we'd have sex and he was gone. At the peak of this unhealthy behavior I met 12 new guys in one month.
I've been extremely lucky not to have contracted any serious std's; although I have contracted HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) and HSV1 (Oral Herpes Simplex Virus). I freaked out when I found out I had each of those, but educated myself on them, and then had to tell any potential partner and urged them to educate themselves before we were together. I'm lucky I was never raped or murdered.
Turning in the Person Who Molested Me…
In 2008, I decided to turn in the person who sexually molested me as a child. It turns out there is no statute of limitations on what was done to me before the age of 12. I turned him in because he decided to come to Houston from Florida and it unhinged me and caused a serious and traumatic flash back to the abuse.
On 4/25/09 (he was 80 years old) he was put in jail and was not able to make bail. On 12/15/2010 his plea was entered as guilty although he pleaded "no contest" (which pissed me off that he didn't say "I'm guilty…but that's another story). The charges were dropped to a lesser severity and he got a sentence of 18 months. He ended up in jail for 20 months because he couldn't make bail. Ha ha. Yes, we drove all the way to Florida and back to hear him say "I'm guilty"; but I had to settle for "no contest". I didn't have to be there. The import thing for me in all of it was the feeling of JUSTICE. I think it was a missing key to my healing and recovery.
Losing My Job…
Almost from the first day of my first job at McDonalds twenty-six years ago, I received a great deal of self-worth from my job. I sought for my mother's love in every effort and exercise at my workplace. I was driven by a nagging voice in my subconscious "if only I do this or that faster, better, etc. I'll get her love". Employers loved me. I was always an outstanding employee. I was a secretary for many years and became aware of a knack for computers. I went back to college when I was 28 and graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Computer Information Systems. After graduation, I got a job with a fortune 500 company and worked there for 11 years. In September of 2009 I was laid off. This precipitated a mental breakdown for which I am on disability right now.
Getting Through The 12 Steps For The First Time In My Life
In January 2013, I had reached 400 pounds again. It had taken around 8 years to get back up to that weight from when I lost it originally. As is true with many people struggling with weight, my weight kept rising.
I dipped into a very deep, suicidal depression around February of 2013. A friend from 12 step I had met a couple months prior, reached out to me. He did not pat me on the shoulder and say "poor thing". The biggest, impactful thing he asked me was "Have you ever made amends to Chuck (the person who molested me)?" After the volcano of rage settled down he was surprised I stayed on the phone with him. He qualified his question, further by saying "Have you ever made amends to him for blaming every bad thing you've ever done to anyone or yourself on what he did to you?" That hit me between the eyes and pierced my heart.
That was one of many conversations which led to him taking me through the steps in April 2013. A stipulation of him taking me through the steps was I had to get off of the sex sites and stop talking to all of my sex "friends" especially the married ones. In less than a month he took me through all 12 steps. This was the first time in all my 20+ years of 12 step experience that I had actually gone through all the steps. Its very common in many of the 12 step groups for it to take months or years to get through all the steps. My friend believed it was important to get through the steps quickly as if your life depends on it. The power is in getting through the steps!
My friend's question about making amends to Chuck (the person who molested me) segued into actually doing it. For details about that, you can read another blog entry called "Making Amends To The Person Who Molested Me."
The Love of my Life
In May 2013, I heard from one of the men from my past that I had feelings for, but was married. We had been seeing eachother steadily for about 4 or 5 years. The time apart made him realize he had strong feelings for me. He was in a long, lonely, unhappy marriage. In September 2013, he made one of the hardest decisions of his life and left his wife to come live with me. It was an excrutiating decision for him, because he didn't want to hurt his wife.
We've both come from backgrounds of extreme deprivation in love, attention and affection so we both have a deep appreciation for one-another. He has been the sunlight in my life and such a blessing. He loves me and I love him so much. I truly believe letting go of the resentment I had for over 20 years toward the person who molested me removed a block that kept me from having any deep, meaningful, romantic relationships.
Despite my core belief that I'm not loveable, I'm slowly learning with my boyfriend that I am. I see how my encounters with all those men in the past were completely dumpster-diving. I'm truly repulsed by my behavior back then.
Although he knows the health concerns around my weight, he's very attracted to my large body. I asked him one day when pondering if I lost the weight would he still be attracted to me. He said he was attracted to me and pointed to my chest. He said he was attracted to what was inside. <sniff, sniff>
Hitting 500 Pounds
Since living with my boyfriend the deep, searing loneliness has been gone, but the depression remains. I've had major depression most of my life. The 400-pound marker came and went. My weight continued to rise and with that rise I lost more and more ability to do everyday things.
Walking even a few feet would make me out of breath. I had to use a rollator walker which is a walker with wheels on it. It also has a chair you can sit on when you get out of breath. I would get out of breath, seriously huffing and puffing when I turned over in bed. I had to have a shower seat because I could not stand in the shower long enough to clean myself.
When you get past a certain size, physics kicks in. I got to a point where I literally could not reach myself to take care of personal hygiene. I had to get a FreedomWand to wipe my private areas in the bathroom. I could not reach my vagina, so my boyfriend graciously helped me put in my menstrual cup when I was on my period. I had to experiment with different dish brushes to reach those areas in the shower. Past a certain point, your bladder has a breaking point. Sneezing and coughing made me wet myself in addition to random leaking otherwise.
I could no longer fit behind the wheel of the car even though the seat was tilted way back. The only times I got out of the house was when my boyfriend took me to the doctor or for a car ride.
In February 2015, I hit 500 pounds. It shocked me. The excrutiating existence at that weight was unbearable.
The motivation I had lacked for so many months and years, finally presented itself.
I ran to the place I felt had the closest, workable solution...Overeaters Anonymous (OA). But having the experience two years prior with my friend taking me through the steps quickly I knew I had to find an OA group or person who knew the importance getting through the steps as is directed in the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book.
I attended a few online OA meetings and found a sponsor who believed in this method. She took me through the steps within a few days. It hasn't been perfect but I've been sticking with it and have lost around 45 pounds. I'm very grateful.
My Journey In 12 Step
As mentioned above, I now am convinced that the power of 12 Steps is in actually doing the steps. I have been in 12 step groups of all shapes, sizes and varieties, but had never gotten through the steps. For a list of the 12 Steps, please click here.
I "got" the powerlessness stated in step one. I could not stop eating no matter what I tried. Despite being extremely unhappy at my weight, especially over 400 pounds, I could not stop. I would think "I need to stop" or today I'm going to get back on a meal plan and within hours I was eating uncontrollably. I didn't care. Part of me wanted to die and was hell bent on destruction. I turned to food for comfort for all those excrutiating years. It was a friend, but that friend turned on me and ended up making me miserable.
I understood I needed help from a power greater than myself as mentioned in step three. I struggled with this for several years. The God I was raised with was the God of the person that molested me. According to the Bible I was his "hand maiden sent from the Lord." He often prayed for me as he lay next to me in the bed. This confused the heck out of me.
I eventually rejected that God, but could not "figure out" my own concept of a "power greater than myself". I still have not figured this out. I've felt for years now that my connection with my Higher Power has been my intuition. Wow! There it is! I don't have to know who/what my Higher Power is to hear from my Higher Power. This has helped immensely. The solution is spiritual and without this vital step I was destined to fail and did all those years. It has made the rest of the steps less difficult.
One big hurdle is seeing my character defects (step 4 & 5). It is NOT fun. I see where my selfishness and self-centeredness has caused damage to me and my relationships. But I don't dwell on them. I ask my Higher Power to remove them (step 6 & 7) and go about my day. I had to repair the damage from my past by making amends to the people I had harmed (steps 8 & 9). I do try to stay in contact with my Higher Power on a minute by minute basis (step 11) and I do try to find people to help by taking them through the steps (step 12).