There has never been a time in my life that I felt my relationship with food was healthy. Some of my earliest memories are of digging through the kitchen cabinets -- being as quiet as possible so as not to be discovered -- looking for something sweet to eat. This sounds like normal kid behavior, but I was more persistent than most. If a suitable treat could not be found ready-made, I would create a concoction of whatever was available. Examples include: gloppy messes of unsweetened cocoa powder, sugar and milk, orange juice concentrate straight-up and fruit saturated with sticky sugar. The innocence of childhood kept me from thinking there was anything wrong with my behavior. At that point in my life, the only reason I hid my eating habits was to avoid punishment meted out by well-meaning parents.
I vividly remember my first binge. It was late December, and after polishing off the last of my Halloween candy (which I spent four hours gathering and a nearly two months carefully rationing), I wanted more. I NEEDED more. The week previous my family had created individual gingerbread houses, one for each member. Mine was long since devoured, but in my desperation I noticed that my brother had thrown his away. As I sat, back to my locked bedroom door, I was overcome with shame as I shoved piece after piece of stale cookie and rock-hard frosting into my mouth. At eight years of age, I was too young to understand the implications of my actions, but I did know this wasn’t normal.
From there my addiction started to slowly devour my whole life. I would steal money from my family to buy food. When we moved to a house within walking distance of a grocery store, I made near daily trips to stock up on candy and junk food. Every nook in my room became a potential place to hide food, and I would, stockpiling until I had enough to binge. Friends became secondary to eating. Instead of playing outside, I would stuff bite after bite past my lips until my mouth stung with abrasion sores and my stomach became distended, a heavy painful weight. Food became my whole world. It was the first thing I thought about when I woke and the last thing I thought about before I fell asleep.
Happiness was always one binge away.
Happiness is always one binge away.