An anonymous story as told to Krista Wise
Damn it. The Starbucks drive thru again?! Are you kidding me? Ughhh. Resist. The. Cookie. And then I ask myself, why? I affirm, I deserve the cookie.
Lack mentality isn’t something new for me. Generations before me suffered from this beast of burden that bound us to poverty. Never knowing if there would be another cookie, or the funds to buy one. Perhaps it was all monetary restrictions that plagued our dreams, unaware of the real lack of resource, emotional security. A resource insecurity that ran like a river through our family history.
I grew up in a quaint little town in Indiana, where most families knew their neighbors. Me though, I never had the opportunity to meet one of the most important people in my life. My father was in the military which sent him miles from my mother and me when I was a baby. I was too young to form an opinion about the situation which left many unanswered questions as to why he never returned. I asked my mother when “curiosity got the cat,” but I still felt unfulfilled knowing there’s always two sides to every story. I can now reflect on how hard this must have been for my mother to have a newborn crying for love and support as she cried herself for her own lack of emotional security with my father being gone.
Eventually my mother moved on, to someone barely older than me. This closeness in age presented many obstacles that led to me feeling unheard and unprotected. This emotional baggage started collecting on the inside and visibly showing on the outside. My weight climbed higher the more I felt the need to protect myself and conceal my emotions. I found solace in food.
My mother noted this weight gain, I know by her continuous comments about how big I was getting. Never taking the time to reflect on why. Maybe she didn’t have the emotional awareness inside herself to even see she should be asking deeper questions instead of making hurtful comments. These comments only fed my lack of self-esteem, and made me feel on my own.
I barely made it out of high school, left home as soon as possible, and inevitably had my first child at nineteen. A pattern. I found myself alone, the child’s father inactive. Another pattern.
Then I met my soulmate. A man that loves me and stands up for me. A man that helped me see my worth. Now when I stand up to him and he gets frustrated I say, “Hey you asked for this!” which sends us both into laughter and makes me feel like the luckiest girl in the world.
It hasn’t been easy for us. As an interracial couple we used to feel the scrutiny from others, my family included, which drove a wedge between us and the family, but it only magnetized us closer together.
My love and I, we had fun. Maybe a little too much fun as we both found ourselves in active addiction. The partying was fun while it lasted, but the emotional wounds we were hiding were still there. My family was sure I was an angel and he had brainwashed me, leading to distance and conflict with my family when I needed them most. I had to learn to love them from afar, and my husband and I were pulled closer together.
One day I decided, “that’s it, no more, I’m done living this way.” I was ready to make a change from an addict’s lifestyle no matter what my husband decided. To my delight, he followed suit the next day, and we never looked back.
That’s nine years ago now. It seems like a lifetime ago, because it was. I have a whole new life now. I’m thankful for those kind souls who did reach out to me during this time to help me transition. I believe the universe sends the people you need in your life in divine timing. My degree from Ball State University is a powerful reminder of that.
When I got clean and sober and finally started losing the weight, I felt confident enough to search for my father. I craved to know the answers to my questions and build a relationship with the man I never got to meet. I did reach out, and received a message in return from his new wife. “I’m sorry, he died last week.” This was obviously not the response I had hoped for, but sometimes the universe gives you what you need, not what you want. This effort to connect was not without fruit though, as his wife explained he had a brother that had always wanted to connect with me, but didn’t out of respect for his brother. Now I do have the chance to feel somewhat connected to my father through his brother which has been healing for me.
So here I am, a new me. No longer lacking emotional insecurity from others because I found it in myself. I am one-hundred pounds lighter, literally, of physical and emotional baggage. I have found the confidence in myself to know I no longer need food to fill an emotional void or to protect myself. I now have the confidence that I will have the resources that I need, and that I know how to refrain from overindulgence to fill emotional gaps.
My husband and I are active in our community working to help others overcome substance abuse and resource deficits. We feel fulfilled. And now I no longer fight with myself when he pulls up in that drive-thru lane. I eat the cookie.