Isolation. Am I an isolator? I think I didn’t have that tendency, growing up, but I became one. When I was a child, and in my teenage years, I thrived on being around people. I was open – I found it easy to speak to strangers and make friends. In fact, in my teens, as home life was going badly I relied on friends as something akin to family. They were who I wanted to be around, not my home family.
I think one part of the change that happened came when I lived at my aunt’s, whose psychological terrorising of us all was continually invading, violating any privacy we might have had. So I became more protective of it. But I didn’t overeat compulsively yet, at that time – that came later, once I had moved out and was living with my grandmother, who also (though in a different way) had a habit of attempting to violate my privacy. Her way was just more sneaky, spying and such. So again I became protective – and of course once my overeating really took off, the shame of that increased my isolationism exponentially!
The food has always been a source of shame to me, ever since I began to binge. Which wasn’t until very late in my teens, early 20’s. So because this is such an integral part of me, of my life, I isolated from people and from life. Because of the shame, mostly, but also because I genuinely did not want to be with others when the food became my best friend.
People began to look unpredictable, I became fearful (of being “found out”), I was guarding and protecting myself. So I looked at people with suspicion, and would not let anybody near. The food replaced them, my friends, my family – the food was where I found consolation, where I went when things went well and when they went wrong. It usurped more and more of what my world had been.
In Greysheet abstinence it still took me quite a while to come out of the shame and isolation. First, the shame went… slowly. For my first six months of abstinence, nobody I knew personally knew that I was doing anything different with my food. I had never eaten in front of people anyway, so what I did in private, nobody knew. But of course after six months, people began noticing that I was losing weight and as I gained confidence and read other GS’ers stories, I slowly began to “come out”. Today everybody I know knows what I do and I have no problem going anywhere with my scale and food backup, and eating out, eating with others, having others eat with me… no shame there.
But the other thing, of food being a better friend and viewing people with fear, that took much longer to go. And it’s probably still not fully gone, although I can see immense progress – especially recently, I have been connecting with people so well and I’m thriving on it. But even years into abstinence I would often feel safer around food than around people. My food was safe (abstinent) and people were not safe. They had their own minds, they were unpredictable, and I feared them. As I grow in abstinence and recovery, and maturity dare I say, I’m so encouraged by how easy it has been for me recently – I haven’t tried harder, it has simply happened. I’m so grateful for this programme and the chance it gives me at living a full life where food is in its place!