One of the hardest issues that I have had to confront is protecting myself.  That might seem like a no brainer to most.  I am not talking about protecting myself from danger or absolute strangers.  Those interactions take a toll on you as well. 

No. I am talking about the people who know and love you and are supposed to care for you.  I am even talking about those who should have your best interests at heart.  Family members and friends.

On a deeper level, I am even talking about protection from yourself.

Having the ability to protect yourself from the pain inflicted by those who are supposed to love you is difficult.  Number one we often turn a blind eye to our families when it comes to protecting ourselves.  Hurt shouldn’t come from family.  But the truth is that the deepest hurt often comes from those closest to you.

Especially the hurt that you inflict upon yourself.

Hurt that stems from disappointment.  Hurt that stems from anger.  Hurt that stems for frustration. Choosing the wrong person.  Allowing yourself to trust someone you had no business dealing with in the first place.  Hurt that stems from failure or perceived failure.  Hurt that stems from bad choices.  Hurt that stems from financial immaturity.  Hurt that stems from pride.  Hurt that deals from inner turmoil.  Hurt that stems from suppressing mental and emotions issues.  Hurt from feeling like you aren’t good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough, not tall enough, not small enough…just not enough.  Hurt that stems from that nagging voice that is frequently ignored that says, “You are better than what you have become.”

We often inflict so much hurt and damage to our own selves that we become public enemy number one.  We hurt so much that being hurt becomes a constant in our lives.  It actually becomes normal.  People ignoring our feelings and wishes becomes okay because…well, it just is.  People being rude and crude is okay because they really didn’t mean any harm. 

We put ourselves on such a low level that we step on ourselves way before anyone else has the chance to trample on us. And when they do, it feels so normal that we take it as habitual as breathing.

I made the decision to become a mother at the young age of 17. I simply didn’t believe in abortions and adoption was just NOT an option. (I am going to do all the work and then someone else is going to take the credit? Naw, I’m good)  I barely understood life at all much less knew what to do with a young child.  Before I really had time to access what was going on… I had a total of three children.  I will be woman enough to admit that I made some hefty mistakes along my motherhood journey.  I beat myself up for years over the mistakes I made with my children for years.  Now my oldest daughter had determined that I was the worst mother in the world.  She has said some really hurtful things in anger and I have had to put up a protective shield myself from her tirades. 

I was so disappointed with myself when I got pregnant at 17.  My family drilled it in me that my life was over and that my only option was to get a job and take care of my child.  College just was NOT an option.  I realize that they meant well but they were looking at the situation from a very antiquated point of view.  I berated myself for years for not going to college. I consequentially fell into a career path that I hate.  But the need to make ends meet greatly surpassed my need to accomplish my goals or pursue my dreams.  I fell into a dreamless existence and simply did what I needed to do in order to survive.  Like so many of us. 

I had to sit back and realize there was a pattern forming in my life.  I never stay at a job past a year. Never. NO matter the monetary compensation or benefits.  I literally loathed what I did and had very little tolerance for it.  And it shows on my resume.  It showed in my attitude.  It showed in my appearance.  It just showed. 

I was miserable. I wasn’t doing what I loved. I wasn’t fulfilling my dreams. I wasn’t pursuing my passions. I was simply going through the motions. In an attempt to avoid the void and emptiness that was overwhelming me…I ate.  And BOY did I eat. 

Now, I was a crafty eater.  I didn’t just eat and eat and eat.  No, that is uncivilized!  I only ate once a day. That way I could maintain that I had CONTROL over the eating situation. 

But that one meal was MASSIVE.   I would eat as if life was about to end once I finished the meal.  I ate enough to feed a small family ( and I am so SERIOUS!)  Now, not that it makes a difference but if you go all day ripping and running, (which I did) and you don’t eat until 8 or 9pm…you will be pretty darn hungry.  I was STARVING! So I ate as if I were starving.

The truth of the matter is I wasn’t paying an attention to my body. At least not my stomach.  I was eating to fill the void of a life of total misery.  I was eating to avoid the unhappiness.  I was eating to avoid the dread rising higher and higher with each passing day.  I was eating to avoid the voice crying out that life is suppose to be better than this.  I was eating to avoid myself.  I was eating…. I was eating…

As my body began to manifest evidence of my overindulgence.  My addiction became my master.  I would eat because I was unhappy and I was unhappy because I was eating.  I no longer had any concept of portions or acceptable amounts.  All I cared about was the feeling of fullness and contentment once I finished gorging myself. 

Yes, I can say it was complete and utter gorging.  I would eat until I could not possibly take another bite.  I would be so full that I could barely move.  At the time, that feeling felt good to me.  I had warped my mind so that it felt like a form of acceptance.  Food always accepted me and I always accepted it.  While people have expectations and opinions….food simply waits to be consumed.  It doesn’t judge.  It doesn’t condemn.  It doesn’t care about your imperfections or flaws. 

Yes, I had changed food from an object to a close and personal friend.  Believe me, it is more common than you can imagine.

Food became my life.  I can honestly say that the bulk of my day was spent on contemplating what I was going to eat next.  The I.T. world often works on a rotating schedule and I began working mostly nights.  I would sleep in the daytime missing breakfast and lunch (not that I would have eaten it anyway.) and would become obsessed with the joy of dinner.  My desk was always the to go place for the hottest menus.  Need to know where to go to eat…..Just drop by. I have the goods on all the local restaurants and can tell you everything you need to know. 

I perfectly fit the stereotype about fat people being the go to person for food.  But I didn’t care. I ordered out so much that restaurants began to know my number and voice.  They knew what I wanted even before I began to speak.  I knew it was bad when I realized I had a schedule.  I rarely ever deviated from my schedule unless it was an event at work where they bought food and therefore I could just indulge at my leisure. 

(Don’t ever work for Comcast…all they do is eat!)

The fact that my life was just a routine of eat, sleep and work was even more depressing…so…yep you guessed it…I ate more. is a vicious and ugly cycle.

I was hurting myself so badly with the food choices I was making, the amounts of food I was consuming and the complete lack of any type of exercise.  I was hurting myself by ignoring what my body really needed: balance, water, vegetable (no I didn’t eat them), exercise and most importantly…healing. 

And because I was hurting myself…I set the standard for the people in my life. I married a man who began to hurt me. Not physically, I don’t play that crap. But mentally and emotionally.  He began to tear down the woman who I was and attempted to create the woman he desired.  It took four long years and gaining 150 lbs and him cheating for me to realize how deep the hurt lie.  From there I began a destructive course of doing whatever I wanted.  I would lie and say I was living life to the fullest but the truth was that I was running further and further away from my issues and deepening the hurt and pain. 

Finally, I was tired.  Three years of moving from place to place and doing everything imaginable.  From bungee jumping to skydiving to stripping to adult websites to phone sex operator…. You name it…if it took me outside of myself where the pain resided…I was game.  

I know some of you may gasp at my openness.  I am not ashamed of anything in my life. My experiences are what make me who I am.  My journey was tailor made for me and me only.  During my walk on the wild side, I found out things about myself and strengths that I would have never known I had.  I found out that I am a survivor. I found out that I am creative. I found out that I am passionate. I found out that I am a leader. I found out that I pave my on path.  I found out that I write my own story.  I found out that I am able to do anything I put my mind to doing.

Now it is time for me to put my mind to doing things that are productive and beneficial. 

Now is the time!