A dear friend recently emailed me about a message we had both heard on role modeling. The message was entitled DUI: Daily Using your Influence. We had both been struck by the speaker’s reminder that each of us is an influence in the lives of others, either for good or bad. Her note to me referenced his message, but was really more about the MASKS WE WEAR and how she felt one of the positive changes that had taken place in her life over the last fifteen years could be traced back to her decision to take off those maskes she had been wearing and begin to be a true reflection of herself. I could relate. Her email made me think about how overeating and an obsession with food had robbed me of a life of freedom. Overeating had locked me in a very small cell with a dark mask covering my true identity for years. Like the man in the iron mask, no one knew the real Lori, or what tortured throughts lay just below that iron mask I wore.
GROWING UP FAT, I wore masks for years. Big as I was, I remember trying to blend into the woodwork and disappear from view, so I guess you could say my first mask was called VANISH. I longed for acceptance, but because of my weight, I was socially dysfuntional. It wasn’t like that in my early school years, but the bigger I got, the less others wanted to be seen with me. Over time, the social awkwardness stunted my growth.
I spent decades trying to deny who I was, and wishing I was somebody else entirely. It’s BIZARRE WHAT FOOD ADDICTIONS CAN DO to a person. I had this idea in my head that “good” people had great lives, and “bad” people faced continuing struggles, like I did. Being fat did nothing to vanquish this thought. The “good” people in my scenrio were rich and beautiful and “set for life”, but us “bad” people (me and others like me) were somehow missing the boat and were doomed to live with constant frustrations.
I guess looking back, I got into a routine of putting on masks that I thought would make me appear more successful, wise, intelligent, beautiful (although I never believed that of myself). I did this in the hope that I MIGHT BE ACCEPTED into their circles and found worthy of their rewards. How silly! Silly, but real. That’s what out of control eating does–it CONVINCES YOU THAT YOU ARE WEAK AND PATHETIC, and everytime you give in to the temptation to overeat again, you are more convinced than ever that you truly are weak, lost, hopeless, no good.
I can’t believe the number of years I acted out in this way, and to what end? I was so lost in SELF-SABOTAGING BEHAVIORS, and no one, save my immediate family, knew the REAL “L”.
I regret that I lived that way for so many years, but never again. God is good, I believe that, and He made me to be “good” too. FOOD NO LONGER GETS TO DEFINE ME. I’m glad to finally understand that I have gifts and abilities that aren’t connected to the taste of sweet sugar on my tongue. It feels good to finally be moving out of the mire that was my phony lifestyle and into God’s grace.
How does overeating make you feel? Have you ever worn a mask because of hidden food behaviors? What techniques are you using to move away from damaging food nightmares to a new understanding of yourself?