I was inspired by a woman, a beautiful and talented writer, who is proudly six years sober. She was sporting a t-shirt celebrating her sobriety. Her bright smile and sparkling eyes made it hard to believe that she ever struggled with addiction, but she has. And I don’t know for sure, but I imagine those pangs that once drove her to drink might rise up every now and then as whispers of the past. I’m so very proud of her for carrying on.
Thinking about being able to give up the tool that once helped a person cope with emotional struggle, got me thinking about my relationship with food, and what a wild and crazy journey it’s been. I thought that of all of the things out there to become addicted to, why did I pick food? Seriously? A person can live without taking drugs, and can live without alcohol, but they can’t live without food. WTF? I never do anything half-assed, do I? I can’t just stay away from food for the rest of my life, unless I want it to be a very short one.
It took me years to even realize I that my relationship with food wasn’t just off kilter, I was addicted to it. I couldn’t understand how people could eat a meal and then not think about food every moment until the next meal. It wasn’t just that I loved the taste of this or that, or that I’d been conditioned to celebrate everything in life with food, although that was certainly true. Think about it. Everything we celebrate, is entangled with food. Holidays, birthdays, graduations, promotions, births, deaths, making it to Friday night, and even the Superbowl.
For me, food was the one thing I could count on. As soon as sugar hit my taste buds, my brain got a hit of something it loved, something it craved. It wanted more and more. When I was frustrated, bored, or lonely, toasted sourdough bread with melted salty butter or hot pasta covered with grated parmesan cheese hit the spot like nothing else. Crunchy salted pretzels with cream cheese did it for me even more than chocolate. Unless that chocolate was swirled with peanut butter in vanilla ice cream. The sweet, salty, crunchy goodness of taste was nirvana to my soul.
But the thing was, even food wasn’t enough. There was a bottomless pit that was screaming out for food, and even food couldn’t fill it. That’s the hallmark of addiction: the need is never satisfied.
I discovered that addiction is actually something that can be healed. For many people who have a lot of drive and determination, addiction can be managed. Especially if the object of addiction is something that they can live without, substituting healthier behaviors in place of the addiction, and finding a good support system works for many. But for me, because my addiction has been something I couldn’t just stay away from, I chose to go the healing route. It’s taken a lot of seeking and a bit of trial and error. But as with anything that is worth while, because I’ve stuck with it, I’ve made progress.
Unfortunately, with some people, they have wounds that have impacted them in such a way as to create an addiction, and they don’t even know what’s going on. They are either in denial that they even have a problem, or they don’t know how to find other coping tools that work for them. One of the biggest obstacles I see to healing addiction, is that in order to create addiction, there has to be a soul fracturing event or events. Something has happened in someone’s life that broke them from the inside out. And when that happens, any sense of self-love or self-empowerment goes out the window. How can someone help themselves when they feel no sense of self-empowerment? It’s a vicious circle.
With my childhood, I’m not surprised that I ended up with an addiction. But I’m surprised that I didn’t end up hooked on alcohol, drugs, sex, or shopping. Just food. The tricky thing was, for many years I managed to cope. I didn’t cope well in some areas, but I got by. It took realizing that diets weren’t working for me, and then giving up on them, compounded by other severe life stress, for my weight to finally become out of my control. With the scale creeping ever higher, and then dieting down a bit, only to gain even more weight back, and with life piling major stressor on top of major stressor, for me to finally see the truth. That food was an addiction for me, and I was totally out of control.
I also believed that as much as I needed something like bariatric surgery to get my weight down, I knew I would likely defeat the surgery if I didn’t heal the reason why I overate all the time. That’s when I turned to hypnotherapy for the first time back in 2000. I’d seen people who’d had bariatric surgery and who either had complications, or who had nasty side effects from the procedures, and some who regained some or all of the weight initially lost. I knew that wasn’t the answer for me.
And when I began healing my need to eat, what kept coming up was stuff from my childhood. What the heck? And then I had a handful of mystical experiences. What was going on? I continued to lose and gain and lose and gain and gain and gain.
And it would take almost a dozen more years of searching and trying before I’d have any big light shed on my addiction, when the first little chink was put into its armor. As much as I experienced a little bit of healing with the first hypnotherapist I worked with, it wasn’t until after working with an energy healer that the grip of one food category finally loosened enough for me to let it go.
Just having that one experience let me know that I didn’t have to spend the rest of my life a slave to food cravings. I knew that if I could be freed from cravings for one major food category (dairy), I could be freed from the rest.
Over the next few years, I tried a couple of different hypnotherapists. Many of my sessions began with noticing triggers in my life that sent me running for my drug of choice. Identifying my triggers and following feelings attached to them in healing sessions, led me to beliefs that were being activated. This has been a lot of my work. Noticing repeating patterns of triggered feelings, and healing underlying beliefs.
The shocking thing for me was having mystical experiences along the way. Seeing things like pre-birth planning come up when all I wanted to do was stop food cravings. And having an angel heal me of deep shame, were a few of the more amazing things that came along quite unexpectedly.
Along my journey of healing food cravings, I’ve discovered myself, created healthy personal boundaries, healed poor body image, and have developed great love and respect for the person I am today and the little girl that I was. That little one who struggled mightily to survive. The one who didn’t make it out unscathed, but who is becoming whole and beautiful and happy once again.
I think the most unexpected thing about healing so many childhood wounds, has been bringing all of the bits and pieces back to myself. And a wonderful effect has been connecting to my core self which is my divine self. It’s that part of me that we each have, that is our perfect magnificence. It’s the real being underneath all of the programming, judgment, and social conditioning that tells us we are less than. It’s that pure loving, compassionate being that we glimpse in ourselves from time to time.
I still giggle from time to time when I look back at who I was just a few short years ago, and the thing I wanted most, other than a break from being mom now and then, was to be free of the ever-present cravings. I was so tired of being obsessed with dieting and failing, yet again. I saw my body growing bigger and bigger, and wondered if I could ever figure it all out.
And now I know that for me, it was all one big set-up. One gigantic set-up. Growing up in an abusive environment, was the perfect brew pot for me to lose all sorts of bits and pieces of myself along the way and to not be able to develop a healthy sense of self. I readily took on all sorts of shame and blame, and created lots of beliefs of “less than”. It was the perfect medium in which to create an addiction. Absolutely perfect.
But the object of my addiction couldn’t be something that left me in shambles, unable to think and function. And it had to be something I could get my hands on from a very young age. Food fit the bill. It calmed my overwhelmed world early on. It worked.
Along the road of figuring out this food thing, I’ve “accidentally” been discovering myself. I now know this was no accident, but it was also no guarantee. We all have free will. The key is paying attention to what catches your attention. Focusing on what draws you in, and deciding if it’s for you or not. That’s how I discovered hypnosis for me. It called to me. And even when one hypnotherapist wasn’t quite the right fit, I kept looking. Today, I work with someone who is a great fit for me.
This entire journey has really been about coming back to myself, and coming into myself in the most loving and authentic way possible. It’s been incredible and mind-blowing when I sit back and think about the whole thing.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about addiction, it’s that soul separation and fracture are at the root of every single addiction out there. And soul retrieval, in all its forms, is the way to heal it. If you or someone you love struggles with addiction, know that love and compassion for the wounded child who still lives within, is the way. There are many healers out there, and many of us are wounded healers: those who have come into their abilities through their own journey of woundedness. Keep trying. Keep looking.
Edited to add: I wasn’t quite ready to share when I published this piece, but a few days after I wrote this, I had a hypnotherapy experience that healed my lifelong food addiction, and more. When the message hit me that my quest to figure out why I’d had so many issues with food was completed, I was shocked, elated, and simply amazed. Most of my healing experiences are now being chronicled in my sister blog, Remembering My Divinity, and if you want to read about this incredible session, it’s all here.