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This Child

Men, Women and Children

Once upon a time there was a small child... a child with wide eyes of innocence and security. A child that could laugh and play. A child that could cry and be comforted. A child that could make silly faces in the mirror and be glad to see silly faces looking back.

One day, this little child was crushed. Maybe it was because this small child was made to feel no good. Told not to cry. Hit with a hand or a stick. Sexually abused. It might have been the parental conflicts and family dysfunction, it might have been dad's alcoholism or mom's push of food as comfort, or maybe the death or abandonment of one or both parents. Maybe it was the ridicule by peers or the ingrained phrase "you'd be better only if..." Maybe not all of these things, maybe just one... or maybe something else. Either way this child felt bad.

As this child grew so did the bad feelings. Sometimes it was easy to feel loved with a lot of ice-cream. Sometimes it felt good to let built up anger or sadness go with vomitting. It felt good to binge and then take laxatives as a means of reaffirming the bad feelings, to self-punish. Sometimes the small child felt in control of life restricting food intake or jogging for 3 hours. The only thing this small child knew was that losing weight would make life better, and that concentrating on the food made it forgettable.

The child became overweight, binging to fill the void. "Food is my only friend, it will comfort me." The child could not seem to get enough, the void was never filled but temporarily. Plus, the excess weight made it easy to keep people away. To steer clear of vulnerability. "Life would be better if I could just lose weight." Cook books, this diet, that diet, baking. Endless hours in the kitchen preparing food. This child began purging after binges... the tension and self-hate seemed to lift, and the guilt from feeling like a glutton for so many things, for feeling selfish, for making a mistake, would fade. Laxatives and diet pills, dieuretics and fasting. "My life will be good when I lose the weight." Striving for perfection, this child began to avoid food. No more than ________ calories today... no more than ________ tomorrow. The control was unbelievable! "I'm not feeling well" or "I already ate." No more silly faces, but a tired and broken body reflecting back in the mirror saying, "just a few more pounds and life will be better."

Headaches, dizziness, fatigue and joint pain. Isolation and lonliness. Hyperactivity and insomnia. Back and chest pains. Moodiness. Depression on top of depression. Sickness.
"Life will surely get better soon..."
And then...
this overweight, this "normal" weight, this underweight child died.

The doctors said,
    "heart attack,"
    "kidney failure,"
    "We did all we could."

I cry for this child, in the end feeling alone and like no one cared. Feeling worthless and stupid, and like a burden to those in life. I cry for this wounded child whose life ends at 12, 15, 25, 38, 55, because of Compulsive Overeating, Anorexia or Bulimia. I cry as I read the words, carved into this childs' headstone, on a small grave now far away:

    I need more time to find the real me...
    to fly like the birds... to be set free.
    Why couldn't I stop until I had died?
    It was hate for myself hidden inside.

"This Child" can be anyone from someone with Compulsive Overeating to Anorexia or Bulimic. It can be your husband or wife, your sister or brother, your son or daughter, your lover or friend, a parent or grandparent, an aunt or uncle, a niece, a nephew, a cousin. They might be male or female, any age, and come from any race or religious background. It is me, it is you or it is someone you love or know.

To have an Eating Disorder is to have a disease of the self-esteem, and to have a broken coping mechanism. Eating Disorders are about being addicted to a behavior that makes it easy to temporarily forget problems and feelings of depression and self hate, stress and anxiety, guilt and pressure. Just like alcohol is a symptom of alcoholism, food is a symptom of Anorexia, Bulimia or Compulsive Overeating. The real issues are hidden away in each sufferers heart and mind.

Author: Amy Medina


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