I remember the morning my brother died like it was yesterday.
It was 18 years ago…..but, the thing about tremendous grief is that it doesn’t go away…..it just changes.
I was at work in a clinic that day in August 1999, and I remember my aunt walking through the door to our business office with a look of shear panic on her face and my heart immediately sank. I knew what she was about to tell me was bad….but in that moment, I had no idea just how tragic the news would be.
She took me into my boss’s office and told me that Kjell was gone…..that he’d taken his own life.
I remember my legs giving out underneath me and my body going limp.
I remember falling to the floor.
I remember uncontrollable screaming, sobbing, shaking and not being able to breathe.
And, then…..I remember nothing.
I don’t remember leaving work.
I don’t remember what I did the rest of the day or the days to follow.
I don’t remember who I talked to or if I slept or if I ate.
It was as if the lights went out in my world.
The next several months have always been a blur except that I remember having panic attacks and nightmares and when I was alone I would start crying and not be able to stop.
It’s always hard when someone in your life dies. And, when someone in your life chooses dying over living, it’s unthinkable. For the longest time I couldn’t let go of the thought of how much pain he must’ve been in on the inside. You do the usual why God why but you also do the why Kjell why AND I did the why DINA why? What didn’t I see? Why didn’t I recognize the signs? Why didn’t I take more time to listen and talk to him?? What did we talk about the last time we talked?? When was the last time I told him I loved him? I had this tremendous guilt that I couldn’t let go of….and still hold some of to this day.
He was an amazing person. He was quiet and kind. He loved giving. He was smart and witty. He never even seemed to get that mad at things. There’s not a bad thing anyone who knew him could say….
And, then in an instant, he was gone.
It was a day that forever changed our family.
It was a day that forever changed me.
Aside from working through the panic, the nightmares, and the fear of being by myself, I eventually started eating for comfort and for escape. I’ve blogged about him before but it’s been more recently that I uncovered more about what happened in those years after he was gone. You can read it here 🙂
I’ve had to dig really deep to find it but it’s been a part of my “homework” recently ~ to get the bottom of where things started to go so wrong ~ this was the time in my life when emotional eating, food addiction, yo-yo dieting and my weight escalated.
Yes, I had had a pretty unhealthy relationship with food growing up. For sure. And, it’s no secret….I’ve blogged and shared about it many times before.
If you’re new here, I hid food when I was younger….but it was a bit more of a game back then than later in life. Ha, even my Gma Olson hid food for me. My dad was SUPER healthy and SUPER strict about what I ate when I was with him. He was vegetarian and had a no sugar, no pop and no junk food rule (ha, as a kid, it felt more like a you can’t have ANY fun rule lol). So, my gma would feel pretty bad for me and hide and sneak me candy….and other junk food….behind his back lol. She would tell me where the “stashes of goods” were, she would stock me up when I was going back to mom’s, and she loved to cook and loved to bake so she fed us all very, very well when I was there..but not always healthy ~ the more margarine and Crisco and real whipped cream and butter syrup the better lol. So, of course when I was elsewhere and back to eating boring food, I felt a little deprived and couldn’t wait for the next time I would be back at my grandparents’ farm. And, we didn’t have a lot of money when I was with my mom, so my step-dad’s snacks for his work lunches were totally off-limits to us kids….so OF COURSE I would wake up in the middle of the night and eat them out of loneliness and spite lol. I was such a rebel ya know 😉
AND, I totally compared myself to my friends in high school but I was never really overweight. I thought I was fat….(I don’t use that word anymore but I told myself that I was back then)…now that I know better, I wasn’t. I just had a really distorted image of myself (and I didn’t know it at the time but that would get way worse before it got better).
Until college that is! I WAS overweight in college. I gained the freshman 15….and then some. I think I gained the freshman 20 or 25 tbh. I loved the cafeteria food. I loved to party. I loved beer and sunflower seeds at softball (no, I didn’t play….just a spectator) lol. I loved late night pizza. And, I did VERY little in the form of exercise. I played city league bball but I played at the bar a lot harder after every game 😉 But, I don’t really remember binge eating or eating with abandon during those college years. It was more of that typical, I’M FREE to do whatever the heck I want type of lifestyle….and, yes, it did take its toll on me.
After college life, I lost the weight, without a lot of work or stress about it and got back down to the 130s. I didn’t go on a “diet.” I did start going to WeightWatchers meetings but I honestly never faithfully followed any of their systems. I loosely counted Pts or ate “power foods” some of the time, but the part I loved the most and got the most out of was the accountability of it (another thing I’ve found with coaching!).
But, then, my darkness began.
A few short months after Kjell’s death, my now hubby, Daryn, & I moved in together.
Moving in together wouldn’t be the best decision we ever made and looking back I wish I had been stronger to know it wasn’t right for us. However, my panic attacks started to go away. The nightmares still came but weren’t as debilitating and I could actually go back to sleep after them. And, I could BE by myself from time to time ‘cuz I knew I wasn’t going to be ALONE alone.
But, that’s when my closet eating started and when my addictions started forming.
My grief and guilt just took on a different appearance.
I often ate alone.
I hid food.
I pretended I hadn’t eaten when I had.
I was very weak and destroyed but I didn’t want Daryn to see just how weak and destroyed I really was.
I convinced myself Kjell was gone because of something I did….or didn’t do.
And, I escaped.
Only it wasn’t an escape at all.
The fear of losing someone else close to me had begun to completely consume me.
And, the more I beat myself up for him dying, the more I began to hate myself and self destruct.
I think I gained about 40 lbs. in the next two years after he was gone and us moving in together. So, obviously, it wasn’t because of the typical “I’m super happy and comfortable in my relationship” kind of weight gain lol.
It honestly wouldn’t be until I found coaching like 14 years later that I would begin to fully realize that while I FELT destroyed by something beyond my control (yet that I thought I was somehow responsible for), I was literally destroying myself all on my own.
I spent 14 YEARS destroying myself….from the inside out.
Thank God for Daryn, some really good friends and my sister during that time or I’m not sure where I would be right now. Even though I had my walls up, there would be glimpses and times I would let them in.
But, for the past 4 years I’ve been trying to rebuild myself….from the inside out….and instead of just letting people break down the walls SOMETIMES, I’ve been working hard to tear down my walls all together.
I’ve still made a lot of mistakes in these past 4 years.
I’ve had a lot of things beyond my control happen and derail me.
And, I’ve had a lot of things completely within my control that have derailed me and all but destroyed me once again.
But, I’m slowly finding my way.
I finally realized that I was still trying to do too much of this on my own. My faith had been lost. I just couldn’t believe a loving God could let this happen. I didn’t know how to pray…I didn’t want to try to learn how to pray.
So, what have I discovered in these four years? How am overcoming and getting stronger every day?
It was totally a God thing that I found coaching. I say it all the time, but I’m not sure where I would be had I not found it….and everything and everyone that’s come into my life because of it.
I found my coach, God bless her. I found so many amazing friends who are like family to me now, God bless them. (In fact, one of those amazing friends sent this to me this blog post this week and I feel like the blogger was talking about me! minus the parts about feeling a little too perfect and superior 😉 And, another friend, who I’ll be sharing more about below, said something that opened up my world) I’ve been to conferences that have completely changed my outlook on my struggles and life in general. I’ve listened to countless stories from other coaches about what they’ve been through but found their way. It really is true that you have no idea what someone else is going through, and it puts your own life and sadness into perspective. I’ve been on amazing trips that have filled my soul. I found an ah-mazing life coach who has taken a spiritual approach to our work together to help me trust God and lean on Him vs. trying to take all this into my own hands, God bless her. I found a healthy, sustainable approach to health & fitness (and let’s just say I’ve tried so many things and quick fixes and completely unhealthy things it’s not even funny). And, ultimately and most importantly, I found my faith in God again.
And, while it may feel like it’s “taking too long” (one of my nephew’s & B’s favorite things to say a few years ago lol), I’m not sure it’s fair to expect that WE (yes, remember when I said I can’t do this alone?….I’m not doing this alone 🙂 ) can “undo” in 4 years what it took me 14 to do to myself. But, even then, I feel stronger than I ever have.
I’ve talked about this recently but something had STILL been holding me back. As much as I wanted to be and as often as I would think I was so so close, I’m still not 100% in the game for my clients and my team and honestly myself.
My truth is that I still struggle with wanting to turn to food for comfort. Even after everything I’ve found to help me, I still think about it more often that I care to admit. I don’t give in to every urge and thought by any means and I’m not binge or closet eating OR eating with abandon.
But while I may not be DOING the things that all but destroyed me years ago, I still WANT TO! I still have moments where I’m on the ledge……when I’m stressed or sad or my anxiety is through the roof….and where I’m so close to eating half a pkg of Oreos, a party pizza, a bag of popcorn drowned in real butter and chasing it down with an entire bottle of wine….or 2. So, I’ve been asking myself yet again….who am I to be trying to help anyone else with their nutrition if I’m still fighting the same demons…..the same internal feelings and battles that I was in those 14 years?
Am I a fraud? Am I a hypocrite?
Well, this week I realized I’ve still been asking the wrong questions.
Enter in yet another reason God led me to where I am right now…..
We were on a team call earlier this week with my coach, Val, and another coach on our team, Amy. Now remember that had I not taken a leap of faith and started coaching with Val, she would never have been the one to sometimes talk me off said ledge. AND, I would never have met Amy. So, towards the end of that call and after a ton of wonderful ideas and insight from Val on something that’s gonna help SO many people with their nutrition, Amy said something that hit me hard.
She started talking about her struggles with her own food addiction.
Now, this isn’t the first time I’ve heard Amy talk about this. And, I’ve connected with her on many levels for the similarities in our journeys. But, what she was about to say would change things for me. She said that she has realized through coaching that she will always struggle with food. It will always be something she’s overcoming because she’s in RECOVERY. She will ALWAYS be in recovery from her addiction.
This is Amy! She’s went from a size 16 to a size 6 in a little over a year. She’s overcame! But, the hard days still come….she’s just taken quitting off the table 🙂 (Much like I have!)
“NSV Celebration! 😀
Exactly 400 days ago I recommitted to my journey (due to a health scare) to get my health and fitness back on track!
Today I’m rocking a size 6 Jean!
That’s 10 sizes smaller than 400 days ago!
I feel great , Thank God, and even on the hard days, I’ve taken quitting off the table!”
It was like a cloud lifted.
Food is my drug of choice.
I’m an addict in recovery.
I honestly hadn’t really looked at it like that.
And, there would come a day where my emotional eating had literally started to eat me alive.
It may sound dramatic and some of you may be thinking….ummmm whatever Dina…it’s JUST FOOD. Food addiction isn’t a thing. But, that’s just it, maybe you don’t struggle with food….I hope you don’t!!!!…..Maybe the idea of food being like a drug is foreign to you but I challenge you to be open-minded because it is real….people do talk about it….and some are suffering without even knowing they are in the same boat.
Addiction can come in so many forms….the obvious ones being drugs and alcohol. (Someone very close to me is addicted to alcohol, so you better believe I know the pain of someone else’s addiction and I would never take calling something an addiction lightly.) But, be it gambling or spending or pornography or FOOD, they, too, can be extremely destructive to the addict…AND to those around them. (I’ve also had a shopping/spending addiction and I’ve often felt myself not in a good place with alcohol. So, yes, my addictive tendencies run strong and I’ll be unpacking more about that soon as well. This is probably enough for one post lol.) I’m of the belief that any external thing you turn to to escape the pain in your life can become an addiction and it can consume to the point you don’t even recognize yourself and cause pain to those you love.
And, when it comes to food….well, the really SUCKY (is that a word?!?) part about being addicted to food is that you……STILL NEED FOOD. You HAVE to eat to live. You can’t just stop eating food cold turkey and “kick the habit!!” You still have to eat. And, while I can only imagine the strength it takes to beat a drug or alcohol addiction, it would appear the strength to beat a food addiction is pretty dang hard, too. Food is ALWAYS there tempting us and unlike the other things many people struggle with, you still have to have it and you can’t just stop eating.
So, this is why I’m sharing all this today and it’s yet another way I’m healing.
This blog has brought healing and comfort. I honestly never expected it to but it has. It’s still hard to share a post like this. I don’t want to be judged. It’s hard to show my weaknesses. And, I the last thing I want is for anyone to feel sorry for me.
I simply want to bring my pain, my addiction, my internal battles to the light….so they have less power over me yet again. And, maybe to give someone else hope that they can find help, hope and peace just like I’m finding help, hope and peace.
As my life coach, Debbie says ~ The devil wants us to keep things hidden. He wants us to stay stuck and lie about it and be on a path of destruction. He doesn’t want us to seek God. He doesn’t want us to find comfort. He wants us to stay weak. So, if you get nothing else out of this, if you’re consumed by something, if something is causing you pain, confide in someone….even if it’s just confiding in one person….find a way to bring it to the light. I promise you you will start the healing process.
I’m gonna be sharing more in the next several weeks about more specifics on just how much coaching has helped me….specific tools, resources, PEOPLE who have helped me….and if you’re especially struggling and need professional help, I would be happy to share recommendations and even names of people in the area and online that can help. Just a little tangent…but I SO wish there wasn’t a stigma surrounding talking to a therapist. Talking to a professional or a pastor isn’t a sign of a weakness, it’s a sign of strength!! And, talking to someone who’s safe and completely impartial to your situation can change so much.
I’m gonna leave you with a song that’s speaking to my heart right now and some final words about overcoming…
I finally realized that punishing myself wasn’t gonna bring Kjell back. He wouldn’t want to see me in the pain I was causing myself. And, as much as I chased the WHY of what had happened, eating and self-destructing was never going to help me find it. And, while I thought the walls I built up around me were to protect me and not let anyone hurt me, the walls were really suffocating me. And, though I’m not perfect….and I still find myself on that ledge….I still have help to offer. I can still help someone else. And, maybe, just maybe, it better equips me to help someone….because I know first-hand what it’s like to work through it all….
Crowder – Come As You Are
From the album Neon Steeple
Come out of sadness from wherever you’ve been
Come broken hearted let rescue begin
Come find your mercy
Oh sinner, come kneel
Earth has no sorrow
That Heaven can’t heal
So, lay down your burdens
Lay down your shame
All who are broken
Lift up your face
Oh wanderer, come home
You’re not too far
So, lay down your hurt
Lay down your heart
Come as you are
There’s hope for the hopeless
And all those who’ve strayed
Come sit at the table
Come taste the grace
There’s rest for the weary
Rest that endures
Earth has no sorrow
That Heaven can’t cure
Come as you are
Fall in His arms
Come as you are
There’s joy for the morning
Oh sinner, be still
Earth has no sorrow
That Heaven can’t heal
btw ~ i’m like really obsessed with using filters sometimes….especially when i find one that hides the 2 scars i have between my eyes AND my creases lol #keepinitreal 😉