There I was, eleven years old, out in the garage hiding. I waited until I knew I would not be discovered and went to the freezer that was kept out there and found what I was looking for. The little chocolate donuts, six to a wrapper. I found a package, opened it right there and gobbled down the frozen treats as fast as I could, hoping nobody would find me.
In an overcrowded house with a dozen or more children and half as many adults, it was difficult to find privacy for sneaking the sweet treats, but I managed to do so often. When my favorites were finally all gone, I would then look for my next favorites: the white powdered donuts.
I learned about “closet-eating” as a way of self-comforting or self-soothing very early in life. It was a very poor substitute for what I really needed during that phase of my growth and development, which was to receive the comfort I needed from my mom and dad.
I didn’t know my dad growing up, and had been separated from my mother on so many occasions as a young child that I learned to not depend on her to meet my very real needs. Sometimes she would be gone for a few days or a few weeks. One time I was left in the care of others for more than a year without any hope of her return or knowledge of her whereabouts.
The first time I remember it really affecting me was at age seven, standing on the driveway of the house we were living in, bawling my eyes out and begging for her not to go.
“Stop crying. Crying doesn’t do any good.” That’s the message I got from my mom.
I cried anyway that day, but not being able to depend on her constant presence to comfort me caused me to start looking for other ways to find the comfort my heart desperately needed.
That pattern of being my own source for the comfort continued for decades. It resulted in a weight problem and hoarding tendencies that began at an early age, and of course, continued for decades and eventually became an issue with obesity and a tendency to hold onto my “stuff” longer than what was healthy. No other outcome was possible when food and stuff became the substitute for the real comfort I needed.
My attempts at weight loss and decluttering were usually successful at the beginning, but every attempt ended with me eventually regaining the weight I had lost, plus more; or re-accumulating more stuff than I had gotten rid of in my last attempt at decluttering. Lots more weight. Lots more stuff.
The roller-coaster ride with my weight leveled out some after I attended a class called “Levels of Change” taught by Bob Hamp. That was followed by a class called “The Problem Jesus Came to Solve” and several others, which are available to everyone, for free.
My problem, even after attending these classes, was that I did not recognize that I was my own source for comfort.
After that first Freedom Ministry class in 2005, I made a commitment to myself that I would not try any more “diets” (I would consciously choose to make healthier choices at times, but I don’t consider that to be a “diet”) until I could solidly connect with my real identity and know “Who I am in Christ” with absolute assurance. I left class that day with a bookmark that read, “Who I am in Christ” and the following list of reminders with scripture references.
I am accepted.
I am secure.
I am significant.
This led me on a journey to the heart of my heavenly Father. A journey that took almost a decade. It makes sense considering I had no real relationship with my earthly father to help me navigate this journey.
To be continued….Part 2….here’s a taste of what’s to come:
Once safely connected to the heart of my Father, I was easily able to make the next leap of faith to a connection with the Holy Spirit, who had been waiting patiently for me to work out all my “Father” issues so that he could step in and help me learn to receive comfort, the real deal, from Him. There’s a reason why He is referred to as “The Comforter”!
I was so used to “being strong” (a euphemism for bypassing grief) and carrying the very heavy load of grief inside of me, that I didn’t even realize that’s what I was doing. It took me several more years to figure this out. I had no idea that when I signed up to take the Freedom Ministry Training class (so that I could help others) it would result in my healing and learning not just “how to” allow the Holy Spirit to comfort me (more knowledge), but to actually “do it” (experiential), “it” being allowing the Holy Spirit to comfort me…
At first I thought the two part idea was a good solution to the problem but now that I have to wait to read the end, I'm not so sure.
Anna LeBaron Davenport says
Tiffany, there was no other way, unless you wanted to read a book, disguised as a blog post!
Leah Rocha says
I have never met someone who made the same decision I did about dieting. That is exactly what I did just last April, a year ago. I have always questioned myself, but I just felt, that until I get to the root (which for me it is the comfort thing as well) there is no use to trying to control it externally, not when it's an internal issue. Thank you for putting words to it! I love it when that happens. Great blog!
Kari Gjolmesli says
I feel connected with your words I get where you're from and where you are going. The weight issue I have had has a few similarities. It is hard to read how you lived as a child. I know that this is the past, but wish I could fix it and any pain from it.
Anna LeBaron Davenport says
Kari, my heart loves that your heart is with me on thIs journey. I'm so glad we reconnected after all those years!
Kimberly Mayer says
So excited to read this. thank you Anna – with all of my heart. We teach the "My identity in Christ" at our women's retreat. I love how you are reaching so many women to think about healing their own hearts. I love you dearly