My name is Annie and I am a compulsive overeater.
I have to ask a question. PLEASE give me an honest answer. After all, the topic of discussion tonight at meeting was honesty. Honestly, I don’t know what to think at the moment, and I need to hear what others have to say. Am I looking for advice? I don’t think so. Just looking for some feedback.
Am I selfish?
More specifically, does wanting weight loss surgery make me a selfish person?
Earlier today, I told you about my official acceptance into the bariatric program at the University of Michigan. There are a couple of things that I still need to do before surgery. One is a nutrition class that my husband is supposed to attend with me (since he does some of the grocery shopping) and the other is a workshop our counseling program that deals specifically with food addictions. Both requirements make sense to me. The class is supposed to help my husband learn how to read labels and know what sort of things I should be eating. And dealing with my food addiction—well, that is something that I have been doing with my OA meetings anyway. I am willing to do whatever I have to face it, even if that means driving to Ann Arbor once a week to work with a food addiction counselor.
And that is, apparently, what makes me selfish.
In all fairness, my husband did not use the word “selfish” in our conversation. He did yell (literally at some points) about how unfair it is that he is expected to do these things with me. “Why should I change my eating habits just because you need to change yours?” He asked if I expected that he and our sons would eat nothing but protein shakes like I am. I told him no, but I do expect them to eat healthier. “I am not going to be cooking pizzas and deep fried foods,” I told him. He said that he likes that kind of thing. I told him that I understand that, but I can’t keep preparing food that way. “I thought you could eat whatever you want after this surgery,” he said. Well, in a way I can. I will be eating much smaller portions, but I will be able to eat basically any food that I choose. However, if I eat nothing but fast food and ice cream, I will get right back to where I am now. I told him that if he and the boys want that kind of food, they will have to go out and get it or else he will have to cook it. Know what he said to that?
“If I have to cook for myself, you’d better find a way to support yourself.”
Oh, that pissed me off more than I can say! I work from home, making a little money here and there, but nothing steady. And every time he disagrees with something that I say or do, he has to throw that up in my face. I hate that he does that! And I had no clue what to say about it.
I can tell you what I wanted to do. I wanted to eat. In fact, I still do. I want to stuff my mouth full of the junk food in the kids’ snack cupboard. But I didn’t. I haven’t. And I won’t. As I told my husband, the point of the food addiction counseling is to learn how to deal with disappointments and other feelings without turning to food. Instead of eating, I turned to my computer and my journal. I guess that is a step in the right direction. And the fact that my husband is still breathing, well that is a good thing, too.
He threw a fit about the cost of counseling sessions. I will have to pay a $10 co-pay for each visit. “And why now, after 35 years on this planet, is this food thing such a problem for you?” Did he actually say that to me? I heard it myself and I still can hardly believe it. I mean, just LOOK AT ME!!! I am 35 years old and 5 feet 6 inches tall. And I weigh over 400 pounds. It’s not like I was 165 pounds yesterday and BOOM another 250 pounds found their way onto my hips and thighs. Food has been a problem for a long time. It’s just that I am finally facing it, finally trying to do something about it. Why now? That is pretty easy to explain, actually. At the end of February, I had some horrible chest pains. My doctor sent me from his office to the emergency room with an EKG readout that said something about not being able to rule out an anterior infarct, which I knew was “doctor speak” for “may have had a heart attack.” All I could think about was leaving my husband to raise our three children alone. That scared me. I don’t want my kids to grow up without me. And I don’t want to even think about some other woman taking my place in my husband’s heart. Even when I am mad enough and hurt enough by his words to not want to be near him, I can’t stand the thought of another woman being with him.
And the truth is, if I don’t do something about my food addiction, that is what I am headed for. If I can’t figure out how to live with this addiction (not beat it, as I am not sure that is possible, but live with it in a way that, well, allows me to LIVE), I will be taking away his wife and I will be depriving my sons of their mother.
I know that I tried Weight Watchers before and lost interest in it after a few weeks. Part of why I lost interest is because of the flack I got from my husband and sons about the healthier foods I was making for them. Part of it, but not all. I am not putting all of the blame for my past failures on any shoulders but my own. I got bored with it. Not with the foods I was making, because they were actually pretty good. I was bored with keeping track of POINTS all the time. I got tired of looking at the way others could eat anything they wanted and I had to make other choices. I lost interest in Weight Watchers because I was lazy.
And that laziness allowed all of this weight to attach itself to my body. That laziness allowed a problem to settle into my heart. It led to high blood pressure and borderline diabetes.
The laziness led me to an afternoon in the emergency room, forcing myself to breathe and wondering if I was going to leave my husband and sons alone.
That afternoon in the ER forced me to look at what I am doing to myself. Each bite I take when I am upset or happy or anything other than hungry is pushing me one step closer to dying. And I don’t want to die. There are too many things that I still want to do with my life. Including seeing my sons graduate high school and college, get married, and have children of their own. And I want to celebrate my 50th wedding anniversary. None of that will happen if I don’t face this “food thing” head on, starting now.
Does that make me selfish?