7 min read...
The day I found out I was broken and cursed: I remember it so clearly, that day my mom found out I was being involved in sexual activity. She caught me lying there while an adolescent relative explored my body sexually under a big brown blanket. I remember the expression on her face most. By that time I was close to 9 years old and I could tell what my mother was feeling at any moment just by looking at her face. As she stood there, she was shocked, then sad, then angry. I knew I was going to be in big trouble by the last glare she gave me.
In my mind, I was trying to connect the dots so I could make sense of her reaction. The last thing I wanted was to disappoint my parents. I remember crying because I felt like I disappointed them, I could tell by how they reacted that day. I remember my father asking me if “I like to be treated that way, and touched like that". He didn't speak in an understanding tone, but in a tone that felt and sounded undermining, like I should have known better.
You see what my parents didn’t know was that from about 5 years old, I knew I liked being touched and held. I didn’t know that there was a sexual touch and just a touch for genuine affection. So when the man that cut our grass in Kenya invited me to sit on his lap and give him little pecks on his mouth and cheek when I was 5 years old, I did and went along with my day not feeling broken or cursed. At that time, I had no idea that the nervous energy I was sensing as he asked me to do this was because he knew this aroused him.
Three years later as recent immigrants to the USA, is when my parents would find out and reveal to me, unconsciously, how broken and cursed I am. I stood there shaken to my core. How did I disappoint my parents so much, how can I fix it and make them proud of me again?
In the days that followed the day I found out I was broken and cursed, I started to fear who I am. I decided to mask who I am by identifying with these three ideas I believed would protect me from disappointing my parents again.
Now, I must become someone who shouldn’t enjoy being touched
Now, I must become someone who shouldn’t enjoy sex
Now, I must become someone who would do whatever it takes to make my parents see me as whole, pure, and precious
I’m telling you all of this because this is the root cause of my bingeing. I’m trying to comfort the part of me that feels broken.
Although the most popular view is that emotional eating is due to a lack of control or weakness, it’s really much deeper. Certain situations can trigger you if you’re unconscious of them or choose not to respond to them. Most of us are generally unconscious of these signs and only become conscious of them when taking time to be present and aware of our own personal habits.
Know this, YOU ARE NOT POWERLESS. If in your heart you’re ready to let go of a bingeing habit you can. You must look at the root story you’re trying to comfort with your bingeing habits. The BIG lesson I learned is that sometimes time doesn’t heal, it conceals and seeks external comfort — until your body can no longer carry it quietly.
As I’m recovering I notice all the ways I was seeking external comfort. I used to comfort myself by binge eating at least 4 pop tarts in the morning in high school. Even with healthy plant-based foods I can binge to comfort, or busy myself to do more and more to comfort the fear of sitting alone with painful emotions. As I’m recovering I notice all the ways my body tells me it can no longer carry this pain quietly.
Over time I’ve learned that pain and trauma can blind you, but your soul is always guiding you to learn how to channel your physical experiences to something that brings more harmony and compassion into the world and your life.
Here are four mindful ways Women of Color can channel their painful emotions/trauma so you don’t become blind to your power, purity, and preciousness:
When you notice yourself replaying a painful emotion or story about yourself, challenge it with a deep breath followed by a question or two: where do I feel this emotion most in my body? Ask yourself is this the truth of who I am? or what has happened without a doubt? Who am I if I didn’t believe this?
Grow a small kitchen garden and tend to it daily or every other day--- or find a daily practice ( at least 10 mins long) that ignites your reverence for life. Gary Zukav says it best “Without reverence, without the perception of the holiness of all things, the world becomes cold and barren, mechanical and random at the same time, this creates experiences of alienation and acts of violence. It’s not natural for us to live without reverence, because that separates us from the basic energy of the soul (who You really are).” Gardening every year even when I was just killing plants has been vital for my recovery for this reason.
Start a food journal for a month or so. Emotional eating is a real thing. Keeping a journal to track your feelings and relationship with food can be extremely beneficial to become aware of your habits. You'll be able to see what you tend to eat when you're happy, sad, or feeling lonely. Be sure to journal what you've eaten, and how you felt after eating it. Did you eat because you were hungry, or were you just seeking temporary pleasure?
Therapy can be the key to unlocking buried emotions. Women who experience trauma tend to bury their feelings or pretend to be "fine" because they may not have anyone to talk to, or simply don't want to burden others with their emotional state. Speaking about your trauma/emotions is a crucial part of healing. We all have stories that can help not only ourselves, but someone else who is seeking guidance, and relief.