I knew I shouldn’t have bought it yesterday when I went grocery shopping but I couldn’t just help myself. Not when they had taken a 25% discount off it too. Now the bowl of ice-cream called out to me from the fridge asking me to take just a scoop. I looked down at my wriggly 120 kg frame; the protruding stomach my girdle was struggling to cover, my thunder thighs, all the extra flab that jiggled when I walked and then I made a decision. Taking just one scoop could not do any more damage to my already unwieldy frame.
After finishing the bowl, I felt the inevitable stab of guilt, of disgust, of self-loathing. And I began to wonder how I started this downward spiral. I hadn’t always been this way.
As a child, I grew up with very bad acne. It was so bad that my classmates named me: ‘Pimply Fanny’. I was a sensitive child and their words hurt me badly as well as their actions. They even took turns trying to pick at my pimples. My parents were too busy to care; my mother only told me that I would grow out of it when I got older. I couldn’t understand why I was this way. My mother had beautiful, flawless skin and then I was told I took after Aunt Jasmine who suffered from acne too as a child. Aunt Jasmine however was so lively and full of spunk I could not imagine anyone ever taunting her. I felt so alone. One day, a boy came to pull my hair and said: “You’re so ugly. That’s why no one ever wants to play with you.” That cut me deep. He had told me what I always suspected. That day, I cried my eyes out when I got home. But no one was at home that day to comfort me. After I finished crying, I opened the fridge and saw a half eaten cake in it. An impulse seized me and I took it out of the fridge and demolished it. I felt so much better after that. That was the beginning of my using food as a means of comfort.
After a while, I grew from Pimply fanny to Chunky Fanny. But the teasing didn’t seem to hurt me as much because it seemed I had discovered a friend in food. Food wouldn’t abuse you or pull your hair. Food was malleable-it did whatever you wanted it to do. Over the years, I used food as an escape alternately gaining weight and losing some. The sadder I got, the more weight I put on.
I met my husband Tom at one of my catering events. (Yes, I had to become a caterer.
How could I give up the opportunity of working with food?) I couldn’t believe he wanted me. I lost so much weight effortlessly because Tom became my drug. We got married and I was deliriously happy for two years. Then the doctors told us we couldn’t have a baby. Tom and I were not enough drugs for each other. I turned to food and he turned to drink. It was only a matter of time before he left me.
Last month, he wrote a note for me when I was out to work and I haven’t seen him since then. I have added over 10kg in the last month and counting. I stare inot the empty bowl of ice-crema nad see myself. An empty, depressed, middle-aged fat woman on the verge of hopelessness. I knew something had to give.
That night I listen to a re-run of an old Billy Graham’s crusade. His voice was filled with hope as he urged the people to come forward. The kind of hope I wanted to have again. Then I knelt in front of the television and made another decision. I would switch allegiances. If God cared about me as much as Billy said he did, I didn’t need food as a comfort.
I went to bed and slept for the first time without waking up to take a midnight snack. This morning I got up and looked at the fridge and smiled to myself. I was going to replace my early morning milk-shake by taking a long walk.