I struggle with breakfast. I have for years. I’ve tried to pinpoint when it all started to go wrong and at which point I just stopped eating in the mornings.
Looking back I distinctly remember high school and the hell that was waking up every morning. At that time my home was an abuse and neglect environment. I rushed out of the house and onto the bus without breakfast just so I could avoid being around our abusers for too long. I’d be starving on the bus but it was better than scrounging for food in the pantry while avoiding verbal and physical assaults. Over time the feeling of hunger became a comforting sensation. If I was hungry, it meant I was alive and I was safe.
When I started living on my own at 18 I could barely afford food. I lost almost 30 lbs in 6 months just from not eating properly. I loved my leaner frame. I saw not eating as a way of staying fit. So, from age 14 to age 22 being hungry was a way of life. If I was hungry, I’d smoke cigarettes. If I could afford food, I’d overeat because it just felt so good to have it. It was a constant cycle.
Shortly after turning 22 I learned I was pregnant. For the first time in years I wanted to eat. I wanted to eat for the baby inside me. I wanted her to be healthy. So, I ate happily and freely and without guilt or shame. I married her father and finally found financial and emotional safety and security. I joyously filled my fridge and pantry with foods I could never afford before. I cooked, we ordered out, we went out. It was like a lightbulb turned on and consuming food became the representation of my having survived my abusive childhood.
But, I still couldn’t do breakfast. Some scars are just so deep and pervasive. I couldn’t do it. When I would tell family or friends how little I eat, they’d roll their eyes or in their very southern way, nod and change the subject. No one told me that starving then overeating is a sure fire way to put on a lot of weight very quickly. I’d been starving for years. So, when I finally did eat, my body did what it thought I needed it to do: it held on to every bit of it, just in case.
I’m 32 now. And I’m trying, very carefully, to reassure my body that we won’t have to starve again. We’re still safe. We’re still okay. The bottom hasn’t dropped out. The worst has passed. And we have to move forward now. It’s time. Time to let go.
And it starts with breakfast. So, this morning I made a cup of Carnation Instant Breakfast. I wasn’t hungry, but I drank it anyways. Just to get started. Maybe in a week or two I’ll have eggs. I hope so. I’m tired of being hungry. I’m tired of being sad. I’m ready to eat breakfast and reclaim my life.