I think it started after my Dad died. I found comfort in food and it got out of control. A few months after his death I realized I had gained a bunch of weight, conscientiously I came to, realizing the true extent of the loss of my Dad. It hit me as an epiphany, I was eating my grief. I first talked to Mark, telling him my beliefs and that that I needed help dealing with this. Mark and I believe in counseling, we have sought it many times for different reasons over our twenty five years together. I do think this was the first time in our marriage that I needed help, by myself and just for me. My childhood had many good things about it, but there were also many issues I had stuffed deep inside me. Living with Mark, I often did not think about all those secrets of my past, my parent's divorce, mental illness of family members, much alcoholism and substance abuse. I had escaped many of the bad patterns of my past by marrying a man who was kind and gentle and did not have addiction issues or abuse me. My sister had married a man who was an alcoholic and beat her several times. I saw this in my late teens and swore I would find a good spouse, one who did not need fixing. I tend to be the nurturing type, a strong woman who thinks I can help or fix other people's problems. I know I often can't see my own faults, but other people's faults are very clear to me. I work on being better but this has not come without much introspective work in counseling and pain. I think we all tend to blame our pasts, our parents or circumstances for becoming what we are. That does not mean what we are is bad, I believe many of my best traits have been built from the tough stuff I lived. I am loyal, strong, an outside of the box thinker, a problem solver, a caretaker, just to name a few of my positive qualities. Many of those qualities would not have been built in an "easy, idyllic, pampered childhood." I was brought up in some painful stuff that only my closest friends really know. I am sure those tough times prepared me for the journey I have taken with our daughter Teale. I'm not sure everyone would have fought for her as hard as Mark and I have. I'm not sure everyone would have believed in her like we do. Sadly, it is my self image I have found the most challenging negative in my life. I struggle with my weight, my aging and my looks, often. Ironically, my husband seems to have rose colored glasses when it comes to these things about me. I swear the man still sees his twenty two year old bride. He is so complimentary of me, no matter what stage of life, by that I actually mean body shape, I am in. He supports and loves me, always and unconditionally! Recently it occurred to me, that I never look at Mark in the ways I so harshly judge myself. It sounds so basic, but until only recently, I thought Mark probably judges me inside his head. He may even be embarrassed by me in the stages where I am not fit but he is smart and too polite to say anything out loud. Then I put myself in his shoes, so to speak. Mark has had times in our marriage that he was very overweight but it just never mattered to me, he was still Mark, the man I love. So why would I think he thinks less of me when I am struggling? Maybe it is an old school thought that has never really left me? Maybe it is a society issue, women are supposed to stay young, fit and attractive for their spouses. In society, men are allowed to age, go bald, develop a gut, whatever and we still love them, admire them and call them things like distinguished. A woman aging, gaining weight, losing their looks is thought less of. This is where my disconnect lays, I know how Mark treats me, yet I actually believe in my head "he wishes I was better." My weight is my biggest demon. It started in my junior year in high school, when I was horribly sick with mono for over a month. I came out of that sickness thinner because I had slept so much and barely ate. I had no appetite and I went with that, eating very little. I got attention from friends and teachers who were worried about my weight. The attention pushed me to eat even less. Food became an enemy and has been ever since. I have done well at times and I have done very poorly. I eat out of hunger, but I also eat out of pain, stress, boredom and habit. I crave things that do nothing good for my body, but even knowing that, I still eat them. Stress is my biggest issue, but instead of doing something constructive for my stress, I eat. Usually I crave crap, a quick high is what I am looking for, sugar and caffeine to boost me for a short while. I found out when my Dad died that although I do not have any "bad addictions." My relationship with food is addictive in nature, I do not eat to live, I live to eat. So in conclusion, my thoughts are many, but basic. I do not judge those I love based on their looks and therefore, maybe, just maybe, I can stop the vicious cycle of judging myself, based on my weight. Weight is not what I am. I am the friend, the wife, the mother, the woman, who you can count on, always.