Diets, for many, alter life’s path by wasted time, emotional turmoil, energy expunged, and affected metabolism. Imagine the past orchestrated differently if healthier self-esteem existed, and shame, weight, and internal dialog had influenced a different outcome. Like a sliding door, movement forward and back, results may have been the same leading to the same conclusion. Either way, emotional pain and dieting regimes scorch and shadow numerous lives. When weight scars internally and externally, healing awaits.

Tight-fitting clothing, humiliation at the doctor’s office from shame of weight gain, and constant reminders from a concerned mother, flowed through my existence. At thirteen, my pediatrician, upon my mother’s inquiry, suggested the benefits of a ten-pound weight loss. The charts confirmed his recommendations. By summer’s end, the pounds dropped by fifteen with a regain of twenty by winter. That sad scenario repeatedly danced through multiple diets rocking up and down like a seesaw. With each cycle of pounds mounting, my self-esteem plummeted. The following years took a downward turn.

Shopping for clothes after my hips and thighs grew disproportionately during puberty was a living nightmare I cringe to rehash even through memories. Arguments with my mother while shopping were nothing more than a shame festival of depressing moments, tantrums, and screaming matches, all a reminder of my body’s limitations and flaws. Dying inside with self-hatred for my body, lacking self-acceptance and self-love, I lashed out at my mother, reactive of the inner hurt that consumed me.

In high school, getting to the field house early for a softball game meant requesting the only pair of size extra large softball pants that existed. The humiliation of wearing a tight, smaller size influenced my high school days. Walking down to the field, I remember a bus driving by when a snarky kid yelled, “Hey, Fat Ass!” Stabbed and slashed by the slur, my heart palpitates even now with the memory of bleeding fear, shame, and depression that it carried. I held my head down as the school bus passed, pretending its lack of effect, when inside something died further, and self-worth deepened with doubt.

Years of debilitating relationships and choosing partners that matched my level of self-worth, heightened the extreme pain. Pounds increased while associated with delinquent, discouraging, and disrespectful men. Fittingly, my high school boyfriend went to the prom with another girl, I dated an ex-con abominably angry with the world, chose a drug-induced man who abused me physically until I had the courage to leave, and continued to connect with men who valued me as much as I valued myself.

Yet inside, deep beneath the gravity that weighed me down lay the innocent who wanted, needed, and fought for love in all the wrong places. Filling the void between that inner space and the external forces was necessary for my survival. Food replaced the missing pieces of me; it numbed the pain, easing away the hurt temporarily. Pushing away emotional hurt was my modus operandi; food served as a mechanism for efficiently and expertly expunging the uncomfortable feelings.

Acutely aware of the issues that patterned emotionally painful decades, self-worth lay at the root. Growing shards of brokenness lay fixated, remained entrenched, until true healing began to repave my journey. Allaying fears, feeling, and leaning into emotions while addressing sugar addiction, smoothes the sharp edges that used to gouge my insides. Today the bandages await removal after years of recovery. Slowly healing, certain that scars lighten over time, I wait the knowing of a different era when self-worth lines my heart, self-acceptance contours my existence, and self-love reinforces a peaceful, healing path.