26. Brownie for Breakfast

26. Brownie for Breakfast

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Shaping the New You

Brownie for Breakfast

Respect your efforts, respect yourself.
Self-respect leads to self-discipline.
When you have both firmly under your belt,
that’s real power.
 ~Clint Eastwood

This morning I had a breakthrough. A breakthrough from the shame that had been a tremendous hurdle my entire life. Today I jumped over that hurdle. I jumped really high. And I landed on my feet. This time I didn’t fall. This time I didn’t even stumble.

Can you believe that I ate a double fudge chocolate brownie with milk chocolate frosting for breakfast? And it gets better. I ate it, I enjoyed every bite, and I didn’t feel one ounce of guilt when I was finished. A piece of me had healed.

You see, when I was growing up, I felt ashamed whenever I ate anything sweet. “I see you sneaking that cookie,” Dad would say with a glare in his eye. “You know what will happen if you eat those,” he’d add. And I knew what he meant because he’d told me before. “That kind of junk makes you fat.” My older brothers called me “Fat Pig.” And I believed them. Granted I was chubby as a little girl, but technically I was never obese. But in my mind I just knew I was fat. Otherwise the people around me wouldn’t have said so. And that was a problem. I was a problem.

If I even thought of eating anything sweet, I was breaking a law. At least my mind believed this lie. It led to a secretive obsession with food by the age of six. If I wanted something, I snuck it and ate it privately, or if I was in public, I’d eat quickly. I figured when I was finished, the people around me would be finished secretly criticizing me in their heads. Even at my birthday parties, I’d feel guilty for eating a piece of my own cake. I would pretend I was enjoying it and I’d smile for pictures, but negative thoughts bombarded me afterward: “Everyone knows your fat. You shouldn’t have eaten that.” Sometimes it would take days for those thoughts to fade. Some never did. Some followed me into adulthood. And it became a pattern that left me in bondage.

A five-year battle with bulimia intensified those negative thoughts. And I deprived myself of anything sweet even after I conquered bulimia so that I wouldn’t have to punish myself afterward. Intense exercise and starvation were common if I slipped. Gaining weight was unacceptable.

I didn’t understand that my struggle came from those unhealthy messages I received as a little girl. “If you eat sweets, you’ll get fat.” And “If you get fat, you’ll be unlovable.” All the unhealthy messages that I believed to be true were far from true. Being thin will not make people love me unconditionally. Just like being fat will not make people not love me. I deprived myself of sweets and/or binged on them in private my entire life and punished myself for doing so because as a child I was criticized for eating them.

Freedom came when I learned how to create healthy boundaries and how to take care of myself when I felt shame creeping in. Sometimes it just takes a positive thought to remind me that I’m okay. I can eat sweets in moderation when it’s right for me and if I choose. And I can eat in peace because I know the truth. I deserve to enjoy my life. And to me, enjoying my life was having a double fudge chocolate brownie with milk chocolate frosting for breakfast this morning. Though I won’t do this every day, I can do it once in a while knowing that shame and fear no longer exist in this area of my life. And I will celebrate self-acceptance and freedom as a reminder that being me is beautiful. That way, I will never forget it.

~Mimi Marie

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