Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Food Used to Hold Me Hostage

Many abused and/or traumatized children have grown up as victims of our mothers using food as a way of control. I believe it is the silent forbidden orgasm of domination for abusive parents. In my case, it didn’t help that my sick and twisted satanic wannabe abusers used food (usually chocolate milk) as a way of drugging me into submission.

I see this kind of control all over the internet. It’s not just parents who use food as a control mechanism but entire agencies and sometimes countries! 


I am over weight and the stress of food related abuse has taken its toll on my body, my mind, and my soul. This post is color-coded: eating problems are in blue. My "working on it" solution is beneath each one, in purple.

This is what I’ve learned about myself:

1. I cannot let different foods touch each other on my plate. It ruins the look of having tried to eat something of everything when I was young. I would have to sit for hours staring at my plate of food until I could eat it.
......I have no working solution for this one yet as it is minor compared to some of the others.

2. I always eat the least-liked food first. The best liked is easier to eat when my stomach is full. Mom made me eat a lot of food.
......I force myself to at least take a bite of what I like the most, first. This is still a work in progress because 2 of my littles go overboard and eat up all the good stuff and then I can't even take a bite of the least liked stuff, tho I might like it, anyway.

3. Occasionally, I catch myself eating something I don't like. Out of habit, I distract myself immediately if I take a bite of food I don't like. (or rather, I dissociate myself)
......When I eat now, I force myself to pay attention. Usually, when I'm alone this problem is barely visible, but in public I become the picky eater I've always been and refuse to let anyone talk me into eating what I don't like. It takes some practice and a backbone made of steel because it seems a lot of people actually believe I cannot be happy unless I gorge myself on food.

4. Feeling full doesn't always make me stop eating. Unknowingly, I strive for my childhood feeling of being bloated and painful. It’s familiar, it’s a habit. I overeat before I realize I'm full.
......All of my childhood, I fought to ignore the pain in my tummy. Now, I sometime miss the signals that tell me I've had enough. It actually doesn't take much to make me feel full and even less to satisfy Blue. I have to be constantly aware of the fact that I’m eating. I cannot watch TV, visit with friends or read while I’m eating.

5. I hate food and one of my alters is anorexic. If she's out too long, I starve. Once, I passed out from low blood sugar. (another thing I haven't said in therapy)
......I don't have a working solution for this one. T and I only talked about it once when I was walking around like a zombie from low blood sugar and Blue wouldn't turn loose and let me come back. When I finally came back, T was upset with me for not eating. He's not a multiple, what else can I say.

6. I sometimes use food to hold me hostage. I don't eat until the laundry is done or the bathrooms cleaned. This one, I came up with myself (there are many avenues of self injury). My mother was into using food to control many aspects of my life, i.e. I ate it all, or I was not allowed to do anything else. I think it morphed because, in reality, this is stupid.
......When ever I realize I'm doing this, I simply stop what I'm doing and go eat, if it's meal time. Just to wave the flag and blow the horn, I sometimes stop my chores and go have a snack just to feel the satisfaction of saying, "So There!" (practice makes perfect)

7. Blue (the anorexic) is always close at meal times, tho she doesn't actually interfere. BUT, after the first bite or two, I'm full and miserable shortly thereafter. (Thus friends telling me I eat like a bird)
......If someone notices I'm not eating much, I freak and try to eat and eat and eat. It's familiar. What I try to do now, tho, is say something witty, like, "My metabolism is in the toilet, I can't eat as much as a normal person." Or, "If I eat, I will have to kill you." Or, "Just not hungry." (yeah, this last one is so original.) But my point is made and I usually don't get too much grief over it.

8. I have nightmares the night before and after I eat a meal with my mother.
......I don't eat with my mother if I can help it.

9. I sometimes hide when I want to eat something I know I shouldn't, or have been told I shouldn't. Sheesh! I live alone!
......Believe it or not, solution to this one is very difficult to achieve. I shouldn't be worried when I'm here, alone. This is my sanctuary, my castle. It's also a prison. Tho my mother has no hold over me anymore, her image swims inside my thoughts and oversees everything I do. Her criticism and disappointment smother me. The battle with this one is not fought every day but rates an 8 on a scale of difficulty from 1-10 when it does show up. So what I do is watch the clock. I take a normal portion of only what I want most, get in front of the TV for distraction, and keep an eye on the clock. Sometimes, I say out loud, "I'm eating only what I want. I won't eat anything else and you can't make me!" Sometimes, I go to bed satisfied not with food but with the knowledge that I ate only corn for supper and it doesn't matter. Once, I made pork chops with rice and gravy, corn, green beans, and home made biscuits. The only thing I ate was 2 biscuits - one with gravy and one with jelly. I sort of think a little had something to do with it but, hey, power to the people! What ever works.

What's for supper?


Kate said...

Hi Ivory,

I could relate to much of what you were writing about your mother and food. This topic is so hard for me to talk about. It takes a lot of courage. Good for you.

Good and healing thoughts to you.


Exhale said...

Wow I can relate to your post's wonderful that you’re able to acknowledge the conflict with food and take steps to work through the past into the present. You haven’t arrived at where you want to be but your taking back the power that has been given to food in your life…

hopefortrauma said...


Wow, your post is so timely as I an writing a psychology paper relating disordered eating habits to childhood trauma and DID.

However, I too have anorexic parts who stay out until I starve because they think of it as self-harm. Some of my parts have swallowing problems and food aversions.It makes meals very complicated.

Take Care,Be Well.


Kerro said...

Hi Ivory

You're certainly not alone with food issues, as the others have said. I also think it's wonderful that you're working through this. The food issues are some of the hardest I've tried to grapple with. Kudos to you.

And safe hugs.


Ivory said...

I've been a picky eater all of my life. When I was a small and stubborn child, I was skinny. Food must have been a control for my mother, too, because I can see it controlling her, even now. It took many long years for me to give myself permission to NOT eat every bite on my plate.

Thanks for being so positive! It is a very hard thing to do when something so necessary in my life can be so damning at the same time. It's not like a cigarette where I can simply not have any. I have to eat to live, so it haunts me thru every meal, every time my stomach growls.

Here is another embarrassing result of being forced to eat too much as a child: I never learned to recognize a hungry feeling in my stomach. Wow, I never thot I'd admit that one. When I hear my stomach growl, well, that's obvious, but what I always fail to recognize is the little pains and nauseous feelings that also tell me I'm hungry. My Dr. was the one who informed me of those types of feelings because I nearly passed out in her office once and I complained that my stomach hurt. She doesn't know a lot about my past so she just blurted out that I need to learn to know when I'm hungry and I need to eat and not ignore it. It was so embarrassing to realize that I've not known that all my life. It sounds silly, I know, but there it is.

It's only because I read about food issues on other blogs that I felt free enough to post about it. I have gotten such good ideas from other bloggers - even thru their pain, I find things that are useful to me, so I wanted to post about it, too in the hopes that someone might take something from it that might help them.

Saving Grace said...

Ivory, Wow ~ your words, your thougts, you insight in this post is stunning. I have struggled with an eating disorder for as long as I can remember. Right now, the underserving part is holding the post and there is no eating due to the feelings of wanting to be empty and small and unfortunately it isnt as simple as 'Grace, go and eat something'...
reading your posts always inspire me to keep trying. The only failing is in no longer least I think that's true.
You're beautiful -
~ Grace

Ivory said...

Thank you Grace! One way that I've learned to "out smart" those wayward feelings of why or why not am I eating, is to decide what it is I am controlling and what it is that I'm letting an outside source control (such as Mom). When I eat too much it's because I'm letting her control me. When I'm not eating, it's partly to stop her from controlling me. What happens, tho is that by not eating, I'm still letting her control my thinking. I have to decide what it is that I REALLY want - with no influence from what she wants. It's not easy to do all the time.

All the same, writing all this is my way of touching people, and of giving something that someone can find useful and helpful. I'm very honored to be called "Beautiful", thank you very much.