I want to share with you a secret I didn’t know I had until this afternoon. In a gentle, silent moment of grace I suddenly got to behold this huge elephant in the room with me.
This elephant that I had been trying to hide, tiptoe around, tame, ride, shackle, kill, and dress up in every way I knew, has been with me every day, night, hour, minute, and second for the past 30 years.
It has been with me longer than my husband, longer than my children. It appeared as a faint and blurry little shape when I was 12 and matured quietly, until it was fully grown when I was only 15 years old. Today I am 45, and I have spent my whole entire adult life trying to get rid of this elephant in a thousand ways, without ever having acknowledged its presence in my life.
Until this afternoon, when I finally was able to look at it being there, taking up this huge space inside me, having survived through all my countless desperate attempts to make it go away. And then I knew its name: Food Addiction.
I have been a food addict since I was in 8th grade.
With this realization - surprisingly - instead of shock or apprehension I felt this soft and airy relief in my chest. And then a deep love arose, followed by grief, for my own suffering in this 30 year-long desperate battle; for my children, who have been affected by my addiction, and for the elephant who was so unwelcome and never recognized for what it was.
In this quiet moment of grace I was given the gift of vision and understanding, and my heart opened up like a flower that finally gets to blossom, as I realized that I am a food addict. I have been a food addict for almost my entire life. I could feel the unexamined shame that I had felt all these years melting away as I finally got it: This addiction, even though it’s real and it’s mine, is not personal. It is neither good nor bad. It is not my fault. It is nobody’s fault. It doesn’t make me “bad” or “weak,” it doesn’t take away from me, it does not define me, and it doesn’t make me less beautiful.
Suddenly I understood in my heart that this elephant is not my enemy. It is never going to go away and it doesn’t have to! I don’t even need to figure out why it’s here, even though as soon as I saw it, its existence made so much sense. As long as I am willing to embrace it - every day anew - taking the necessary steps toward recovery, I can experience true healing in my body, soul, and mind, and finally live the healthy and whole life I always dreamed of!
A shadow and the fatigue of decades have slowly begun to lift from my soul. The heavy, dirty, and sweat-soaked armor of 30 years on the battlefield is starting to crack and to fall off of me in little pieces.
I feel a desire rising, to face this life, this world, dressed only in all the colors of my being. To share myself, vulnerable and present, with those who surround me. To share my truth with you all who are kindred.
And if you read this and you are burdened and tired of you don’t even really know what, take heart, dare to become quiet and to just look deep and with love at what you see. Whatever it is, it is a part of you. Whatever it is, it is worthy to be seen. Whatever it is, it can be owned and become a stepping stone to freedom. One step at a time.
(Contributed and written by Valerie Adomakoh on her 100th day celebration of abstinence.)
Early on in my personal spiritual journey, I went through a phase of watching and reading stories of NDE’s or near death experiences. It was an integral part of shedding my ingrained catholic beliefs of heaven and hell and life ending at death.
This led me to the work of Dr. Michael Newton (Journey of Souls: Case Studies of Life Between Lives), which quite literally blew my mind and made me eager to experience my own past life regression; which I later did with the fabulous Nancy Hajek right here in Nashville.
In the forward to Frank Ostaskeski’s beautiful book, The Five Invitations* is this quote by Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D.:
Chances are until you have experienced that one great loss, this will read to you as more ominous than catalytic. Like grief itself, these types of statements can’t fully be absorbed and understood until you experience them yourself.
We can get attached to who we think we are. We can be downright stubborn about it. Our identity seamlessly and completely intertwined with what we do. What we do becomes what we are. But what if what we do is taken away from us in the blink of an eye? Who are we then?
In the words of Chinese Philosopher Lao Tzu: