• Briana Holmes

A different way to look at Loss

I cannot remember a time where I did not love sweets OR food in general. In particular pies, candy or sugar filled snacks.

Starting at a very young age of about 5 or 6 I remember that my mom would buy me cookies and chips and bring them over to my grandmother’s house where I would sit patiently waiting on the porch for her to come. Even when I think of the different interactions that I would have with my older male family members (as a child) they would offer me snacks and food to bribe me into allowing them to touch me.

I had this really bad break-up in when I was freshman in college and I returned back to my hometown with what I now know as a broken heart. I was simply too broken hearted to stay away from what was familiar to me. I then picked up the habit of smoking to alleviate some of the pain. I really began to snack then!

It’s almost like my appetite was insatiable and when I ate the sweet treats it gave me a feeling of control and a fullness that I was not able to find anywhere else.

As I grew up, I still loved sweets but I cannot recall it being a huge issue until I became pregnant at 19. I was sick every single day of my pregnancy and because of this –I couldn’t work. I relied on my student refunds from school to provide for my family because I definitely did not have any other means. The sitting quietly with myself and not being able to eat what I wanted led me to have a depressed pregnancy. I will never forget coming home from the hospital after giving birth and eating an entire bag of mini snicker bars. And this became a pattern. No matter the feeling—joy, sadness, happiness, boredom—they all ignited my desire to eat something that would make me feel full and not empty.

Not to mention—I enjoyed eating other foods in general as well.

Eating was an event for me.

I would think about the food that I would eat for dinner or lunch or what was for breakfast, it was all there. Inside of me. Controlling my every move.

Fast forward –I was now 22 and the mother of 3 (3 year old twin girls and a one year old son) and I now know that I was somewhere between severely depressed and losing my mind. I was not in a very good relationship and not to mention he was physically abusive to me as well. I would go to the store and get 4 or 5 pies (Debbie Cakes) and I would eat all of them while I laid in the bed and watched TV. And this started a trend that sadly I am still (12 years later) trying to fight to end! Of course I no longer go and get that many pies, BUT I have up until the last few weeks made sure that I had some type of sweet in my home so that I could eat before bed time.

If I am honest, I can say that I believe that I was born with the hole. This hole appeared to be a place where nothing could fill the space within me that longed for something that was missing. My mother was 16 years old, pregnant with me and the mother of an 8 month old son. When I was 2, she was pregnant again with my sister, then I became a big sister to my brother when I was 6. Of course, I no longer am angry with her for what I perceive myself to have never been given or was born lacking, but my purpose is to paint the picture, not point fingers.

For the sake of time—I’ll move on.

There are 12 men and 2 women that sexually molested/raped me when I was growing up. It started when I was 4 and on the bus on my way home from school and ended one night when I was 13 and sat up in my bed and screamed “Get out—along with some other words (I wasn’t saved, lol)” It’s like no matter where I went someone was there touching my body and looking at me as if it were normal and I wanted it. I did not speak a word to anyone about it until I was 27 years old. And when I began therapy it destroyed me completely. I purchased this book called, “The courage to heal: a guide for women survivors of sexual abuse.”

The first line of the book read like this, “ When children are sexually abused, their natural sexual unfolding is stolen. They are introduced to sex on an adult’s timetable, according to an adult’s needs. They may not have a chance to explore naturally, to experience their own desires on the inside. “

3 things to note: the word “survivor and sexual abuse” made me have anxiety. I realized that I had somehow disconnected my abusers actions to me! Secondly, I no longer knew who I was. It was like I was holding a picture that said, “what’s wrong with this picture and I had to pick out all of the things that didn’t belong there. Lastly, this shook me so bad to my core that I could not do anything for 6 months. Except of course lay in the bed and eat.

I did not know.

I did not know.

I did not know that this had affected me. It was so normal. It happened everywhere. I used to joke and say it’s like I had a sign on my forehead that said, “F- me, I like it.” I also used to say, “the day I was born God must have been pissed off with the world,” I meant that part.

I spent 3 years in therapy and was diagnosed with depression and PTSD and during this time I still ate to fill the holes. The holes seemed to grow bigger and bigger. I gained about 30-40 pounds after I started therapy because It was just so awful. After being numb for so long, now that I was feeling something it was very overwhelming. After I got past the initial shock of the what my healthy self and healthy life should look like, there was so many places that needed repairing—my parenting, my relationships, my career and even forgiveness for those who had abused me. All things that would cause me to go back into my past to try to repair my heart, mind and body.

You may ask what does this have to do with God? And my answer is everything.

Where else do we go to gain retribution for all that we’ve lost? Where do we go to find a way to fill the holes with something that is good and everlasting and won’t harm you? Sexual abuse, real depression (because it is real and has somehow been swept under the rug as not real) , lack of support, mental challenges that causes lives to unravel are real, but the reality of being able to go somewhere and say, “after 10 years this is still hurting me or I just can’t seem to get my thoughts clear” aren’t discussions that we have.

The root of my pain is universal. I wasn’t cared for. I wasn’t protected. I felt like I had lost at life. For so long I felt this way. For so long, I felt like a robot just walking through life working, trying desperately to create a life that made sense when deep down inside all I could think of was “How much more loss will I receive in this lifetime?”

I would wonder how long will I pay for the mistakes I made when I just didn’t know!

I didn’t know God, I didn’t learn how to save or balance a checkbook.

I didn’t know that I would have to realistically pay those student loans back!

I didn’t know that I would be a single parent at 33 with 3 children to provide for.

I didn’t know how to be a true friend.

I just didn’t know. I would have done things differently, I promise Lord!

..and now, I don’t know how to do this without you helping me?

I don’t know how to stand here and wait for you when it seems like I am on the interstate walking and everyone else is in cars.

I don’t know how to feel this hurt and abandoned by life and continue to believe that this will work out for my good.

Is is possible that you forgot about me?

If I uproot the pain, will it stop bearing fruit in my life?

How can I take the blinders off of comparison and just focus on my life, when I just feel so much pain when I let go of all of the things that fill my holes?

When I resist the food, I am left with me. I am left with reality. All choices. Good and bad. I am left with where I am in in life. I am left with my truth. I am left with recovery from everything. I am also left with the fact that you knew about this before I was born. And this is perhaps the hardest. I can’t say this if I knew that my child would suffer, If I could willfully still give birth. Perhaps, that is why you are God and I am not.

Perhaps this is because I see my life from the school bus 30 years ago where I was first molested and you see me in eternity having fulfilled YOUR purpose for me, not my own.

So, how do we look at loss? How does it not swallow us whole and destroy everything? I have come to believe that we are to crucify any word or feeling that is contrary to what and who God has called us to be. I believe that we give the pain from the experience to God where he can help us prod along in life without the baggage of the pain. We are not capable of carrying it around. Have you ever tried to bring all of the groceries in at once? It’s hard and your fingers and arms hurt, but you make it work right? This is loss in my opinion. It’s heavy and bulky and its too much to carry for a long time. I carried around my loss so therefore I could never uproot the real issue. Therefore, I could never let it go. Since it was with me and I was filling my holes with it, I didn’t have room for God’s healing too.

Now prayerfully, most of you will not have abuse as the reason that you are filling your holes with food, but I know many of you struggle with stuffing your face so that you feel better about your life. Maybe you lost someone this year and it makes you sad. Maybe you’ve gained weight which makes you self-conscious so you eat even more food now. Or maybe the reality of your friendships or relationships make you feel alone, or maybe it’s your finances that you eat to cover up the worry. Maybe the loss is being content while single and not obsessing that a mate will somehow make us better. Whatever it is, it won’t go away because those feelings are just fruit, the emotions behind them are the root!

As I sit in the silence craving bacon and ice cream and Milano cookies, I have no choice but to take my thoughts and give them to the Lord. I have no choice but to realize that I can fight through the urge to eat those things, by recognizing that I simply have to learn to fight back. I just can’t lay there and eat because it’s easy and NOT fight back because it’s hard.

Luke 3:9 says, “the ax is already at the root of the trees and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”

And this is what I should be repeating to myself as I sit in the silence. What fruit has these feeling produced in my life so far? I can name a few—rebellion, fornication, addictions, lust and gluttony. Now that I know this, I am certain that this a root that needs to be DESTROYED.

I know now that eating the cookies or whatever will make me feel FULL at the moment, but the emptiness will always return. Eating the food is like chopping off the branches (pain) but leaving the tree (abuse) in the ground and expecting the tree not to continue to produce fruit in my life.

I have come to view loss in a different way now. I view the loss as a mode of transportation to the one who heals. The loss although painful created a hole big enough to fit the universe inside. And only someone who created the universe can fill it. It’s hard, but being filled by God’s presence is fulfilling on a level that can’t be explained.

Today I am okay. I really wanted ice cream last night! I didn’t get it though. I ate chips instead. I can only cut out a few things at a time, otherwise it will completely overwhelm my senses and I’ll give in (this is my story, if you’re led to go cold turkey with certain foods, then do that) But there have been quite a few nights over the last 6 weeks where I haven’t eaten ANYTHING before bed! Which is a huge victory for me. It beautiful because there was a time when I could not sleep on an empty stomach. I have also been working out as well (consistently) and its mainly because I have the time to create the willpower to connect with myself and who I am and I can pray for the strength to push past obstacles that stopped me for so long.

I pray that there was something that was written in this that will help you move forward in freedom.

xo,

Julian

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