Re-writing the textbook case

Joey Garcia

I’m a 29-year-old married mother of three who weighs over 350 pounds. My life story is a textbook case: As a child, I was molested by my uncle, stepfather and foster father. My siblings and I were taken from my drug-addicted mother and placed in foster care. My foster parents were abusive, so at 18 I returned to my natural mother who was then in recovery. We didn’t get along and still don’t. I feel guilty because I feel like God won’t let me into heaven because I don’t really like or love my mother. She barges into our lives after absences of months or years, acting like everything is normal. Although I have a problem with my mother, I have mostly healed from the sexual abuse. So is there a spiritual reason why I overeat? Usually I don’t eat until I’m real hungry and then I overeat. I eat late at night when everyone else is asleep. Now, when I look in the mirror, I don’t recognize myself. I’m trapped in my own body. My husband tells me how beautiful I am, but I feel badly because I don’t believe him. Please help. I don’t want to die young.

Can you hear it? Beneath that lamentation is your vibrant will to live. You don’t have to die young. Instead, surrender the belief that you’re a textbook example of obesity. This is not to deny the very real and painful abuse that you have suffered, but rather to admit that, despite your history, you wield the power to surprise the behavioral sciences by living a different ending than they imagine possible. Are you willing to bust a few stereotypes? About yourself? About God?

I think you won’t allow yourself into heaven (or Earth or wherever) because you think you won’t deserve it until you have the relationship with your mother that you have idealized since childhood. Give it up, girlfriend! Let God be your mother. Ditch the notion that God is just waiting to punish you. Invite God into your life as a loving, accepting, gentle mother whom you can turn to for guidance, in gratitude or with a grievance.

Your family may be asleep during your late night binges, but so are you. Gather a team to shake off the sleep: a doctor, a psychotherapist, a nutritionist and a 12-step program. Gradually, you will recognize yourself again: spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically. Then when your husband tells you that you’re beautiful, you can receive his gift. You’ll see the beauty of the one who loved herself enough to gain a barrier of protection from abuse, the one who now recognizes that the pattern has outlived its usefulness and who sets herself free.

Dr. Donald Waldrep, a Roseville surgeon specializing in weight loss surgery, recommends these Web sites: and\group\wowsalsa. “You may feel like you’re one in a million, but you’ll realize that you’re one of a million,” he says.

I have been widowed for five years. The people I have met socially have so many hang-ups. Where can I hang out and meet new friends?

Doug James of The Hucklebucks, a local blues band, recommends attending the Summer Sammies concerts downtown and taking every opportunity to go out with the friends you already have. Also try the Sacramento Institute of Noetic Sciences (369-2303), lectures at local colleges, poetry readings in cafes and (my favorite) talking to strangers.

Meditation of the week
“This is the sort of thing that makes you want to re-evaluate everything,” said Judy Woodruff, CNN anchor, about the September 11 hijackings. Will you re-evaluate how well you have loved your God, yourself and your neighbors all over the world? Will you turn the other cheek to find a way by which you can love your enemies?

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