If at your core is shame, (a belief that there is something inherently wrong with who you are), then you spend a lifetime seeking external validation that you are okay, that you are acceptable, maybe even likeable. You may twist yourself into a pretzel to get people to like you. You may put others' needs before your own in such a way that you are really not taking good care of yourself. Or maybe you do things for others so that they will keep you around...you are useful. For me, codependency meant constantly worrying about what others think about me and going to great lengths to please them, oftentimes to my own detriment. That is a huge burden, because no amount of external validation in the world can ever make us love ourselves. It's a bandaid approach to a big gaping wound. Or trying to fill an endless hole in your soul.
If you have this kind of hole in your soul, a need for acceptance and belonging from outside of yourself, and you find that no matter how many muscles you pull trying to be everything to everybody it just doesn't work, you may seek other means of feeding the emotional tapeworm inside. For me that came in the form of nicotine addiction and food addiction. Seeking comfort, companionship and belonging in the forms of soothing or numbing or pain relieving substances. Your mileage may vary. Maybe gambling or alcohol, hard drugs or sex addiction were your addictions. Or compulsive shopping. Or Internet addiction. I believe they all stem from the same root - a core of shame, of not believing we are good, and good enough, and lovable exactly as we are.
These ideas (codependency and addiction) are books in themselves and would take hundreds of pages to explore how they affect me. I just want to say I am ready to have these things removed because I really do believe I'm okay at my core. I really do believe I am loved. I really do believe some people will like me, some will love me, some will hate me, and I'm really okay with that today.
One fear that blocked me in the past was that if I was fat and unloved, I could hide behind that, maybe even blame it. But if I became thin and unloved, I would feel very exposed since I didn't have a strong sense of self and a thick emotional skin. It might mean that there really was something wrong with me that made me unlovable. So I ate, and hid, and tried to sustain myself on external validation that I was "okay."
One way to combat codependency is to try to find SELF validation. I find that when I am faced with a choice between A and B, one of them is always more in line with who I am and what I want or know to be right and if I choose that, I am validating myself. The more "next right choices" I make, the stronger I become in "who I am", and the less I need people "out there" to build my ego. That's pretty shaky ground, putting your happiness in everyone else's hands! So the choices i made have to be right for ME, so that I am honoring myself.
One way to combat addiction is to allow myself the feelings of discomfort that accompany the absence of the addictive substance. If I want to run to the kitchen to soothe a tear, I'm finding it's okay to just cry and feel the tears. It's okay to have strong emotions. It's okay to accept the way things are today and make plans for a better tomorrow.
One way to combat fear is to accept a little discomfort and move forward anyway:
If you are willing to accept discomfort in the pursuit of happiness, you will never be a slave to fear again. -M. Beck
It's all so complicated and all so simple at the same time. The bottom line is that while shedding the physical weight, I have to stay vigilant to honor who I am. To make good next right choices in my life. To know that giving in to the food will leave me feeling horrible, that twisting myself to please everyone else will leave me feeling lost and empty, and that being true to myself and choosing health, fitness and self care will bring me peace and love.