Dear Abby: I’m ashamed of myself for eating to combat pain

Out-of-control appetite has resulted in major weight gain.

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DEAR ABBY: In many ways, I am blessed. I have an amazing family, a great husband and a well-paying job that I enjoy. My only problem is, I hate myself. I hide my pain with humor (I’m pretty funny). I have some childhood sexual abuse trauma and have had a lot of counseling. I’m hesitant to blame my current issues on something that happened so long ago, but why can’t I get my life together? I’m so happy now, so why is this dragging me down?

I combat my inner pain, stress and hate by eating. I cannot stop. I have gained so much weight it is hard to do normal activities. I am tired, disgusted and ashamed of being so out of control. None of my clothes fit. Every social situation is unbelievably overwhelming. I have tried diet after diet. Some work, but nothing sticks long term. I have removed all the mirrors in my house so I won’t have to look at myself.

My family and friends are amazing, loving and supportive. My world would be nothing without them. How can I mentally wire my jaw shut so I don’t shove every piece of food I see down my gullet? — EXPLODING IN WASHINGTON

DEAR EXPLODING: You are far from the only person who has used food to mask emotional pain. There is truth in the saying, “It’s not what you’re eating, but what’s eating you that may be the problem.”

Two trusted organizations may be able to help you conquer this. The first is the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (rainn.org). RAINN has been mentioned in my column many times. When you contact this group, it could connect you with counseling tailored to survivors of sexual abuse and help you to deal with any lingering issues from your childhood trauma.

The second organization is Overeaters Anonymous (oa.org). OA is a support group for people who can’t control their eating, based on the principles of AA. When you make contact, you will find them to be sympathetic and supportive — there is no judging, weighing or shaming. It may give you the moral and emotional support you need to regain control. I’m rooting for you.

DEAR ABBY: A lonely friend who lives several hours away wants to visit me for a few days. He keeps bringing up the subject of visiting while I try to steer the conversation in another direction. My wife isn’t keen on the idea of someone she’s not familiar with staying with us.

I don’t consider us close friends, and I have never invited him to stay. I prefer he not visit, mainly due to my wife’s concerns. Is there a way to get him to stop asking without losing his friendship? I suppose I could live without the friendship, but I don’t want to hurt him. — FLUMMOXED IN FLORIDA

DEAR FLUMMOXED: Tell this pushy individual you and your wife “cannot accommodate” a houseguest. Whatever the reason may be, it’s the truth. Keep repeating it as often as necessary.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

Good advice for everyone — teens to seniors — is in “The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It.” To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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