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    When I first stopped to think about and examine my incredibly powerful food cravings, I realized that I'd experienced this void as a constant threat. It WAS waiting to swallow me if I didn't get the food "in time." I hated it and wanted to pull it out of me.

    But as I continued to work with my therapist and learned more about it, I began to see my void as something quite different. It was a kind of "blackout" of my life that happened whenever a craving took control. But my life was still there; I was simply missing out on part of it while the craving had me in its control. Yes, I was stuck in emotional eating and fat. But slowly I came to realize that on the other side of the "void" that kept me from living all of my life, my whole self was waiting to be born.

    I stopped hating the "void," then. I realized that it was part of me, so hating it meant hating myself. That was something I was no longer willing to do. Also, the "void" was part of my protective shield of overeating and being fat that had helped me to keep my life going for so long. I learned to love and respect the courageous woman I was during all the years when I needed to overeat and be fat. And I found I could love this part of myself, too -- and begin to let it go.

    And that's what happened. Over time, the therapy I received helped me gain confidence in my natural self and my abilities, so my self-esteem improved. I began to feel more comfortable with other people, and I found I was spending less time craving -- and eating -- food I didn't need.

    "Feeling more comfortable with other people." I can say that here a lot more easily than I could do it, at least at first. I took my first step toward becoming more comfortable with myself in relationships with others by joining a group of other women who were seeking to understand and change their emotional eating. They were wonderful! I also began accepting party invitations and actually going to the parties, instead of excusing myself at the last minute as I'd usually done. Simple steps, yes -- but big ones for me.

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