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    I was taking some more small steps toward my goal.

    For example, I came to realize that letting emotional-eating cravings steal my attention and make me fat took up the space in my life that meaningful relationships with other people, and even with myself, would have occupied. And slowly I began to want those relationships, and the richer, fuller life they represented, more than I wanted to eat.

    I was on my way.

    Now for a surprise, something else I learned that I never would have predicted:

    It turned out that getting fat so I could "keep going" despite my fears and anxieties, although not the best way to cope with them, nevertheless was a way to cope with them, and that -- here's the surprise -- this was a good thing. It may sound strange at first, but it was true: Through all the long years of my life, I was actually taking care of myself with my emotional eating!

    Now here comes the part that amazes me, the part that still gets me excited every day: When I realized that my emotional eating had been a way of taking care of myself -- of course, not the best way, but a way that kept me going despite a heavy load of uncertainties, fears, and anxieties -- for the first time ever I could see my life in a positive light instead of as a series of failures to lose weight and keep it off.

    That felt good. And it was the start of feeling better and better.

    Over time, I began to feel compassion, instead of dislike and rejection, for the woman I had been during all the times before when I was fat. I had struggled so hard with the constant burden of those awful cravings, made myself fat over and over. Yet, with the protective "support" of my lonely emotional eating and my fat, I'd gotten out there and worked and raised two daughters even though I'd been scared almost all the time (without realizing it then, of course). I felt love for that woman, me, who had needed food and fat so much yet had never stopped trying, bravely and with hope, to get emotional eating out of the way of her life.

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