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“We fill up space as if it were a pie shell, with things whose opacity further obstructs our ability to see what is already there.” Author Gretel Ehrlich, The Solace of Open Spaces.

When I first read those lines in my AP Language class last year, something resonated within me. As members of the human race we can all relate to what Mrs. Ehrlich’s words convey. We spend our entire lives filling up space with stuff, and why? It’s our coping mechanism. We fill silence with noise, our free time with Facebook, and homes with junk. At seven years old, I had already begun filling up my life, and body—with food.

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My parents separated and divorced when I was a little girl. I never understood why my parents couldn’t get along when I loved both of them so much, so, it had to be my fault. Those thoughts left unchallenged started tearing a hole inside me.

What are we taught as children, and do we teach our children to do when there’s a problem? Fix it.

So I filled that hole. I tried to “fix” me. I ate and ate until I would get sick. Not only sick to my stomach, but sick of who I was. I would constantly be hungry for something, anything to make the empty, sinking feeling in my gut go away. When you’re hungry, it’s because you need food, right? For some reason I was never able to make it go away, no matter how much I tried,or rather, ate.

When my mom moved out and got an apartment, we went with her. That meant a new school and faces. It was the first time in my life I would be introduced to everyone by their own judgments as the fat girl, and even in second grade I knew how hard first impressions are hard to shake. Words like “childhood obesity,” and “clinical depression” meant nothing to me. All I knew was that I felt hungry, sad, and alone.

I did eventually slim down a ton, but not from my own actions. I guess mother nature decided to grant me a metabolism. Now I realize that if it had been otherwise, I perhaps wouldn’t have found fulfillment and closure until much later. If I “fixed myself” with diet and exercise, it would have reinforced the idea that I was “bad” and needed fixing. Instead, my mom moved us from there to a new house. It was near a new school with new friends. The fresh start was just what I needed.

The people here welcomed me right from the beginning. For the first time, I felt accepted and loved. I realized that the world isn’t about how you fix your problems. That’s assuming you’re bad or broken. It took a combination of time, a clean slate, and beautiful people for me to become well again. It was that love and acceptance my entire new community provided that took me from spiritually hungry… to full.

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