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On Christmas I cried.

I was listening to holiday music and a song from Handel’s Messiah started playing. It filled me with such sweet feelings of love and warmth.

My dad, who died 15 years ago of cancer, always played the entire Messiah on Christmas Day.

It was playing in the background of everything we did…opening presents, setting the table and enjoying a Christmas meal, even while some of us dozed off in the late afternoon.

So this past Sunday, while I reminisced, I began to miss my dad. I began to felt so sad that he was no longer with us; that I couldn’t just sit with him over a cup of tea and tell him about my life.

I felt sad that I couldn’t hug my father and let him know how much I love him.

I began to cry.

I decided to stop what I was doing and sit down. I let myself go and just cried.

I talked to my dad, because I know that somewhere, somehow, he is here still with me.

I told him how much I love him and how important he is to me. How inspired I still am by him. How I am like him in so many ways…and how I love that fact.

I also talked to God. I told God about the pain I was feeling, and how I need His help to heal me. (I know God’s not a he or she, but it’s easier to just say it that way.)

I cried for only a few minutes.

Then I felt better.

I got up and continued to straighten up the house and get ready for my friends to arrive. We had lunch and watched a sweet movie.

What I loved about this experience is how easy the feelings came to me and how I was able to honor them and take the time to feel them. I was so grateful for this.

As someone with an addictive personality, feeling any kind of feelings was the last thing I ever wanted to do.

Food was my first defense against emotions (it was my best defense, too).

As an emotional eater, I used food for years to cover up pain, fear, and guilt—any emotion that seemed too great for me to handle.

Food was what I used when life seemed overwhelming. (Life always seemed overwhelming.)

Sure, I was able to accomplish things, and I may have even impressed a few people with all I could do.

But inside I was afraid and I needed a crutch.

Food was always there for me, enabling me to run and hide from every terrible emotion I didn’t want to face. Every emotion I thought I couldn’t face.

But on Christmas day facing feelings of sadness and grief was almost sweet. Those feelings had a beginning and an end because I was willing to face them—head on.

Stuffing emotions with food only prolongs them. They are buried inside, and they are buried alive.

When we stockpile our feelings they end up coming out at the worst times, and in the worst ways.

Overeating and gaining weight is one of these ways. In fact, it is the worst way, in my opinion.

I hated being fat. I was 50 pounds overweight and I hated every minute of it.

But I also hated to feel uncomfortable feelings.

My healing began 28 years ago when I got help from my (now husband) Roy Nelson.

Roy helped me feel safe enough to walk through my feelings and begin to make peace with them.

My journey of healing has been invaluable. I have learned so much.

And overcome so much.

I am grateful.