Mary O’ Malley, author of The Gift Of Our Compulsions, knows what it is like to want to commit to a healthy diet. Throughout her childhood into her mid-20s, she’d be inspired to eat healthier food. But a compulsion-driven food addiction always stood in her way.
During one of the worst years of her life, Mary gained 97 pounds. She’d made things much worse by drowning her food in drugs and alcohol. Fortunately — after multiple suicide attempts — she found counselors who helped her.
Remarkably, after surrendering control and letting the compulsions begin to guide her emotional exploration, they began losing their grip on her:
“Noticing that my compulsions never brought me the deep peace I longed for and that trying to control them only made them worse, I began to become truly curious. Even just a few moments of being curious when a wave of compulsion arrived dramatically lessened my compulsive urges! I was no longer fighting them, so they weren’t fighting me.”
The results were better than she’d dared to hope:
“My body discovered the weight it was comfortable at, and I ate mostly what I wanted, when I wanted. I can still remember the first autumn when sweets didn’t look interesting. All the soccer candy, Girl Scout cookies and Halloween junk didn’t capture my attention. I was amazed.”
A complete healing, Mary admits, took about 10 years. But she finally realized “… that what fuels every wave of compulsion is all the painful feelings and thoughts we have boxed up inside us. Compulsions bring them close to the surface, where they can finally be seen and then healed through understanding and mercy.”
In the years since coming to terms with her food addiction, Mary’s devoted herself to counseling — and to teaching other compulsion-afflicted people how to find healing.
Earlier today, as I was preparing to review The Gift Of Our Compulsions, a family member asked me about it. For the rest of the morning, we all sat around discussing Mary’s ideas.
So I’m grateful for her willingness to write openly and honestly about her struggles — and to share the beautiful path her compassionate curiosity discovered!