Corissa, 26, came to Anna Ogden Hall two years ago with a meth
addiction, and while the meth rapidly accelerated her demise, her
addictive behavior really began years earlier with a much less
menacing substance – food.
“Food was my best friend,” she said. Food brought her happiness,
pleasure, excitement. It comforted her. It was legal and readily
available. And, unlike relationships, food never let her down.
Corissa had been let down in the most basic of relationships. Her
mother had been an alcoholic and a drug addict in the early years of
Corissa’s life, and while they had been close, their relationship was
far from healthy. Corissa went on drug runs with her mom. She stayed
home from school to take care of her when she had a hangover, and also
accompanied her to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. From first through
third grade, Corissa was her mom’s counselor, her support, her nurse,
her best friend. Then, in third grade, that relationship came to an
abrupt halt. Corissa’s parents divorced, and Corissa and her brother
went to live with their dad in a different state. She remembers trying
to say good-bye to an irate, drunken mom. “She was out of control.”
Corissa’s father was loving and good but short on understanding
of what it meant to be a girl. “Growing up with two boys, I wasn’t
really allowed to be a girl... because they didn’t know how to handle
that. Instead of hugs, we beat each other up.”
As she entered adolescence, Corissa began to rebel. Meanwhile,
her mom had gotten clean, and her dad thought it might be time for his
children to live with her again. He thought Corissa needed a woman’s
influence, and he was right. Corissa remembers the pleasure of
shopping with her mom and having a pink bedroom. She remembers her mom
making dinner and sitting down to talk with her. Those memories,
however, are limited because two months after Corissa and her brother
arrived, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia. Two weeks later, she was
Corissa was ill-equipped to deal with the onslaught of emotions
that hit her. So she didn’t. She buried them. She remembers sitting on
the edge of her bed after she got the news of her mom’s death and
consciously choosing not to feel. She could see her dad had his hands
full being a single parent and struggling to pay the bills. “I felt
guilty about that, so I did as much as I could to help him.” She took
on a lot of the mom roles – cooking, cleaning, laundry – and
maintained a happy exterior.
Looking back, Corissa can see that she was doomed to fail. “You
cannot just squelch your emotions. They show up in other ways.” At
some point, Corissa – like many who are starving emotionally – turned
to food for comfort. It seemed like the perfect answer.
“When I’m eating, it takes my mind off what’s going on. Here I am
just shoving food. I’m enjoying something. People can’t hurt me right
now, and then I throw up. And, after I’m done eating and I throw up,
I’m like, ‘What was I even mad about? Who cares?’” The food masked the
pain. The pain of losing her mom, not once, but twice. The pain of
missing out on her childhood, and all the love and caring that a
mother was designed to provide. The pain that – from some hidden place
– drove many of her life choices.
Bulimia is sometimes referred to as “the good girl’s addiction”
because it’s legal, but Corissa’s insatiable emotional hunger led her
to try illegal drugs – cocaine and meth. The meth accelerated her
downward spiral until Corissa’s life began to resemble her mother’s.
Her life centered on and was consumed by her addiction. “I was my mom.”
Corissa had alienated everyone who cared about her, but her
brother, now a strong Christian, told her he would see her at church.
As much as she hated God for what she believed He had done to her
life, Corissa felt drawn to go. God’s Word softened her heart, and the
women’s minister there directed her to Anna Ogden Hall where, finally,
Corissa met the pain face to face.
“It was the hardest time in my life – not giving in to the drug
addictions. I had terrible cravings, but I didn’t give in. I struggled
and won battles, struggled and won battles.”
Surrounded by God’s Word and people at Anna Ogden Hall who
lovingly spoke the truth into her life, Corissa discovered that she
could have the ideal love she craved, that the comfort food could only
temporarily provide was permanently and abundantly available in a
relationship with Jesus Christ. He loves her perfectly and will never
leave her nor forsake her. And Corissa loves Him back.
“I am so thankful to have Him as my best friend, as my protector,
and as my counselor. I enjoy learning about Him. I enjoy God. Period.”