What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post is by Nicole.

I have always been overweight. As a child I felt fat, I remember being a 13/14 in 6th grade when everyone else, it seemed, was a 3/4. Looking back, sure I was probably 20 pounds overweight, but I was always taller than the others too, and never built to be petite. I remember weighing 170 in college, at 5 foot 9, and feeling so fat. Yet, I was active and happy, engaged to my high school sweetheart and working hard to juggle college and a job. Once we got married we realized we loved to eat and celebrate with people and food. We each gained a solid 30 the first year. Then 10# a year after that. So there I was, in my late 20s weighing 250. I was fat. That’s when the dieting roller coaster began. The cabbage soup, Adkins, Weight Watchers, South Beach, moderation…I tried them all. I lost 50# several times. I even got back down to a size 14 for about a year, then it crept back on.

Now I am 40 and I weigh 330. I’m morbidly obese. I did give up. It hurts to move. I’m a nurse and I know the damage I’m doing yet it is so.hard.to.change. Every part of my existence has to change from the first diet coke in the morning to my night time tv routine. It’s all bad. I’m a terrible example to my kids. I’m depressed. I’m just too fat. But when I look at someone who may need to lose 20 pounds I think, “how simple, if only I had to lose 20…I need to lose nearly half my body weight!”

What I want you to know is being this fat impacts every single moment of my days. How can I gracefully get up from the low couch at my friend’s house? I don’t make eye contact with the person next to me on the plane, because I’m mortified that I’m spilling over into their seat.  Sex is difficult with my loving husband. I can’t walk side by side with friends without getting out of breath. There is no comfortable chair anywhere for me…. restaurants, theatres…constant reminders that I am too fat and don’t belong. 

I feel the burning stares of people who look at me with disgust. I know they are thinking I should just stop and eat better. I know that too. What I want you to know is food addiction (and for that matter-diet coke addiction), is real! I truly believe it is the most difficult addiction to overcome. Because you must always eat, forever. It can’t be avoided. So every day, several times a day, I face my poison and try to figure out how to manage it. Imagine if an alcoholic had to look at a bottle of vodka 5 or 6 times a day and determine how much he could drink!

I don’t want your pity. I don’t want your lessons in healthy eating. I know what to do. It takes every ounce of my will to be successful with this. I just want you to know how incredibly difficult it is to be a success with a fulfilling life in so many ways, yet have this giant failure stare back at me from every mirror.  I want you to know that you can still smile at me. Sometimes, even though I’m fat you could pay me a compliment. You could look at me with understanding that just like any other addict, maybe you have never walked in my shoes.

And, keep losing the 10 or 20 pounds when they creep on. So you never end up like me.