Alright, I fail at blogging. The thing is, there’s a fairly serious topic that I knew I’d need to address eventually, and I pretty much just chickened out about it. I actually attempted to write out this story a few times, but each time I did I could just picture my father rolling his eyes and saying that I was making a big deal out of nothing. But ya know what? The whole point of this blog was to help people break free of the judgments of others. I’m going for it.
I had kind of a messed up childhood (don’t worry, it wasn’t “beaten-and-locked-in-a-closet” messed up… more like “broken home with brief periods of white trash drama”). I originally considered telling the whole story here, but it’s long and kind of makes me sound like I should be on a talk show or something. Just know that my parents got divorced (a lot), my dad’s second wife was a manipulative bitch (mom’s second husband trumps all other bad marriages, but he’s mostly insignificant to this story), and my dad and I had, at best, a distant relationship.
When I was 9 years old, my mom, my baby sister, and I were in a horrific car accident. The circumstances leading up to it are part of the white trash drama that would make this post insanely long, but the outcome was that I was sent to go live with my father, his new wife (possibly gf at the time? Don’t really know… doesn’t really matter), and her two daughters because my mom was in a coma. Now, I could insert all kinds of anecdotes here about how much this woman disliked me… how she told that just because I was “book smart” didn’t mean that I would make it in life because I had no common sense… how she would constantly talk shit about my mom not only right in front of me but TO me… or even just how she constantly made me feel like an intrusion on her life… but that’s really all besides the point. Her biggest issue with me (or at least the one she liked to pick at most) was my weight.
See, I was a chubby kid. Not morbidly obese or anything… and I was still very active and such… but this woman was hell-bent on getting me to lose weight (despite the fact that she was no Barbie doll herself). Not a problem in and of itself; done the right way, helping a child to lose weight can be one of the best things you can do for their physical and emotional health. This woman, however, decided to take it upon herself to tell me that I was fat and put me on whatever fad diet she happened to be wrapped up in at the time. I most vividly remember the cabbage soup diet. Sweet Jesus that soup was disgusting! *Sidenote: I blame that godforsaken diet for my continued hatred of pretty much all vegetable soups.* The funny thing is, that’s not the stuff that made me hate my body. I really thought she was just trying to help me, AND I desperately wanted her approval, so I had no problem following these dumb diets. Besides, I was just a kid… what the hell did I know about nutrition?
The first thing that really tore me up was when I learned that during her court testimony (my dad was trying to get full custody of me at this time… Parents, please don’t put your kids through that shit), she’d told the judge that I was obese. OBESE. She had labeled me. She had labeled me with the ugliest word I could imagine in my 9 (10?) year old brain. To me, at the time, “obese” referred to people who were so fat they could barely move enough to scratch beneath their rolls. It wasn’t a medical term; it was a slur. I imagined her saying it with such disdain, like I was some dysfunctional blight upon the world.
Following that, it was actually my dad’s actions that began to tear me down. I already knew that my stepmother thought I was disgusting so her comments were expected and easier to dismiss, but up until his second marriage, I can’t ever remember my dad showing any kind of disappointment towards me. Granted, my dad was (is) distant and passive aggressive, so there weren’t many situations in which that’d really come up, but I definitely felt a noticeable change. It was like he’d just needed this woman to point out how defective I was and then suddenly he went, “Hmm… yeah, you’re right. This kid is definitely fucked up.” Like I said, my father is highly passive aggressive, so it didn’t take much for him to cut me down. Things as simple as “You do NOT need to be eating that toast…” or slapping my hand away from a bag of chips that they were eating from made me feel like a complete freak. One particularly damaging instance came about when my stepsister and her mom were joking about my stepmother’s “thunder thighs.” Attempting to join in on this mother-daughter bonding banter, I made some similar joke… and my father immediately looked at me said, “Well, I seem to remember that we’ve been buying your clothes in the ‘husky’ section.” (By the way, fuck you, children’s clothing manufacturers.) If my heart had sunk any further, I think it would’ve dropped through the floor.
I lived with my father and stepmother for about 3 years, I think. The last year, in the 6th grade, I finally decided that I could NOT go on letting my parents be so disappointed in me. I was going to lose weight, and they were going to be proud of me, and they would love me, and rainbow unicorns would burst forth from the sky, ridden by pandas made of cotton candy. Seriously, I just knew that if I lost weight, all would be right with the world. So, I’m 12 years old; I live with 2 parents who would much rather not deal with me than teach me anything of value; and I know nothing about nutrition except that when you eat, you get fat. *click* I was a damn genius. If I threw up whatever I ate, it wouldn’t make me fat! See, when I was in 6th grade, we hadn’t yet been taught about eating disorders, so I had no idea that this was actually something that people did, nor that it was something that you SHOULDN’T DO. I thought I’d just discovered the secret to life.
The bulimia was short-lived, actually. I would cry involuntarily whenever I threw up (still do… thank goodness I’m not much of a drinker), so it was hard for me to hide what I was doing, which I felt was of the utmost importance because I didn’t want my parents to think that I was “cheating.” Also, the vomiting made my throat hurt, and I hated that. After a few weeks, I rationalized that the sore throat was probably what kept more people from losing weight this way. Instead, I started skipping meals whenever I could, and eating tiny meals in between. When I had to eat (family dinner, etc.), I’d be in the bathroom right afterward or else would vow to skip the next meal in repentance. I’m not entirely sure how I even managed to keep this up, but it went on for a few months. I did lose some weight, but when I look back at pictures from that time, I don’t like the way I looked. Mostly, my head looked too big. Go figure.
Thankfully, my dad announced that he was getting another divorce shortly thereafter, making me both extraordinarily happy to be rid of psycho-wife #2 and far too consumed with the change in circumstances to continue my ridiculous “diet.” The following year when the subject of eating disorders was introduced at school, I remember just thinking, “Oh, fuck… I am never telling anyone that I did this.” I never did tell my parents, but years later I decided that I trusted my then-boyfriend enough to open up to him about it. He was amazingly supportive, and even though I’m not sure what I expected from finally talking about it, I think I got it. Since then, I’ve shared it with a select few people, but I’ve never wanted to make a big deal about it. I’m obviously not proud of it, but I was more concerned that people would think I was just seeking their pity. I don’t want pity. Especially because, unless you’ve been there, you really can’t understand it. The eating disorder is just a symptom. Whenever I hear about someone going through this, I just remember how much I had to hate myself to get to where I was, and I wish that I could make them understand that it’s just so unnecessary to hate yourself like that. It’s so unnecessary to focus on one stupid flaw that has so little bearing on who you are. What I really want is for people to pay more attention to what they’re teaching kids about their body and about their personal worth, ESPECIALLY during the preteen years. No kid deserves to feel like a square peg being repeatedly rammed at a round hole.
TL;DR - I have daddy issues and developed an eating disorder when I was 12. It was short-lived and I learned from it.
So that’s my sob story. That’s where I’m coming from when I say that I UNDERSTAND how hard it is. I understand how isolating it can be. And I now understand that it doesn’t have to be that way.
That was not a fun post, but I promise to post more often now, and not to be such a downer next time. =)