I've been quiet for the past week. I'm sorry, guys.
After my last entry, I've had a lot to think about. That incredibly annoying voice in my head is back, and even though I'm deaf, I can still hear it. There's a hamster, that although is cute in a little hairy rodent sort of way, is CONSTANTLY running in his little wheel situated in the middle of my brain...every time the wheel turns, a new question, thought, memory, WHATEVER, is thrown into the fray and is resulting in less of that thing that normal people refer to as 'sleep' and more of those not-so-wonderful headaches. I did just buy a BIG ASS jar of Advil for those, though.
It's just been a week of realizations...I suppose these can be both good and bad. Good because it's a sense of understanding that perhaps wasn't so clear before - and bad because well, really - who wants these new truths to exist?
Guys, I promise this is NOT a blog entry having to do with weight-loss. It is, but it isn't. I won't be discussing numbers or food; I did give my word that I wouldn't be blogging about diet as it's a sensitive subject to some and I don't wish to unintentionally promote poor body image. But there IS something new that I'm realizing in regards to myself - and it sort of applies, it 'fits' and I'm pretty sure that it's one of those things that pop up when something else does - whether intentional or not. Very much like when A pops up, then it makes you think about B, C, and D. There's a lot of that happening with me lately. And I feel that I need to cleanse myself a little by admitting something to you all that I've been struggling to share - I'll explain further why at the end of this post, but here goes.
But, first, a couple of 'background stories.'
This one is from back when I was a child, aged 11. I remember it very clearly, though it was a lifetime and a half ago. Setting the scene a little. It was my cousin's birthday. My father's sister's son was turning 8. And my aunt, a single mother, was having a family gathering for his birthday at her house. She boiled up a pot of hot dogs and served them to all the kids - mostly, it was just the rest of my cousins and maybe one or two of the birthday boy's friends from school.
Anyway - I ate my hot dog rather quickly, having been hungry.
I brought my plate over to the stove and asked my aunt for another. There were plenty in the pot. Some of the other kids were already chomping on seconds.
"You don't need another one," she said to me, "That's why you're so fat."
I didn't argue with her. I remember there being a slight pause as my stomach somersaulted. Instead of responding with, "I'm hungry," I simply put my paper plate in the trash and went to sit next to my grandmother on the couch.
When they had cake, a piece was offered to me and I declined. I remember looking at myself in the mirror later that night and deciding that my aunt was right - I was fat. 11 years old and fat. And I didn't know it then, nor understand it - but that is absolutely NOT what an adult tells a child. When a child is hungry, you feed them. No questions asked. You simply don't make a kid feel as if there's something wrong with them for being hungry. That is completely and totally un-fucking-acceptable. And I often picture myself standing next to that 11-year-old version of myself asking for another frankfurter, so that when told I was fat, I could THEN respond to my aunt in a manner that would have impacted her as much as her statement to me at 11 years old had.
Of course, I know this is not in any way realistic. It does please me, (although only slightly because of that 'nice person' I am) that my aunt is a miserable old lady now, with very few friends who can tolerate her endless criticism. She's lonely, she's realizing that she's not as liked as she thought she was.
Now, let's fast-forward a few years. Now I am married to the wasband and I am raising three children. We have our son, who was a toddler, and then we have his two older children that I'd raised since they were ages four and two. By now, I'd already been through my fair share of weight fluctuations. The short version - I was 'pudgy' throughout high school. Not fat. Pudgy. Then in college, my SA occurred about a month into Freshman classes - after that, I dropped a bunch of weight due to loss of appetite and actually looked good for a while.
Then I married the wasband, became "comfortable" with eating and gained a bunch of weight after the Son was born. Motherhood took an enormous toll on me - I was still young...21, 22, 23 years old and raising three kids. I honestly don't know how I did it, a lot of it was on autopilot mode - or perhaps it was because I felt I had so much to prove to the wasband...and to everyone else who was telling me (even if non-verbally) that I couldn't do it. I'm not going to lie...it WAS stressful. I was home during the day with the Son, who cried and cried and CRIED, I couldn't even clean the apartment without putting him in the Snuggli so that I could hold him while I did laundry, dishes, floors, whatever. Then, the older kids would need to be dropped off/picked up from school, and that was me, too. Whenever one of them got sick, it was also me to take them to doctors, pharmacies, all with a colicky infant in tow. Now, we'll top all of that off with the 'in the background' stuff - my r*pe having occurred as recently as 5-7 years prior to that - it wasn't as 'fresh,' but it still indeed bothered me - I still had nightmares, I still cried on the bathroom floor during the few opportune moments I was alone, simply because my husband was a VERY firm believer in 'what is in the past, belongs in the past....and in the past it should stay.' These were the 'suppressing' years; he'd ask how i was doing, I'd say, I was fine. And for a while, I believed it. At the same time, I ate because I was stressed out, I sought comfort within food. And that resulted in me being at my heaviest.
The wasband was not kind to me. He would tell me I was fat, I was unattractive. He would point out other women he found attractive. He'd ask in front of the kids, "what does your fat ass want to eat tonight?" I'd shrug. I felt horrible, ashamed, unimportant. But at the same time, he wasn't wrong. I WAS eating unhealthily, I WAS overweight. I DID let myself go. I mean, I couldn't have it all - what I really needed was love, support and a little bit of understanding and when there was very little of that available to me, I had instead given in to bad eating habits.
So, after he'd called me fat for the umpteenth time, I went on a diet. I was successful and lost a bunch of weight. Got myself back to where I was before the Son was born.
And so, here is story number two, now that I've set THAT scene:
We were at the mall, the wasband and I - meeting up with some friends. Another couple that we knew - while our sons were at soccer practice, we'd gone to the food court in the mall for lunch.
He bought himself and me these enormous chicken parm rolls from the pizza place. I'd already lost a fair amount of weight and could only eat a couple of bites of mine before feeling full. And the wasband, in front of these people that we barely even knew, pointed out that I'd hardly touched my lunch and commented that I was starving myself. I honestly wasn't; I just wasn't hungry at the time. Even if I WAS being mindful about how much I'd eat, it was still NOT the time nor place for him to make such a comment...and certainly not something you do in front of other people. He then told me that he wanted me to eat every single bite of this way-too-big chicken parm roll, it'd be good to get some meat on me - I was both confused and mortified. I mean - you're going to tell me how fat I am and then when I lose the weight, I'm starving myself? Just what the hell do you even want from me? I did want to ask him this at the time, but I didn't. At the time, I just forced a smile at these people and fumbling for an excuse, said that the food didn't taste right. I had it wrapped and fed it to the kids later on that evening. He wasn't happy with me, but I don't think I cared enough at the time to discuss it. I just felt even more like a failure. Nothing I ever did was right or pleased him. It would only be a few more years we'd be married at this point - but this was shortly before I became pregnant with my daughter.
So now I have shared a story from when I wanted food and a story for when I didn't. Both times, I was made to feel ashamed for what I wanted. Hopefully, I have successfully painted a little bit of a clearer picture of why I am so conflicted with diets or even the topic of weight. Why, in addition to everything else that's wrong in my life, I can add 'eating disordered' to my list of problems.
See, I always knew this about myself. I always blamed genetics because it was easier to do so - my mother's side is big-boned, my father's side is not. I could be either way - I do think that while my mother CONSTANTLY struggles with weight, I tend to have better luck than she with diets in general - possibly thanks to Dad's genes.
This, though, I don't have a name for. I'm definitely not bulimic; I do not force myself to purge what I've eaten. I do not think I am anorexic - I DO eat, although I do limit food intake at times because I'm fearful of becoming the 'fat' person again or the 'unattractive' one, which is indeed a characteristic of the disorder. I've never dropped enough weight where hospitalization was necessary.
I just don't want to be seen this way anymore - I was seen as fat when I was a child and chastised for wanting more food. By a family member. Then I was seen as fat/unattractive by the man I married - when the one you marry is supposed to love every single thing about you - even the extra pounds, should there be any. See, when something is ingrained in you from an early age, you sometimes don't realize it's not the proper way of looking at it until MUCH later, when the damage is already done and the scars are deeper than you thought they were. Is there even a correct name for this issue of mine? Or is 'eating disordered' it, even though it's a pretty broad description?
Anyway - I couldn't help LOSING MY SHIT when last week, I got on the scale and three pounds of bloat showed up in big, bright, red, digital numbers. I'd GAINED three pounds. WHY? What the hell had I DONE to gain three pounds in seven days?! I certainly hadn't overdone it - not three pounds' worth, anyway. I'm currently on a mission to return to a healthy weight - and TRUST me on this - there is still a ways to go before I'm there. I've made progress. I DO feel better. I'm in a committed, healthy relationship with a supportive woman who loves me no matter what the numbers on the scale say. She certainly has NEVER made me feel badly for my weight although I HAVE fluctuated a couple times in the nearly ten years we're together. She's celebrated my accomplishments with me as I'm on my way back down to a healthy weight, after discovering earlier this year that I was at my all-time high. I'd gotten comfortable AGAIN, I'd let myself go, AGAIN. And it was because no one was telling me what was wrong with me anymore - I was genuinely happy. When someone is happy, it's very easy to carelessly slip back into old habits simply because no one is putting you down for that extra helping of food you helped yourself to. And it all adds up and has a way of catching up to you.
And so, this is a little different. I realized for the first time, that being at this weight was unacceptable to ME - before it was unacceptable to anyone else. And the decision to fix it was made solely by me, completely unaided by anyone else.
Yet, when that three pounds showed up, ALL I could hear in my head was how fat I was, how I'd ALWAYS be what others already saw me as. All I could feel was failure. And a soreness in my big toe after kicking the scale across the bathroom floor. I swore up and down, left and right, I was ready to break down and CRY. The only reason I didn't is because I had plans to take the Son to an appointment. I no longer wanted to go to this appointment - I wanted to literally run until that three pounds was GONE, even if I had to sweat it out. All these unreasonable ways of removing that ridiculous THREE POUNDS were running through my head - I found myself thinking that I needed to skip a meal or two, I needed to do BETTER than this. I saw the ex's disgusted face, I heard him belittle me over and over. And for a fraction of a minute, I believed it. I'd failed. I'd screwed up.
And then - two days later, I'd discover that it's my time of the month; the bloat was simply my body's way of prepping for my impending menses. And so, that episode in the bathroom? Completely uncalled for. How stupid do you want to guess I felt, then? PRETTY silly, I'll say - I have already apologized to the scale and to myself - but I will not apologize for WHY I am this way. It's not my apology to make, but it IS my responsibility to recognize the reasons for my flawed thinking.
So what am I realizing other than I'm eating disordered through no fault of my own? (If there's no name for this, then it's perhaps acceptable to leave it at this...)
I'm realizing that as I heal, as I progress further and further into an understanding of the complex mess that is myself, I am able to better delegate blame for these things, and place it where it belongs. The weight issues - definitely started by my aunt, whose intention was probably not to cause permanent damage, but instead to exercise tough love. Definitely not the best way to go about that, though. And then, it was further exacerbated by the domestic violence by the wasband, who seemingly makes a career out of being hurtful toward people whom he's supposed to be kindest to...his emotional, verbal and mental abuse certainly played a role.
It does help, though, to sit here and attempt to make sense of my thoughts by writing them out - it's the same thing I would be doing in therapy, honestly. And I've covered all my W's. Who? What? Where/when? And of course, the most important of them all: WHY?
I guess while I've given it all my best guess as far as the 'why' goes. My whys. I don't think I'm capable of understanding THEIR whys.
I suppose that's a good thing, though. I don't wish to understand why people do horrible things to others and make them feel as if they're anything less than valuable. It isn't something I'd ever do to another. I think the problem is this - because of THEM, I still do it to myself.
I guess I just want to feel that I'm doing this the right way, that my feelings are normal. I don't expect all of them to be - surely many are understandably influenced by repeatedly being abused - but I also feel that it's important to divulge that this weight loss journey is by no means without struggle. I HAVE had success, do not get me wrong. I just feel that some of it is because I'm too hard on myself, and some of my methods are a result of being fanatical rather than relaxed. I simply don't know how else to be. I don't know how else to shrug off a couple pounds' gain as being no big deal rather than break down and become obsessed with taking it back off immediately. I'm feeling the need to own these things, for to admit is to recognize the problem.
Thanks for listening, if you've made it this far. And of course, for allowing me to (try to) make sense of why I am this way, even if it's just to myself for now. I will try and come back in a few days with another entry...perhaps something a little lighter next time.
I welcome any and all comments, but please - do not post them here. I feel that PMs are likely the best place to send feedback on this matter.
Good night, all.