So, I think that the majority of us have thought about their weight. Whether you are too skinny, too heavy, too curvy in areas you don’t want to be curvy in, we have all consciously wondered and worried about our weight.
I don’t know what it’s like to be skinny. From a very early age, I was bigger than all the other kids so much that my grandmother used to lecture me about my eating habits. Mind you, looking back at photos, I don’t think I looked fat. A bit chunky, yes, but not fat. But that’s how it made me feel. It made me feel ugly and fat and an embarrassment to my family.
It had always been like that with them. Little moments when they would say things, little innocuous things that sucker punched me in the gut. That pain felt better with food, I will admit. But, it wasn’t just their “words of encouragement” that left me battered and scarred. My stepfather had a pretty heavy foot in the game, too.
The one thing I remember, that seems to haunt me to this day is something he told me several times that he spoke as nonchalantly as one would say “the weather’s nice outside”.
“You know, no man is ever going to marry you for your looks, so you better do better in school.”
Those words broke me more than anything. I’ll never forget that day, either. That very first time I remember him saying that to me. I was stuck inside, doing homework for my chemistry class, staring out of the window longingly as I watched the neighbor kids play in the middle of the street. I still remember the chill I got up my spine when he came to stand beside me. His look was thoughtful as he stared out at the other kids, and when he opened his mouth to speak those gut wrenching words, his gaze looked me up and down and then proceeded to stare back out the window, as if he had said nothing of importance. As if the words he had uttered didn’t savagely rip a hole in my young heart.
Those moments in my life helped to reiterate what I already felt inside: that I was worthless. I never felt important to anyone. I never felt as if anyone would ever stick their neck out for me. Except for my older brother. He was the only one that would do anything to protect me if he knew I needed it. I just never told him anything. I never told him about my struggles at home, because another thing that my step-father used to say to me would always prevent me from speaking.
“You know, one day your Dad’s gonna get tired of your shit, and he’s gonna stop coming to see you. Then you’ll be left with only me, so you better be nicer to me.”
He used to say a lot of things like that. This was another one that would always stick out to me. It told me that people wouldn’t stick around. That I wasn’t important enough to love. To me, it meant that, when I needed someone, they wouldn’t be there for me, because I wasn’t important enough to inconvenience someone. A person’s love for me would always be superficial.
Looking back, I see now why I reverted to food when feeling emotional or upset. When my emotions got too real, when I became too much like any other normal, emotional kid, I would lock up internally. Especially with my Dad and my Brother.
As soon as I hit puberty, weight started to pile on. It wasn’t a ton at first, just enough to change the way I wore my clothes. I had no idea at the time that I had PCOS and that was probably the reason for my consistent weight gain, but it didn’t matter. I was getting fat, and I didn’t know how to counteract it. And what’s worse? I didn’t want to count my calories in high school. I wanted to be like all of my other classmates and eat whatever I wanted.
So, during high school, I tried to pretend that my weight wasn’t an issue. I acted as if the weight gain was natural and okay. The summer between my 9th and 10th grade year, I got bronchitis while I was at my Dad’s. I still remember how painful that was, how hard it was to breath and how much I fought to express the pain because I didn’t want to inconvenience my Dad. But, he didn’t want to leave me at home by myself while struggling being sick, so he had taken me to my Granny’s so she could look after me that day. I went to lay down in the back room while my Dad and Granny drank hot tea with milk and discussed things. I laid down for about five minutes before the pain got too unbearable.
I’ll never forget the fear I had when I walked down that long, narrow hallway towards the kitchen. I was so terrified that I would make someone angry, that I had every intention of pretending as if I just couldn’t sleep. But, as I saw the look of concern on my Dad’s face, I broke down into tears, crying profusely because it hurt so bad. My Dad called off work that minute and decided to take me to see a Doctor. It was ridiculous how happy that had made me, that my Dad would inconvenience himself on my behalf.
When we were at the Doctor’s office, though, things got… weird. After seeing my weight, my Dad looked thoroughly surprised. There was true concern on his face after seeing my weight, and for an instant there, I thought that maybe my weight would be the “straw that broke the camel’s back”.
While waiting for the Doctor, my Dad talked to me about my weight, telling me that I needed to be careful, that my Mom has struggled with her weight, and that it’s caused her a lot of health problems and he didn’t want to see me go down that same path. I had so much guilt that day, and I know that’s not why he told me those things. I know now that it was pure concern on his part, but it affected me, none-the-less. Although, thinking back, I don’t remember every single word to the “T” as I do with the things Jerry (my step-father) used to say to me.
So, here I am, twenty years later, sitting in my little one bedroom apartment when I’m supposed to be getting ready for work, writing this down, and telling you a little bit about my struggles. The things that come back and bite me when I’m trying to eat healthy, when I’m trying not to emotionally eat. These moments are a lot harder than I thought they would be to ignore. In 2008, I had lost about forty pounds, which was the best I had ever done before, but I never worked through my emotions. In fact, I shut myself out worse than I was before I started losing weight. And now, I feel I’m trying to do the same thing again. Trying to shut out my emotions instead of working through them.
It’s easier said than done, though. I am starting this blog about my journey because a couple of weeks ago, for the first time in my life, I actually didn’t try to talk myself out of the thoughts of suicide. I had, in the past, thought about it and then dismissed it just as quickly. A couple of weeks ago, though, I seriously considered it, and almost felt a sense of calm at the idea. And I knew then that I needed to do something. I needed to learn how to work through my emotions, or at least acknowledge them.
I don’t want to give up. I don’t want to think that I will always be here, at this point in my life, waiting for things to get better. I want to make those better things happen. But weight loss is not an easy avenue. There is a lot of emotional baggage that you have to work through, as I’m figuring out. So, this will be my sounding board. When I’m getting stressed, when I’m worried about my future, or I think that things can’t get any worse, or if I’m really wanting to binge on junk food instead of dealing with my pain, I’m going to make myself come here first. To talk about how I’m feeling instead of pushing it back down.
Maybe someone will read this, and maybe no one will. I have to do this for me. And, maybe that one person who might stumble upon this and think “Oh, thank god. I’m not alone in this mess.”