Thursday, October 20, 2011
Thanks to Josh's complete honesty about how he got where he was, I feel inspired to do the same. How and why I got to where I was and why I end up never making it to my final goal. It'll be personal, and probably not something I want the entire Spark community knowing, but vulnerability is the only way people end up making progress and getting to the ultimate prize - happiness with their body.
I was a super happy kid. I was friendly and always in the middle of everything. I was the first to sit on Santa's lap, the first to try something new and my personality was larger than life (I have video documentation of such things). I was a generally skinny kid when I was little, however, the aforementioned video documents some of the kid parties I went to from the ages of about 4-6, which is something I find interesting.
See, just before I was 5 (or possibly just after and I can't remember all of the dates and times), my parents got a divorce. I was extremely close to my dad and then he was suddenly ripped away. Years later I was told the full story about what happened and it included drug use and marriage infidelity along with untreated (by him, not a medical doctor) epilepsy - grand mal seizures...they aren't pretty. In those videos I can almost pinpoint when the divorce happened. It's very strange and probably not something many people would notice and actually, I didn't even notice it at first - someone else pointed it out to me. Soon after the divorce I became a super shy kid. My mom and I would be at a party and I would be hiding behind the swingset. I cried when I had to sit on Santa's lap and it was clear I had started gaining weight. The stress divorce puts on children is incredible and is extremely evident in those videos.
My weight continued to increase and when my parents (mom and step-father) got married I was a pretty fat kid. They put me in private school because they wanted me to have a better education and to be honest, I was tormented. I swear, if it was hip and fashionable, I would have probably been one of those kids who kills themselves due to bullying, but guess what? I didn't. I'm not trying to make light of the situation, but it happens to the best of us (all of us really) and most of us figure out how to deal with it. I was teased for my last name...I was teased for my red hair...I was teased to the extent of tears numerous times for my weight - and it hurt. I came home in tears more times than I'd like to remember. My mom couldn't change the other kids, but she could change me.
After a few months of the torture, she took me to the doctor. I was fat...no one denied that. The doctor put me on a 1200 calorie a day diet and wanted me to start working out. My mom wrote down everything I ate, but my mom isn't always the brightest and if I went over by more than a couple hundred calories she would make comments in the book like "PIG OUT!" with underlines and other things that made it stand out. She also started hiding food. All of the sweets and snacks in the house were locked into a trunk in their bedroom and I had to ask before I could have any type of snack or dessert. I don't know how many people realize this, but that's really where my personal issues with food began, but more on that later.
The diet was successful. I dropped a ton of weight between 6th and 7th grade and went back to school the following fall to tons of compliments. I made various sports teams and actually got to play and best of all, boys started to notice me...only it hurt. Why didn't boys notice me when I was fat? What was so different about me now? You do start to develop a complex in that people only like you for how you look, not the person you are. I ended up getting my first boyfriend -- OK my first two boyfriends...at the same time, which I'm not sure how they figured it out. I was at a private school and my graduating class was like 12 kids. Those boys were either dumb or in denial.
I kept the weight off for awhile. I was an athlete in high school. I played volleyball my freshman and sophomore year, but even then, my weight was an issue. I was a healthy 145 pounds and 5'5. It's not skinny, but as an athlete I had a lot of muscle. No matter how you look at it, I was the fat girl on the team. I was teased by my teammates and because I had developed (somehow) exercise induced asthma, I had a really hard time doing some of the conditioning and often had to stop and use an inhaler (even though I used it prior to working out). My team had a meeting once and the girls used it as an excuse to bitch about me. It was awful. They called me lazy - I'm sure it was because I couldn't always do all the workouts - but what do you expect - I couldn't breathe - and because I was essentially the fattest girl on the team. I compared myself to everyone. It took a toll. I started not eating breakfast and only eating frozen yogurt for lunch - not the healthiest or best choice, but I really wasn't eating a whole lot. I don't think it was anorexic levels at that time because I was still eating a dinner, but it wasn't healthy.
I got sick of the BS and transferred my junior year from a private school to a public school. I decided not to play sports. I didn't know any of the girls and I wasn't in the mood to deal with a repeat of the year before. I did already have a few friends though and I only gained 10 pounds after quitting sports, which really isn't that bad. I was overweight, but I wasn't anywhere near obese. In fact, I think I might have been at the high end of healthy at that weight.
I met Jeremy my senior year. He was my true first love. I still love him in some capacity, but you never forget your first love and you always have a special place somewhere in your heart for them. Unfortunately, I was also dating Chris for about two months of the relationship with Jeremy. I stopped dating Chris once J and I became exclusive, but I never told J about Chris, which, now that I'm older, what would it have mattered? People date multiple people all the time, but whatever. J's and my relationship was near perfect for about 6 months and then someone told J about Chris, who was long gone by then. Everything went downhill. The relationship became incredibly emotionally abusive. He once told me to change my major (at the time it was broadcast journalism) because "people on TV are perfect and you're not." He would play The Offspring "Why Don't You Get a Job?" song and blast the opening line of "My friend's got a girlfriend man he hates that bitch." It just wasn't pretty. Still, I stayed and when he finally broke up with me for good, I was demolished. I stopped eating. I dropped 40 pounds in a matter of a couple of months. Funny, once again, when the weight dropped, people paid attention. But there was one night that really set me off.
I was at The Block with Peck and Bradd. We were driving around and they made some comment about a hot chick looking better than me. It was a joke, of course, but my self-esteem and self-worth was so low and even though I looked incredible (although my female friends were telling me to eat a damn sandwich - I stupidly chalked it up to jealousy) I couldn't handle it. I ended up leaving them at The Block and walking home. It was about 4 miles but I didn't care. I was so mad that I just wanted to get away. It was also about 10 p.m. and let's be honest, nothing good happens after 10 p.m. To this day I wonder how I made it home alive. I had three men stop and ask me if I wanted a ride. Two of them stopped twice. One tried to tell me about his family and that it was perfectly safe, but I wasn't buying it. Another one did everything short of abducting me. He followed me - stalking me. He even stopped his car in front of me, blocking my path and tried to convince me to have sex with him - he exposed himself. Again, I don't even know how I managed to get out of that because I was far from home and this was before cell phones were the norm so I didn't even have access to the police or my parents. I did make it home though.
Soon thereafter I went the opposite way. I stopped not eating and started binge eating. I was so upset, so frustrated, so disgusted by everyone and everything that I was eating a box of cereal for breakfast (the entire box), a complete package of cinnamon rolls for a snack, a normal lunch and something not so good for me for dinner. I specifically remember the cereal and cinnamon rolls though. My weight skyrocketed. I figured no one would want a fat girl so I was eating through my pain and hatred. Surprisingly I was still going out with plenty of boys. I mean, I guess when you've hardly eaten anything for months and gotten what others consider sickly thin, you have a ton of room before you hit fat again.
I went from about 115 to about 185 during that time, and then Aaron happened. I'm not going to go into details about Aaron, but those of you who know the story, know it was just a nightmare that I'd rather forget. My weight jumped again - to the highest it's ever been of 220.
Literally days after Aaron, I started dating Vic, but I was so damaged by the Aaron thing that the new boyfriend wasn't helping me in my quest to get healthy. I was only wearing sweatpants because my clothes didn't fit anymore. At one point I decided to start running. I would run around Vic's neighborhood. I started slow but eventually got up to a decent run. Actually, I was up to 4 miles for awhile. Vic and I broke up but remained super close friends. We still hung out every day. I mean, I guess in retrospect it was weird, but it didn't seem weird to us. The relationship simply fizzled.
After Vic was a string of soon forgottens - Shaun, Shaun (two different ones), Seth, Martin, Carl and I'm sure there are a few that I've actually forgotten. The ones I've mentioned all had something to do with my weight. There was also the J reprise. It lasted a year. The J reprise happened after Seth and I'm sure Seth had something to do with it. BTW at this time I was about in the 175/185 range which isn't exactly the best weight for me, but I was running and pretty healthy (even though I was only eating one meal a day - you see, I have a problem with food - hiding food because I don't want it taken from me, bingeing on food, not eating - it's just a nasty cycle).
I had known Seth for years and he was a Marine so he was stationed in North Carolina. I was having medication issues that made me literally insane and I had just gone through a mini three month relationship with J (over the holidays). I was depressed and whatnot, but I drove across the country to see Seth. I did love that kid - again, I don't know why, but why I was there visiting, he slept with a hot chick and offered me (for whatever purpose - you figure it out) to my friend Jess' cousin. It was like some really weird soap opera or some horror/drama that you'd only see in the movies because situations like that don't really happen - or so I thought.
I started to fear for my safety and high tailed it out of there. When they found out I had left they started threatening me -- seriously?! He slept with another girl and was threatening me? I got home, went through serious medication withdrawal and then ended up back with J...for a year. When we broke up that time, it was oddly mutual even though I was still upset. After J was Shaun (or as we - Shauna and I - called him Hockey). I dated him for a few months and was back to running. I was doing pretty good. I found out later that Hockey was only dating me to get back at his ex-girlfriend who was somewhat intimidated by me. It hurt and made me depressed. I genuinely liked him. Shaun 2.0 came soon after (BigE) - another Marine (I should have learned my lesson). He left me at a comedy club and disappeared for 4 hours while I was freaking out. He ended up leaving me because he wasn't over his ex, but shockingly was in another relationship within a couple of weeks - he ended up marrying that girl. Then was Martin who I don't even want to get into. Other than the distance, there was nothing wrong with him, really. I was happy. When that ended for no real reason I stopped eating again. I went down to about 160, which, for me, is great. Then Carl which was the shortest whirlwind relationship ever. Immediately after Carl came Phil.
Why am I giving you a snipet of my relationship history? Because it is all related to how I see and deal with food. As soon as I started dating Phil I gained 20 pounds. I then got married on a whim and gained another 40 pounds because I was so, incredibly depressed with my decisions (did I mention I have serious mental issues? I do, but I try to keep those unrelated to my weight). I was back up to 220 before I knew it.
The marriage was annulled, which was honestly the best thing for my situation so technically I've never been married and I tried running again, but my ankles weren't agreeing with me. I quickly realized I may never be able to run again.
I got a new job, in an unfamiliar area and moved. I lost about 20 pounds when I started. Then things started happening and I started gaining again - back up to 220. Every time I've tried to get on track and started to get on track something happens and I end up in a binge situation or an anorexic one. I hoard food - I finish my plate, even when I'm sickeningly full. I've been to therapy so I don't even want to go back to that. It helped with some issues, but not with the food issue.
Slowly I've gotten back on track. I'm starting to lose, but I know my metabolism is completely screwed up from years of abuse so it's becoming an extremely slow process. Even when I got on track I never had a huge weight loss. Usually when you start you'll drop some big weights the first few weeks and then it tapers off...not with me. I've only managed to lose ounces, but that's OK. They say slow and steady wins the race. My eating still isn't fully under control. I manage to stay in range most days, but I do have a fair amount (probably once a week) where I got well over my limit and I'm not ashamed of that. I'm still in the relearning process. I know how to lose the weight, I just need to utilize the tools I have.
Needless to say, my weight has been a struggle for more than the majority of my life. I lose enough weight to get noticed and then I'm uncomfortable with the attention and I start to gain to counteract the attention I'm receiving. I get depressed because I get negative attention and then end up gaining more weight or losing an excessive amount. I'd love to blame society - the media - men, but it's not totally their fault. They're brainwashed by this idea of what perfection is. We all are. I don't know if I'll ever be happy, but at least I'm working on getting healthy and I'm sure I'll have plenty more setbacks (school, mental or otherwise) before I find a spot where I'm comfortable -- if I ever find that comfortable spot.
So, that's my story. It started when I was about 5, and now over 25 years later, it's still an issue. Trust me, there's no amount of therapy that can help me - I went to therapy 1-2 times a week for about 15 years. There is no amount of medication that can help me - I've been on almost all of them. It's all about finding my support group, finding my motivation, finding my stride and doing it.