That is me today. I have struggled one way or another with my weight for most of my life. I emotionally eat or emotionally refuse to eat. In high school, I emotionally refused to eat and in my mind I was huge. In looking at photos now, I was very thin.
I remember lettering in track and not wanting it because how could someone with fat thighs letter in track. I really wasn’t active back then. I wasn’t an athlete. We were very poor and I restricted every bite I ate. I wasn’t healthy, mentally or physically.
We moved every three years growing up so I didn’t have friends. I was always the new girl, the pastor’s daughter, or the quiet girl who was packing again. My mother was controlling, ok is controlling and food was something I had control over. She isolated me from family growing up. I know that now. I didn’t then.
I considered suicide in high school, had a plan, and even told several adults I trusted so what my choice was would be known and she couldn’t skew it. I never tried thankfully. I was too afraid of going to hell and the strict religious upbringing was drilled into me over and over. The adults I told never got me help.
Yep that is me. I look now at that photo and think how could I ever have felt fat. My friend posted it on FB and tagged me. It did surprise me. I didn’t really know how I looked until I saw this picture several years ago. It also showed me exactly how much my oldest looks like me. This photo was a turning point for me.
But first I need to discuss college. Ah freedom, I mean college. I paid my way through college and once I went to college, I never returned home except brief visits and even those were few and far in-between. I had scholarships, work study, and I walked 2-3 miles a day to a Burger King job too. I ended up getting a job with my professor that was year round in my field and paid good. I gained weight, but was healthy. I walked dogs of guys I knew. It was a small town and it was safe to walk everywhere. Plus I was young, lol with a great metabolism. It was here I learned to enjoy food. I had no one looking at me and judging everything I did. I controlled my life and my money. I was able to go out to eat and was thrilled with that concept. My parents went out when I was growing up, the children did not unless someone else was paying.
I made my own choices, not all wise but my own. I tried everything and anything, good and bad. I took risks I know I shouldn’t have but it was MY life. I was able to develop tastes and preferences. My professor and his wife took me under their wing and introduced me to the finer aspects of life. I was able to reconnect with my grandmother without being under the watchful eye of my mother. I thought she didn’t love me. I didn’t know she wasn’t allowed to see me. I didn’t know gifts were sent all my life, I never saw. I made friends, joined a fraternity, and graduated with a dual major in 4.5 years. I got a job teaching before graduation and started the January after my December graduation. I moved to a small town near my parent’s lake house. That was a mistake, I should have stayed across the state.
Here I was as an adult, with a full time teaching position once again under control. If I had someone over, I could expect random visits from one or more of my parents to ensure I was being good. I had expectations, rules, and restrictions placed on me again. I hated it. So I threw myself into my job. I became the cheerleading coach for every squad in the whole District, Quiz team Adviser, National Honor Society Adviser, etc … I can tell you I kept myself busy. I had no friends and no opportunity to meet any. Grandma wasn’t allowed to visit because she wasn’t allowed to know about my parent’s lake house. I needed to get out. I wasn’t healthy. I turned to food. I cooked. I learned to explore in the kitchen and taught myself how to make delicious and beautiful meals which I ate alone. I learned how to garden and grow my food and I purchased delightful table settings.
After 3.5 years I needed to get out. I did by getting a job 6 hours away in The Poconos. I picked up and moved. I started again to be free. It was my life and I was able to do what I wanted. I had friends and the first few years were great. My job was great. I met my best friend and we were inseparable. She met a guy and I went on dates with them, the third wheel. He loved her and was very generous and kind. She decided I needed someone and set me up on a blind date. We double dated and really I should have known it was never about him. Her date paid, my best friend and I hung out, he was just there. I wish I had seen that then, but then again I wouldn’t have my three blessings.
We married and bought a house. Two years later we had our first child. Life was good. Being a Mom was everything I always wanted. I adored Em and loved being her Mom. I wasn’t skinny, but I was happy. I got pregnant again with twins shortly after her first birthday. My mother was upset. I stole my daughter’s childhood. He didn’t want them. I wanted them. I wanted them and more! My life, my meaning, was to be a mother. I was very sick the whole pregnancy and almost didn’t make it. My friends joked and said I was on a pregnancy diet.
The twins birth was traumatic, click here for the story. Mandi had many problems with seizures after being born in an ambulance and the first two years were rough. My mother who had come to help left stating she didn’t want to be responsible if Mandi died. We didn’t know about the seizures at first. Her first 4 days home were rough. I hadn’t slept for four days straight to keep her alive. I kept taking her to the doctor daily and begged for help. On the fourth day I was told to take her back to the NICU hospital an hour away and be the hysterical mother I was and get her admitted. I did. They found she was having seizures which would trigger reflux spasms which would suffocate her causing apnea and trigger Bradycardia. I learned infant cpr and got a machine to alert me. She started anti seizure medicine and slept 20 plus hours a day. She was paralyzed on one side. I got her Easter Seals and every therapy I could get. She didn’t talk until age two and so I learned sign language for her. It was better than her biting.
I ate when I could during that time. I ate to stay awake. I ate to feel better. I ate quick convenient foods. I had to go back to work and juggle everything myself. I was breast feeding twins so my weight was not ballooning. I don’t honestly remember those first two years much. They are a blur of deep emotions: love for my children, rejection of their father, isolation, and the struggle to make a living.
The girls are 5, 5, & 6 here and as you can see I was big. I was active and healthy, but food was a comfort. Mandi was better and life was the 4 of us. I did everything I could to give them the opportunities and love I never had.
Nana moved out here and we took her in. My Grandmother still lives with me at age 90. I don’t keep either of the girls’ grandparents away because even though there are issues, family is important. I am the only child to still speak to my mother. She is still the same. I do know now that she has no control over me. I also know that this is who she is and always will be. I can’t just walk away like my siblings have. She is my mother whether I like her behavior or not. Plus I couldn’t never leave my father alone with just her. I have learned small doses work. We can now see each other for 1-2 days once a year usually without conflict and drama. It used to be longer, but with age her idiosyncrasies have increased. Is that a nice way to put it?
I think today the biggest struggles I have are with confidence about myself, body image, and loneliness. You see when I was skinny, I saw myself as fat. Now that I am fat, I saw myself as skinny. Crazy I know, but true. I don’t let anyone take pictures of me because then I see what I really am. I’d rather think I am skinny. I don’t like myself but it was easier not to look than it was to face it and change it. That high School FB photo made me stop and think about what I was teaching my daughters and how I don’t see what I really am.
These are my daughters today. Oh yeah they are athletes. I think they are gorgeous. But I was teaching them horrible habits. I have worked two full time jobs for the past 4 years. Fast food and convenient food was a must. During free moments, I taught them the love of baking and cooking. We ate at late hours for that was when we could. It hasn’t changed them, they are active, strong, and young. But habits like those will catch up to them.
I don’t want them to be me. I don’t want them to live feeling like they are unlovable, disgusting, and ugly. I want them to be in control of their lives at all times and never be controlled. I want them to have a healthy relationship with men, family, and food.
So 3 months ago I joined a gym, started Beachbody programs, and began to change a lifetime of bad food behavior and negative thoughts. This was me on the first day in the gym. My daughter took it. I hate it. I hate who I am. That picture is not the me inside my head. I am working to become who I am inside. I am working to become someone I can love. If I can’t love myself, how can I let someone else love me?
This is me at the 2 month mark. My Beachbody coach asked to use my picture to make an advertisement for her website. This is the first picture I have taken of myself in a long long time. I want to be able to take pictures with my girls and be in them. When I die, there will be years of nothing for them to look back at because I wouldn’t take a picture. I want to change that.
This is me now. I just finished my third month and I have now lost 26 pounds and 19 inches total. I have a long long way to go. It is a daily struggle still, but my girls and I are learning. They are supporting me and even work out with me. We have started hiking and exploring the area around us. We still love to be in the kitchen together, but now we make healthy choices. I haven’t been posting about this because it is very raw and personal. I have been thinking about it for quite some time without doing it. Part of it is a rejection fear. Part is not liking myself. Part is a failure fear.
But by not posting and keeping it private, I am perpetuating the negative thoughts in my head. It is hiding myself just as much as it was when I would not take a photo. I think part is control and self protection. If I control everything and only allow people to see part of me, I can keep people from seeing the real me. My fear is if people see the real me, the whole me, they will not like me any more than I do. I don’t want attention and focus. I think that would freak me out. I want to use my blog to express some of these feelings I have and work through them to get to a healthier state.
One thing blogging has taught me is that people can be very kind and supportive. That has been eye opening. There have been strangers on here kinder to me than most people in my life. The other thing is that by putting thoughts on screen, you can clear them out of your mind. So bear with me as I work through my demons and bring myself and my daughters to a healthier life.