The Scale Is My Enemy
We’ve all faced a battle with our self-esteem.
This is her war:
I’ve never been a thin girl.
Maybe when I was little - when I wanted to run around and did not care as much about my weight - I was a lot slimmer and healthier than I am now.
My body has changed over the years and, while I know some changes are genetic, some of them are my own doing.
I Overcame: My Mother’s Eating Disorder
Eating disorders affect the entire family.
This is her story.
As a kid, you don’t have much choice about anything. What to wear, what to watch on television, what classes to take; those things are decided for you by the people who know better, or at least, should know better.
I never had a choice about what I was going to eat. My mother had an eating disorder. She had this fear that she was going to weigh over a hundred pounds and that when she did, she’d be so horrifying that my stepfather wouldn’t love her anymore. Once she told me she hated eating, “because it made her have to use the bathroom.”
She pointed out “fat” people to me at stores; ridiculed them to me. Carefully, she measured out the amount of food I was to eat and didn’t allow for seconds. We had a carnival scale on the back porch to make weighing ourselves a “game” but she never failed to remind me that the scale was “too light, so I was fatter than it told me.”
I weighed 90 pounds for most of high school. People see pictures of me and ask if I was ill, or assume that I was anorexic as I was always depressed and withdrawn. They assume it was my emotionally abusive boyfriend or losing Mister E.
No one knew about my mother and her war on food.
Mother’s Day: Mommy Dearest
This weekend, The Band, we’re hosting a carnival of posts about Mother’s Day. Before you run away gagging, hear me out: these are the kinds of Mother’s Day posts I wish I’d read years ago. Knowing that I was not alone in my struggles was a pivotal point in my life. Today, we celebrate the tables forever missing one. Today we celebrate the mothers we’ve lost and the mothers we’ve found. We’re celebrating the mothers we wish we’d had while acknowledging the mothers we did have.
This year, The Band, I’m proud to celebrate a carnival of Mother’s Day posts from perspectives that aren’t always storybook. Perspectives like mine. Perspectives like Jana’s. Perspectives like yours.
Today, no matter where you are in your life, whether you’re missing your own mom, happily celebrating with family, stuck at a table forever missing one, wishing desperately that you were a mother, or wishing desperately that you had a mother, know these two things: you are loved and we are none of us alone.
When I was a little girl, Mother’s Day meant a day of happy celebration. For one brief day, no one would fight, hit, scream, shove, or hurt. I would wake up at the ass-crack of dawn and make my Mother breakfast in bed. Since I was the oldest and my father once destroyed a microwave attempting to make popcorn, I always ended up cooking.
Then came the touching moment: Mom would read all of her handmade cards from us kids and bawl her eyes out. Then my Dad would hand her some Hallmark card with a poem inside it. She would cry because she was so happy and give us all hugs and kisses and tell us that we were the best family anyone could ever ask for. Then we would all sit in bed with her and eat breakfast.
It was all one big, fat, American lie.
When I was in the fifth grade, she and my father went to rehab for their alcoholism. She pulled me out of school and made me stay home for six weeks to take care of all the kids. I did all the cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, laundry, and crisis control. My younger siblings were seven, four, three, and two years old. They didn’t understand what was happening. They were scared, and wanted me to make it all better. My youngest sister, just starting speak, would call me ‘Mommy’. I never told my mother.
My parents didn’t even finish the program.
Eating disorders have the highest rate of mortality of any mental illness.
This is her struggle.
I hope that there will be a day when I don’t obsess about food. About my weight. But I don’t know how to make it stop.
If I think she is thinner than I am, I assume that everyone else in the room is acutely aware of it and automatically likes her more than they like me. I start tearing myself down, feeling worthless, feeling helpless, feeling ugly.
If I think she’s heavier than I am, I worry if I will ever reach her weight. I start thinking that I need to have more control over what I eat so that I can avoid ever getting to that point.
Yet I feel I have no control what I eat. I just eat, pretty constantly. I’ll go from eating under 1,000 calories a day to eating cookies and chips, the phase I’m in now, to eating only raw foods.
Spotlight On: Addiction - Running Away from Myself
Addiction surrounds us. Food addiction. Pornography addiction. Substance abuse. Alcoholism. Workaholics. Compulsive hoarders. Sex addiction. Human beings are primed for addiction. And this month, in an effort to take down stigmas, to collect more stories, to help us feel less alone in our addictions, we are thrusting the spotlight squarely upon addiction.
We want your stories - are you an addict? Have you been an addict? Are you the adult child of addicts?
Please join us during our Spotlight On: Addiction Carnival on March 18th and share YOUR story as we tear down the stigmas of addiction.
My drug of choice is exercise.
This is where a lot of people roll their eyes and call bullshit, seeing as we’re constantly told that exercise is not only beneficial, but necessary to health and wellness. But for certain people with a brain physiology that makes them vulnerable to getting stuck in obsessive thinking and compulsive behaviors - yours truly - anything can be taken to extremes.
How My Doctor Made Me Question My Sanity And Hate My Body
In late 2008, I began to feel super run down. I was tired all the time even though I was sleeping a lot. I was nauseous. And I just felt like shit.
Unfortunately, I’d been laid off in the fall of ’08 and didn’t have any medical insurance. I did what I could on my own - tried over the counter vitamins and looked up my symptoms online - but that just convinced me I was dying.
Finally I paid two thousand dollars for student health insurance since I was in graduate school and saw a doctor in the fall of 2009. At the first appointment did a pregnancy test, told me I was obese, and sent me on my way. Since I hadn’t had sex in over a year at that point, it was not a shock to find out I wasn’t pregnant.
My symptoms continued, and I returned to the doctor. He explained that my symptoms were probably in my head, reiterating that I was obese, but after I insisted, he took blood to run some tests.
Turns out he only ran tests for “fat people problems” (not that they are problems that only fat people have, but they are stereotypically associated with the overweight and since he was concerned about my weight, those are the only things he tested). All the tests came back normal, further convincing him that my problems were in my head.
The Road To Hell
I always start with the best of intentions.
I make a list.
I make a plan, in my head, of all the many things I will accomplish.
List my son’s saxophone on eBay that he only played for 8 months,
Make a grocery list for tomorrow.
All small, completely do-able, you’d think.
Then I come home from taking the youngest to school.
I take off my work out shoes, because they hurt my feet.
I decide I’m tired - maybe I should take a nap.
So, I lay on the couch for an hour, reading, and resting, with my alarm set.
I get up before it goes off, proud of myself.
I get dressed and put on make-up.
Then, I plug in my new vacuum. Nothing fancy, but less than a week old.
The belt is broken.
Throw the vacuum against the wall,
Send a nasty text to my husband, who was the last one to use it.
Suddenly, I hate my whole life.
My lazy self, who can’t seem to get anything finished, EVER,
My house, which I can’t seem to keep clean,
With all of its character, it is 100 years old, and one enormous project after the next…
I hate how my husband doesn’t touch me anymore,
(Even though part of me is relieved, because it means he won’t have to touch my fat.)
I hate my face.
My stupid, crooked smile, my tiny head, on a huge body.
I feel like a balloon, with my head the tied off part.
I can’t seem to stay on top of the bills, though he makes plenty of money.
I hate how stupid I am, how lazy, how fat, how utterly worthless.
I don’t ever remember feeling any different.
Because, the fact is, if I wasn’t so damn lazy, I’d workout and lose some weight.
My house would be straightened at least, clean at best.
I’d pay my bills on time because I wouldn’t constantly be shopping for clothing that makes me feel like less of fat ass.
But it just feels like I *can’t*.
I want to, but I just cannot get - and keep - my shit together.
So I rage and throw vacuum cleaners when no one is around to see.
I want OFF the merry-go-round, vicious cycle I’ve become.
This Year Is My Year
This year, it’s time to take action. It’s time to pull our heads out of our asses and make some plans for world domination.
How? By telling the world, not what we want to do this year, but what we will.
So what will YOU do this year?
I get a little frustrated sometimes with people who go over the top making New Year’s resolutions. I feel like so many people try to reinvent themselves this time of year and ultimately fail. You are who you are, and while that is always in a state of change, it is not all or nothing all the time.
This is a lesson that I have spent the last two years learning. I believe that pretty much everyone should go to therapy at some point or another because it’s just good to get an outside perspective of where you are in your life. That said, this New Year’s I decided to take stock of who I am and where I’m at. 2011 was filled with great change for me emotionally, and I believe it has been the preparation I need to take the steps to change physically.
Hey there, The Band!
I wanted to share this with you, because if my mental illnesses have taught me anything, it’s to learn to celebrate the little victories.
I had a moment of celebration today when I realized I haven’t purged in three months. Three months!
I’m still sorting out medications and figuring out what balance of chemicals I need in order to keep my brain happy, still sorting through bouts of depression and anxiety, and yes, the occasional panic attack. But finally, finally, I’m starting to kick my sunovabitch eating disorder in the taco.
As if Major Depressive Disorder, PTSD, and Bipolar Disorder weren’t enough, I have a new affliction to add to the mix. It’s a term that I just discovered yesterday: dermatillomania. Compulsive skin picking.
I read all about dermatillomania here on Band Back Together, and I just ticked off everything the article said. Everything. I’m not sure if I’m happy or sad that I know about it - just something else to talk about in my psych appointment in two weeks. As if I don’t baffle him enough. Oy!
I searched the Internet and found more sites and forums dedicated to skin picking. I started reading their stories. My Dog, I’m not alone in this. Skin pickers unite!
I haven’t been a long-time picker. Looking back, since newly armed with this information, I started about three years ago.
I’m a face picker. Big time. What slays me is that I do have beautiful skin. I’m the woman at the spa every six weeks getting facials and microdermabrasion. I leave with glowing skin. There is barely a wrinkle on this 42-year old face, but once I get in front of my magnifying mirror, the fingers rise to the face and the race has begun.
I’m Feeling And It Sucks
I don’t give in often - I hate letting myself cry. When I cry, I feel so weak, like her. I’ve always been the strong one, the self-reliant one: I will NEVER be her. My mother.
Nighttime is hard. Nighttime is when I need distractions or everything comes rushing back. Even as a child, I was out of control at night: on the phone with radio DJ’s as a third grader, walking the streets hooking up with random men at thirteen. I’m fine all day, when it’s noisy and busy. But night, that’s when I break down.
I can’t handle the peace and quiet that comes with nighttime. I can’t walk the streets now, so I get drunk, find a chatroom, or get upset with my husband for not jumping on me like a vulture. Sometimes all of the above in a night. Really, anything to distract myself.
Nighttime is when the thoughts creep in. Why can’t I just enjoy the “normal” happy family I always wanted? Unlike me, my kids have two parents who love each other, a clean home, and people who are there for them. They’ve never even seen me cry! I’ll be damned if they feel they have to worry about me!
How long do I have to give in to my childhood before I can move on?
Nighttime is when the thoughts seep through: why can’t I have normal relationships? I have no friends. Even my mother has friends - why can’t I? I stay up way too late at night, which means I want to sit on my ass all day instead of enjoying my home and kids.
Nighttime is when I think these thoughts. I’d guess that if I hadn’t put on all this weight, if I didn’t stay in the house all day, every day, I’d cheat on my husband. My perfect, wonderful husband. The one who makes sure there’s always fresh rolls of toilet paper on the holders. The one who has never said I told you so, even when my relationship with my mother fell apart for good. The one lying in bed right now, waiting for me to cuddle up and go to sleep with him. The one who would be happy to hold me - help me through this. I can’t actually ask for anything, but I want to be needed and wanted so badly that I’d give anyone just about anything. But I can’t let anyone see me cry. Even him.
Plus, he had a hard childhood too. So what? You suck it up and move on. He isn’t a damn mess.
What the hell is my problem? What is it going to take for me to just get over it? I am a firm believer that things happen for a reason; I look for the positive in everything. Plenty of good things came from my childhood, so why can’t I just forget the bad and allow myself to enjoy this happiness that I deserve?
So what if my dad left? So what if I always felt responsible for my mother’s happiness - even though she was neglectful and miserable parent? So what if I grew up lonely, smelly, weird, longing for someone to look out for me? So what if there’s no one I can call if I need help, support, money, advice, or to brag about my great kids?
Yes, there is a hole there. Yes, it stings to see happy mothers and daughters, kids spoiled by grandma, but what can I do about it? What’s the point of wasting my happy years being upset about it?
I have a nice, stable life with the best man in the world, and four precious children. What more could I ask for? Isn’t it good enough? How can I be a good wife and mom if I can’t figure my own shit out?