I’m really touched by everyone’s kindness and support in response to my first post on the Food Thing. Thank you all so very, very much. 🙂
Now… on to Part 2: the Weight Thing and the Body Image Thing.
For as long as I can remember I’ve been overweight. I was an overweight child who grew into an overweight (morbidly obese) adult. I had a short period of knowing what “skinny” was like in my early 20s, but I was basically addicted to amphetamines at the time, so I’m not entirely sure that counts.
When I was a child/teenager my father would berate me for being fat. He’d yell at me and he’d yell at my mother for letting me get so fat. Then he’d take me out during school holidays and buy me a “treat” (always food) – just so he could berate me some more.
As I was writing this I caught myself saying that my mother never really made any direct comments, but I realised that’s not true (why do I feel this constant need to say she’s ok, to protect her?)
In reality she’d tell me off for eating, make comments about “fat people”, tell me I had to lose weight if I wanted to wear “nice” clothes and give me diet books for Christmas/Birthday presents. She even once gave me a plastic jogging suit that looked like a cross between a giant silver garbage bag and a spacesuit. It made me feel like a complete freak (though it makes me cringe and laugh all at the same time now). She still makes comments about other people. We might see people while we’re out shopping and she’ll say things like, “Look at that. How revolting!” or “that’s a big one!” or “how can people let themselves get like that? It’s disgusting!” She even said my therapist is “big” (she’s not) – “but she has got nice shoes” (she does, but what sort of thing is that to say? Geez…)
In all, I grew up believing that fat is bad; fat is ugly; fat is unlovable.
I also grew up believing my body was ugly; that it was “bad”. Both my parents made comments about it, and for a time my father used to spy on me in the shower and laugh. He always laughed at me if he saw me naked. This when I was just hitting puberty – like any kid needs that. Even as an adult he’d say things like, “look how big your stomach is. My god!” or “your b00bs are too big”. Endless f***ing mockery.
My mother used to comment on my legs – my “tree trunks”, my “thunder thighs”, etc. I don’t think she meant it maliciously, but the effect was the same. Only a couple of months ago she suggested I have plastic surgery to reduce breast size, adding that I could have a tummy tuck and thigh reduction at the same time. Thanks, Mum. *Sigh*
All of this left me believing my body is hideous, alien-like – something to be scorned and ashamed of. Even now I hate the sight of myself naked. And I hate it when people touch certain parts of me – even innocuous parts like my upper arms. I can’t stand it, and I have to move away.
I’m not going into all the different things I hate about my body; how I feel sick at the sight of the cellulite in the mirror, or how my friend’s little kids stare in horror at my flesh if they happen to see me getting changed. I’m just not going there, sorry. The only parts of my body I’ve ever really liked are my hands and my waist (the fact that there actually is one, and it has shape, at least when I am in shape).
My therapist says I need to spend more time looking at other people to see how everyone’s different, every body is different. Trouble is, all I see when I look around is a world full of skinny, beautiful people. And then there is me.
I always thought if I was “skinny” then I’d find love. I did, I suppose, but as my therapist says – the only good thing about that relationship is that it’s over.
Unfortunately my therapist says that the Body Image Thing isn’t unique to fat people – she’s had plenty of skinny clients with the same issues. How inconsiderate of her to shatter my illusions of skinny perfection like that!
I’ve come to realise that these Things (the Food Thing, the Weight Thing and the Body Image Thing) are quite common among survivors, though I know they’re common to “normal” people as well. My therapist says those “myths” about people keeping themselves fat to keep other people away isn’t a myth after all. Apparently it’s a ploy so we aren’t seen as attractive, as sexual beings – even if this is in conflict with our innermost hopes and dreams.
Hell, I thought that’s why I smoked?