The Food Thing – An interlude

I’m so touched by everyone’s support and comments on these posts; so truly, deeply touched. Thank you all so very, very much. I’ve been reflecting on your comments, so I thought a short interlude might be in order.

I never realised how many other people are struggling with these same issues; never realised just how not alone I am in this.

But I’ve felt alone; so completely alone and isolated, for as long as I can remember. I always thought I was the only person in the world struggling with this. But at the same time I thought the world could see what was going on inside. It’s what David said in response to my last post:

“…because we feel so ugly and awful inside, but nobody can see that … we figure it *must* be visible.”

My therapist has said this very thing to me a few times, not just about the Food Thing, but also about my depression and trying to process/deal with/resolve all that heinous sh*t from my past. She said it’s not uncommon to think everyone can see what’s happening inside, but actually they can’t. Another therapist said something similar: that I present so well – well dressed, articulate, etc (all the things I think I’m not) – that if she didn’t know what was going on for me, she’d never guess. I don’t think this has really sunk in, because I still think I’m visible to everyone.

Now that I’m writing about these things they are visible to everyone. That’s hard. Harder than I thought it would be. My Blue Funk said in the first post:

“It’s really hard to talk about such intense things and once you say them out loud – or type them, they seem even more real.”

Yep. They do.

As hard as it is, though, it’s good to know I’m not alone. I’m amazed that a dear friend is also dealing with this in her therapy at the same time as I am – perhaps the stars are aligned, or something, who knows? My dear Tampalama, you are so so brave sharing your feelings and experiences with us, and so openly. Your honesty touches me. I want you to know that you are not alone. I share your desire to “someday be comfortable in my own skin and in my clothes.”

I too know what it’s like to have your thighs touch the sides of the chair, to not be able to move fluidly or bend over – either because your back is too sore, or simply because you physically can’t. The things I hate most… the looks of contempt on the stick figure shop assistants in clothing stores; the fear of not knowing if last summer’s clothing will still fit this season, and the shame when it doesn’t; seats on aeroplanes – they’re so small and squishy, there’s nothing worse than being wedged in, and then feeling your “muffin” flow over the armrests. Ugh. Or trying to get through to your table in a restaurant, or to your seat in the theatre, and having to squeeeeeze past other people – or even worse, having to ask them to move. I always think they are repulsed by me, showing the same disdain that my parents have always shown towards “fat people” (transference, anyone?)

I also never realised how toxic my parents’ comments were, nor how deeply they affected me. I knew they did, of course, but didn’t really *know* it, if that makes sense. It wasn’t until I read your comments that I started to realise just how “phenomenally destructive” they were, as David said. Then just today my therapist said, “This isn’t just about food, it’s about the trauma.” Yes, it is. More than I ever realised.

Your comments all brought tears to my eyes. I’m touched by your caring and your kindness, but I’m also starting to realise the very deep hurt that lies within because of this stuff, because of the things my parents said and did.

I guess when something is part of your life – has been for as long as you can remember – you just don’t really think about it. You don’t know any other reality. It’s a little like child abuse – as a child you grow up thinking your experience is “normal”, although somewhere inside you know it’s not. But you just live it; you don’t think about it and you don’t fight it. Well, for me it’s the same with the Food Thing – and the Weight Thing and the Body Image Thing. They’re just me, just my life. They just *are*.

But there’s a little kid inside who still feels the weight of all that criticism, all that mockery; who wishes she didn’t have a f***ed up relationship with food; who didn’t hate the way she looks; who just wants to be loved for who she is.

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7 thoughts on “The Food Thing – An interlude

  1. Hi Kerro,

    You are so very brave.

    I agree with your therapist. ” She said it’s not uncommon to think everyone can see what’s happening inside, but actually they cannot.” We project that inner self-hatred that abuse trained us to believe. We see it. We think everyone sees it. They don’t. They see the surface. The surface is not ugly.

    I have known so many survivors who are convinced that they are ugly. And they most certainly are not. The ugliness is the abuse and what it has done to us. Your parents saw their own ugliness and wanted to project that onto someone. I’m sorry they did that. I know how godawful painful that is. Both my parents did that to me.

    Seeing that little girl. Seeing what she is dealing with. Seeing how she is feeling. Those are huge. She is a beautiful girl.

    Good and healing thoughts to you both.

    Kate

  2. You are incredibly brave. And you are also absolutely not alone. I wish I could show you a film of me in my middle twenties, so you could see how irrational I was about my appearance … I’ve never been athletic, and I became convinced that the only way anyone would ever love me or want to be with me was if I looked perfect. I became an obsessive exerciser, and at one point, I looked about as fit as I could have looked without hiring a personal trainer. And even so, it took me, I’m not kidding, an hour to leave the house in the morning because all I saw about myself was that I was disgusting and revolting. I would change my clothes five or ten times, trying to find something that made me visually acceptable. I still had the face that dozens of people had made fun of all my life, and no amount of perfection elsewhere could get rid of or overcome that.

    I ran out of time and energy to be that obsessive. But I still cringe inwardly when people meet me for the first time. I hate to be looked at; I can’t bear to have my photograph taken. But now I know that it wouldn’t matter how I looked; I’d still feel like this. It’s not really about how I look … it’s about, as Kate says, carrying the burden of other people’s ugliness that they chose to dump on me.

    It’s a hard thing, sorting out who we really are , vs. who people needed us to be in order to make themselves feel better.

  3. Yes, you are a very brave person. And you’re right about the little kid inside, we all have that – it’s an equalizing factor that sometimes I forget about because I get so hung up on my little kid. I think that’s natural. Hard to believe we’re actually all normal – ha.

    I admire your ability to write about your feelings so well. Sometimes I get so overwhelmed and scared that I can’t do that. You’re very strong.

  4. @ Kate – thank you. I wish I could believe you about the uglieness and hatred. I still can’t. I do now understand that what I see isn’t what others see, which I suppose is a step forward, albeit small. Perhaps one day I will believe you?

    @ David – I was stunned to read your comment – you sure you weren’t writing about me? LOL I still take hours to leave the house (on average 90 mins, lately 2 hours) because I feel so disgusting and revolting. I gaze into the wardrobe at length and then change outfits multiple times as well. Most days I leave saying “oh, that’ll do”… one day I hope I can say “I look ok” or even, “I look good.” FWIW, I cannot believe, based on your avatar, that anyone in any universe would make fun of you.

    @ MBF – Thank you, I don’t feel brave. I am stunned that you and others think I write about my feelings so well, since it is only a few months since I actually started feeling them. LOL

  5. “I present so well – well dressed, articulate, etc (all the things I think I’m not) – that if she didn’t know what was going on for me, she’d never guess. I don’t think this has really sunk in, because I still think I’m visible to everyone.”

    I get this comment all the time. I realise that I’m considered a high achiever and this is the image that I work so hard to portray to the world. There are only a few people in this world who know any different. When I separated from my husband, everyone was shocked as to the reason – surely we were the perfect couple???

    I admire your courage for talking about this Kerro. Often we’re our own worst enemy with our attempts to hide the pain and difficulties that we are facing. I was once told by a therapist that my issues were food were actually about entitlement. At times I can believe that statement. You’re definitely not alone in the type of comments you received from your parents, and the effects they continue to have.

    Take care…

  6. I’m trying to think of something to write in response to this post, which doesn’t make it all about me, but I’ve just been reading and nodding so much it’s hard not to exclaim “I know! OMG I get that too!” So I had to write something to let you know I visited, and that I really like your style of writing. Whilst trawling through your archives, I guess I wanted you to know that you aren’t alone.

    Lola x

  7. Hi Lola, thanks so much for dropping by. It’s very comforting to know that we’re not alone with this. Perhaps one day one of us will find a magic solution that will help all of us? 🙂

    Take care
    Kerro

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