I was the fat girl. I gained a significant amount of weight somewhere between kindergarten and first grade. I was noticeably fat by the first grade. It was the beginning of a painful, shameful childhood. I bit my nails. I would eat whatever I could get a hold of. I remember a few vivid times being made fun of, called names, and being humiliated by other students, teachers, and nursing staff. The humility was a naked feeling, a sense of being exposed and shamed with nowhere to hide. One particular memory I have is of a grade school softball game. I was the pitcher and we were in a championship game. I was out on the mound and kids from the other team started jeering loudly saying, “oh, look at the pitcher, the ball is going to bounce off of her belly.” My greatest fear in those moments was that others heard what they were saying, including parents. I was the pitcher, and people were going to be looking at me anyway, but I’d have rather been dead than being the source for that kind of attention, others making fun of me. That those kids, and potentially parents, got a laugh off of my being overweight was a piercing hurt and a humiliation that just lingered there, while I was in the center of the field. No one said or did anything. It was an emotional hurt that as a child, there in the open to be exposed, I didn’t know how to process it, to work through it. I’d just bear it, but it hurt so bad.
My parents kept me focused on academics. My mom held education as a high priority for us. My dad worked first, second, and third shifts throughout the years in assembly manufacturing to pay for our school. I felt accepted at home, as long as I got good grades, and was obedient. This just seemed normal and was ok by me. My parents wanted for me what they didn’t have, college education, freedom of career choice, and greater financial stability (aka, to do better than they did).
In seventh grade, all of my friends were noticing and interacting with the boys. I wanted to be noticed and I wanted to be thin; I longed to be thin, and I thought it was the key to a much better life. One day, in seventh grade, I decided I was going to make this happen. My resolution, less food equated to thinness. It was literally overnight that I made this drastic change. I decided to significantly reduce my food intake and restrict myself. It came to be where I could go all day with almost nothing, whatever I could get away with. I was starving, but it was working. In a matter of months, I had become thin. And, I did think I was happier, at the time. I was proud of my self-control. I was proud of my accomplishment. I achieved a desire, and life did seem better. I really didn’t care what was going on inside me, physically or emotionally. On the outside, I made myself look “normal” and no one would ever “see” the inside. I escaped the humility and painful lashes taken by the fat girl. I was no longer made fun of for being fat and that removed a torment in my life. In about one year, by eighth grade, my anorexia drifted to bulimia, and I was consumed by the illness. My eating disorder was “active” until my sophomore year in high school. I was confronted and subsequently hospitalized. As I had the self-control to be able to restrict my food intake years prior, I also prided myself in the self-control I’d exhibited to end the physical abuse of the eating disorder, at age 16. Like a light switch, I decided to end that physical symptom of my eating disorder. I felt accomplished, proven to be a master of self-control, that I could simply decide to turn it off. And, I did. Never again did I binge or purge, physically. What still remained where the “why’s” and the deep seeded emotional wounds and insecurities that wouldn’t be exposed, acknowledged or healed for years to come. I carried them with me, mostly unknowingly. Through it all, my academics never suffered. Through it all, my athletics were good enough to play high school basketball. I wasn’t aware of what emotions I was feeling and I wasn’t really willing to spend time with them. I wasn’t equipped to deal with authentic feelings. I didn’t recognize what was happening. About this time, after my physical symptoms for the eating disorder ceased, I had that dream. I escaped, resisted, and rebelled.
It is much easier to look back on my life now and see the gaping flaws in those early years. The happiness I found in losing weight and being thin was like a new life I discovered, so it served some temporary newness, some feelings of acceptance and attention that I’d not known before. I suppose this is similar to how someone feels who drinks or does drugs for the first time. It seems harmless to others and it shows you a new world, new social circles, and acceptance. And, when I experienced that new life in thinness, the benefits of the outer experiences trumped the hidden emotional suffering that was occurring. I didn’t know how to be loving and compassionate towards myself. I now know, and see today, that all my life I had the One complete love in me the entire time. My soul was there and God was there to lead me and walk with me. I wasn’t aware of and didn’t recognize His love, His voice, and His way. The gift of this present day is in that knowing. Because today, circumstances still arise in life when I feel isolated, rejected, different, misunderstood. The difference is that I recognize where the fruitful resolution lies. I don’t even need to know specifically what the outcome of circumstances will be. I just need to know that I seek the right source for resolution. When I visit the valleys of today and anticipate those of the future which await my life path, I can seek and find in God. And, He provides. It was there all along, I just didn’t know. Now, I know.
I am a runner, writer, and mother.