It’s that time of the week again! It’s time for Beckie from Beckie’s Mental Mess Working On Us prompt. Here’s to the fifth week! I’ve had so much fun doing this project.
I thought I’d write a poem for this photo, but instead it inspired me to open up to you guys about something I’ve been holding back on. It’s something I don’t talk about outside of very close family, friends, and my boyfriend, Ricky.
Here’s a little bit of backstory:
I grew up overweight. I was bullied all through middle school and even by some in high school until I transferred to North High in Des Moines. I made tons of lovely friends who didn’t care what I weighed or how I looked.
But some of my family (and my ex) made me feel worse than any bully at school could. They’d remind me daily that I needed to lose weight, that being too thin is better than being fat. That men wouldn’t like me if I was fat.
But it’s okay if a man is overweight.
This broke my heart. I thought family was suppose to love you no matter what. But I wasn’t feeling loved at all. I was just feeling constantly judged.
I was always being compared to a younger relative, who was thin and blonde and perfect. Don’t get me wrong, I hold no grudges towards her. She loved me no matter what. It was others comparing me to her and telling me what I should look like.
At one point, this same family asked my first serious boyfriend why he was with me since I was overweight. Then they asked him if he thought I should lose weight.
When he told me, I felt like someone had taken a knife and plunged it into my chest. It ached horribly and I internalized every rude comment.
Family, society, and the media told me every day that the only way to be attractive was to be skinny. In the late 90s and early 2000s when I grew up, we didn’t have body positivity, we had Kate Moss.
Once I graduated high school, my weight fluctuated. If I was hypomanic, I was busy and didn’t have time to eat so I’d drop the weight without trying.
Once the energy ended, I’d drop into the pits of depression. When I’m depressed, I hardly leave the house and I eat. I don’t feel that I eat for comfort but more out of habit.
But truth is, I love food.
When I was 23, I was working overnights at Wal-Mart and stocking the entire apparel areas by myself. Once I got into my groove, I’d finish my work and then go help in other departments.
I was killing it.
I was also depressed but I didn’t have time to eat. I’d sleep all day and wake up just in time to get ready for work.
On my dinner break, I’d eat yogurt and fruit. After work, I’d eat something at Subway and then end home to sleep the day away.
I dropped 80 pounds in a year. Despite popular belief, my weight loss wasn’t due to meth. I was only using maybe once a month, possibly even less.
A few years later, when I started using more, I lost another 20 pounds. That was one aspect of hitting the glass pipe that I loved the most, even more so than the euphoria.
It took food out of the equation for me and my relationship with food changed.
Once I got sober, the weight hit me and hit me fast. I was eating to make up for the last four years of ignoring that my body needed nourishment.
Gaining so much weight has brought back all the insecurities I had when I was young. I remember every word my family said to me and every word that every bully said to me.
I even hear the hateful words my ex would fling at me to weaken my disposition.
I was told youth, beauty, and a flat stomach were the only way to receive love.
So, I have a hard time accepting that I deserve love, that I’m even receiving real love from Ricky, and that I need to love myself.
I look in the mirror and I see lines next to my eyes and exhaustion in my eyes. I see the way my body expands and doesn’t curve. I see the stretch marks on my stomach from ever-changing weight.
I see almost 31 years of battling with myself in my aging, swollen, and sore hands.
I’m carrying around this toxic shame of being overweight. I hate the way clothes fit on me, I hate the way my hips widen, and I hate that I look dumpy.
I feel ashamed, as if something horrible is wrong with me and I don’t deserve to be walking among peers.
I feel like I don’t deserve the love Ricky gives me.
This is what we teach our children, what we teach our girls.
How fair is it that men get to walk around comfortable in their skin, while we’re judged from the day we learned to walk?
“She’s going to break hearts.”
“She’s barely a 5.”