Wow! I really want to thank everyone for giving me your opinions on which dress to wear to the International Day of Juice Feasting! I am taking all of the advice to heart. I am glowing with all the sweet things people said! *squee!* Thanks guys! I love you too! As of right now, the Little Black Dress is winning. I feel great about that--I love that dress. Honestly, I love them all. It is really fun to get everyone's opinion on your clothes!
Today, I am going deep, and it's all Penni's fault. lol First, she made a beautiful video that made me cry (at work, hee, I was sneaking and watching because I couldn't wait to get home) Then, she asked me this:
What lies have you been told throughout your life (that you have agreed with) about who you REALLY are?
I had, what you might call, a rough start. My mom got married to my dad because they were teen sweethearts and he was going off to Vietnam. She got pregnant with my sister on her honeymoon (no lie, good Catholic couple those two) and then, a couple of years later, I was a result of the homecoming celebration. But that was about all the celebrating that happened in that marriage--my father came home from Vietnam a very different person than he left. He was "deeply screwed up" was all Mom would say, and I would later find out that he had been unfaithful, developed a problem with alcohol, gambling, and was unable and/or unwilling to try to get a job, and those he got, he didn't have for long. They were divorced by the time I was 2 months old. Mom says she would have gotten one sooner but the courts wouldn't let you divorce while pregnant because they wanted to establish paternity and didn't want to put the stigma of an "out-of-wedlock" birth on the child.
So my mom was a single mom with two little girls. She worked as a waitress and bartender to support us, and we spent a lot of time with a babysitter. That particular babysitter, that we had till I was 5 yrs old, was a 300+ lb woman who already had 8 kids of her own, and was taking care of her mentally ill schizophrenic husband. I really don't know why Mom chose this situation for us. Maybe she didn't have a lot of choices. Maybe she thought that this woman had so much experience with kids. In any case, the babysitter was very abusive toward my sister and I.
I don't remember a whole lot of the details, since I was so little. I do have vivid memories of being spanked with a belt, and punished by having to sit on a super hot radiator grate when I did something wrong. I have waffle patterned scars on the back of both thighs to this day from the burns. She would get enraged if we didn't take a nap, and I remember getting yanked out of bed and spanked for "playing possum." This led to years of sleep problems later on. I also remember that we were never allowed inside the house--that we had to stay in the yard, except to eat, like a dog that you only keep outside. I remember crushing boredom--there were no toys or anything to do. We made mud pies and played house. I remember that we snuck out of the yard all the time and went to a park across the street. Thinking back, this boggles my mind because we were unsupervised and I was 2,3, 4 yrs old at this time! My sister would have been the oldest kid and is only 3 yrs older than me. Why didn't anyone ask about the toddlers alone in a park or call the police? Why didn't they notice us playing in the sewer ditches with broken glass with no shoes on? Why didn't my mom get suspicious about all the burns on me (explained as "accidents") or that I got hysterically upset every time we had to go to the babysitter?
I want to say, right now, that I have done a lot of therapy around these issues and I have forgiven my mom, and even the babysitter. There are no excuses; there is only what happened, and acceptance. I who have been covered by grace, and forgiven of so much, cannot refuse to forgive and give that grace to my mother, who is deeply, deeply sorrowful about what happened. As for the babysitter, she has passed away, and I let those sad days pass with her. I won't let that situation hurt me anymore.
I bring this up because I believe, somewhere, back there, when I was just tiny, I decided that "Big people hurt little people." And I didn't want to be little, or vulnerable, any more. I started padding myself with armor; cushioning life's blows with fat, and turning to food for comfort.
When I was home alone, for hours, after school from 2nd grade on, I'd binge and watch Gilligan's Island and the Brady Bunch until half an hour before my parents got home; then fly around like a banshee and get all my chores done before they got there. No one checked if I had done my homework. No one ever knew if I took a bath or asked if I brushed my teeth. I was a feral child in most ways. The person who raised me, really, besides myself, was my older sister. I was a very laid-back, lazy kid. I drove her absolutely insane. She was responsible for the house; if I didn't get my chores done, it came back on her. We had screaming matches and wounded each other with words.
At school, I was the fat kid, the pariah. I was teased, mercilessly, called every name that you can think of, names that still hurt even though I am so used to it. Kids are cruel. They are hurting, and they act out. I'd hold it together till I got home from school, then cry and stuff it all down. At school, I found some self-esteem in being the smart kid, and in performing arts. I developed a super-friendly, bubbly personality, to compensate for my weight. "Please love me! See, I'm funny! I'm smart!" I felt obnoxious and frenetic, even to myself.
When I was a teen, I was out to prove that I could get a boy to like me. Despite my size, there were a few who did, but I was so clingy and desperate they were quickly spooked. There were more boys who were happy to spend some time with a girl who only valued herself through other's acceptance, and was willing to do a whole lot for any kind of love and affection. There was a lot of guilt and shame with acting out of alignment with my spiritual beliefs. I knew what I was doing was wrong, and felt icky inside, but it didn't stop me.
The story goes on--I married a guy whom I started dating at 17, whom I could be assured would remind me of what I believed of myself: I was fat, therefore unlovable, unworthy, and I should be forever grateful that he deigned to be with me, however verbally abusive he might be. I packed on more and more weight. When I had my kids, I found the strength to get out of that situation, and found myself exactly repeating my mom's situation: married the wrong guy too young and now on my own with a two year old and a 2 wk old.
As a mom, everyone's needs can come before your own. I responded to the stress of single motherhood the same way I had learned to respond to everything: by eating. And over the years, I got bigger and bigger and bigger.
How can you begin to get real with yourself about living a life that is in alignment to who you REALLY are?
Here is where my story gets hopeful. In 1990, I went to see a hypnotherapist to try to address my weight issues. To my huge surprise, what came out in the hypnosis were all the abuse and neglect issues. My therapist, who was also a psychologist, was not surprised at all--she sees this all the time. She told me, rightly, that my real problem was self-esteem, and that I would most likely never be able to deal with my weight until I felt safe enough to let that go. We did a lot of work together, and I worked through a lot of suppressed rage and sadness. Before that, I would have told you, I was just not an angry person. I never got mad at anyone. I didn't realize that I was turning all of that angry in toward myself.
I had a lot of forgiveness work to do. Make no mistake; it is work! I actually decided to put the weight loss on a back burner while I learned to get real with my feelings, and discover who I really am, and release myself, and everyone else, from the issues of my past.
I came to love myself--warts and all. I delight in finding out what I'm good at. I can laugh at my mistakes. I am not perfect, and that's ok. I am perfectly me. I find peace and acceptance, as a precious child of God. He who has always loved me unconditionally has taught me to love myself.
Only now, that I have done this work, have I been able to overcome food addiction issues and allow God to relieve me of my compulsions. I had to believe that I deserved to have that peace, that I was worthy to build a beautiful life. I had to get out of His way so He could help me.
Fat or not, I love me. I believe in myself. I believe God gave a certain pack of gifts, just to me, and is saying, "Ok now, let's see what you can do with this!" And we are both delighted to see what that will be.