I was the fat girl. I gained a significant amount of weight somewhere between kindergarten and first grade. I was noticeably overweight by the first grade. It was the beginning of the low self-esteem I had in childhood. I bit my nails. I would eat whatever I could get a hold of. I still have some vivid memories of being made fun of, and the humility was a naked feeling, a sense of being exposed and shamed with nowhere to hide. I felt embarrassed and wished I wasn’t me more often than accepting that I was (me). As a child, there in the open, overweight and exposed, I didn’t know how to process my experiences of being made fun of. I didn’t know how to deal with feelings of being different, of isolation, and of humility. I’d just bear it, and it hurt so bad.
In seventh grade, as is pretty normal, my friends were noticing and interacting with the boys. I felt the pulling away. I felt left out. I wanted to be thin. 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 weight loss. 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 would 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 fit in physically and no one would ever “see” the inside. I escaped the humility and painful words spoken to the “big one”. 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 bulimia 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 behaviors of bulimia, at age 16. Like a light switch, I decided to end binging and purging. I felt accomplished, proven to be a master of self-control, that I could decide to turn it off. And, I did. Never again did I binge or purge, physically.
In hindsight, I now know, this was not the end of recovery. It is an obvious piece of recovery, and perhaps the most “visible”. For me, it was the beginning of a three decade long search for security. What still remained after binging and purging ceased, were the “why’s” and the deeper emotional sensitivities and insecurities that wouldn’t be acknowledged or healed for years to come. I wasn’t aware of what emotions I was feeling and I wasn’t really willing to spend time with them. I pressed forward with my academics and athletics, and thought it was over. I wasn’t equipped to deal with authentic feelings. I had little self-awareness. I believe I was afraid to look.
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 in the infancy stages. 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 inside. 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. 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, judged, and/or insecure. The difference is that I recognize the path to fruitful resolution. I know now, that no other person, not my husband, my children, my best friends can heal my insecurity. They can be people who bless my life, who affect me, and who care for me. But, they don’t make me secure or insecure. Neither do my circumstances. I don’t need to know specifically what the outcome of circumstances will be. I just need to know that I seek the right source for resolution. God provides. It was there all along, I just didn’t know. Now, I know.
I am a mom/wife/sister, mentor, coach, and writer