Sunday, August 06, 2006

Stroll down memory lane with me...

In my very first post I said I could trace my eating habits and obsessions as far back as 6 years old. I'll take the opportunity to elaborate on that scene as well as some other defining scenes in my chubby life.

What's funny is, if you ask my mom if I was an overweight kid she'll say no I wasn't. How is it I remember myself bigger than what she did? Maybe it's a mother's love seeing her own child through rose colored glasses? Maybe it's a distorted self image and view of myself? Maybe it's because I have an older sister and like all siblings, in order for us to torture one another properly while growing up, we would call each other names like fatty fatty bo batty, stupid, ugly, chubs and a plethora of other nasty things. It's not that we didn't love each other, it's just... well ok maybe we didn't love each other then. We look back at what absolute jerks we were to each other and laugh until we're in tears but maybe with each dig we took we really did some irreversible (or at least long lasting) damage? I'm no psychiatrist, but if it made a big enough impression for me to remember it years later, doesn't that say something?

I come from a childhood of 'you eat everything on your plate'. This was no matter if you were truly full, not feeling well, didn't like the food, whatever. If you took it, you ate it. Even if you didn't like it you had to take a little bit and choke it down, gagging all the way. (LIMA BEANS YUCK!)

In my parents defense, I think their plan was to teach us portion control, to try new things and to eat balanced meals. We should have only taken a little and had more later if we were still hungry. But more often than not I would take way more than normal (I was hungry at the time I took it) and didn't really have a clear idea of how much my belly could really handle. So many times even though I was full, I would clear my plate.

I guess it began because I was kind of scared of my dad in a way. I know I didn't want to piss him off or maybe it was just that I wanted to make him proud. It was probably a little of both. My mom was a softie, she was easy, but I always had this little fear of my dad. I guess when my mom and dad first got married I wasn't a very 'good' eater. I was picky, I didn't finish my food, I was a typical kid I think.

From what I remember my dad had told me that if I didn't eat all my food in the lunchroom, that he would know. I don't know how he would know, but he would know. Kind of like the same way he always knew if we were jumping on the bed or having a pillow fight or doing other things we weren't supposed to be doing. He claimed to have eyes in the back of his head and that he could see through walls, but I checked his head out many a times as a kid and never did see those extra eyes.

So at 6 years old, first grade, I went into the lunchroom knowing that somehow, my dad was watching me. I sat there with my tray in front of me. It was foods I liked that day, so that was good. I ate my main course, my potatoes, drank most of my chocolate milk and all I had left were my peas. Those damn peas. Now, I liked peas, but I was already getting really full. I sat there eating little spoonfuls at a time. Eat, chew, swallow, eat, chew swallow. I kept chewing and chewing and chewing but I really think those peas were multiplying on my plate. I took a look around the lunchroom and I was the last kid left, all alone in the lunchroom. I wasn't going to get to go to recess if I didn't hurry up but I had to finish my plate. The lunch ladies were cleaning the tables around me. I started to get a nervous sick feeling in my belly. I really wanted to go outside and play. Mark Thompson, the cutest boy in 1st grade, was gonna chase me. I had about 4 spoonfuls of peas left but it seemed like an impossible amount. All the tables around me were clean. Those peas were still there. I took a mouthful with a little sip of milk to help them go down. I gagged. I felt tears stinging in my eyes but didn't know why. Those peas felt like concrete in my mouth. I swallowed that thick mouthful and looked at my plate. I think the peas were laughing at me. One kind old lunch lady finally came over and said "sweetie, you don't have to finish all your lunch, you can go play." I didn't say anything, just looked at those peas on my plate. She took my tray from me and went on about her work. My belly was really hurting now. I was so full, but mostly I was so scared of what was going to happen when I got home. Was I gonna get in trouble? Would my dad really know? I sat there long enough that I really worked myself up. I ran into the girls bathroom and threw up. There in the toilet were those stupid peas that were gonna get me the switch. I threw up again and flushed the toilet. I blew my little six year old nose and tried to stop crying. Throwing up always made me cry. There was nothing I could do now. That lunch lady took my tray and I was gonna be in trouble. I put water on my face, because that's what my mom always did when I was sick and it always made me feel better. I dried my face and went out to recess. The bell rang as I walked out the door. I missed it. I didn't get to play.

I don't remember what happened when I got home. I know my dad never did use the switch on me, it was just a threat tactic he used to keep us kids in line. Now, as an adult, I know my dad really had no clue what I ate at school. I guess he was just depending on my honesty and innocence as a child to tell him the truth. I never did lie to my dad so I'm assuming I told him. Maybe he didn't even ask. I guess that part didn't leave such a big mark as the rest of it.

I remember around 3rd of 4th grade being constantly told to suck in my stomach. "Don't walk around with your gut hanging out, Sarah suck it in". So I did. To this day I walk with my stomach constantly sucked in even if it doesn't do much good. Under my belly I know there is a 6 pack of rock hard abs, there's no way there couldn't be. As I got older I tried not to suck in all the time and relax my muscles but it gave me a backache. I had trained myself to suck in my belly so well that it actually hurt me when I didn't do it. I see pictures of me at that age. I did have a little tummy but I wasn't chubby all over, just some baby fat. I have a niece now, she's 9. Her names Ryleigh and she is absolutely beautiful. She's got these great cobalt eyes that just shine when she smiles. People say she looks like me which always makes my heart swell just a little. She has a little chubby belly and it sticks out like mine used to. Over the summer I almost told her to suck it in. Thank God I didn't.

I found a little white diary that has a rainbow on it and a broken lock. I used to keep it back in 4th grade, so I was about 10 years old. It was so funny to sit there and read how my mind used to work. I talked about the boys in my neighborhood. I wrote that my sister was teasing me about liking Brain Grove but no way did I like him! I did, however think Brain Fingers was cute. He was the new boy in class and we all know how cute those new boys always are. I 'talked' to my diary like I thought I would open it one day and all the answers to my questions would be magically answered. I asked it questions. One question that sticks out in my mind went something like "Dear diary, do you think I'm fat? I do." I didn't have much else to say just wondered if my diary, my friend, thought I was fat.

My grandma was always one of my best friends. She was so smart but not in a know it all way but in the "always say the right thing at the right time" sort of way. She always had great advice no matter what the subject. She had brilliant stories to tell about when she was young and just dating. She was top of her class in high school and all the boys thought she was really cute. She was your typical grandma I guess. One thing that sticks out in my mind is that she always told me I had nice legs. No matter what size I was she always complimented me on how pretty my legs were. It always made me feel so good.

She had congestive heart failure in her 50's. She also had very bad knees. She was overweight and I really can't ever remember a time when she wasn't overweight. CHF in your 50's is very very young. Thank God she was able to get help via medications. They kept her alive up until the day after her 69th birthday. We were so lucky to have her for so long. But she was the type of grandma, like many of my family members, that gave you her heart in the form of food. Going to grandmas was like going to a bakery/grocery store filled with all of your favorite items. Now I was never short of kisses and hugs with my grandma, my whole family is very affectionate with each other, but I was never short of sweet rolls, pizza rolls, ice cream, chips, cookies and soda either.

It was about 5th or 6th grade, the timing is really hazy, but I remember my grandma used to always pick my sister and I up on Wednesdays and we would do her grocery shopping for her. Since her knees were so bad it would hurt her to walk around the store so we'd just do it for her. She'd always say we were her legs. We did it on Wednesdays because that's when senior citizens got their discount. When we were done shopping she'd reward us by going to Rebans, the local fast food place, to get ice cream. Wednesdays they had pineapple ice cream and it was my favorite. For some reason, this one particular Wednesday she didn't want to take us for ice cream. I don't remember if it was late, or maybe she didn't have any cash, anyway, the reasoning behind it didn't matter. She drove right past Rebans and was taking us home.

Now I was a bit old for throwing temper tantrums or having meltdowns as some little kids have, but this was very different. I remember this sick hot feeling in my stomach. It was sheer panic. I remember crying for ice cream. Not just being pissed that I didn't get some, but frantically crying that she was not taking us for ice cream. It's very hard even now to put into words how I felt, especially if you've never felt this way yourself. I don't even know what to call it. I was scared. I needed to have that ice cream. I was an absolute mess about it. The story goes hazy after that. Surely I calmed down eventually but that feeling, that empty burning feeling in my belly, that I will never forget.

I was maybe 12 and already THAT addicted to food.

Sounds like I was one messed up little kid huh? I agree, I look at this stuff and think 'WOW, how did I ever make it out alive?' But really I had a pretty good childhood. I was lucky I guess. I know a lot of overweight kids had it a lot worse than I did.

I was never one of those kids who got teased for being overweight, well not counting my sister. She was 'not so thin' too, so that was like calling a kid with glasses 'four eyes' while you push your own spectacles up on your nose. I always had friends growing up. I think it was because my parents always taught me to hold my head up high and be proud of who I am. My mom would say "Your a Kelly and don't ever forget it." It helped that I went to school with the same kids all my life up until 8th grade so they just never knew me any different.

I didn't have a rotten teen life full of hate and regret. I never lashed out at my parents. I was never the troubled teen or a rebel. I was just a chubby teen doing what all teens do. I believe I was a size 16 or 18 when I left high school.

Being overweight never really negatively effected my adult life either. I always dated. I made friends easily. I would go out dancing and not be self conscious of myself. I was still 'pretty' and could actually pull off size 18 - 20 pretty well. I was never one to allow myself to be the butt of other people's jokes. I didn't put myself down to make others laugh. Yeah, I've read and heard other people's stories about how horrible their life was, being overweight, all the emotional scaring, so, yeah I guess I lucked out there.

See, my parents didn't TOTALLY screw me up! There's still hope for me.

2 comments:

Anonymous Infertile said...

I think your post makes a lot of sense, I can definitly trace many of my eating habits back to when I was a kid also. I like you believe that my parents 'didn't totally screw me up' but little things that were said over the years definitly stuck. And, somehow I always remember through the years feeling like the 'big' girl - I think I always had a ton of tiny friends and a tiny sister so I was always bigger than everyone else.

You sound like you have some great motivation for your weight loss - good luck!

(kel147 from the msn board)

Lissa said...

Im crying here Sarah, thanks alot. Mostly started the tears, when I got to Ma Dee Part. God, I do miss her. I think of broc. casserole(aunt cathy), mushroom rice(your mom), those kickass tortolinis(fimas), and the damn bonya(Ma Dee). What a fatty assortment, those were the days. Thank God for them, but of course I wish I wouldnt have ate it. LOL. I seriously feel as though, i am writing your blog...who knew that we had the same childhood...I always thought I was like Jill! Funny huh, I was so young and stupid. I love Jill too, but she seemed to have it easier than you (when you all were real little), but I was young, who the hell knows what i knew.