Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The weight of shame

I wanted to write an update about my family situation.  Actually, I wanted to write a little more about my history with my family situation.  If you want to get caught up on the drama, you can read about it HERE

I didn't grow up in a horrible household.  We were probably considered a middle class, working family in a farm town.  My parents did divorce when I was around 12 years old.  We were hardly the only broken family in town.  I never remember wishing my parents would get back together or anything.  I wasn't screamed at or hit on a daily basis.  I wasn't told I was fat and ugly and useless every day.  But what I did have was a somewhat cold atmosphere.  I have some very specific instances that I won't share here in order to spare my family further embarrassment, but I didn't grow up with the warm fuzzies.  At the same time, I didn't grow up in a horribly abusive environment either.  

I had a few instances at school where someone may have made fun of my weight or my body, but for the most part, I was left alone.  Although I was not considered one of the "popular kids," I was friends with many of them, so I guess I was never on anyone's hit list since a lot of the in-crowd accepted me.  

I was raised in a half-religious household.  My mom was very religious and my dad was not.  I'm sure it caused the majority of the problems in their relationship.  After they split, I felt like a lot of pressure was put on me to "raise" my brothers and sister.  Whether that was the actual truth of the situation doesn't matter.  At 12 years old, I truly felt that pressure.  It seems that at that age is when I began to eat my feelings.  My mom has recounted an instance at church where some girls were talking about me behind my back.  Perhaps it was about my weight.  I don't really know.  I blocked it from my mind.  I do remember being very angry with some girls but can't remember what it was about.  My mom said once she believed that's when I stopped wanting to go to church.  That could be true.  I also had some uncomfortable instances with a male leader of the church asking me very inappropriate questions and was informed by other "bad" members that not all little girls were asked those questions.  Regardless of what happened, it's a free country and I no longer wished to attend that church, so I stopped going.

I did spend about nine months living with my grandparents on my mom's side when I was around 13.  I can't remember what lead to my moving in.  My dad would have been moved out already, so maybe I was fighting with my mom a lot.  I just remember living there with my grandparents and my uncle and his new bride, then one day deciding that I was done living there.  I packed up my stuff to go home.  I would have been somewhere near the age of 14.  

I moved in with my dad at the age of 15, which infuriated my mom and further drove a wedge between us.  She took it very personally, although that is a common age for children of a broken home to want to move in with the other parent.  Moving in with my dad and a step-mom who was not very kind to us wasn't much better for my self-esteem.  One year for Christmas, my step-mom's gift to me was a visit to the "phen-fen" doctor.  

The issues with my mom seemed to only get worse in my late 20's when I had gastric bypass and lost weight.  She said once that I turned into a bitch, but I believe I finally just started standing up for myself and a lot of people didn't like that.  She told my sister once that she better look out because I was going to become the pretty sister.  Way to foster a healthy relationship between siblings.  (If you want to talk about issues, that sister got it way worse than I did.)  After some unfortunate issues involving an ex-boyfriend and my mom's husband (who also doesn't like me much -- although the feeling is mutual), my mom and I tried therapy in my early 30's.  I never felt like we got significantly closer after that, but we didn't seem to dislike each other anymore.  She would text me about once a month (more often if the family gets into a text conversation together, which is actually kinda fun).  And I see her maybe four to six times a year -- a couple of holidays, maybe her birthday and my birthday.  So, I don't exactly have the kind of relationship with my mom that puts her at the top of my "good news" list.  We have not spoken since our text conversation about my blog, over a week ago. 

Just because I wasn't called a fat piece of shit to my face doesn't mean my self-esteem wasn't battered by all the "concern" that people showed.  Concern trolls.  Those are the people who "mean well" by telling you in the nicest way possible that there is something wrong with you.  These are also the people that say, I probably shouldn't be telling you this, but...  It can be just as damaging to your budding self-esteem.  Quiet conversations about the amount of food you eat or the fact that you have a little muffin-top bring shame in a different way.  The secret shame that tells you there's something wrong with you and you need to hide it.  My mom's best friend, the person for whom I was named, would try to talk to me as a child.  She was a diagnosed anorexic and had no business whatsoever talking to a child about weight issues.  My Auntie Lori passed away about four years ago -- she committed suicide. 

I hope that people realize that everything they say to their children is being absorbed.  I saw this meme today on Facebook and figured it said everything that needed to be said to wrap this up:

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