On the advice of a friend I started watching a show called Shameless on Netflix. Netflix is awesome because you can waste lots of time by binge watching seasons of shows if you so choose. This is one of those shows. It’s just crazy enough to keep you hooked while wondering how any of it could be real. Here’s the thing, parts of it feel very real. Some of it too real and the onslaught of memories have come flooding back.
Living with an alcoholic bipolar parent makes for constant chaos. You never know what you’re going to get. Today may be the day you get the shit beaten out of you or maybe she wants to shower you with all the love. Most days it was watching what you said for fear of poking the bear. For when the bear awoke you had to be ready for her attack. And attack she did with vicious words that I have unfortunately hung onto for too long.
I have so many things that I want to accomplish this year and I am standing in my own way blocking them from happening. I have allowed my past chaos to continue to creep back into my current life, and I’m so tired of carrying these heavy bags into every new year. Today I’m opening up my luggage with hope that I can move on and breathe new life into my desire to move forward.
I’m overweight. I’ve been that way for a while, well really I’ve never not been. And The Bear(as I will refer to her from now on) always made sure I knew it. When you are 8 or 9 years old the only thing you want to focus on is your friends and playing. But it was about this time that I can remember things were bad and didn’t get better until I was kicked out at 16. At 8 or 9 you have no real concept of body image or at least you shouldn’t, but I was. I can remember what grade I was in, what house we lived in, how many things were thrown at me and being called fat, over and over. It wasn’t just fat it was fat and stupid or fat and ugly or fat and a whore, yup, not sure how an 8-year-old is a whore either. Looking back I understand now that she was sick. Or drunk. Or high. But those words stuck and burrowed a hole in my brain and have festered like a virus for all these years.
As the years went by she became more unstable with her moods and I received the brunt of that instability. Her words became more hurtful as I got older. She also started to control how and what I ate. We were poor and I qualified for free lunch at school. Back then if you received free lunch you had to be in a special line or had a special ticket so there wasn’t any way to hide and it was embarrassing, so I just wouldn’t eat(bad habit #1 started around 4th/5th grade). By the time I got home from school I’d be hungry and would make myself something to eat. Well this didn’t go over well with The Bear and the next thing I knew there was a padlock on our refrigerator and pantry. I was told this was because I was “stealing” food and couldn’t be trusted. I played sports after school and remembered sneaking or hiding food so that she wouldn’t catch me eating(bad habit #2-making food “bad”) when I’d get home.
Over time things escalated to her telling me that no one would love me because I was fat and ugly or if I didn’t want to be fat I just shouldn’t eat. And I started to believe her. Part of me still does. Even as an adult I have held onto those words from long ago. It took me a long time to eat in public because I was ashamed and thought anyone that saw me eat would be thinking “if you just don’t eat you won’t be fat”. I went through all the diets and even weight loss surgery. But none of it worked and in hindsight none of it was going to work until I dealt with all the memories that have kept me from believing I can change and am deserving of change. Even being surrounded by people who believe in me and love me for the person I am hasn’t been enough. I needed to get to this point on my own. To be sick and tired of not being good enough. I want to be the best me I can be and that means I need to face the shit I haven’t wanted to face. Yes, I have a slightly fucked up relationship with food. And yes, that was developed at no fault of my own, BUT, I refuse to be someone who is going to continue to use that as an excuse to change. I will change in spite of my past.
There is a scene in Shameless where the female lead is at the beginning of another potential new relationship and her potential love interest tells her that she is a “chaos junkie”. When he said that I immediately said to myself, “shit, that’s me”. I was surrounded by chaos and that became my norm. Then as I got older I would create it where there wasn’t any; relationships, friendships, jobs, anywhere I could. But it takes so much energy to constantly be creating chaos and I have done a good job of lessening the chaos in my life. But the internal chaos surrounding food and eating has never slowed down. But today I am stepping away from the tornado of thoughts and feelings surrounding what I eat and why. I have committed to following a plan and being accountable and setting a good example for my daughter. My personal and professional life will benefit greatly as I learn to take care of myself. I anticipate some bumps in the road but know I have a wonderful support system that will be there to help pick me up when I stumble. But I want this, more than I have wanted anything. I want to be normal. I want to look at a plate of food and just know it’s what I need to feel good or lift all the weights. I will get there, I know I will.