Posts Tagged ‘Childhood’

My weight has haunted me my entire life. It stalked me through seemingly harmless comments made by friends and family. I don’t want to hear comments on my body from the gorgeous, slender girls and women who all men want. Stop throwing your insecurities on me. Just keep it to yourself and stop comparing us. Unhappiness is born out of comparisons of things you can’t change. I can’t change the way I was born, so please stop making me feel bad for what I can’t control. Don’t watch me eat with your criticizing eyes. Don’t look surprised by the fact that I love food. Why shouldn’t I?

My weight hid behind the corner, a constant guilty feeling for not being as healthy as I should. I played sports for most of my youth and high school years, and maintained a fairly muscular physique. But, whenever I failed to be active, my weight flopped right back to where it was. As a child, my family doctor once criticized my mother for allowing my weight to get to that gross point. If that doesn’t make you feel unhealthy, then what does? I may not remember that day, but my mother took offense and I lived that moment through her memories more times than I care to count. Really, Mom. Please stop already! It’s been twelve years.

My weight breaks relationships. People reject me due to my weight, even if they aren’t aware. Sometimes, friends refused to even hug me. In the nightclubs, every guy immediately looked past me toward my more attractive companions. Attractive friends are usually useful, but sometimes you just want to be the one people notice first. The one he sees across the room and appreciates, anxiously deciding whether or not to down some liquid courage, grab a wingman and find a way into her conversation. Or maybe I could be the one he never got the courage to talk to. At least my friends have to deal with all the creeps that come with their delicious appearance instead of me.

If you live in American or some western cultures, I’m willing to bet that you identified with most of this, nodding along when a moment in my life struck a chord. The culture nowadays makes every woman feel fat and useless. It is almost an expectation that you degrade yourself as being overweight. Frankly, I can’t stand it when people obsess over their bodies. If you want to be healthier, then do it. But don’t stress out your body by trying to be more fashionable. Someone healthy and comfortable in their own shoes is far more pleasant to be around than someone who hates themselves publicly. The people who hate themselves publicly also make the people around them feel more self conscious. It’s an epidemic that has taken over how we think and how we live. It’s not okay. If you were still on the same page as me, you probably assumed the societal norm.

I struggle with being too skinny, not too fat.

If I forget to pay close attention or have stress on my plate, my size 2 jeans fall off my bony rear. I don’t even have to unbutton them some days and as I type this, I just accidentally flung my once-tight ring across the room because even my fingers are becoming skeleton like. At 5’10” I should not be able to fit in a zero. Clarification: I don’t consider myself unattractive. I like my body. I like myself. I just want to be healthy and strong. My goals are modest ones.

Comments from people around me still hurt my self confidence. I usually felt comfortable in my own shoes and eager to live my life and love myself. But, friends and family constantly compared themselves to me, making me think about my image critically. They all harbored hostility towards the fact that I am thin, shoving the blame for their problems on my shoulders. My body became a burden, hurting those around me by existing and the negative feelings constantly surrounding me wore me out. I couldn’t go shopping with people. I wore baggier clothing.

They all accused me of wasting myself by not being a model. I don’t want to be a model. Never have. I don’t want to be in an industry that makes me feel insecure to the point of trying to be unhealthy.

My family is the worst when it comes to harboring hostility for my body type. My mother is notorious for her self degrading comments and my sister has picked up the same habit. I want my sister to love her gorgeous body, but she won’t listen to a word I say because I have what she wants. If I compliment her, she is hostile. All she knows how to do is be resentful of what I was born with. I will not be attacked for something I cannot control. I’m done with that attitude, but I also won’t tolerate her talk of skipping meals. The girl is one of the most popular in her high school and she attracts all the boys like flies. She is slender and gorgeous and I can’t forgive society for doing this to my baby.

Many times, people refuse to hug me or cuddle with me because my hipbone stabs them or because I’m just plain uncomfortable. I envy curves, even the subtle ones, that make a woman look womanly. In the nightclubs, my curvy but slender friends are always noticed first. They don’t notice.

It wasn’t always that way. Way back when, people recognized being skinny as unfashionable and unhealthy. Obesity may have been unattractive as well, but at least they saw two ends of the spectrum.

But there is no place in society for people who don’t feel fat. Even super skinny models admit to feeling fat. Society only accepts complaints about being fat. There is a spectrum with many varieties, but it is only allowed to move one direction. Skinny people are, honestly, not allowed to discuss their bodies at all. It is a taboo that will earn you an onslaught of indignant replies. Anorexia would be more accepted for someone of my stature than an overactive metabolism because at least the anorexic person was traveling the right direction down the scale according to societal norms.

I am not allowed to mention the fact that I am struggling with my weight.  I am not allowed to verbally acknowledge that I am unhealthy. All I want is to be healthy and in shape. I want to enjoy my food, without anybody making me feel bad for eating. I want to be able to discuss my health concerns with my loved ones without being told to shut up. I want people never to attack me out of their own insecurities. I did nothing wrong. Society conditioned me to be silent, because I wanted to be healthy.

I won’t be silent any longer.

Edited 12/17

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There we were, nowhere and everywhere. Literally nowhere, not that there was enough light to see the endless fields and trees and nothingness. We bumped along in a vacuum of darkness, cut loose and lost as we discussed our lives and explored any road we came across.

Our parents had fundamentally wronged us and abused us.

The continued to do so.

Our brothers were useless.

We were mentally fucked up.

We had no way to fix that.

Nobody would ever choose us first.

There was a rustling in the trunk.

Something was in there with us.

A murderer.

Oh. Shit. Here he comes.

Flashlight disproves murderer theory.

Culprit is crinkly wrapper on water bottle.

I love my sister.

Somewhere on our traditional, late-night drive, I glanced up at my right. In the window, my sister and I were reflected in the stars we had spent so much time admiring. Our little, trembling family of two had somehow become infinite.

All of You.

You create the social structure with every passing jab about crazy people and every stereotypical comment on families, making a standard to live up to. It becomes a joke to You and You don’t leave space for differences. Mental illness is The Big Secret, the dirt swept under the rug and covered with a smile, because in society, its only exists as sarcastic comment to lighten the mood.

So, fuck You all.

In a backwards way, physical abuse is more accepted. More understood. Everybody has been spanked or hit at some point and You can relate to the pain. There are institutions designed to save these children. Foster care may not be perfect but it is a resource for these kids. You can find a way to help them. People only want to acknowledge what they have the power to change. It’s the same reason people ignore homeless people: they’re scared there is nothing they can really do or they think it’s a lost cause.

An entire subgroup of our society has been forgotten, left to fend for themselves. In a home with mental illness, there is no simple solution. It becomes a battle between the rights of the parent and the health of the child. Since the parent is ill, they have not consciously done anything wrong and still have full rights. I have yet to see a child given the option of leaving their home due to severe verbal abuse or occasional physical abuse. Unless a child shows up with bruises every day, nothing’s done because their parent is ‘sick.’

In reality, You would never know a child is being verbally abused by a mentally ill parent. Probably not even their closest friends would suspect a thing, because mental illness is something to be ashamed of. Even if You understand that it is a biological illness, You’d judge them just a little in the back of Your mind. Do you honestly think they don’t notice?

So in the end, the children are forced into silence and left uneducated, because nobody takes children seriously. These kids are expected to take care of their ill parents, clean up after them, and support them, all without understanding what is going on. Adults like to believe that kids can’t see things and that by not talking about something, they are protected.

But that’s a lie. If even one adult took the time to explain the illness in terms they could understand or took the time to explain that things aren’t the kid’s fault, they might not have suffered as much. Many children of mentally ill parents develop depression and other mental illnesses of their own. They blame themselves for their parents illness and carry the guilt into their adulthood. They may even continue the cycle with their own kids, like my mother did to us. They are essentially doomed from the beginning by You. This is the cause of the century and many don’t even know it exists.

One thing that gets me is the expectations set for these children. In a two parent household, the ‘other’ parent relies on the children to help control the emotions of the mentally ill parent. It becomes the responsibility of the child to keep the mentally ill parent happy, and their failure if they aren’t happy. That’s bullshit. A person with a mental illness will feel and act however they feel and act no matter what ANYONE does.

This video shows this well.

 

 

Growing up, nobody explained anything or helped me emotionally understand what was happening. Someone told me quickly that my mom had Bipolar Disorder and that she was sick and it wasn’t my fault, then that was never mentioned again. I may have been told once that it wasn’t my fault, but my father’s behavior perpetuated the idea that it was. Also, he never disagreed when my mother said the reason she was ‘this way’ was because of me. Everyone just assumed we could put up with the verbal abuse, take care of our parent’s emotions and suicide attempts, and take care of ourselves with only the understanding that it was because our parent was ill. Yet, nobody sat down and really explained that to us. Go figure.

In Britain, there are more sophisticated forms of assistance for mentally ill and their caretaker children and there are still movements to improve these and include the kids more in the process. I mean, they already have to live with it.

This is a speaker promoting increased education and assistance for these children, who are essentially raising their parents as well as themselves.

You are just as responsible. Save our children.

 

Health. I’ve always been in tip top physical shape, but my life is beyond unhealthy.

Growing up, I lived for my mother. She lived for herself. I never earned her approval, and even worse, she convinced me that I was such a horrible person that she wanted to kill herself. So she did.

Although her suicide attempts weren’t successful, I fell into a never-ending trap of trying to become the daughter she dreamed of. I changed everything about myself, but it was never good enough. My looks were “atrocious”. My personality was “awkward” and “nerdy” and “selfish”. I was a “damn dyke” in her eyes before I even knew what the word meant. This was a nice day with mommy dearest, and I’ll not bore you with the nastier bits.

I learned how to hate myself and I did a damn good job of it.  I lived life as a teenage insomniac who squirmed in her bed at night with unbearable self hatred. My body literally couldn’t hold all of the disgusting feelings I kept. I eventually realized that all the parts I originally liked about myself were the “unacceptable” bits in my mothers eyes. As a freshman in high school, I couldn’t even recognize myself.

By the time I realized I wanted to be me, I was lost in a world of pleasing others. It was like using a shovel to dig yourself into a hole, then figuring out that a shovel wont help you climb out.

One of my main purposes in life had been to protect my little sister from feeling the way I did. As I transitioned away from living for my mother, I only tripped and fell into another hole, stuck living for another person again.

I threw myself into work and school and lived a full life. Essentially I avoided having time to think about who I was, to put aside the disgusting feelings. I was ugly and I knew it but I planned on doing the best I could with what I had. A pessimistic sort of optimism, huh?

I’m about to be a sophomore in college. This summer I am working as a lifeguard at the local Y. Every day my bikini line shaving job and uneven breasts are displayed to the world. My tan lines are horrific and my hair gets pool-frizzy.

At some point this summer, it just clicked. There was a ding in my mind that said “I’m pretty”. I felt confident and ready, without anything in particular to be ready for. I just felt pretty.

I know that looks aren’t what matters and so on. I know that many people think of words like “pretty” as objectifying. But to someone who has never felt that way in their life, it was more of an enlightening wake up call. I’m more confident with guys and people, not because they might like my looks, but because I like my looks. It’s easier to socialize when you don’t feel inferior to everyone around you.

I started to do more things for myself. I started to let my sister take care of herself more, since I spoil her too much anyways. I started reaching out for the things that made me happy, because I craved that pretty feeling. Living for myself, I think I’m on the verge of a healthier lifestyle.

Feeling pretty is the key to breaking out of my cage, because a good appearance proves that my mom is wrong about me and who I am.

 

People naturally want to protect others. So if, for instance, there really were a velociraptor on the loose, most people would simultaneously hide and call up all their loved ones to warn them.

However, short of a natural disaster or prehistoric beast wrecking havoc, the lines of when to help or allow others to help you is a bit blurrier.

Personally, I lean towards the independent side. I would love to be able to claim it is from this huge confidence that I can handle anything that comes my way. Really, I would. But a lot of the time it’s not the truth. Nobody is that perfect.

In reality, I am just too stubborn, too afraid, and just don’t know how to ask for help.

Maybe it stems from the fact that people are always coming to me for help, even people I don’t know. I need to look like I know what I am doing for their sake and I honestly want to help.

Maybe it stems from the fact that I was always told to keep everything a secret. Problems were not to be shared (especially outside the family)and whining was never tolerated. Not to mention it is unfair to place burdens on people you love. Up until last spring, I never told even my closest friends the most pressing problems in my life.

Maybe it stems from the fact that there was never anybody there for me to rely on, so I told myself I would just do everything myself. Fake it till you make it. Always act like you know what you’re doing and you will find a way to accomplish it. If you don’t do things for yourself, they won’t get done. My first car crash was just a fender bender, but four police officers and five firemen were involved. I was terrified. My dad was over an hour away and I couldn’t call my mom who was five minutes away. She had been unstable the day before, and to be honest I was afraid she would attack a police officer and create a whole host of other problems I had to take care of. In the end, you have to take care of yourself because you never know if someone will be there.

Maybe it stems from the fact that I wanted my sister to believe there was at least one capable person in her life who she could come to. God knows our parents were fair-weather. She looked up to me. Asked me how to do things. I had to explore the world and learn how to do things so I could take her hand and guide her through. Eventually that ended when she got older. Though she still does ask me things, it is as a best friend that I answer her.

No matter why I am the way I am, it doesn’t change the fact that I’m handicapped. In this social world, I don’t know how to accept help from others. Some friends push me away thinking I don’t trust them. I do. I just don’t know how to confide in them or ask for help.

Some friends think I’m arrogant. I’m not. I just pretend I know what I’m doing. I just pretend I’m not scared.

Some friends think they can dump every single little problem on me because I either have no problems or I am mature enough to handle everything. I have problems. I handle them with a good attitude but that doesn’t mean I never get stressed or upset.

Some friends try to be there for me, but I can’t. I just can’t.

Mostly it’s because the less you rely on people, the less you confide in them, then the less they know about you. And if people don’t know what’s important to you, they can’t use it to hurt you.

I learned that one from mommy dearest.

I love snakes and spiders. I find the dark to be comforting. But I have my fears just like anyone else.

1. Showering with the door unlocked.

I’m starting to conquer this fear. Mostly because at my dorm the door to the bathroom didn’t lock. But I still can’t do this at home without standing there petrified, listening for sounds.

The reason: When I was twelve or so my adventurous spirit often got the best of me. Between bike crashes and tunneling through thorn bushes on a whim to conquer, I came home that day looking like a war veteran. My knees and elbows were stripped of all skin and somehow I managed to bang up my shoulder as well. There was a small gash in my shin and my entire body was covered in cuts from the thorn bushes. I liked to think I had conquered them, but maybe they had gotten the best of me that day.

I trudged upstairs to clean off the mud and the blood, vaguely aware of my mother shouting at my dad in the background. They were always yelling. I hopped in the shower and started singing to myself.

I didn’t hear her coming. I didn’t hear her coming at all. I felt a heavy whack to my head. The next thing I know is pain. I’m on fire. Everything burns and my mind goes into overload trying not to feel.

My mother is shouting. Why is she shouting? I’m trying desperately not to cry as I slump on the floor of the shower, my hands running desperately over my skin. I wanted it to stop. I needed the pain to stop.

Her monologue goes on. She leaves after screaming at me to scrub the shower this instant.

A few minutes go by. I dont know how, but I managed to lessen the burning. I adjust my position and my hand bumps into something. I glance over and see a gallon sized bottle of bleach dripping onto the shower floor. The lid was lazily trying to fit down the drain.

My mother didn’t know and didn’t care, but she had literally poured a gallon of bleach into my wounds. I guess she thought the lid was on.

In the morning, she didn’t even remember being angry with me. I didn’t bother explaining. I just learned my lesson and moved on with life.

She can’t remember, but I can never forget the most physically excruciating experience of my life.

A Fantastically Brilliant Read

Okay. I lied.

Hazel Lancaster from The Fault in Our Stars did not say these words in relation to mental illness related memory loss. In my opinion though, she summed up my feelings more succinctly than I ever did in my last post.

“The pleasure of remembering had been taken away from me, because there was no longer anyone to remember with. It felt like losing your co-rememberer meant losing the memory itself, as if the things we’d done were less real and important than they had been hours before.” – John Greene in his novel The Fault in Our Stars

Today, my bipolar mother bawled when she asked why I had glass in my foot during my senior prom last year. I gave her the honest answer: her irrational anger resulted in a broken mirror and there was no time to remove it while taking care of her.

I wonder though, was this the right thing to do? In my hand, I often have the power to give my mother a better ‘truth’, to instill a pleasant memory where she wont agonize over pain she has caused me and the monster she often becomes. She has a clean slate and I have to fill it. Somehow, though, I always give her the honest, non-embellished breakdown as it happened (in a softened and vague manner). I don’t like lies. I don’t like manipulation.

But is this the RIGHT thing to do? Under the assumption that lying is wrong, we have to define the truth. Is it still the truth if her side of the story and her experiences don’t exist? Is it the truth if all she gets to know is how we saw the events? She does not have the chance to know her own pain and torment in that moment. For, even when she is aggressively turning us into victims, her very being is constantly at war with itself. So is it fair to hand her newfound guilt and pain in my blunt and plain chronology of events?

I can’t give her her truth. I cannot tell her the full truth of those times. They don’t exist. So is it a form of lying to omit all that and give her my half of the truth?

These memories only exist in my head. The other person who I shared them with doesn’t remember. It’s as if they didn’t happen. No matter what I cannot give her a real memory, so isn’t it better to give her a more pleasant memory no matter how lonely it is for me?