Over the last few weeks, I’ve struggled with myself, done some deep soul searching and decided to share the FULL story (or at least what I remember) that got me to where I am now. This is not going to be light, fluffy stuff- but these parts of your life rarely are. All I ask, is that you please respect that these are my experiences. They do still effect me, but I am working on getting better at all of this.
I believe that most people who have had a bad relationship with their weight remember the first time they were told they need to lose weight- I happened to be 9. If you look at my family tree- it should have been expected that I would go through what we all lovingly call ‘the Baker chunky phase’- almost everyone with Baker genes goes through this. And *yes* it seems to normally be in those pre-pubescent years. Almost everyone in my family was a bit chubby at this age.
But at 9 years old- I can still remember the doctor talking to me about how I needed to ‘watch what I eat’ and ‘lose weight’. And my 9 year old self TRIED, tried so hard to lose weight and I did, but what I did never stuck. The weight would not stay off- because the deeper problem was not really addressed. There is still a part of me that is that 9 year old who tried, but never really understood why my weight suddenly was a big deal. Why was this something that people cared about? Why was me, as I was, not good enough?
For a little kid who was struggling to fit in, this was just another thing that made me different from everyone else in my mind. My parents were, and are, wonderful and supportive, but there were other things that even their support could not completely combat. During fourth grade, I can remember being a very lonely little kid. I was constantly made fun of because I was not the same as everyone else. I was not ‘country’ enough. I was too smart. I was too weird. I did not cave to what other kids wanted me to do. I was just not what all the other little girls in my class were. My one friend decided that she wanted to be friends with the little kids that tormented me. She never joined in on it, but that was my first taste of what it was like to lose a friend to peer pressure. To lose a friend because I was not the same as everyone else.
This was the year that I also gained 10 pounds in a month and that lead to the doctor conversation, mentioned above. Looking back on it, I was eating because of how miserable I was. I was eating because at 9, I did not know how to voice all of these feelings and emotions and I was not the kind of kid to tell someone off for treating me poorly. I was the kid who silently took it at school and cried at home.
I couldn’t understand why I was picked on for being different. I couldn’t understand why people were mean to me when I was not mean to them. At 9- these were all things that I could not understand and I turned to food to help me. My parents helped and held me as I cried about losing friend and being picked on, but food was my fill in for when they weren’t there or when, at the grand old age of 9, I wanted to deal with it myself. Food made me feel good.
It made me feel good when I was told that I could not join the ‘club’ that was going on in the playground jungle gym tree house. It made me feel good when my one friend started to ignore me. It made me feel good when I was not invited to sleepovers and other parties. It made me feel good when I was made fun of because I liked wearing my hear in a bun, not a ponytail. It made me feel good when all the other little girls had their first ‘boyfriend’ and no one was even remotely interested in me. FOOD MADE ME FEEL GOOD.
That was 9 year old me. And that little 9 year old in me still gets upset about all of this. That little 9 year old still wants to know why. That little 9 year old still wants to be good enough in the eyes of the kids that tormented me. And the REALLY sad part is- most of them remember none of this- they do not know how they have shaped the rest of my life. So the adult in me, has to remind the 9 year old, that I grew stronger because of all of this. I grew into a better person because of this. I grew into the person that tries very hard to NEVER make someone feel the way I felt. I grew into someone that can acknowledge how bad this was- but knows that it no longer defines me. That food is not my pick me up anymore. But the story of how THAT happened- is for another time.
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