Friday, August 15, 2008

Confessions of a fat woman

I haven't always been fat although I've always thought of myself as fat (except for one brief period of time from 1983 to 1984 - but that was when I was poor and had no money for groceries). It might have something to do with the input I received from people I loved. Children really do believe what they're told and if you tell someone often enough that they are fat and ugly, it will eventually become fact in the mind of the recipient.

I know that my dad, in his ill-equipped mind, didn't want us to be unhappy adults so he tried to toughen us up. He thought that if he told us all the negative stuff that we'd do the exact opposite. I guess it worked with some of my siblings and didn't with others. I was one of the others.

I remember being told that no one would ever want me, men didn't want to be married to fat women (I might add that my mother was overweight at the time, so what was he really saying?), and that fat women were ugly. I was 5'8" (before scoliosis robbed me of about an inch) and never weighed more than 150 in high school. At one point I was about 125-130 pounds. Looking back, I know that 150 is almost too low for my bone structure. I weighed 145 in 1984 and I looked sickly.

My first husband even told me how fat I was. Of course, he is 6'2" and was about 155 pounds at the time. Silly me... I went and married someone who was as emotionally abusive as my dad was.

After Shaun was born I thought I was horribly fat. I honestly don't ever remember getting any positive comments about how quickly I lost the baby fat. I look back at pictures of me then and realize I was SKINNY! I have a picture of me holding Shaun and he's probably less than two months old. My arms look like sticks (now they look like small saplings) and my face is very thin. Those were the days, for sure.

I did get quite a bit heavier when I was pregnant with Amy but a lot of that was water retention. My legs were the same size from my knees to my toes. In fact, my toes looked like little stubs on the end of a club. It was awful. I had pitting edema all the way up. I lost all of that very quickly, too but I shied away from cameras because I was convinced of how unattractive I was. It saddens me to think that I have no pictures of me with my daughter as she was growing up. (Actually, I have very few pictures of me with any of my children as they were growing up. I was too fat and unattractive to have the right to be happy and to be in any pictures. What was I thinking???)

When Ron and I got married I was at my lowest weight. I'd been the previous 18 months without sufficient income (and no child support) to keep us all in food. I ate, but just not on a regular basis. Ron was a bit overweight but I didn't think that his bad eating habits would rub off on me. Boy, was I ever wrong.

By the time Keith was born in 1986 I was overweight. Truly overweight. And I gained 50 pounds while I was pregnant. I had a lot of the same water weight with him and swelling that I'd had with Amy but I didn't lose it as quickly. He weighed 9 pounds 1 ounce but I came home weighing only eight pounds less than when I went in. That was very discouraging.

Over the course of the last 21 years, I have probably lost and gained about 1,000 pounds. You know the routine.... lose 30, gain 35 - lose 15, gain 20 - etc. Every time I'd go on a diet it would become more and more difficult for me to maintain it. Some diets were literally starvation diets - the cookie diet, shake diet, grapefuit diet, cabbage soup diet, etc. Ron, although I'm sure he thought he meant well at the time, would bring home Braum's ice cream or candy or shakes or anything else that people shouldn't eat. He definitely should not have been eating the stuff anyway because he is diabetic. I believe that he wanted it and because he was breaking the "rule" he could justify it if he could get me to break it, too. I wouldn't buy it for myself but if it was stuck in front of my face, I was going to eat it. I should have had the gumption to say no and to not buy that stuff for me anymore. But, I never talked back to men so that was a problem and I didn't want to rock the boat. (I don't have that problem any longer. LOL!)

This time around I'm doing it for a different reason. I am tired of considering myself unworthy and unattractive. I'm tired of thinking I have no right to look nice or to wear nice clothes. For years I've worn t-shirts and blue jeans thinking that was all I should wear. I believed fat girls should be ashamed - and I was very ashamed. I had failed at yet one more attempt at something. My whole life was considered a failure because I wrapped my entire existence around what my weight was.

I know that Ron has loved me through thick and thin (very literally) and he never meant to trample on already fragile feelings. Even as close as we are, and have been our whole married life, even he has not been aware of the depth of disregard I have had for my own feelings or the depth of disgust I've had for my own body. I'm struggling to overcome that. I have gone shopping and enjoyed trying on new sizes and having things fit. I have enjoyed buying things that weren't t-shirt material. I've enjoyed buying new jeans - but these are nice, dressy jeans that could go to work or a dinner out. I even bought a really nice pair of slacks and vest, with a totally new style of blouse. I will probably take it back because I don't like the blouse on but at least I bought it. If I could find a different blouse I might keep it but it's a totally different look.

My success or failure should not be measured by what the scales say in the morning. The overall success should be measured by what the scales said when I started and what they'll say when I'm finished. I am a work in progress. I struggle every day to not be upset if the scales go up .8 or 1.2 pounds. I'm ecstatic when it moves down .2 or more. Water retention can make my weight change a couple of pounds either direction in one day. I know this but yet I still fuss over it.

I'm still overweight but now I know that I'm winning the battle instead of fighting a losing battle. My eating habits are changing, I don't want to end up with some of the same health problems that Ron is facing, and my resolve is stronger. I still like to eat things I'm not supposed to have (last night it was pizza and I paid for it with a 1.4 water weight gain) but I do it in much greater moderation. I'm trying to not hate myself for my little indulgences. I'm working on not looking into the mirror and filling my head with negative thoughts about myself. I realize that I'm no beauty star, but I have the love of a good man and my family loves me - so what does it matter that my nose is a bit big and my profile isn't the greatest (and neither is Jody Foster's). I'm not ugly and if I'm only just average then that should be OK, too.

I just have to keep telling myself that I really am OK and that I have a lot to be proud of. I know I have a lot to be thankful for and that's never been an issue. I'm always thankful and have been amazed at the love my husband and kids have for me. I have some great friends, too that really love me and I'm very thankful for that, too.

No comments: