Sunday, January 8, 2012

Diary of a Chubby Kid

Warning....the disclaimer on this post is that it's a little emotionally read on at your own risk.

All my life I have been obsessed with weight.   Sometimes I have been overweight, sometimes I have been underweight.   There have been times when I have used food to medicate myself, times where I just ate too much because the food was SO good and it made me happy.   There have been times where I have eaten too little, if at all, and times where I have been harmful to myself all in the name of weight.

I'm tired of it.

See, I was a chubby kid.   Not huge and roly poly, but big enough that I stood out.   I wasn't the skinny girl with blonde hair that everyone wanted to be like, I was the tall, chubby girl with glasses and not so great brown hair.   I was smart.   I was nice.   I had a lot of friends, but I was still the chubby girl.

I remember the first time someone made fun of me for that.   I was in Mrs. Madden's first grade class and on the playground someone told me I was fat.   I can tell you exactly who said it.   I can tell you where I was standing.   I can tell you what I was wearing.   And now....some 35 years later....I can still tell you what it felt like.

At the age of seven I learned a valuable lesson that would shape much of my life.   How much you weigh determines how much you are worth.   Don't be different or someone might make you feel bad.  Nice thing for a kid to learn, right?

Grade school went on and although I was happy, generally liked,  and weight didn't change.  I was still the chubby kid.   And gradually I began to see that I had to do whatever I could to fit in.   To be a part of the group.   Because if I didn't do what everyone wanted of me....I would be on the outs.   Because who could possibly like the chubby girl?   If this part of me, my weight, could be such a thing that hurt me so much, then I had to surround myself with enough people that I would never be alone, so no one could ever be mean to me like that again.    But guess what.....

Time passes.   Junior high.   Pep busses to away football games.   I remember where I was sitting, who said it, and how it made me feel.   We were joking around...having fun....and someone thought it was okay to joke with me about my weight.  Call me fat.   Humiliate me on a bus.    It was said "in fun" and "as a joke."   People laughed.   I laughed.   No big deal.   Bullshit.

Lesson learned at seven....reinforced again.  

Then, it happened for me.   I grew, I got contacts.   I was SKINNY!   Suddenly This one part of my life that I had already grown to hate changed.   I still had friends.   I still got good grades and did well in school.   I was well liked.   But now.....I WAS SKINNY!   And is where it really gets complicated.   I saw (through a ninth graders eyes) for real that life really was better and the grass really was greener on the other side of that fence.   Boys liked me.   I got attention for how I looked.   People don't make fun of you for being skinny.   And instead of building my confidence.....I just became really afraid that I would go back to the way I was..... the loser on the playground.  So I became a pleaser.   Doing what everyone wanted me to.   Taking care of everyone , and making sure that the chubby girl who I knew I was on the inside was never seen again.

At the age of 14....the lesson learned 7 years earlier was reinforced with even more evidence.   How much you weigh and how you look determines your worth.   Now as a skinny girl....I couldn't let go of the memory of the chubby one.....I feared her.

And the stories go on.   I have had similar stories happen to me as an adult...overweight, underweight, it doesn't matter.

See, I have had a realization as of late.   I think I may have been living for the last 35 years by the lessons I learned as a 7 year old chubby kid.  I am so afraid of  people not accepting me that I will do WHATEVER I have to sometimes to make sure that I don't get ostracized like that little girl on the playground.  I have lived all these years with the fear that being who I am....fat, skinny, blonde, brunette, happy, or sad, just isn't good enough.    And I feel that I can say with great confidence that I now see that as complete and utter BULLSHIT!

The number on the scale or the size in my clothing is important only as it relates to me being healthy.   I have put such emphasis on it in the past that it became almost impossible for me to have peace with it.   If it was low, I was always afraid of gaining and being punished for my weight by others, and if it was high I would punish myself for letting myself be that chubby girl again.  It's a lose - lose situation.

So I am trying something new this year.   I'm going to try to put this little chubby girl to rest.   See I have  gained a LOT of really great things from her.    From her I have learned compassion.   I have learned not to pass judgement or hold a grudge.   I have learned that the needs of others ARE indeed important, and that there are times where others DO need to come first.   I have developed a good sense of humor about the world I live in and truly about myself.   I am able to look at myself and laugh.   I have learned not to judge others by how they look, their size, or their appearance.     I have learned that words can hurt...a LOT, so I need to use them carefully.  These things, I would like to keep.   But there are things from her I need to let go.

I would like to stop being so afraid of what others think.   See, if they negative or bringing me down...instead of fearing them leaving me...I want to cut them loose.   I need to put to rest my love affair with the scale.   My value as a human being has NOTHING to do with how much I weigh.   I need to put my own needs in front of others sometimes.   And I need to trust that the people I surround myself with now as an adult, love me for who I am, and not what I look like or what I can do for them.  I need to again see the value in taking care of myself.

I would like to stop defining my adult self by the standards of a chubby kid.     I would like the decisions I make for myself to come from my own needs and desires rather than out of fear.

I am not sure she will go so quietly into the night (she's a tough cookie), but I would like to think that if the adult me holds her hand for a while, she will begin to trust that I can be okay without her.   I finally get it.  A little anyway......  :)