Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tell me about your childhood...

I majored in psychology when I was in college.  Seems ironic, I think, since I was in therapy at the time for intense depression and anxiety (which was actually caused by an undiagnosed thyroid disorder).  The thing I didn't so much like about the idea of psychotherapy, though, was that it seemed to lay all of a person's problems at the feet of their parents.  I believe a person is responsible for their own reactions to circumstances, for the most part, but I do also know that many reactions are taught by emulating the parents.

So that makes me think about my own mother.  Now, I'm not at all blaming my mother for my body image issues.  But I can see where her body image issues laid the foundation for mine.  I remember my mother yo-yo dieting a lot.  And her focus was on the weight and how much she had to lose and how dissatisfied she was with her weight.  And when we talked about whether food was healthy or not, things that were unhealthy were said to "make you fat."

Nothing is wrong with that, really, I don't think.  But I think through that I learned a focus on weight.  And then, when I started to gain somewhere between 3rd grade and 5th grade and the bullying came, my peers taught me that because of my body I had no worth.  I had one particular girl who was rather awful, and got up in my face a couple of times and told me because I was fat, I was ugly, and destined to be alone for the rest of my life.  Nobody would love me because I was fat.  Because of my weight, I was gross, disgusting, something not only to be avoided, but discarded with as much force as you can muster (not her actual words, but that was the understood gist of things).  And the rest of the class joined in.  She would say things loudly and everyone else would laugh, and the teachers would do nothing...passive-agressively enforcing it.

When you're 10~11 years old, when you're told that enough by those around you, you start believe them.  So I ate, and read.  I didn't want to go outside and do anything.  I didn't want to be seen.  And when I ate cookies, or ice cream or whatnot, I felt good. Well, you know, not good but good in the way that food brings.  And I read some more, because I could be in that world, and be the heroine, the one that everyone loves and needs.  Which only caused more weight gain. Which of course only made me hate myself more.

I tried to lose weight on and off.  The first few pounds would come off fairly easily, and then it would stop and I would get frustrated.  What's the point of going through all that effort when it doesn't work?  Of course, I'm pretty sure that my thyroid disorder developed sometime around when the weight gain started, and while it was undiagnosed, I WAS fighting a losing battle.  I've started to forgive myself for those failed attempts, but in the end, I also gave up.

So here I am now.  I've already had one small plateau (really?? I plateaued during a time when I lost 13lbs in one month?), but I forced myself through it.  We'll see what really happens when I have a BIG plateau, but for now, I'm feeling better about things than I usually do at this point.

I'm being very conscious of what I say around my daughter, as well.  I try to talk about my health, not my weight.  When we discuss foods, I try to say things like "Let's not get donuts, because they're not very healthy for you" as opposed to saying "they'll make you fat."  She's a tall girl, and is at the top of the weight chart for her age because she's off the chart for height.  She's going to weigh more than the other girls her age, and I really don't want her to feel like I did because of her weight.

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