I've never been a size six.
I've never been a size twelve.
Come to think of it, I think I went from kid sizes right to a thirteen in teen's sizes. I stayed there until I went to a sixteen. I went from sixteen, to eighteen, to twenty, to somehow twenty-two, now to twenty-four. Each year, the numbers crept up on the scale and the numbers in my pants kept going up. Starting at 11, my emotional status crumbled as my weight kept rising. So I kept eating to quiet that sneaky bitch that kept yelling at me that I was fat who made me feel bad. I didn't realize why I also kept seeing the numbers creep up like a peeping tom in a side window late on a summer's eve until just a few months ago.
My grandpa passed away when I was thirteen, leaving me to deal with the abuse I suffered at the hands of my mother's alcoholic partner by myself. My grandpa played a pivotal role in my life, giving me the sense of stability I needed in my life and providing me a protection my mother never provided over the years. He also spent time with me my mother never did (as she chose the alcoholic over me time and time again), usually revolving around food. My grandma also usually rewarded me with food for behaving well in church or being a good girl somehow. I'm sure they were really proud of me, but food always seemed to manifest out of that glowing support and love. Somehow at thirteen when Papa died I got the wires confused.
I became proud of myself for things my mother should have been proud of me for and should have showed love for me. When she didn't show up for any of my band performances, I would go home and eat candy bars to show how proud I was that I played perfectly. When I sang in choir and did a great job, I'd eat a meal afterword to show how proud I was. When I made it through a particularly rough band camp, I'd reward myself with lunch at the Daylight Doughnut or a slice of strawberry pie from Rowland Stollen. And hell, all of my band trips were pretty much food debauchery outright. Food porn, I like to call it.
Basically the point is that I learned how to show myself love and positive affirmation in the only way I knew how at that point in my life. I won't even get into the punishment I gave myself when I messed up. What someone told me, though, was that there was something inside me that gave me the strength to make it through and not come out an alcoholic myself, more shell-shocked than I am, or completely non-functional. I visualize it as a mason jar full of some sort of liquid that I draw on when I need it. I do know that the "liquid" hasn't been used up yet. It may just be a jar with no bottom.
Something I learned a few months ago was that the jar isn't food. Food shouldn't be my reward system. It was a coping and reward system I used in the past because I had no other outside coping and reward mechanism. As an adult now, I can provide myself with healthy coping and reward mechanisms that make more sense than stocking my pantry to look like a ten year old kid's fantasy kitchen. I can't say I don't miss Little Debbie and Lil' Smokie, but it was time for them to find homes to which they can provide more joy.
That was forty-six pounds ago. At my heaviest, I was 297 pounds. I'm now 251. It's been three months, a lot of therapy, some tilapia instead of McDonald's, and relearning healthy eating habits. I've got another 116 to go before I reach my goal weight, but I know that I can do it.
I've never been a size six. Nor do I think I shall be. But a size twelve might be nice. Hell, I don't care what size I am as long as I've got a healthy relationship with what is going into my mouth. At the rate I'm going, though, seems like developing a healthy relationship means letting go of the steady incline of pant sizes and embracing a new wardrobe and perhaps a new me.
Oh, hey. Here's something you didn't know about being fat. By the BMI standards, a lot of professional athletes are overweight or obese. The reason? Muscles. The BMI is a calculation of weight to height that was developed by a mathematician over 100 years ago. So if you are, say, 5'8" and 200 and are a dude who works out for eight hours a day and has more ripples than a typhoon, you're still as obese as the 5'8" 200 lb dude who is sitting in mama's basement eating Fun-yuns and drinking gallons of Mountain Dew while playing World of Warcraft for eight hours a day. Really shitty thing about BMI is that is how most doctors, insurance companies, even employers will assess your health and susceptibility to disease when it is not an accurate portrayal of your overall physical health. Something else wonky about it? In 1996, suddenly 20% of the US population got fatter and didn't gain a pound. Why? The US government lowered its "normal" BMI range from 29 to 25. And we wonder why there's an obesity "epidemic" going around. We're creating it.
That's all folks!