Making Connections

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I decided to make a solid effort to get back in touch with some family members that I hadn’t seen since I was a teenager. Recently, I called my other grandmother (Dave’s step-mom). I adore this woman. She is just a sweet, little country lady. I always remember how her and my grandpa (passed away) smoked and drank beer and just lived. They gave no shits of what other people thought of them but they were good sweet people. I know that she was expecting my call because my cousin told her that we had been in touch and that I would be calling. I really just expected the phone call to be me catching up and telling her about my life, etc. However, she wasted no time telling me all the things about my parents that she kept quiet for so long. It was no surprise to me that she couldn’t stand my mother. Most people can’t. She is an overwhelming, dramatic person who has a problem with lying. Gran told me that she always thought that my parents to were like two peas in a pod because they were both liars and couldn’t tell the truth if their lives depended on it. Most people only see my mother as the one with the problems because she is more outward about it and has some serious bitch-face going on. I inherited it from her, hehe. Dave always gave off the impression that he was a “gentle giant” or a “big teddy bear.” He made himself seem like such a trustworthy, honest, hardworking person even though that wasn’t the reality. Unfortunately, people fell right into believing this about him and thus felt bad for him because he was married to such a horrible person. The truth is though, he isn’t any better than her. They are both deluded and have issues. So, this comment actually made me chuckle with relief because she was the first person to verbally acknowledge this fact.

She went on to tell me how she always thought my mother was abusive. When I was about 3, we were at her house for Christmas. I had finished opening all of my presents and wanted to sit with Gran and help her open hers. My mother screamed “bloody murder” at me and made me sit in a corner while everyone else finished opening their gifts. My mother always knew that she wasn’t liked on that side of the family but she couldn’t figure out why. Just this story alone explains why. They didn’t like the way she treated me. She went out of her way to humiliate me and viciously punish me in front of other people. After my brother was born, I was forced to eat his leftovers. I couldn’t remember if this happened repeatedly or not. I have one vivid memory of her making me eat his leftover, hour-old, soggy, slobbered in cereal… because I poured him too much. My parents were still asleep but all of us kids were up with the grandparents. My grandma didn’t have an issue with the cereal but for some reason my mother did. lt was embarrassing and I wanted to throw it up so bad but she threatened me not too. She normally wasn’t abusive in front of other people but for some reason she was in front of family. I’m not sure if she thought that she had to look like she was trying to be a good parent or what but she was definitely doing it wrong. Gran told me that the food thing actually happened on more that one occasion. My parents would also fill my plate up with food and force me to eat all of it. She said that they were beginning to get concerned for me because every year that I came to visit I was just getting bigger and bigger. She was absolutely correct.

I had never really thought to attach my weight problems to my abuse. I wasn’t real heavy when I was a kid but I wasn’t skinny either. Looking at pictures, I’d say I was probably at a healthy weight. I remember my mother always squeezing my thighs and telling me how skinny I was and how she wished she had skinny thighs like me. At the same time, Dave had me neck-deep in porn, Hustler magazines, and sexy women galore. I was being taught that the women in these magazines were beautiful and hot. My mother has been overweight for as long as I can remember. When she was a teenager, she was thin and attractive. I guess she put on weight when she got pregnant with me and my brother and never lost it. Dave would always make fun of her to me behind her back. He would say that she had cottage cheese thighs and too much blubber and that she was like a beached whale in the summer. As far as I was concerned, Dave was not attracted to her at all. He thought she was disgusting. My mother also ridiculed other women for their weight (behind their backs of course). She would make comments about how some woman should be wearing that because she was too fat. She also ridiculed skinny women that they should eat something. It was confusing as hell as a young girl. I became very self-conscious about my weight.

My 7th grade year was the year that I ballooned the most as a kid. The outfits that were bought for me at the beginning of the year couldn’t even be put on much less zipped or buttoned by the end of the year. I graduated in the late 90’s so being obese wasn’t as normal as it is now. I was referred to as “heavy-set.” I wasn’t quite fat but I wasn’t a healthy weight either. I wanted to be in sports like soccer or track but I wasn’t allowed to register. It was always about money and time, the two things that my parents never had enough of. They didn’t even want to try. It kills me when I hear stories of kids from the ghetto, whose parents went out of their way to get their kids in sports or arts or something. Not my parents, it was too much of an inconvenience. So, I was pretty sedentary when I was young which didn’t help my burgeoning weight problem. I was taught to “eat everything on your plate” so I probably over ate a lot. As I was beginning to be more self-aware of my weight and was exploring how to control it or lose it. I don’t think my parents liked this at all. When we would go out for fried chicken, I would peel off the fried part and only eat the vegetables as a side. Dave would ridicule me that I was ruining the meal. My mother always prided herself on the fact that she never used Hamburger Helper and she always used real butter not margarine. This wasn’t entirely true because I clearly remember there being tubs of Country Crock in our refrigerator BUT I never had the Hamburger Helper, canned vegetables, or Ramen Noodles until after I left home. That doesn’t mean that what we ate was healthy. She may have avoided that stuff for dinner but breakfast would consist of anything from cereal to pop-tarts or even cake. Now, some people might be reading this and wonder what the big deal is. I’ve studied a lot of nutrition in the last 8 years and this is what I have learned. Starting your day off with foods that are high in sugar and processed carbohydrates causes your blood sugar to spike and then plummet leaving the person not only hungry but feeling nearly sick and famished. I’m not saying that this was child-abuse but rather just pure ignorance. What it did cause was my metabolism to get even more fucked up than it already was.

I kept these eating habits well into adulthood. When I graduated high school, I was about 175 lbs. By the time I was 23 I was almost 200 lbs. I got up to 207 by the time I got married at 24 but that was because Todd and I ate out all the time and he really liked frozen custard (ok, I did too!). I wasn’t learning self-control and the overabundance of sugar and carbs in my diet left me feeling sick all the time. I’m pretty sure at a few times in my life I was pre-diabetic. After I got married, Dave was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes so my parents changed their eating habits to better control it. When I was 29, Todd decided it was time to get active and lose weight. His father had also been diagnosed with diabetes because of his weight. There was also heart disease and high cholesterol that ran in his side of the family. At this point we had adopted a more organic way of eating but it still wasn’t healthy since it was still high sugar and empty carbs. Todd started running and I started eating more vegetables. One day he mentioned how he wished that we could be active together. I agreed. It was going to be hard for me since I was never active but it was necessary. Our son was turning 3 and I needed to set a good example for him. I also wanted to live long enough to watch him grow and flourish as an adult. I was also always in pain and never felt good so I was up for it. I started a regimen of eating better and working out and dropped about 15 lbs. I had already lost some weight just by leaving a high stress job and going to work for a natural market. My sister-in-law was getting married that year and I was one of her bridesmaids. She didn’t order the right size so the dress came in too small but it was from one of those companies that takes 4 months to make and there are absolutely no returns or exchanges and the wedding was 6 weeks away. Todd helped me find a diet that was proven to work quickly. It was the Scarsdale diet. Some might say that it’s an extreme diet but it worked. I lost 25 lbs in that 6 weeks and I learned more about healthy eating and such. The dress still didn’t fit but it wasn’t as big of a deal to get it taken out as it would have been before. I got down to 160 lbs and a solid size 10. I was smaller than I was in junior high and high school. I felt amazing! I looked great! This set me on track for a new lifestyle. I wasn’t going back.

Unfortunately, I never got below the 160 and I did put some weight back on but I was much more knowledgeable about nutrition and knew how to manage my weight even if I couldn’t lose it. That November, we went to my parents for Thanksgiving. I was pretty explicit with my mother that we were eating healthier and I had no intentions of gaining 5 pounds because she likes to cook like Paula Deen. She acted like she understood and was going to cook healthier because of her and Dave’s health too. The truth was that she had no intentions of slimming anything down. I was helping her cook and she seriously put a stick of butter in everything. When she got to the mashed potatoes I asked her to slow down with the butter and lighten it up a little. She got upset with me because this was a holiday and we should let lose and eat whatever we wanted. The truth was, I didn’t want to eat 5 lbs of butter. She just couldn’t comprehend this at all. I explained that I had to work very hard to lose the weight and i still had another 30 to go. I wasn’t about to get set back because of a holiday. She acted very offended and put off that I would be so judgmental of her cooking.  Damn straight I was getting judgmental. Dave was an obese diabetic and my mother was at least 100 lbs overweight and probably pre-diabetic. She never took responsibility for her weight. She always blamed it on a bad thyroid or whatever. It was obvious that she was very jealous at my weight loss. She made comments about how she wanted to lose weight so I offered my “expertise.” I would tell her that the first thing she needed to do was to start getting some physical activity, even if that meant just going for a walk. Her rebuttal would be that she either didn’t have the time or that her knees hurt. We it was pretty obvious why her knees hurt and she did have the time, she just didn’t want to move. Then I would tell her about the dietary changes that she needed to make by cutting out sugars and refined carbohydrates. Well, they were already doing that because of Dave’s diabetes. Hmmmm…. I found this interesting because Dave lost weight but my mother didn’t. I confronted her about this and told her that if she is eating like she says that she should be losing weight… at least some. Again, she would get angry and offended. She then started blaming her thyroid. Ok, I can understand if a person has a thyroid problem. She said that she would only eat a cup of yogurt and a banana all day and then a diabetic friendly dinner and still couldn’t drop a pound. What I learned about having an under-active thyroid is that it typically will only cause a person to be about 10-15 lbs overweight from the lack of hormone alone. I didn’t believer her when she said she barely ate anything. I know her and I know well enough that she was making a shit-load of excuses. She just wanted it to seem like she wanted to lose weight but the truth was that she didn’t. That was fine. I began to realize that there was no help for her. I was offering the help based off of my research and what worked for me and she would get offended over it because it required her to work. I eventually got tired of her shenanigans and just quit talking to her about it.

When I got pregnant with my daughter, I let go and gained all of my weight back. It was a delicious process. I ate a ton of cheese and cupcakes. I was a little depressed about it after she was born but I took responsibility that it was my fault and felt confident that I knew how to lose it again. As of writing this post, my daughter is 18 months and I am down to 175 but I have much more muscle than I have ever had. My husband and I are adopting an active and healthy lifestyle. I still have issues with food and I tend to mask it by saying that I just love it so much but I don’t think that’s it. I don’t know what it is really. I don’t turn to food as comfort but I do tend to overeat. Sometimes I’m afraid of getting sick or a headache from low blood sugar even though I know that I’m eating foods that don’t cause that. I do have a fear of being hungry. I’m not really sure why.

 

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