My Body… It Belongs to Me.

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I have always had issues with my body. It’s no wonder why. As a teenager, I was really embarrassed about my body. I wasn’t obese but I was a little on the heavy side. I wouldn’t ever change in front of other girls or anyone so when we had to start dressing out for gym, I would go change in a bathroom stall. When I couldn’t, I would figure out how to change without ever exposing myself. I was always afraid of someone looking at me without clothes on. I would even have nightmares of being naked in front of other people. These weren’t just normal naked dreams but terrifying nightmares. I would panic and wake myself up. Other times I would try not to wake up because, in my dream, I thought I was naked under my covers and there were people in my room watching me sleep. I was probably in that in between state of sleep and awake. This also happened to me well into adulthood. It’s possible that Dave was in my room watching me sleep but I never woke up and caught him but I definitely sensed it.

My body issues didn’t just end with the nudity stemmed from sexual abuse. My mother had a few obsessions regarding my body as well. She had (and still has) this weird obsession with my hair. It is naturally blonde and fine, but thick. I’ll admit it… I have really great hair. Well, I did when I was younger. It’s not as great anymore now that I’m older. It’s one thing to think that someone has really pretty hair but it’s another to get all pentecostal holiness on their hair. After I turned 14, I never cut it. It was perfectly straight and didn’t need to be blow dried or straightened. It was pretty convenient considering that I identified as a hippy. She would just gloat over it. It got annoying after a while.

When I was a preteen I was left home alone a lot so I was pretty bored. One day, I found a pair of scissors and would make little cuts that weren’t noticeable but one day I accidentally made a cut that was more noticeable. It wasn’t much and I didn’t ruin my hair. At this point, it wasn’t real long but it did fall a few inches below my shoulders. I didn’t think it was a big deal and went about my day. Later that night my mother noticed the cut and questioned me. She asked what I did and what I was thinking. I think that I told her that I was bored and cut my hair and oh well. It wasn’t “oh well” for her. She went on a ballistic tirade and chopped my hair off into a disgusting bob. Now, remember that this was the early 90’s. Big hair was still in and I was like 11 or 12 with a “mom bob.” I really didn’t think that taking a little snippet of my hair would be a big deal but she was so obsessed with my hair and treated it as if it didn’t belong to be. It was hers. She yelled and screamed and I don’t even know what all she said but all I could think about was how embarrassed I was going to be at school the next day. She thought that was good. She liked it when I was embarrassed in front of my peers, especially when it was because I got in trouble. I think it made her feel powerful.

She didn’t stop her stupid obsession with my hair during my teen years. When I turned 30, I decided to let loose. I worked at a very carefree job so I could do what I wanted. I chopped my hair off, died chunks of it hot pink and got my first tattoo. It was freaking awesome. I still don’t regret it and want more tattoos and pink hair! This wasn’t the first time that I cut my hair off but this was by far the shortest. The few times that I did it, she would make remarks that she didn’t like it and “why would you cut off your beautiful hair?” After 30 my hair texture just wasn’t the same. It wasn’t as straight and required a lot of attention and product to make it look good. Also, being pregnant in the hot summer with long hair was no fun so it had to go. The point is, at 30 my hair wasn’t the same as it was when I was 17. She didn’t quite get this so I would tell her to grow her own damn hair out if she wanted long hair. She thought I was being funny but I was actually really pissed. I cut my hair about 3 or 4 times in my adulthood and every time she gave me the same song and dance. It was one of the few things that I wouldn’t tolerate from her. I would tell her A) it’s my hair and I will do with it as I please, B) mind your own damn hair and C) it just doesn’t look the same as it did when I was younger. The last time that I cut it, we went to visit her shortly after and she went off with her remarks. I immediately told her to can it or I was packing the car up and leaving. That seemed to worked.

Her weird body obsession didn’t end there. As a teenager I had acne, probably like most kids. I wasn’t extremely pimply but pimply enough for my insane mother to notice. When the pimples began to surface, she would hold me down and pop my pimples. This was no act of love for a daughter’s complexion. This was torture. My mother has extremely long and strong fingernails. She was trying to get zits to pop that weren’t ready to pop. She left me bloody and scarred. She always told me that it was for my own good and I shouldn’t let the zits and blackheads fester. She didn’t really give me a choice. I always felt like I had to give in to her wishes just to keep the peace or she would go on a crazy, screaming rant. She would try to pop them on my back as well. She was at least 250 lbs and would sit on my behind to hold me down. It was so painful when she did this and I would beg her to stop but there was always one more and “hold still!! This HAS to come out!!!” I realize now that it was likely just another antic for control and her own appeasement. Like I said, I wasn’t that pimply but she made me feel that way. Now I was totally self-conscious about my skin. I really hated my body for a long time.

Now, I do what I can to take care of myself. I eat right, exercise, wash my face, moisturize, sun block, etc. One of the perks of being an adult is that I get to call the shots on my body.

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2 responses »

  1. Good entry; our bodies do belong to us, not to our parents or anyone else. It’s so sick that your mother would forcibly pop your pimples. My mother was also obsessed with my (naturally blond) hair and would constantly criticize and abuse me whenever I dyed it another fun color, which I liked to do often. Even when I was 20, she launched into me saying “why did you dye your hair black?” and then listing all the reasons she thought it was bad. I didn’t even respond at that point; I did it because I wanted to, and I’m not responsible for nurturing her sick attachment to a part of my body.

    • The more I write, the more memories I uncover and the more I realize just how sick my mother was and still is. She always justified her actions as doing what was best when in reality it was just another tactic for control.

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