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I I can remember being about two years old. From what I hear, memories from that young of an age are rare. My guess is that it is tied to language. Once we have the ability to tie actual things to words, we also acquire the ability to think symbolically. Words are just symbols for what we experience with our senses, and what we conjure up in our minds. Without language, these things are fleeting, and just make up our day to day existence. But with words, and with memory, we become more than just our present - we become our past. And, what is our future? Without memories, the future is simply our feelings of safety or expectations; our basic instincts tell us we exist in harmony, someone takes care of our needs or failing all of that, we live with anxiety, without knowing why. But a past can change all of that. A past gives us proof of an existence that is safe, fulfilling, accomplished, and exciting. Or a past can highlight certain times when choices were poor - and consequences were paid. A future can be altered to avoid those consequences. A future can be swayed towards positive choices as evidence of those same choices conjures up memories of success. But, what if something went wrong - something that was unbearable and confusing - during a time when those memories made no sense? Events happen every day in an adults life that stop us cold in our tracks as we struggle to figure out what could have happened to jolt us out of our safe places. As adults, we can pull on our learned knowledge to make sense of it all. A serious car accident with injuries can mean we were simply victims of an unlucky lottery, but we can assign fault and do our best to avoid such accidents in the future. Robberies in parking lots at gun point are scary and we are instantly angry at the perpetrator who is clearly taking what is not his - but we understand that bad people exist and there are people who are so down on their luck that they will do anything to take what is ours. We learn our lesson that we should be more careful in parking lots. Sometimes an even happens on a grand scale like 9/11, jolting an entire civilization. I remember watching people from my hometown walk around like zombies in supermarkets and at work for months after that attack. These are adults - not children, with the ability to process and make sense of BAD events. We know these events are not necessarily our fault, and we pull on our pasts to explain them away. But have you ever tried explaining something of these magnitudes to a child? Kids can barely make sense of these events when an adult explains it to them. What if they were to experience it all on their own? What if they were 3 or 4 years old and experienced something confusing and frightening that they felt couldn't be shared with someone they trusted? What if they were ashamed? ◦
I have an overeating disorder. I've been aware of it for about 10 years, and I've been struggling to end it for about half of that. It sucks so much out of me. When I first realized that my eating was abnormal, I was living alone in my first apartment. It had been a tough battle to make my parents see that living on my own was something I needed. Maybe because I'm their only child, it was difficult for them to let go. Or maybe they assumed that living with them was not causing any ill effects, and moving out would only make it financially difficult for me. But, I was 23 and I needed to be on my own for the first time. Until then, even though I had gone away to college, I had always been supported by someone else. Money just appeared, toiletries would always be available, food was always cooked for me. I was a grown-up child, without a
feeling of autonomy. My parents wanted me to find a guy and be in a relationship. They wanted me to be 'happy.' I wanted to just learn who I was. So I was enjoying my first week of freedom in my small, one bedroom apartment and I had a thought. I wanted a pizza. I wanted an entire pizza. And now that there was no one to force me into choices , I could theoretically order it, pay for it, and eat it without anyone judging me. I ordered the pie. I ate two slices, which was typical for me then. Then I ate a third - a lot, but also not unheard of for me. I plugged in a dvd and decided to go for 4. There was no one to stop me. I looked back at the box. There were only 4 left - I had ate half a pie. Why not another? I wondered if I could do it. I reminded myself of the time I ate 40 McDonalds McNuggets on a dare with a crazy guy-friend of mine a few years before. I bet I could have 5 slices...by then it physically hurt to move. But I hadn't accomplished what I set out to do. I went for 6. Sometime after that, I fell asleep on my futon. When I woke up that morning, I still hurt. And there were still two slices on the table. All I could think of was that I hadn't been able to do it after all. ◦ By the time I had my two children, I was 5'2' and 175 pounds. I was very overwhelmed by the stress of having them close together. My son was diagnosed with Autism, pdd-nos, which frustrated me because it felt like a category created for a kid that isn't like any normal kids, and isn't like any of the abnormal ones either. It truly made him seem even more isolated. He was always a good kid, thank goodness, but at the time very hyper, with almost no ability to talk or listen to directions. He was always in danger of some sort - running away from me if he wasn't strapped into something, and very often breaking something either of mine or of a store's. Meanwhile, my daughter was compliant enough and very verbal, but frequently seemed unhappy. I think she knew she wasn't getting a lot of attention because my son needed so much of me. Something in her became resentful, even at a very young age. Being a mother to two young children is not a picnic. I have beautiful, amazing children, but the toll it took on my sanity was great. I constantly worried that someone was going to run off, break something, hurt someone, hurt themselves or me. I have serious deficiencies in remembering basic things my own schedules, hygene, appointments. I sometimes put my own clothes on backwards without even realizeing it and very often don't even bother to match my socks. Now, with two kids, those things I suck at were triplified - two kids need diaper changes, change of clothes available at all times, formula/food on the go, regular meal breaks, baths, playtime, discipline, ect, ect. I was woefully unprepared as a human being to parent my children. I had never learned to parent myself. But, little by litte, I made sure I did what was expected. My kids were never hungry or dirty. What I lacked in basic abilities, I gave to them in pure love. Hugs and kisses, laughs, dancing, creative playtime. I did what I knew how to do. And bedtimes were adhered to because I learned quickly that my sanity filled a very small cup and once it was gone, I because unpredictable, angry, chaotic. 7 o'clock bedtimes prevailed, and after they were sleeping, I found my way to unwind. Unfortunately for the state of my house, it didn't include dishes or laundry, like most mothers do at that point in the day. For me, it was tv, facebook, and eating. The 3-7 meals I ate during the day weren't enough. Neither were the snacks I peppered throughout my free time. Night time was MY time, and I felt driven to do what I wanted in spite of what everyone else was forcing on me. And for me, that was eating as much garbage as I could find. All. Night. Long.
II Our addictions are fueled by our need for comfort. Deep inside, we all want that comforting, rocking, loving, tingly sensation that we get when we are loved by someone. We love being touched. We need it. As babies and very young children, hopefully most of us get that. If we are lucky, we have Mommys and Daddys that want to cuddle with us. We feel safe and happy. My son, now 4 years old recently said when I was cuddling with him, "Mommy, I want to stay like this for a 100 years." Wouldn't that be wonderful? And as his Mommy, I feel the same way. Its so amazing to love another person, to hold them, to feel their soul right next to yours. A book I am reading, The Scorch Trials from the Maze Runner Series quotes a character who is devastated when his telepathic friend suddenly is taken away, saying he feels like an 'organ is ripped from him.' Our connections to people can be like that. I've been in only a few romantic relationships, and the first was exactly like an organ being taken away when the relationship ended. Many people in co-dependent relationships report that type of feeling. It's what keeps us in relationships that are unhealthy - that terror that without the person, you would cease feeling comfortable. When I am feeling stressed out, or out of control, or beaten by everyone in my life, I turn frantically to food. I have made choices with food that are very unhealthy and even dangerous and two times illegal. Counter intuitively, I am a person that believes the law must be followed. I am a person that has extensively studied and understand the calorie/fat/dietary fiber and carb/protein relationships, and even lost 35 pounds two years ago while following Weight Watchers. Yet, I have tossed these beliefs aside because the draw to eat is so strong when I am left feeling out of control. Until now, I have focused primarily on why the draw to eat is so strong. I have traced back my earliest overeating binges, I have examined my parents and their food reward systems, I have researched the chemicals in diet soda and fast food preservatives. But, for some reason, in 4 years of searching for answers, I have all but completely ignored the trigger. Why do I frequently feel out of control? And why have I ignored that question? There are so many way I am out of control in my life. My house stays in the state of disarray. I leave toys, papers, and STUFF all over the place. I have no safe oasis. I have no places to put half of the stuff that is here. I am not a hoarder - my husband might be a little. Either way, we are clutter rats. And the stuff takes over. It takes time and effort to get rid of stuff and find homes for things. My kids and me have things that need scheduling. My work, their doctors, my doctors, their playdates, my stuff that has to be mailed, their papers that have to go to school, loans to be repaid, greeting cards that have to go out, menus to be planned, houses to be cleaned, their baths, my daughter's hair to be combed, laundry, the list is endless. And I just go from thing to thing, hoping I haven't forgotten anything that needs to be done NOW, all while wondering why I have 6 appointment books I have purchased, but very rarely actually look at them. I'm out of control with food, but part of that is on purpose. I want to be out of control. In my perfect world, I wouldn't gain any weight, and I could eat and eat and eat all day and night.
I'm constantly on facebook. Sometimes a facebook game will consume hours of time that I could be doing something else. I don't care. I just want to disappear into the game. Sometimes I wish I could become part of the cloud, like they do on Tron. I could become a program and leave all of these responsibilities behind. ◦ It is supposed to take 7 days to form a new habit. I think I read that somewhere. They are missing a piece of the puzzle when they recommend that. Sure, stop smoking for 7 days and on the 8th you won't crave it as much. But what about those 7 days? How are you supposed to stay clean for those 7 days when all you can think of is a puff, a buzz, an escape from the Hell that you are living? What is supposed to DRIVE you through those rough times? People turn to God. I've tried that. It made me angry. I fell back to a line of reasoning that makes me depressed. If God is the answer - if He is supposed to help me through the struggle, than why did he make me a person who could get addicted in the first place? Isn't he to blame? (no, that is the Devil, some would argue.) But what if I am addicted because I hate myself? And...What if I hate myself because I was a freak when I was a kid? And as a result of being a freak, bullied - relentlessly? Tortured. Every. day. Dear God I was only 5 years old when the awful, hurtful behavior towards me started. And there had to be a reason. I was defective. And YOU made me that way.
III I'm 5 years old. I was born in 1977. So was everyone in my class. The teacher thinks that's funny. We just finished the alphabet. Its fun. We sit in a big group and the teacher shows us the giant cards with the letters on them. Every letter has a face. The teacher put a song on and all of the letters sang. Its my favorite part of school. Now its recess. That's not my favorite part. I wish we could do the alphabet again. I know no one wants to sit next to me, but at least we are all singing. No one makes fun of me while we are doing the song. I try and stay inside during recess with the teacher. Everyone runs out the back door from the classroom. I stay at the teacher's desk. She's nice. I like grown-ups. They are nice to me. My Mom always says I'm like a little grown-up. I have a big vocabulary. I tell my teacher I love her. She says that's sweet. Then she makes me go outside. The door closes behind me and I feel like I'm in danger now. I try and stay close to the brick wall of the school where I just stepped out. Maybe no one will see me. I hope time goes fast. Two girls come up to me. I'm excited and nervous. Maybe they want to play? I tentatively step over to them and say hi while waving. I think I wave my hand too fast. They start laughing hysterically at a joke I didn't get. They tell me I smell funny and take off running. I'm sad and now I'm not on the wall. I'm exposed. I start to walk aimlessly when some boys who are running come my way and give me a big push as they go past. I fall. I cry. The aid yells "Hey Knock it Off!" and goes back to her conversation with the other aid. I decide that maybe they pushed me because they want to play that game again. The one where they yell freak at me and I run after them trying to kiss them. They seem to think that game is fun, and at least I don't have to stay on the wall anymore. So I start running. I'm exhilarated. Its fun
to run. And I hope I catch one and kiss one. I make it behind a tree and grab one by the arm. I pull it towards me for a big wet kiss. He gets visibly angry with me. Why is he so mad? I guess I took the game too far. Time to go in for lunch now. I go inside, excited that people were playing with me. I sit down at the table and they all move the other way. I don't know why they don't want to sit with me. I'm part of the class too. But no one in class will come over and sit on my empty side of the table. I'm all alone. I take out my lunch and eat. ◦ The problem with memories is that they remain, even when they aren't pleasant. And even when they aren't your memories. In Kindergarten and first grade, I knew that I had done something to alienate the other children. I wasn't exactly sure what it was - I couldn't put my finger on it, but I knew I was acting different somehow. Maybe if they all could forget whatever I did to upset them, then they would sit with me at lunch and at the activities. I knew that my school took kids to 6th grade and then we would move on to the Junior High School. So I was 6 years old and I had 6 more years left. That was a lot of years to eat alone. I was hoping that the other kids would forget whatever I did really soon. By 3rd grade, it hadn't gotten much better. I still sat on one side and most of the class sat on the other side. I had one friend who would sit with me, but if she was sick that day, a pit would be in my stomach all day until lunch because I knew I'd be all alone. Class projects were a nightmare. Teachers would inevitably have a project where everyone 'buddies up.' I knew right away that I only had one friend, and if that friend was out or paired with someone else, I had no chance. No one would come near me. Throughout elementary school I developed the nickname 'psycho.' I would respond to it, like you would respond to your own name. I had to live up to it. It was as if the class had decided that I needed to play a role and they would continually dare me into doing things for their entertainment. I would comply not because I feared for my safety, but simply because they wanted me to. They wanted me. For something. Anything. It didn't matter, as long as I wasn't invisible. I thought maybe I would earn their respect. So I would eat bugs or make funny sounds or give away my lunch money or snacks or steal something off of the teacher's desk. Nothing was off limits to what I would do. I wasn't sure what that awful feeling was as I would walk home from the bus after school. It felt lonely and sad and aching inside. It couldn't be talked about. It had to be replaced before I walked up the steps to my house and my parents saw me. I would repeat over and over out loud as I walked, matching the words to my footsteps: smile smile smile smile. I was a master at hiding the truth from my parents. It wasn't until later that I learned the word that went with the feeling that I carried with me from 3 years old till adulthood: Shame. ◦ Things weren't always awful for me. I had some great opportunities and skills. They tell me this all of the time in reference to my son. Yes he has a communication disorder, but he has strengths. Work the strengths! For him its electronic devices. Anything electronic, he thrives on. Learning letters and some other academics are difficult for him because he follows his own agenda without hearing and processing directions much of the time. So I use computers to help him learn. It makes it fun for him. He knows he's good at it, and the material sinks in better when you feel you are succeeding at something.
For me, as a child, that something was piano. I liked playing - I liked being good at something. I loved that people saw me play and had kind words to say - even my peers who otherwise thought I was pretty pathetic. As I endured years of torment, I would have internal dialogues where I told them that I could do something they couldn't, and one day I would be happy and they would be miserable. I thought all of that with my shoulders slumped and my head down, but I thought it nevertheless. And I would get home and practice my pieces and my scales, and my piano teacher would cheer me on. My parents recognized my interest and enrolled me in a creative and performing arts camp. A VERY expensive camp, and with my parents on a modest budget, they cut expenses and made sure I was able to get the amazing opportunity. The bus came every day in the summer and brought me to this amazing place with kids from all over lower NY. I had swimming, assembly (where famous acts would perform), lunch, piano class, and a choice of another class, called a "minor." My parents chose recreation for me. What a nightmare that was. Here were brand new kids that I had never met before. They didn't know me as "psycho" or a weirdo. They just knew me as one of the piano students. For the most part, I thrived - I met some friends who didn't treat me like garbage, and I got to learn from some fantastic people. But recreation was like Lord of the Flies. Without organized activity, I was forced to depend on my social skills. A group of girl bullies made me for a target, and the entire season became an abusive, awful situation. There was no stopping them. If I played a game, they would be there "accidentally" kicking me or the game. They would call me names and push me. I remember hiding in the bathroom stall and them coming in and looking in the cracks to see me on the bowl. I was terrified. It was starting all over again, and now I knew that there was something definitely wrong with me. My mother would ask with great expectations how I was enjoying camp. Smiling as big as I could I would say Great Mom. I would hide my tears like I was hiding the abuse.
IV As a mother, I feel isolated. My husband works nights, so I am alone at night a lot (eating time) and he sleeps in the day, so I am alone then a lot too. When he wakes up, he wants to have conversations and be pleasant, and schedule things, and be normal. He wants me to hold everything up on my end, and do my job and then be emotionally and physically available for sex. What he doesn't know is the incredible amount of energy I expend every day to just keep my head from screwing off of my shoulders. When I have the children at home (which isn't so much anymore because they are in school) I try so hard to not blow up. They are always fighting and being 3 and 4 years old, and I try to exude a sense of calm and structure and discipline. But then, inevitably I find myself screaming and yelling. Afterwards I will scream and yell at myself in my head. Sometimes if I'm really out of line I will dig my nails into my skin so I remember that I did something wrong. I cannot stand that I scream at my kids. I remember back to my own mother snapping at me so much. Memories are weird like that. I'm sure my mother was very good to me most of the time, and I have flashes of her happy or running around getting stuff done with me as her little sidekick, but mostly my memories are of her flipping out. I internalized all of those bursts of anger. She prides herself that she will explode and then it will be over - instead of the continual guilt trip she used to get from her own mother. But for me, I was always frightened when she would scream at me. She took all of her
angst and directed it like a beam. Her face got ugly. I could sense more than just rage - I sensed that I had betrayed her (for my preschool indiscretions - spilling milk? talking back? I can't even remember what I did wrong - only the reaction.) What kind of awful person was I that I had done something to make my mother so angry at me? I was an only child, so there was no one to ask. My dad was usually at work, it was just me and my mother, and her being mad at me meant my safety was gone - the LOVE was gone. I would cry until she loved me again. Thankfully it was never long. I think she usually regretted screaming. But now I think it was more - I think she forgot that she screamed. Memories can do that too. Sometimes when you do something that you are so ashamed of, you just forget it. It's easier that way. ◦ So much of my overeating is about shame. It's what drives me there. It's what keeps me from getting better. It's what I live with all day, all night. When my husband touches me, he can feel all of the fat that I've put on - physical evidence that I'm weak. I'm addicted. I'm bad. I dread any sexual contact anymore. It's not until I can drive all of the thoughts of my overeating, my humiliating background, the awful things I've done that day out of my head with a virtual hammer that I can enjoy the moment. Alcohol helps that, but it also is becoming another addictive substance for me. It's not as good as food, although it seems to go nicely with a binge. It helps me pack more food in. Still, it gives me a feeling of letting go, so I don't have to hyperfocus on the person I am. When I look at the innumerable amount of ways I have failed - yelled at my kids, didn't clean the house, didn't work hard, was cold to my husband, made my parents angry with me, caused a thread that led to drama on facebook, forgot an important appointment whatever, I just add to my belief that I am worthless, I am a bad mark on my family, and on God. Only the food makes those thoughts go away. I can't live with the shame. I can't go moment to moment thinking of them. I can't risk tracing it all back and seeing the truth. I have ALWAYS been bad. I was made defective. I was not meant to be treated nicely. Its too painful ◦ I'm 4. She's been my friend forever. Since 3. She lives in the house behind my house. My mom has her over a lot. There's no one else to play with. There's just me and my mom. and my dad, but he's not home much. And her. I ask every day if she can come over. I'm never allowed over there. My mom likes to watch us and make sure we are safe. I like when she gets to stay over for dinner. I've never had dinner over there. It would make my mom feel bad if I ate somewhere else. We like to play in my room. We can close the door. Sometimes my mom opens it. We have to be quiet or she'll open it. She'll see what we are doing. She told me to take my pants off. I always do what she says. She's my friend. It's not the first time we've played this game. It's exciting. We play it a lot. She never really takes off her clothes. She just tells me to so that she can touch me and we can play that game. But we can never tell anyone that we play it. I hear my mom coming. Dinner is almost done - we can tell from the sounds that the pots and pans make. I hurry and pull my pants up. My mom opens the door.
What were you doing she asks? I burst into tears. I tell her that my friend put the doctor toy in my ear. It was the best excuse I could come up with. My mother tells me she thinks it's time for my friend to go home. But what about dinner? I ask. Another time, she tells me. I feel awful. I really ruined everything. Now she can't stay for dinner. I hope she's not mad at me. She's my only friend. ◦ First grade was when everything was really solidified for my place as 'freak.' I think in Kindergarten I was acting strangely because I hadn't really had much exposure to children who weren't molesting me. I didn't have a great idea of how to socialize. I knew that adults liked me, and I had a good vocabulary - which other kids didn't understand. I also was quite unclear as to what my rights were and who I was allowed to say no to. My mother had instilled in me that she was in charge - I had to always do what she said. Somehow I had confused that with always having to do what other people said and never what I wanted to do. As a result, I found myself constantly doing things that were strange because other kids would tell me to do them. I knew no one going into Kindergarten, but was put into first grade with my friend, the neighbor, who had been convincing me to let her touch me and telling me to urinate and defaecate outside, and once in a while showing me her parts since I was 3 years old. She was manipulative - even my mother recognizes that - to this day she always said I did whatever that girl told me to do. She would tell me to be a leader, not a follower, but I guess I wasn't getting the message. She was my friend and I did what she said. I was happy to have an ally in first grade - suddenly I wasn't as afraid to go to school. But I got into quite a bit of trouble next to her. We ditched the standardized tests by hiding in the hall bathroom together until the teacher came to find us. We would draw on the walls and desks. She always took my snack. I didn't mind because she was my friend. And I can remember now telling myself that I had to forget what we had done for so many years. One day, I sat on the toilet bowl in my house with one of the doors open, looking at the far side of my parents bedroom. I can remember that day now like yesterday. I chanted to myself over and over "I have to forget the baby stuff. I have to forget the baby stuff." "Baby stuff" was what I had coined the term for what my friend and I did for two years. Its amazing how we can control our memories if we want. Everything we remember is suspect, and some things we don't remember are suspect too. At the impressionable age of 6 years old, I had the power to put it all behind me. But the effects of 2 years of being molested by my friend had taken its toll. My confusion about the power my peers had would stay with me till the time of this writing. And my strange behavior as a child continued. She told me one day to take my pants off for the class when the teacher quickly left the room to talk to another teacher. She told me it would make one of the boys like me. So I did it, without hesitation. I thought the class would like it - like me for doing it. They told on me the second the teacher came back in the room. I was confused. She had told me it would make them like me, not make them mad at me. "Why did you do that?" the teacher asked. "I wanted to" I said. "Where do we take off our pants?" she asked - the entire class listening. "In the bathroom" some of them answered. That sounded like a good answer." "In the bathroom," I echoed to the teacher, my heart racing. "Yes, in the bathroom. Sit down." she said. She never reported the incident to my parents. Apparently, It didn't set off any bells that perhaps I was being abused. It was Just kids being kids. V
Memories come back that I've pushed away. I remember being in junior high school and having my friend suddenly appear behind my fence where she lived behind me. I hadn't seen or spoken to her in at least 3 years. It's like that when you go to the bigger school. I had made some friends and was around 14 years old, my childhood way behind me. My current awful memories no longer included being picked on by elementary school kids. That seemed like a piece of cake to deal with compared to the stuff I was dealing with in the junior high. In art class, a girl put rubber cement in my hair. The art teacher scolded her and she didn't even get detention. The whole class thought it was hysterical. The one friend I had in there just put her head down while I dealt with the harassment. No one bothered her and she liked it that way. In Spanish class, a boy thought my big butt was hilarious. He would remark about it. The class laughed. Then the teacher would stroll in and ask us to repeat the colors in Spanish. We'd have to get up and hit the colored balloons screaming "Azul! Rojo! Amerillo!" Each time I got up, the kids behind me would burst into laughter. Its amazing I learned my colors. One day one of the boys snuck up behind me while I was sitting and tried to stick a pencil through the hole in the chair, in my butt. More laughter. Now the harassment crossed the line. And it never occurred to me - not once - to ask anybody for help. I was so ashamed that my peers were still picking on me. I thought I deserved it. In chorus class - a class I loved - a girl came up behind me and pulled my pants down in front of everyone. I was horrified. People just brushed it off as normal, but through my panic and tears, I suddenly I remembered something that was gnawing at me. I remembered the incident from 1st grade. It amazed me that I had forgotten it at all. But there it was, part of my past. Not a repressed memory - more like a forgotten one, like we forget a family trip we've gone on because it was a while ago. And I thought to myself - what a strange thing to do in 1st grade. I wonder why I would have done that. When the friend appeared behind my fence that day when I was 14, I was surprised to hear her. She asked how I was doing. I said good. After some small talk, she asked something strange: "Do you remember what we used to do when we were kids?" I didn't know why, but suddenly I was terrified. I felt like i had to go inside NOW. So I ran inside without answering. I don't remember ever speaking to her again. I pushed what she said away. away. away. ◦ I have spent so much of my life trying to accomplish things that have yielded no joy. I've performed piano sonatas for large crowds. I've finished my BA. I got my teaching certification. I made a large salary as a computer analyst. I married a man I love and who treats me well. I lost 35 pounds on my own without diet pills or gimmicks - just weight watchers healthy eating and exercise. I've completed 5ks. I've got two amazing children who I love love love. But nothing is ever good. I just take in what I do and regard it as something I did in spite of being a defective person. My social deficits are really noticeable when I meet people. Mothers groups, book clubs, that type of thing are a disaster. I'll try and talk, but these half sentences come out. I can hear myself not making sense. I can see people looking at me, trying to piece together what I'm saying, looking at their watch, searching around for someone to save them that converses normally. I avoid teacher lounges and eat in my car when I substitute teach. I am grateful for my children to give me an excuse when I want to escape a family get together. In school if I'm taking a class, I sit in the front, get the information I need and leave quickly. I never have anyone to exchange notes with. People terrify me. I know its part paranoia and part my anxiety, but I think I can tell what people are thinking. I can see their dislike for me in their faces. And when people are nice to me in my adult life, I see their faces get younger in front of
my eyes and suddenly I see little children - cruel little children who have grown up and know enough to keep their bad thoughts to themselves, but think them none the less. ◦ I have so much anxiety over my children. I wonder if they will encounter the same abuses I did. I worry because I know they can't learn their social skills that they need to survive from me. They will need to figure out how to navigate a group of people all on their own. My daughter may do well. She's social - she already sits with the large group of children at their lunch table. But my son reminds me of me. He lives in his own world much of the time. Solitary activities excite him - electronics, playing with microphones, cameras, that type of thing. Meanwhile, he has some maladaptive behavior that is already alienating the other kids. Thankfully he has a few things going for him that I did not have. His mom is aware of the situation. I was ashamed to tell my own parents about the bullying I was enduring. I made them think everything was ok because I didn't want them to worry and because I was deeply ashamed. My son knows I know - and I will fight to get him whatever help I can get him. But my husband tells me to be careful and not be overprotective about it. I think that's a possibility because I am so scared of what could happen. Constant abuse by your peers can cause a LIFETIME of hurt. It can ruin your life. It could end your life. I've had so many times when I've contemplated suicide. I've lied down on a highway late at night, daring a car to hit me. I've taken illegal drugs, looking forward to the high, and secretly hoping it would end my life. I've picked up habits to cope with my feelings that will lead to my own death if I don't stop them. Its so important to get help before it gets out of control. ◦ Searching for help for molestation in the past few years, I have found that there is virtually no one that supports my belief that peer to peer molestation is sexual abuse. Most believe its natural exploration. Perhaps in some cases, but I disagree in my case. First, I did not see the girl as an equal. I did not see anyone as equal. I believed I had to do what others told me to do, period. Therefore, I fell prey to what my peers kept telling me to do. As a 3 and 4 year old, I was a willing participant, but I felt younger, and I felt like I was doing what someone else wanted done to me. Second, it was done over a period of 2 years. The natural exploration that is discussed in professional journals does not take into account long term molestation between peers. It warped my sense of friendship, what was expected of me in a peer situation, and instilled sexuality in me where I was masturbating regularly and obsessively from the age of 3. It took away my childhood and innocence. There was nothing natural about the consequences. Third, because of my isolation and lack of knowledge, I was confused as to what I was doing and who was to blame. I had a feeling something was wrong with what I was doing - which in itself is not natural - and I felt ashamed. I carried that shame with me throughout my life, even when I had stopped remembering the reason I felt it to begin with. It was a situation that changed the paths I took in my life and has set off subsequent depression, anxiety, social phobia, and extreme self loathing. Natural exploration does not create those psychological responses.
After losing 35 pounds two years ago, a series of events happened that triggered a relapse. One of those events included going to a book club meeting during Halloween time. It was a social nightmare. Everyone talked the whole time. I couldn't find my voice. I had one thing to say about the book and all of the heads turned to look at me. They discredited what I had said and moved on. I felt myself get smaller and smaller. I wanted to disappear, to hide in a closet till it was over like when I was a child. I was 33 years old and still a 5 year old child. Being thin didn't matter. Having a 35 pound loss as a huge accomplishment in my life didn't matter. Nothing I would ever change or accomplish would make me able to talk to a group of people without hearing the hateful comments I imagine in their heads. I combined that experience and some other disappointments that month and decided it wasn't worth it. I wasn't worth it. I ate. and ate. and ate. ◦ The thing about gaining weight back after a big loss is that everyone can see that you are eating. There's nowhere to hide. I'm literally the elephant in the room now. I feel ashamed, but that's nothing new. It almost feels comfortable. I'm used to pushing people away. Nothing would please me more than to cut everyone in my life off, buy a bunch of food and eat the rest of my life away. But then I see my kids and I don't want to be that person. I know how I am when I'm not on the wagon. I know how every second is about finding the next meal and if the kids do something that gets in the way of that, they feel the wrath. I know I'm hurting my relationship with my husband. It pains me that the holiday events are here and I will be expected to go to parties and show my face to people - my fatter than last time face. All of these opportunities to be publicly ashamed are daunting. But what if I address the source? ◦ Here's the situation with me. I had a rough beginning. I wasn't treated right, and I wasn't given the permission or the knowledge that I am allowed to fight for myself. My peers ate me alive. They destroyed me and my childhood was completely messed up. My young adult life was pretty strange too as I got my footing. But there's something else about me that I haven't voiced. Just as I'm teaching my son to use his strengths, I have to use mine too. Yes, piano was a strength. But there's something else I have in there. I'm a fighter. I wasn't allowed to fight my parents or my peers. But I fight for myself all of the time. I've given up recently, but then I sat here today and from 9 o’clock in the morning till now, 12:40pm, a span of 3 hours, I wrote it down. It put it out there in black and white. Here's what happened. It won't be forgotten again. I won't be ashamed anymore. It happened because it happened. My 34 year old brain can wrap my head around what my 3 year old kid-head couldn't. My friend was probably being abused herself. She was acting out on me. I was a sweet little kid who wanted to please her mom. I wanted a friend. The kids did what they did because I was acting strange - probably frightening them with any kind of sexual overtones I was expressing. I was an easy target with my head down. That's what happened. But I'm all grownup. I have great kids. I have a great husband. I have the knowledge that I lost weight once before, and I can do it again. It was fun and exciting the first time - it will be now too. And, anyone that looks at me sideways can go f' themselves because I know that I've survived a social shithouse and molestation. What have they dealt with? They can judge, and I'll hold my head up high while I take back my life. I'm not ashamed anymore.