I have really been struggling with my self esteem. For as long as I can remember, I have struggled with loving who I am, just the way I am. That’s completely foreign to me. When people say that, I am like…. “Huhhhhh? what’s that? How does that work?” It never came easy for me. Honestly, I don’t think it comes easy for anyone but I think people do it and they find a way to nurture themselves and love who they are, regardless how they look on the outside. I grew up in a home where beauty was prominent. But you weren’t beautiful unless you were thin. So being thin was even more important than being beautiful. I have two older sisters that are very beautiful to the eye. They are definitely head turners. They were both in pageants and were in Miss America and Miss USA and did very well. Wherever we go, they are stared at and it’s what our family knows. That’s the norm. My mother is very beautiful. She has an identical twin which means, she too is very beautiful. Beauty, beauty, beauty. My cousins are very stunning. They are all VERY THIN hence the beauty part. You can’t be beautiful without being thin. Did I mention that? No one has really had a weight problem, only because they have made SURE to never have a weight problem. They did what had to be done.. My mother had me 15-16 years after having them and I have a different father than them. So our genetic make up is different from the get go. They are platinum blondes and naturally thin. I have a darker complexion, and a my frame is definitely not the same. I have always been more muscular. I too have always been a dancer, cheerleader, and gymnast. So again, doing those things in my extra time, also focused on the weight situation. I was never abused and told how ugly I was. I want to make sure that is known. I always had very loving parents. They always supported me in everything I did. However, I also saw what was important to my family. I thought it was normal until I started seeing other families and getting to know my friends. I was a cheerleader in junior high and I remember clear as day, that my mom would start hiding the butter. She even helped me do the cabbage soup diet when I was in 8th grade. At one point, she told me she would buy me something if I lost 5 pounds. She will never admit that she did that, but I could never forget it. I compared myself to EVERYONE. My friends were stick thin and my legs were bigger than theirs. It rocked my world. I didn’t understand why my body didn’t look like it used to and why it was changing and why I didn’t have skinny legs just like my friends and just like my sisters. I would go with my friends and they would eat anything they wanted. I would eat with them but immediately feel guilty.. it would consume me that I couldn’t even enjoy what was going on because I knew I had food in my stomach that was going to make me fat or gain weight. So I would go in the bathroom and try making myself vomit. I knew my sisters had also had bulimia, so maybe if I did it, I would look like them and then I also wouldn’t feel guilty every time I ate cause I couldn’t control myself from eating anything that are labeled as “bad”.. I eventually got to the point where it was easier. At that point, my innocence was taken away. I remember vividly being at a birthday party and eating cake and whatever else they have at birthday parties, and as a young girl I was tucked away in the bathroom with the tap water running and the fan on, trying to get every little piece up and out of my stomach so I could go and enjoy the rest of the party. That breaks my heart for the little me that was in there missing out on all the games the other kids were playing. I look at other 8th graders now and think there is no way I can imagine one of those little kids being that worried about weight that she would be doing such harmful things to herself. How could my mom not know? She had to of known. At one point, I told her. It was a cry for help. I don’t remember her ever being worried or surprised. I just remember being taken to a therapist one time for it. Besides that, it wasn’t talked about.
In high school, I still struggled with bulimia. I didn’t have enough self control to not eat, which is why I couldn’t be anorexic. I tried, believe me. I would go on chat rooms and forums with other people dealing with the same issues. It wasn’t to help me over come it, it was to feed the addiction. To get ideas. I counted calories, then would accidentally eat something that wasn’t allowed, and the minute I did that, I would just give in and eat whatever and then spend the next hour in the bathroom. What a disgusting and vicious cycle. I was jealous of anorexics. They had willpower. They could literally control themselves. Now looking back, it was the opposite of control in a way. But then and even now, I still wish I had the self control to not eat. My face was always round, but it got even more puffy and swollen with throwing up. I never felt like I got thin from throwing up. It became more about throwing up just because I couldn’t handle the feeling of feeling like I had food in my stomach. The guilt was far too great. I can’t sit and have conversations. I can’t just sit with myself feeling that feeling. I got to the point where I didn’t have to try very hard, I could just lean over and throw it all up. One memory in particular was in class they handed out donuts. After I ate the donut, I was mortified. I always heard of people using ipecac syrup and thought I would try it out. But nothing immediately happened.. my dad then asked me to go to lunch and as we were there, it took full effect and I was running to the bathroom vomiting everywhere. How humiliating for me. But no one ever said anything in my family. I was on the drill team and I remember having a big performance and I had to wear full on spandex from neck to toe. I remember very clearly my mom making disgusting looks my way. I was not stupid. I would watch her look me up and down. I had never felt so shameful. If my mom would tell me how good I looked, I knew that I really looked good and I would have a good night. If my mom looked at me and didn’t say anything, I would know she was not happy with how I looked. It got to the point where depending on my mom’s response, I would be able to feel good about myself that night. How fucked up is that?
Years passed and it was still something very prominent in my life. But I started partying and dabeling into the party drugs. I moved out with my best friend and I didn’t see my mom as much. The pressure was always there, but it lifted a bit when I moved out. As I was getting unhealthy with drugs and alcohol, I noticed my weight come down drastically. Funny how that happens. It just made my unhealthy lifestyle worse and condoned it. I started hearing so many compliments on how pretty I was and how good I looked. Just what I have always wanted. Yet the vomiting was still a thing. I still was uncomfortable with having calories in my stomach. I just didn’t obsess about it as much. I didn’t count my calories. It was such a relief.
As time went on and I matured, I became less friendly with the bathroom floor and the toilet. I still would visit it from time to time, but I became a mom and I tried really hard to stop thinking about myself and more about them. I wanted a change. I look back at pictures and I looked so good, but I could see my sad eyes. My soul was miserable. It really didn’t help that my husband was looking at pornography behind my back and having affairs. That always was a big reminder that I was not enough. My husband would always tell me how beautiful I was. He never ever said anything but that I was perfect the way I was. But actions spoke louder than words. I had seen the effects that bulimia had caused physically not just emotionally. I had developed ulcers in my stomach. It was brutal. My teeth were very sensitive and thin and still are today.
As you know, my divorce hit and all hell broke lose. The addict in me came out full force. I couldn’t handle my feelings of inadequacy any longer. I couldn’t handle actually losing what I had worked so hard for, for 10 + years. I did things I never thought I would ever do. At the time, I didn’t see the future. I just did what I had to in order to numb what I was feeling at the time. For 2 years, I messed my life up horribly. I got down to 100 pounds but that wasn’t the focus any more. Staying away from withdrawal was my only focus. I even had my attorney tell me that I needed to wear 3 pairs of pants to court, so I didn’t look so stick thin.
I finally was able to kick the habit after many times of trial and error. After living hell every day for 2 years. But unfortunately, I made the decision to get on methadone. At the time, I didn’t look at the negative effects. I didn’t think about how hard it would be to get off of it. I just wanted to survive and live a normal life. So here I am 2.5 years clean, and 30 pounds heavier than my normal weight. I’ve questioned what is better, to be a full addict and thin or to be completely clean and heavy. How sad is that? I had no idea that methadone would cause so much weight gain. I thought it was just me not doing enough and my metabolism shot from all the hell I put my body through. But the past few months, I have worked out almost every day and ate extremely clean. I have never worked SO hard to lose weight. I have not seen ONE pound come off. I am starting to feel obsessed again. I have never been this insecure. I hide in huge clothes. I will purposely look down when I walk passed a reflection or mirror. When pictures are being taken, I will dread it and try to walk away.. or I will only take a pic if I can take it myself through an amazing filter and even then, it’s very iffy. Being around my family is extremely difficult. I want to die. My niece was usually known for being kinda bigger. I wasn’t alone. Well recently, she’s lost all of her weight and has completely turned into one of those girls that constantly is taking selfies and getting a ton of a attention. Her and my sisters are still head turners. I am completely opposite of them. When I run into people that used to know me, I can see them not recognizing me or wondering “what happened to her?” In fact, when J has ended up going off on me and we argue, I will never forget the words out of his mouth “everyone wonders what happened to you… you don’t look anything like you used to. Everyone feels sorry for you.”
So now the back story has been explained. My mom has been extremely “supportive” by paying for my gym membership and also my meal planning that I am getting. She doesn’t really have a ton of money, but she finds a way to help me. I know that she is trying her damnedest to be helpful. But knowing what I’ve been through with her, it’s also hard cause I know that she’s doing it cause she wants me to be thin.. and what she says is she wants me happy. Which yes, I want to be happy too. I don’t want to look like this. So long story short, I don’t think she realizes she knows what she is doing and that it hurts me. The other day I ended up crying to my parents about how discouraging it is to work this hard and sacrifice this much and not see any change. I also explained how I am stuck between a rock and hard place with being on methadone. I know that it is the main culprit and methadone is not something you can just come off of. You have to be smart about it. So I am on a weaning program of 2 mg a week. That’s the best I can do and the fastest I can wean being responsible and having my sobriety as the upmost importance. Anyway, the next day, I felt like there was some hope with my mom. She had text me saying “I am really sad and angry knowing how you’ve always felt about yourself. I love you and want you happy.” There was a sense of relief in that text. I kid you not, an hour later I saw a missed call from her. I saw a voicemail was there. I went to listen to it and realized the voicemail was an accident and she was having a conversation with my dad in the car and she had no idea she had called me. These are some of the things I heard her say.. “she is very heavy. She has let herself go. What does she expect, to lose all the weight that fast? She has to stop opening her mouth to any and everything. I am sick of hearing how unhappy she is. She needs to start running and doing what it takes and stop blaming her medication on her weight. This isn’t going to change over night. She has become a big girl.” Typing this out has me in utter disbelief and so much shame. Now am I surprised that she feels that way? Not really. To hear her say it like that, was extremely hurtful. To hear the person that gave birth to you talk about you in that way is something I can’t describe. I already am so hard on myself. I just wish I had nothing but love from her. Not judgement. It was as if the little bit of soul I had left was completely crushed.
I text her and let her know I heard her talking about me and as much as I appreciate all that she has done, that I need to take some time to work on myself without knowing how she feels about me effecting my progress or journey. She immediately started writing me and calling me about how sorry she was and how much she just wants my happiness. She said she cried the whole night knowing that I heard her talking about me. But it doesn’t change the pain that is there.
I don’t know how to just turn this all around. I know that self esteem should come from within and because I haven’t been able to figure this all out is why I have dealt with addiction and depression. I can read all the self help books in the world, but how do I change what has been pressed inside of me since I was little? I don’t want to be that mom that is just worried about how she looks, because I want to say I have more depth to me than that, but do I? Obviously not. How am I going to change this for my daughter? It obviously is too late for me and my happiness, but what about my daughter? My beautiful perfect innocent daughter?
My self esteem and beliefs can’t just change like a light switch. I honestly am at a loss. How do I move on realistically with where I am at today. How am I ever going to be able to love myself, let alone love someone else. No wonder I can’t move on from my marriage/divorce. I have overcome SO much in my life, but this is the one thing that is holding me back from saying I am truly happy. How can I stop hiding? How can I look in the mirror and see what I am supposed to see?