Today’s post is a guest piece written by someone who prefers to remain anonymous. These words are a powerful reminder of how we shape the way our children view themselves- not only as the children they are but as the adults they will become.
Growing Up with a Disordered Mother
I still remember the first time that I was put on a diet. My mother was on one too, and I was like her. So the natural thought was that I had to be on a diet too. I was ten years old. I also remember telling my friends that I was allowed to have ten rice crackers for lunch because it was only worth one point. I was ten years old.
I learned that food was the enemy. I learned that my body was something to be hated, not celebrated. I learned that my body was wrong. I also learned that people were judging me for the way I looked.
As an adult I have learned that none of those things are true; that friends don’t care what your body size is. I learned that the body can do amazing things, that it is more than a number on the scales. I learned that people will always judge, regardless of the size of your body. I learned things that I should have been taught as a child.
I don’t remember when the exact point was that I learned that my body wasn’t right. I do remember laying in bed at night, feeling the lumps and bumps of my body, checking to make sure that the same lumps and bumps were on the other side of my body. I remember the house that we lived in, so I must have been less than 8 years old.
I remember feeling awkward in primary school. I couldn’t run, I wasn’t fast enough. People would laugh at me. I remember those things vividly, and yet I don’t think anyone ever did laugh at me. I think they were probably more confused as to why I didn’t want to join in.
I remember being told that I needed to be on a diet because she cared about me. She didn’t want me to be teased for my weight like she was. She knew what it was like. Yet I don’t remember being picked on for my weight by anyone but her. No one cared about my weight but her.
I remember being a teenager and feeling like I was an elephant. I remember counting calories, skipping meals and the look of admiration when I finally lost that weight. I remember her telling a doctor that I was a pig and lazy. I remember her telling her friends that I stuffed my face at any opportunity.
Her voice still echoes through my head whenever I eat. I still sneak food even though I live alone. I rarely eat, still stuck in that disordered mind set. I still treat food like it is the enemy, that the only way to lose weight is to cut it out. I still try to please her.
I look back at photos of me as a child and I fail to see the fat child that I was lead to believe I was. I hate that my childhood was spent analysing and hating my body. My teens were wasted on an endeavour of body destruction. I hate that someone who was supposed to support me, set me up for failure from the beginning, that they led me to believe things that were untrue. Most of all, I hate that she is still winning.