I’m going to share sometime with you. Something deeply personal that has shaped my entire being. It has shaped the way I view myself, how I interact with others, as well as my personal goals in life. I don’t know why I feel like I need to share this. Maybe someone out there needs to read this? Maybe there’s another woman or man who had similar experiences or can relate that really needs a virtual hand to hold. Idk. All I know is, shit’s about to get real.
I’m packing. Over the next several weeks, I will be slowly moving and taking the next step in my relationship and adulthood. While looking through some things, I came across a photo of myself in high school. The moment I saw it, I started crying. Not because I’m sad today, but because it brought back so much emotion. So many lies. Betrayal. Confusion. It brought me back to a painful time that I had no idea, until recently, changed me forever.
I was 12 the first time an older male took it a step too far. Terrified, I remember pushing him away and running for dear life, barefoot, through town and to a friend’s house, where I stayed for a week without word to my mother. As any good parent does, my mother cast that stone far away and we never spoke of it again. Aside from the 3 of us, no one else ever knew what happened, which is exactly how we all wanted it.
I was 16 when it happened again. This time, it was much more public. A trusted advisor made a very strategic move which resulted in my punching him in the face. Stunned, he backed away and did not pursue his intent further. Somehow I managed to avoid the inevitable, which I count 100% to an angel looking down, but I could not let it go. Fearing the same fate for others after me, I decided to come forward. And so did 3 others. He was removed from his position and I never saw him again. Even to this day, the thought of him makes me sick to my stomach. His final words to me still echo in my mind… “I’m sorry.” He knew he had done wrong, but I couldn’t bare the thought of someone else feeling the same isolation and angst. I can still hear his cigarette voice, taste the smell of his breath, and even when my eyes are closed, I still see those eyes.
When someone steps too far, no matter the degree of betrayal, it is so debilitating. The emotions it stirs go beyond humiliation. It is anger, fear, loathe, confusion, mixed with self-blame and helplessness. Everyone reacts in different ways. Some bury it, some carry it, some wear it, some hide it… but it never goes away. It takes a portion of your heart and a bit of your soul and replaces the innocent childhood memories of picking apples and riding horses with darkness and treachery.
When I began my weight loss journey 3 years ago, I began to reflect on my life. Someone had said that no one becomes obese simply because they like food… there’s a reason behind it. It wasn’t until then that I started to conjure up the reasoning behind my obesity. By the time I was 17, I weighed over 200 lbs. By the time I was 22, I had ballooned up to 230 lbs. I started thinking back and realized that my weight gain started after my second incident. In a year, I gained 50 lbs. FIFTY. FIVE. ZERO. I had given up. I felt that if I could guard myself somehow, I could prevent this from happening again in the future. I wore my weight like a shield… guarding not only my heart but my entire being. I knew, subconsciously, that someone of my emotional intensity could not take a third incident, so I did whatever I had to do to prevent that from happening. I thought if I made myself less desirable to everyone that they would leave me alone. And I was right.
What 16-year-old me did not realize was that it was never me at all. It was a cruel coincidence that something like this happened more than once. It was not grand design or my overly beautiful nature that caused this kind of attraction… it was a sick and demented view of someone else. When I started to realize that I no longer needed to place the blame on myself, I was finally able to heal from the inside out. Like ice melting in the warm sun, the fat fell off of me. It was slow, of course, but I learned quickly that I had been doing it wrong all those years.
My weight battles started long before I was 16, but they got out of control from that point forward. I felt I had to be a certain way in order to be beautiful. I had to be small, but none of me was small. I had big feet, a big head, and a big body to round it all out. But I was wrong. The older I get, the more I realize the reality behind beauty. It’s never just the way someone looks, it’s how they present themselves, how they treat others, it’s their laugh and their smile, the lines at the corner of their eyes, the lives they’ve touched, and the scars on their hearts.
This message is twofold. If you are battling a weight problem or an addiction of some kind (it’s a similar experience… call me crazy, but life has taught me this truth), in order to truly work your way out, you need to find the source of the problem. It’s never solely because you like food… because food isn’t that good. There’s a reason, and if you can identify it and address it, you are taking the first step toward overcoming it. I’m a long way from being where I want to be, but this realization has brought me that much closer and I know it will for you too.
Secondly and more importantly… if someone has hurt you or betrayed you, it’s okay to be angry. It’s okay to want bad things to happen to that person. It’s alright to be afraid. But know that you’re not alone. 1 in 6 adults had a similar experience by the time they were 18… so you’re really not alone at all. Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting or accepting, it means closure and allowing yourself to move on. And you deserve to move on. You’re beautiful. Your scars are beautiful. Don’t let anyone make you feel otherwise. And if they do, punch them in the face.