Monday, January 3, 2011

Scouring old wounds

While I was out on sick leave, I watched a lot of television.

Scratch that, I watched a WHOLE BUNCH of a lot of television.

There were two shows that really stood out to me and they were both Oprah shows.

The first was of Portia De Rossi's interview circuit - right at the beginning of November.  She has a new book out, Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain and it's all about her struggle with her weight. 

She doesn't have the same weight problems I do (in that she was anorexic whereas I just binged), but we have something in common: we both used to hate our bodies and we both used food as an attempt to control our lives.

I found myself glued to the TV when she was speaking about her issues.  Because I swear, I could've been saying the same thing.

"It's not the weight gain from the six ounces of yogurt that worries me.  It's the loss of self-control.  It's the fear that maybe I've lost it for good. [...] It crosses my mind to vocalize my thoughts of self-loathing. [...] You're nothing.  You're average.  You're an ordinary average, fat piece of sh!t.  You have no self control. [...] As I reach the bathroom and wipe away the last of my tears, I'm alarmed by the silence; The Voice has stopped.  When it's quiet in my head like this, that's when The Voice doesn't need to tell me how pathetic I am.  I know it in the deepest part of me.  When it's quiet like this, that's when I truly hate myself." (capitalization of The Voice, mine)

A year ago, I believed the words above more often than not.  Being a survivor of molestation by a close family member will do that to you, I suppose. 

Every family is a system.  It's own rules and ways of dealing with things.  My family dealt with the "big issues" by ignoring them.  Smoothing over the rough spots, behaving as if nothing happened that was horrible, disgusting, and traumatizing.  My dad was an officer in the Army and my mom did her best interpretation of what an officer's wife should do.  Look great, be obedient, and toe the line.  We followed suit.  Never raise your voice in public.  Always smile.  Give someone else the right of way.  Turn the other cheek.  Be gracious.  Listen to others, don't speak out.  Be a perfect little lady.

When my dad's eyes clearly roved to his interns, my mom looked the other way.  When my father lashed out to my mom in verbally unkind ways, we all silently went to our rooms as if to pretend it didn't happen.  When someone had a bad day, we all vowed to try to make it better in ways that only co-dependents can do.  Don't TALK about the bad day, just do what you can to make it better.

And when I was molested, I held the secret deep in me.  My mom let my dad treat her poorly and she didn't stand up for herself - why would I trust her with the secret?  She wouldn't have made it stop; in my mind, she couldn't have made it stop.  Why would I tell my dad?  He was frustrated with me just being a kid - he volunteered to be on call at the hospital so that he wouldn't have to be at home.  His dislike for us was read loud and clear.  Best to keep it to myself.  To not bother someone with it.

The problem with living in a family system of secrets and unsaid things is that it's like a deep wound.  Something cuts horribly; it hurts deeply.  And if you don't clean the wound of all the debris, dead tissue, and unclean things, it just festers.  It gets infected.  It gets hot to the touch; unbearably sensitive.  You can wear clothing to cover it and you can try to dress up other parts of your body to detract attention from it, but the truth is still there - festering, uncomfortable, painful to think about, and very, very real.

So 2010 was my year to remove the clothing, to take away the dressings, and to strip the rest of my wardrobe of the tricks I used to attract the eye away from my wound.  I stopped being the class clown at work and with people.  I stopped being the loudest in the room and started really listening.  I stopped needing to be right.   I stopped watching out for everyone else at my own expense.  I stopped being the co-dependent sister.  I started having healthy boundaries.  I started showing myself some self-respect.  I started to love both the me that didn't deserve to be touched 25 years ago and the me that gained weight to 280 pounds.

And at Christmas, I spoke with my abuser and told her what her actions did to me.  I told her how it made me hate myself all these years.  I told her how it's not a matter of forgiveness of the actions that she did - I forgive her of that.  It's coming to terms with The Voice that has told me that I'm worthless all these years. 

In January of 2010, I wanted to be healthier in my mind, body, and spirit.  How'd I do? 

Well, I'm 8 pounds heavier.  I'm sure I couldn't run a mile if I needed to as I haven't run one in 3 months.  I'm weaker.  I've lost muscle tone.  My abdomen is bigger.  I worked hard the previous year to lose 55 pounds - and here I am having lost just a bit over 40.

But my spirit?  It's lighter by far.  I've battled with some serious demons this past year and I'm still alive and kicking. 

My mind?  It's stronger than it's ever been.  Because there is something missing.  The Voice.  A year ago, I heard the voice daily if not multiple times during the day.  It had been my constant companion for years, such that I had tuned out what it was saying - keeping only the bad feelings around that it always brought with it.  But when I actually listened to it back in August, I realized that it's just an old record that is no longer relevant.  Slowly but surely, The Voice is gone. I'm not sure when I heard it last, but I sure don't miss it.

In fact, I was looking at some pictures from Christmas just now and saw a few that (ahem) aren't as flattering of me as others are.  My first thought wasn't of me being disgusting and unworthy of love (as it always has been) but rather of a renewal of my resolution to get in better shape.  I used to only notice the muffin tops over jeans, but now I notice the sparkle in my eyes and the sheen to my hair.  I can finally say that I am pretty.

This past year, I've cleaned out some wounds - ones that have been paining me for decades.  It hasn't been fun.  It hasn't felt good.  But it was the right and healthy thing to do. 

Right now, my wounds are in the process of healing over, of scabbing.  Ultimately, there will always be a scar there; I won't ever forget what happened.  But I don't have to live in fear of someone discovering it either.  I don't have to cover them up and I don't have to try to avert someone's eyes from it. 

For 2011, my goals are simple.  I want to be healthier in mind, body, and spirit.  In 2010, I chased away demons and scoured my wounds.  In 2011, I want to let the wounds heal and I want to honor myself.

The Voice has always told me that I couldn't lose all the weight.  The Voice has always told me that being thin meant being sexier and that meant that harm would come.  Being thin was desirable, but it wasn't safe.  But since The Voice is no longer present, it doesn't have a say.

This year?  It's my year to reach my healthiest weight.  

My fibroid is gone.

I'm healed.  I'm whole.  I'm healthy.

It's time to start acting like it.


Auntie Mandy said...

I remember that bitch of a voice! You ROCKED this year! Hollah!

Karen said...

I applaud you.

Polar's Mom said...

Hmmm...what to say, or rather where to start...

I am not going to pretend to know what you went through with your molestation, and I will not condescend and relate my problems to yours, because they are different and to do so would be incorrect.

However, I can say what I know about you now-specifically my opinion of you. I believe you went through some righteous crazy shit, and came out pretty clean at this point through MUCH hard work of your own. Not that you need superficial compliments BUT you ARE beautiful, really pretty actually. More importantly, you are a super rocking person who I would totally hang with if I lived in your city. I think we would be good friends in fact, and that is the highest compliment I can give cause I am one picky person when it comes to friends. ;-) You are a great girl, one that I would be happy to obsess over food and shop and go on double dates with. I hope that makes sense.

And I don't doubt for a minute that you have what it takes to get to where you want to be, to where YOU are happy, because let's face it-the only judgments we really have to face and deal with are our own. But if you hear that Voice come back you let me know and I'll kick it's ass.

Polar's Mom

Dillypoo said...

Wow. All I can say is wow. I wish for you a happy, healthy and voiceless new year!

~ Darla ~ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
~ Darla ~ said...

Nobody should have to go through what you did. My mother's sister was molested by a drunk my drunken grandparents brought around the house. My mother told me the story and it stuck with me so much that I vowed to get my daughter to adulthood without being sexually interferred with (under my watch)and I was like a hawk. I was also a court transcriber for years and had to transcribe many cases of assault...the friend, the uncle, the be unsafe in your own home (not right).

Thank you for sharing. Perhaps your story will help someone else. I'm glad you're working through it and have spoken to your abuser. One thing I notice is that there is a lot of help for people with bulimia but not bingeing. Wonder why that is? ((hugs)) to you.

JayneSees said...

This was a beautiful post, and you are a beautiful person/woman/human. Thank you so much for having the heart/courage to really lay out some of your pain honestly. Both eating disorders and abuse are things that so many people suffer from, but are afraid to talk about, afraid to face. This post will help someone out there, and you should be proud of that. Much Love to you!

Lanie Painie said...

You. You . . . *sob* . . .

you are my hero.

Sam said...

You're so amazing! I just love ya girl!