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Confessions – Adolescence and High School

November 6, 2009

The last time I remember feeling comfortable in my own skin I was in 5th grade. I can even remember the first time I felt self-conscious. I had a crush on a boy, Ryan, and when you’re 10 that involves chasing boys around the playground and usually a little physical and emotional abuse, right? I was big into kicking when I was 10. Enter Theresa. One fine and flirtatious day on the playground I kicked Ryan in the shin. Theresa was standing nearby and saw the ordeal, she liked him too, only her moves were more mature (smiling, giggling, touching his arm, stuff you learn when you’re 11.)  Anyway, she reacts by standing next to Ryan, facing me, making an over exaggerated overbite and kicking in the air “You’re a donkey” and proceeds to make fun of my unfortunate crooked teeth and over-bite. I don’t think it helped that the way my brother made fun of me when I was little was by doing the same thing, creating an over exaggerated over-bite and saying I looked like a beaver. The difference this time was that it was in front of a whole crowd of kids. Eh, the things our peers put us through.I actually get teary-eyed thinking about how saw that made me feel. Have I mentioned that I hold a grudge?

That event, unfortunately, was only the first of many insults on my appearance growing up. Of course I knew far too soon that I had a larger butt than most, and if I wore my hair the same way as a popular girl is was an assault on all things good and holy in junior high. At what point do you learn that imitation is the biggest form of flattery? Friends telling me I’m too slow to run with them, I’d stretch out their pants if I tried them on, sizes are changing to accommodate skinny people. Does anyone else remember when 00 was not a size?

Anyway, puberty came a few years after everyone else and voila, I wasn’t so geeky. Actually, I was pretty cute.  Teeth were fixed with braces and head-gear, thick glasses replaced with contacts, and my stringy muddy-blonde hair was highlighted. I could buy trendy clothes and start looking like a cute 15 year old, but what about my confidence? Every girl went through some sort of agony over appearance in junior high and high school. What happened that made me feel so inadequate? Was there one particular moment in my life that started the horrendous degradation of my self-esteem? Was it my fault or the fault of my peers? My parents told me I was pretty, time and time again.  So it wasn’t for a lack of compliments. Its funny how I have no problem remembering all those times I felt ugly, or fat or not good enough, and yet I have a very difficult time remembering when I felt pretty, smart and confident. The bad stuff is easier to believe, right? Or is that just the pessimist speaking?

Age 17, and an out-of-the-blue breakup from long-term boyfriend. Now, when I break up with someone, there is always something wrong with them. But, when I’m the one who ends up with the broken-heart…there are many things wrong with me. I thought I wasn’t pretty or skinny enough and that’s when the bulimia started. My original thought was: “I can’t keep myself from eating so I’ll keep myself from digesting” but this soon turned into a control issue. When I was feeling bad I’d throw up and release some negative energy. But then I’d feel bad that I couldn’t think of a better way to feel good about myself and eat because I’m an emotional eater, and then I’d throw up because I ate too much and felt bad that I couldn’t control my eating habits. It was a vicious cycle. I had 6 cavities in two years, but my dentist didn’t suspect a thing. No one even noticed I had a problem, and I think that pushed me into a bigger slump.

Boyfriend problems went away, but the self-destructive behaviors stuck around.  I wasn’t the stereotypical eating disorder girl on posters and pictured in health class. I was athletic, and a little round in areas. No one suspected a thing, and if anyone that found out I was bulimic could have said I was bad at it because I wasn’t skinny. But skinny wasn’t the real deal. I knew that if I wanted to be skinny, I could refrain from eating or go run for a while. The binging and purging was violent and was a control issue. I’d even plan to drink enough water after a meal because it would make throwing up easier. It was a self-deprecating act, punishing myself for feeling so sick inside. I still have an issue with feeling full. If I eat too much, I feel nauseated. It takes all of my energy to keep myself from throwing up.

The only thing that saved me for a while was going to college; a fresh start, a new life, a new adventure.

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