In the late 1960’s as the Vietnam War was raging on and Andy Warhol was painting Marilyn Munroe, the blonde goddess of that era. My parents were struggling to get by with three kids. They were using “The Method” to avoid pregnancy, a behavioral method that involved regulating the time and method of intercourse to prevent pregnancy especially during that time of the month where ovulation is at a peek.
My father returned home from working shifts at the paper mill, tired but frisky and with a strong sexual appetite. He was hearing NO a lot these days so he took matters into his own hands or other extremities as you will hear about in the next paragraph.
He lay down beside my mother and removed her panties with his toes. You might wonder why I am starting my story with this tidbit of information. My parents weren’t aiming to have another child but oops with my father’s toe prowess I was conceived.
During the pregnancy my siblings and parents were excited and hoping for a little girl with blonde hair, they made the best of the situation and were betting on the outcome; all wishing for a little girl with blue eyes and blonde hair to complete the family. I didn’t disappoint them in the least. I was so pretty that people stopped my mom everywhere we went to comment on my cuteness. My brothers & sister paraded me around at school and to their friends. When I started kindergarten my mother received a call from the teacher asking her not to dress me so sweetly. I was on cloud nine twirling and bragging about the wonderful clothes my mother sewed for me. My big blue eyes, pouty lips and long blonde hair was winning hearts including in my neighborhood; I had a candy route every day made up of an old couple, a nun and a few families that always had special treats for me.
When I turned eight everything changed. My parents separated after a frightening incident I witnessed (dad with a gun to mom’s head. I talked about this in my previous article linked here: http://gailsforum.blogspot.com/2011/08/his-name-is-peter.html. I was sent away for a few months anxious to know when my parents were coming back. Every day I hoped to see them and as time passed my anxiety grew.
I returned home and started to gain weight, eating and eating as a replacement for the attention I was no longer getting. My parents were consumed with fixing their marriage; attending Marriage Encounter meetings which included getaway weekends designed to offer married couples techniques to learn loving communication.
Every day when I arrived home from school I was gorging on bags of oranges, a whole loaf of bread with peanut butter and whatever else I could find. Soon I was 140lbs and only 9 years old. I ate so much that I was rushed to the hospital at one point and had to have my stomach pumped after consuming a whole bag of green apples. Somehow no one noticed this sudden cry for help, my siblings were dispersed and mostly gone from home and my parents were busy trying to fix a marriage that was hopeless and doomed by abuse.
At school I was teased and bullied and no longer did I look pretty instead I was feeling ostracized and alone. It seemed that the correlation between my looks and attention went hand in hand. I lost most of that weight by the age of twelve and enjoyed a few years of thinness but it was short-lived. I gave birth to my daughter in the mid 80’s and subsequently had three surgeries back to back which left me unable to maintain my weight.
In 2006 just a few years before reaching my forties I was 247lbs and absolutely miserable. I felt ugly, divorced and much remised from any form of contact. I avoided people and spent most of my time alone with my daughter. When I joined Weight Watchers it was at the request of a friend who needed support I was not sure it could work for me. It did and I started to shed the pounds – down 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 and finally reaching a 70lbs weight loss. I was active enjoying walking, boxing, working out at the gym, salsa dancing and finally getting to wear pretty clothes again.
I had surgery in 2008 to remove some of the excess fat dangling (called the panel) and that’s when things started to go in reverse. I had infections, digestive problems and slowly the weight started to creep up again. It was so short lived and added to my feelings of self-loathing. I did however make some other changes; I got involved in committees, made new friends, created an employee wellness fair at work and most recently started writing. Last year I joined Weight Watcher’s again and my starting weight this time was 211lbs. It was so hard to go back I felt ashamed of my failure. I soon realized that I wasn’t a failure in fact I worked to inspire others. My goal this time around is to LEARN and not rush through the weight loss but rather enjoy the journey.
I will always look in the mirror and see things I want to change, in some ways I still look to food for comfort and define myself by a beauty scale but the truth is that inside I am thoroughly beautiful. Through different obstacles, addictions and changes I created a place in my heart that can never be tarnished. It is a place of eternal grace, honesty, integrity, humility and hope.
As I work towards improving my health and looks I quickly remind myself that the beauty inside remains a bigger goal than the beauty outside.