I posted last week after my visit with my shrink to begin this chapter of my personal development in which I deliberately scour my psyche to try to understand the reasons for my weight and try to come up with a strategy for dealing with it.
The strategy part is working fairly well. I have been steaming veggies in the microwave until they're soft enough so I can digest them, adding them to some spinach cheese tortellini and hard boiled egg for protein, some black olives (because I love them) and cherry tomatoes, which my gut seems to be tolerating so far. It's my version of a pasta salad, but with no crunch so it's all easily digested. I've made it twice so far, and the ingredients for a third round are in my fridge. So far so good.
The psychological piece is so much harder. I saw my shrink yesterday and it was one of the toughest sessions ever. I talked about my mother's role in my weight. She fed me full of junk food and then told me how disgusting I looked. She made me wear the most awful clothes while she shopped Madison Avenue. She became close friends with the daughters of family friends with whom she could share manicures and shopping. She told me I was the most important person in the world to her, but she abused me. Yes, I am calling it abuse. To stuff a child full of donuts and hot fudge sundaes and then tell her she's a fat pig and force her to wear disgusting polyester fat clothes -- she orchestrated the whole thing, and I was her victim. It was nothing less than abuse. Maybe it doesn't sound as bad to you as being slapped across the face, but for me, as a fat 9 year old, it was worse. Nobody could see it except my father, and he was impotent (although he bears responsibility for this) to stop her. If anybody else saw it, they surely didn't do anything to stop it.
I remember years ago my sister in law said that my mother was so nasty to me in family gatherings, especially about my weight. I had become numb to it by then. And nobody said a word to my mother to get her to stop. My sister in law's comment sticks with me; she hates me, but maybe she didn't then. She may have been the only person ever to have seen what my mother was doing to me and say it out loud. By then, I had taken in the abuse and figured that was what I was worth, so I kept feeding myself and feeling disgusting, carrying around all this extra weight like a ball and chain my mother had attached to me at birth.
There is a part of me that is still that child. The fat girl in matronly polyester. The fat girl who was the victim of her mother's narcissism. The worse I looked, the more beautiful she felt. I knew she looked beautiful to others. To me, she was my tormentor, my torturer. She was a witch. I hated her and loved her both. I needed her and was repulsed by her. Her arthritic hand came to look like a claw from which I recoiled. She said she loved me, but she was crueler to me than anybody else ever has been.
At the end of her life, when my mother got sick, she needed me -- she needed an ally in the family, and since I was an expert at being sick, I was her natural ally. At the end of her life, she took care of me when I was sick. And I have allowed myself to hold onto that image of her, and actually miss her, actually feel alone when I'm sick now and she's not around. I have allowed myself to repeat what she did to me. When I look in the mirror and think "disgusting," it is her voice. When I pig out, it is her feeding me. When I am sick and alone, I remember only the end of her life when she cared for me, and not the three full years when I didn't see her, the surgeries I had without her being there, the inevitability of her abandonment. This. Was. NOT. Love. No.
My mother was not the woman who took care of me at the end of her life, when I was my very sickest. My mother was the witch who fed me and then told me I was a fat pig.
I can't begin to tell you how hard it is to write this. But not as hard as it has been to live with it in secret for 53 years. Jennifer