So the book did indeed arrive today (a signed copy, no less – bless ya, half.com!) – and I’m on, hmm, page 77, in the middle of the chapter “Fat Can Serve a Function.”
Ms. Canter makes a comment to the effect that some people immediately overeat when they see the number on the scale go down. My God, I do that. I just didn’t think anybody else did.
I feel a panic, and I gorge.
The chapter goes on to ask the reader to identify in which ways fat actually serves a function for him or her (well, overwhelmingly “her” – the book has a feminist slant and takes its cues from “Fat is a Feminist Issue,” as stated by Ms. Canter). Two things stand out for me.
1. Fear of sexual advances. Well, yep. Same old tale of woe here. Yes, I was sexually abused, and not just by my stepfather. I was also emotionally sexually abused by my mother. I used to use sex to “get” someone to love me (yeah, that always works, everybody falls in love with a mangy slut) and as the only way to be visible, later I feared it for what it could do to me (pregnancy, HPV, abandonment). Yep. Scary stuff. Sex gets you attention, and then it hurts you. RUN AWAY…
2. Fear of being disliked, being “in trouble” or even being in danger from others if I’m thin. Yes, I did say “in danger.” I mean literal danger. I recall SO much competition from other women when I was thin – even, or perhaps especially, in the workforce. I recall one woman who was so seethingly jealous of, and competitive with, me that she actually tried to sabotage my job, and not just once or twice; it was ongoing. I NEVER felt safe on my job after she arrived, and I needed, literally needed the job. I was a single mother with no financial support of any kind from any outside source, including my son’s father. I was terrified every minute that my unwanted “rival” would get my ass kicked for good, and my son and I would lose everything.
The anger, sniping comments and humiliation from other women when I was thin and attractive were palpable. It never ended. I was ALWAYS making fun of myself before some other woman could snipe a nasty comment at me, preferably in front of a man or in front of someone who had a position of power over me (such as my boss). I was always making self-effacing…hell, what am I saying, self-mocking comments in the presence of other women so they’d feel less threatened and wouldn’t feel the need to come down on me. I was terrified and never felt like I had a real friend.
As for my mother? Well, in my teen years, at least, she really did have a life-or-death position over me. There was nowhere else I could go. I tried running away twice; the police dragged me back.
And the abuse became ten times more terrible after that, because now my parents had under their belts the fact that I was “a problem” and “a runaway.” Given that, who would ever listen to my “lies” (not) about my sister being forced to sleep in a filthy, unfinished basement in zero degree weather as a punishment (her pets died), or about my stepfather groping me and panting in my ear about how I was “purposely bad” because I “wanted him to touch me” and being bad meant he’d hit me, so therefore his hands would be on my body? No one.
My mother was viciously jealous of myself and my sister – but I think more so me. My sister had a little padding on her. I had what my mother called a “perfect little body.” Only she could have made such a comment sound like a threat. She spent every moment of my teenage years trying to prove she was sexier than I was. She wore no bra and bounced all around my boyfriends and “discussed” sexuality “openly” with them to “help them.” She, in fact, slept with my boyfriend.
Her hatred of my attractiveness made her delight in humiliating me, especially in front of my friends, and she was good at it. Eventually, I had no friends at all. I didn’t want anyone to come over. I didn’t want to be punished via my friends.
So yes. This particular chapter of “Normal Eating, Normal Weight” has me realizing a few very hard, very painful truths and has brought up a whole lot of shit that is very, very, very difficult to face.
But perhaps this has done some good, anyway. Time will tell.