Monday, May 20, 2013

The Reality of Bullying

Today was one of the..if not THE hardest nutrition session I have ever had. I guess I had failed to mention to this nutritionist that I have been obese in my past and I definitely hadn’t told her about the horrid, horrid bullying I went through at the hands of classmates, family, and my own mother. Well, seeing as all of this hit me when I found out weight gain has started…she learned about it today.

She had me recount the bullying from my childhood. The horrible things kids used to say to me. The time the kid taped a Wide Load sign to my back at the beginning of school  and no one told me about it till the end of the school day. The way they used to crawl under the tables when I walked in the room and say “The earthquake is coming…take cover.” The times they would laugh….and the teachers who would join in. I recounted all this with no tears….but drowning in tears on the inside. And my N….she was holding back tears the whole time.

As I then went on to tell her the torment I endured at the hands of my own family. How they used to tell me and my brother we had the Guthrie butt and hips…making reference to my father who they hated. Ever since I was little..any time I looked in the mirror, my hips/thigh/butt area I have always wanted to change. Just so my family could accept me…so I wouldn’t remind them of the man they hated so much.

Again, my N held back tears (as was I), but we reached a new understanding together. I told her gaining weight was the biggest trigger for all of these memories. That when I saw the numbers going up I feel disgusted and mad at myself. The voice in my head relentlessly tells me I have been bad and how disgusting I am for doing this to myself. For eating more than I need and gaining weight. The weight on me (though I will admit its not much)…I just feel this desperation to get it off. And it all stems from the anger I have at MYSELF for what happened.

It’s weird. I forgive my family and the people who bullied me…in fact I do that easily. I don’t blame them for what happened…I blame myself. It was my binge eating that got me to that size. It was my lack of self-control that had me eating more than my body needed…a behavior I look at in disgust. My N tried to get me to see that my binge eating was just a means of survival. With this trauma of bullying that I endured from 1st grade, mixed with the abuse in my home, and with times of sexual abuse….binge eating was the only way to emotionally get through. Yet..I can’t see it that way. I just look at the whole behavior with disgust and anger.
And then my N asked if I have ever worked through this trauma….this PTSD. I mean the trauma from the bullying has scarred me far more than the sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect I endured in my childhood.

 Sadly though..the answer to her question was no. She then asked why. treatment they see sexual abuse and the kind of abuse in my home as more crucial to deal with than bullying. They said the exact same thing as my parents “Everyone gets bullied.” So we never talked about it and I just felt more and more stupid for having so many emotions tied to bullying. My mom has always said: “Kids will be kids. It’s just bullying. Everyone goes through it.” So I have never cried over what happened, I have never let myself feel hurt about it…I have just gotten angry at myself...and the last thing I have ever wanted to do is talk about it. 

 Despite the fact that it haunts me every day…that I hear those voices every day. That the sounds of the laughter have driven me to the darkness I am in now…I have never talked about it. But I see now I need to. I can’t keep hating myself so much. And I am never going to be able to gain weight if I don’t heal from this. Because even when the scale goes up by a measly .2 these voices go off. I hear the laughter and feel the disgust. My mind beats me up over and over saying: “You did this to yourself. You obviously ate too much. Now we have to figure out where you went wrong so we can fix it.” But the fact is I am underweight….and gaining weight is a good thing. It’s not something to be punished for…it’s something to be praised. But I can’t forgive myself for gaining weight till I was obese before…and so I can’t accept that I have to gain weight now. Until I learn to forgive…to leave the past in the past…I don’t think I can recover.

I must say though it was nice to bring this all to the surface and to be validated. My N is the first practicioner to say that this was intense trauma and that I had PTSD from bullying. The tears she was holding back finally letting me feel that it was okay to have such strong emotions around what happened to me. That kids weren’t just being kids. That I didn’t deserve it and it was wrong.

It also helped me because I have been wondering why anorexia and the fear of weight gain grips me so tight, but now it’s clear. Once I found a diet that “worked” and I lost weight…I began to see the bullying get less. I finally fit into American Eagle jeans and I saw the support written across my mom’s smiling face. I felt accepted for once…so I just kept going. And the more weight I lost…the less people picked on me. And once I got underweight….not only did people not pick on me..but they started to get concerned for me. Nobody wants to pick on the frail girl. Nobody wants to make her feel bad. So…anorexia kind of brought me protection. And that’s why I cling desperately to being underweight. The more underweight I am…the more concerned people get…and the less likely they are to hurt me.

I mean the scars of this torture and torment from bullying I felt are deep. They are so deep that the fear of dying isn’t as great as the fear of being obese again or of gaining weight and being picked on for that. People tell me being so underweight I could die…but to me the fear of gaining weight…the fear it won’t end…the fear I will eat my way back to obesity and that pain…it’s much greater than my fear of dying. This is when my N pointed out really I just want to be invisible. And I realized she is right. I want to get smaller and smaller so no one can see me….no one can hurt me…no one can bully me…I can escape the pain.
But I want to live. I want life. And honestly…the bullying is still happening to me…but I am the bully now. 

My own mind relentlessly bullies me day in and day out. So I have to face the demons of my past. I have to work through this bullying. I have to forgive myself…or maybe even accept the fact that the bullying is not my fault…that I never did anything wrong. If I don’t heal this wounds…I don’t think I will ever recover. Because I already have contemplated throwing in my meal plan because of a slightly over 1 lb gain in weight. Because the fear seems too great to feel….the torment has become as real as it was then. But thankfully…my N sees what others haven’t. That this is PTSD and I deserve and need help. And so she is going to find me another therapist…and I am hoping I will be able to heal from this hurt once and for all. Because I left elementary school…I left middle school…and I need to leave the torment and pain there too. I deserve to move forward with my life… I deserve to be free from the bullying..I deserve to recover. 

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