Difficult Beginnings – Life Experiences

I cannot say that writing is coming easily to me now. I’m a bit discouraged and  know why. I am never going to write the next great novel. I can admit I am not an accomplished writer and have to stop thinking in terms of being great. I have to just practice writing daily. If a book comes together, all the better.

I always thought I would write nonfiction. I never really had an interest in writing fiction because I did not know if I was creative enough. You know, there are a lot of books out there and many stories to tell; I just need to begin telling the ones that come to me, good, bad, true, untrue.. It’s all practice and a way to find our voice.

I am going to write a bit of nonfiction here. It is about me and is not wrapped in shiny paper and pretty ribbons. It’s sad, but true. It is also happy and inspirational in some ways.

It is my hope to provide inspiration and support to young, beautiful girls who have not discovered this in themselves yet.

It happened so suddenly, I cannot even remember going from one state to another. All I remember is it began in third grade. I was eight years old and suddenly gained weight, a lot of weight. It was extremely noticeable in old school pictures that I love to look at now, but used to hate.

It was like being on a rollercoaster that could not be stopped. The weight just kept coming and my problem became more dire every year.

I often wonder if there was some kind of trauma. I’ve had years of therapy due to my difficult younger years, but have never found answers. Perhaps I just ate too much, but when? How?

I was one out of eight children, all raised the same. I was the only one who had this problem and my parents did not know how to handle it. They loved me. My siblings loved me. I could not love myself and began to identify my worth by my weight. For example, I remember those terrible days in school. Our school nurse needed to weigh us and check our height. Each year, she would jot down the results in some file and it was awful. In fifth grade, ten years old, I weighed in at a whopping 157 pounds. I remember that because it was traumatic. To put it in perspective, I am now 57 years old and I weigh about 159. I am now taller, but not by much. I am  5’3,” so I have always been some what short in stature with the roundness of an apple.

Our family was middle-class and we had everything we needed, especially for a family of ten living in a small home. We all ate the same foods, not the best by today’s standards but we had beans, rice, potatoes, ground beef, chicken, and Mexican food often since that was our culture. Our parents used to buy a few snacks once in a while, but kept them in a box up high in a closet, rationing them to make them last. We had some fruits and vegetables, but my parents were raising eight children and feeding all of us was expensive. They found ways to make it all stretch. Unfortunately, it was not the healthiest diet, but not terrible either.

As far as exercise, I played softball and ran around the neighborhood with neighbor children. We rode bikes and walked further away from home than children do today. It was a different time. We could roam the neighborhood, hang out at friends’ houses, walk to the store, and explore our world.without worry and we did, especially during the summer months.

Our schooling was the same. We all went to 13 years of Catholic school and had many friends from the same families. It was not unusual to see large Catholic families back then. We were a tight-knit group, a well-respected good family.

Of course, there was no perfection in my upbringing, but it was normal. We tested the boundaries, sometimes getting caught, others times not. It really was a lovely way to grow up. To this day, my siblings are all close. Unfortunately, both parents are gone, but their memories live on in each of us.

I’ve asked myself many times, “How does one child out of eight develop such a problem that lasts a lifetime?” Genetics? Could I be the only one to receive this gene? Trauma? Yes, there was some. I can write about those another time, but was this the cause? I have a theory, but that’s all it is.

My youngest sibling was born when I was eight. I had four younger siblings in all, but my baby sister was especially loved and cared for. Not that the rest of us were not, but the baby was more coddled and protected by everyone. Could the problem had been simply losing some affection and attention from my mother because there were other children who needed it more?

My mother’s last pregnancy was not easy. I do not know the specifics. I was too young, however, I know my mother had a full hysterectomy right after the last birth. The poor woman’s body just couldn’t take it anymore after so many births. She may have been sick for a while and unable to care for us the way she normally did. I really do not remember details.

My baby sister also was not well and spent a little extra time in the hospital. She recovered after a rough start and life went on.

I seem to remember having feelings of jealousy over the baby, but also having deep love for her too. To this day, I feel very close to her and definitely still protective. Could I have had problems reconciling the two emotions at once? I may never know the answers and wonder if it is even necessary to seek them at this point. The past is behind me. There is nothing I can do today to change it. I can only live in the present and hope for the future.

After going up and down in weight for most of my life, I have worked hard to change my lifestyle. I have been successful in many ways. As a retired teacher, I now spend my time taking care of myself and my family. I have little stress in my daily life and do what I enjoy. I am a happier person because of it.

The biggest change of all of this is in the way I feel about myself today. I had such self-hatred and low self-esteem for so long. I felt unworthy for many years. My life was always clouded by this one issue. I gave so much power to the number on the scale and let it identify my worth. If I had the issue under control, I was a better person. If I did not, I was unlovable. How I perceived life back then was very unfair and incorrect.

There are many stories to my life, some very sad, but there are joyous ones too. Today, I focus on the positive. I have definitely learned to love myself without letting imperfections overshadow the good in me.

Life is still a struggle at times for different reasons, but I have learned many lessons.

The bitterness of life can turn into sweet honey.