Friday, January 20, 2012

What Lies Beneath (Part 1)

I've been doing a lot of reading about WLS and the people who have had it. A LOT of reading. And yet I'm barely scratching the surface. Reading up on it, educating myself, getting support, and offering support to others could honestly be a full time job for me. Unfortunately the pay sucks!

So what have I learned with all this reading and chatting? More than I can fit into one blog post that's for sure. But the things that seems to be weighing most heavily (pardon the pun) on my mind are the underlying factors to so many of our weight issues. Certainly some of them are medical, genetic, or just a plain love of food. But it goes beyond that for most of us. Most of us have had some kind of trauma or experience that has sent us looking for comfort, joy, pleasure...and we found it with food. I know there are almost as many reasons for turning to food for these things as there are people. But I'm going to talk about me and my biggest contributing factors to my weight issues. It's a long, long story and it can be hard to keep all the characters straight, so this might turn into a blog mini-series to get it all in without overwhelming anyone.

Kudzu: The tangled green mess covering these trees

I apologize in advance if any of you get lost in the kudzu that is my family tree. It seems that everyone, even my husband sometimes, gets confused about who is who and how they fit into my family tree. It's a tangled mess that even I struggle to keep straight. My biological family is southern through and through. My mother's family first came to America back in 1613 to Jamestown...and survived the famines of winter, the Indian attacks, and disease that killed most. The man I've believed to be my father most of my life (but have recently discovered might not be my actual father) comes from Texas as does his family for generation upon generation. I come from strong, hard working people. I've researched my family far enough back to know that I have ancestors that were in line for the throne of England, advisor to Queen Elizabeth I, and other nobility...and that's before we came to America. Once we got here I have war heroes that served in the Revolutionary and Civil wars. There are coroners, school teachers, store owners, doctors, midwives, friends of presidents, and more. There are some amazing people in my family tree.

And then there are the nuts. Guess which ones I got for parents.

I won't give you the full breakdown of my immediate family except to say that I am the oldest of the children my parents had together, but I have 5 older step-siblings and 3 younger siblings. 7 of the 9 children are my mothers. She raised 2 of those 7 children from birth to adulthood....the rest of us she threw away....oops, I mean she put us up for adoption. Okay, threw us away is the more correct term, but I grew up believing that she had given us up for adoption to protect us from our father and that she had no other option. (It didn't quite happen that way, but that's a story for another time.) After all my father (or at least the man I think is my father) was a paranoid schizophrenic who refused to take his meds because he preferred to self medicate with drugs and alcohol. He was a wife beater, child abuser, child rapist/molester, con artist, etc.

I was 6 when my mother put me up for adoption. I was separated from my siblings (for our own good). And I was placed in foster care for about a year, one home after another. I don't remember many of them, but in one the older boy in the family molested me, and in another the father would beat us all with a belt anytime one of us got in trouble. I was finally placed with a family that had only one other child, a little boy younger than me who was also adopted. Life was much better with them than with my biological family. There wasn't all the violence and fear. But you know how some bad guys are a little more sneaky than others and take a little more time to show their true colors? Well, this new father of mine was that kind of bad guy. And my new mother wasn't much better.

So what does all of this have to do with being fat you might ask. Well, while I will save the horrors of my new family for another time, I will share with you an experience I remember very vividly from my first weeks with my new family: They took us out to eat at a little hole in the wall Mexican restaurant (still an all time favorite place of mine to eat) for dinner. I don't know if I'd ever even had Mexican food before. I ordered a child's plate, they served free chips and salsa, and my parents ordered nachos for an appetizer. I dove in to those chips and salsa and ate until my nose ran from the heat of the peppers. The nachos didn't stand a chance (still my favorite nachos to this day). And after I had cleaned my plate, I began eating the leftovers off of everyone else's plate. I ate until there was no food left on the table.

What a little piggy you might say. But it was all I knew. You see it wasn't uncommon for us to go without meals with my biological family. I had come from a place where the mentality was when there is food you eat whatever you can, and you eat until it's gone, because there might not be a next meal for a while. To this day it bothers me to let the pantry and fridge get bare. I actually get what I can only describe as a high from going to the grocery store, filling the cart, and then coming home and filling my kitchen with food. It makes me feel safe and content.

Holy crap, I'm having an Oprah lightbulb moment!! I always knew that I ate like that because of the lack of food in my early years. But this is the first time I've put into words that food makes me feel safe. That's very sobering. I never thought of it that way before,'s true. It explains so much!! Food makes me feel safe and provided for...something that was very lacking in my early years.

Okay, I'm going to have to stop for now. I need to let this soak in. I'll be back later tonight or this weekend to continue the story. Sorry to cut it off like this, but I need a minute.


MBSOdyssey said...

Your honestly is beautiful. And your insight is inspiring. Thank you for sharing; it is scary to be vulnerable. Hopefully this process can be cathartic and therapeutic.
I will continue to read and be on your side.

Ryan said...

I know we have discussed this and you know my feelings. I love you so much, sweetpea.

fatgirlchangingherworld said...

This is the first blogpost of yours that I have ever read, it has touched me very deeply. You are so brave, so honest and so real. You have made me a subscriber *forever*. Keep writing, keep healing. And God Bless you.

Michelle Jackson said...

Thank you for your comments! Believe me, writing this is as therapeutic for me is at it is touching to you all. (or y'all as we Texan's say) Thanks for reading, and I'll keep writing. I have so much to write about! :)

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