This post is tough for me to write. It is a complete departure from what I usually write, and it’s bearing my true self more than I have ever before, so please be kind and bear with me as I write these really hard words.
A little over a year ago, I was on the road in Dallas, working with The Marvel Experience. It was also my mom and her twin’s 70th birthday, so there was a big party, but then again when you have a party with my family, it’s never really a small affair. My mom has three sisters, and they all came with their children and grandchildren, which totaled roughly 18 people, and then there was my family, which totaled 25 people. So there were approximately 50 aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, and cousins running around my cousin’s house. It was great fun and your typical loud Italian party with actual dancing on the tables. However, there was one thing that bothered me, I was always the “fat” cousin, and I hated it more than anything. It always messed with my head and affected my experiences. When I saw a picture of myself at that party a few days later, and I was mortified.
I had always struggled with my weight back to when I was a little girl. My first memory of my weight was when I was around six, and an Aunt told me, “If you keep eating like that, you are going to be as big as a house.” I would sneak food when my mom wasn’t home and binge on Oreo cookie sandwiches (4 Oreos between 2 pieces of white bread). This use to be a favorite snack for my two sisters and me when my mom wasn’t home. We’d have to climb on the cabinet to get to the top of the refrigerator to get the cookies my mom would hide from us. What my sisters never knew was I would go back and have a couple more “sandwiches” while they were outside playing.
Then there was my first husband. When I was married to him, he and his family always found it funny to joke about how much I ate or the size of my nose to the point where I then became excellent at bingeing when he was at work and grabbing the ipecac syrup and running to the bathroom. By the time he got home, dinner would be cooked and waiting for him on the table, and he wouldn’t have a clue. There were all the comments about when I was going to lose the baby weight from my kids, which were thirteen months apart, and the comments about how much food was on my plate, which made me keep a steady supply of the ipecac syrup on hand.
Then there was my second, albeit brief marriage. This marriage didn’t do much to boost my self-esteem either, and at one time, I had a small skin tag under my one eye, like minuscule. My loving ex-husband said to me; you know you’d be beautiful if you didn’t have that on your face. Of course, I promptly got the baby scissors and cut it off right there in the bathroom. By this time, I had given up my ipecac syrup, but the comments were the same. “You know my ex-wife was a size 4” or “you know my last girlfriend could run 15 miles every day.” Thankfully that marriage only lasted nine months, but the damage was already done.
I now have a husband who thinks I’m beautiful even when I feel like I’m the fattest and ugliest girl around. I have two kids who think I’m beautiful, and it seems I managed not to pass my poor body image onto them, for which I am grateful. Those scars are still there, and I try every day to heal them, but it is by far the hardest thing for me to do. I can be kind to a stranger, but I often have a really hard time being kind to myself. I just keep telling myself every day, I am kind, I am beautiful, I am a good person, and people love me. I refuse to give up on myself.