Tuesday, December 1, 2009

TEARS ARE NOT ENOUGH: WHEN CRUELTY GOES BEYOND THE PALE


Girl at Mirror ~ Norman Rockwell, 1954


I am deeply saddened by many of the stories my readers send me. This young woman's story brought me to tears. The cruelty she suffered in her childhood continues to this day.

I wrote her back last night and she has kindly allowed me to post her letter. As she wrote to me, "Maybe there are many girls out there who feel just the same."

This is her story...

"Hi Medusa:

Two days ago while I was googling pictures of what a 200 pound girl would look like I ran into your blog. The reason I was searching for those images was because I myself reached 200 pounds this year.

I’m 22 years old and my height is 5´7. I desperately looked for pictures in the internet because, as crazy as it sounds, I don’t know what I look like to others. I look at myself in the mirror and sometimes see something I like, but then I think it’s just a mirage, because I’ve always felt fat.

I remember when I was a little girl my mom was very concerned about my weight. She blamed my father, my nanny and many of the people around me for my fatness. She asked them not to give me food.

I felt very ugly, fat and unaccepted through all my childhood. She always said I was very very fat and she sometimes said she was disgusted. It was very heartbreaking for me to know my mother didn’t like me as I was. So I felt if she can tell me all those things then everybody can. I thought I deserved that.

But, there was someone who told me every day I was beautiful no matter what, and that was my father. He always told me I was unique and extraordinarily beautiful...he made me feel good, but I knew he was just trying to make me feel good about myself. Sadly, he passed away when I was 11 yrs old, so from that moment on I was left alone with my demanding mom and my judging sister.

I remember my sister telling me my legs were huge, and she was ashamed of me. I remember I went to a party with her and her boyfriend, and when we came back home from the party she told my mom that when I got up in the car, the car bent to the side where I was sat. I overheard her conversation and that is the first time I started to feel very very obese. By that time I was 5´6 and 160 pounds.

I remember times when I tried some of her clothes on just for fun, and when she found out she was outraged and said that they were stretched and ruined forever. She was always bullying me for my weight...it became usual for me to lock myself in my room and cry for hours. I didn’t understand why I didn’t look so fat in the mirror, but they were so sure that I was morbidly obese.

One day I decided I didn’t want to be like that anymore, so I stopped eating, and started chewing gum instead of eating. I didn’t like what I saw. But I knew I was doing wrong to my body and stopped. But as years went by I gained some more weight. And felt even more disgusted with myself than ever.

My mom and my sister said I was never gonna get a date. So when guys tried to talk to me I felt they were just doing it for pity. I even thought they were into very fat girls and thought they were sick. It was a torture, well it still is. I look at my pictures back then and I don’t look as fat as I thought. My mind, then, just saw what it wanted to see, a very large, big girl.

Now, I know I’m very fat. I know it for a fact, judging for my weight. I finally found a boyfriend who likes me very much, but I still don’t understand why. Sometimes I think someone paid him to date me.

I know there are worse stories than mine. Of course, there are so many things I can’t recall right now that have hurt me. But I know I feel very sad.

Sometimes I hurt myself, I slap my own legs and face when I get angry at myself for doing this to myself. It hurts, but in some way that pain makes me forget about the pain I feel inside.

I do have thoughts of killing myself, never tried though. But many times the thought crossed my head.

I’m crying very hard right now. Just telling you all this makes me realize I still feel too much pain.

I found out last year that my mother suffered from bulimia for many years. That made me think maybe she treated me bad because she didn’t want me to be what she feared the most: being fat. She asked me a few months ago if I was ashamed that she had a better figure than me, even though she was much older than me.

Believe me, I feel like there’s no one in the world to catch me when I fall, someone out there to tell me I’m beautiful no matter what, someone to see the good in me. My own mother, the only person I could rely on, is telling me what the rest of the world thinks. If she doesn’t accept me, being my mother, why would anyone else care for me?

I even went through plastic surgery. I got a nose job on her suggestion and a breast augmentation. I feel even bigger.

Please help me. Please, a few words would help me. I read some of the stories on your blog and found out that I'm not actually alone.

I’ve even tried to purge but my body refuses to get the food out. I just can’t do it. And I know I’ll never make it as an anorexic. Just looking at those plus size models, knowing that they weigh as much as I do and they look fabulous, makes me think maybe I’m not thaaaat big. I know I’m big, but maybe I’m not as big as I think.

Your blog is helping me right now.

By the way, my scars were reopened when a friend of my mom, who has a kid who eats a lot, asked her son if he wanted to be as big as me when he grew up just to make him stop eating too much. It hurt me, very much. I've been getting comments like this all the time, but when I see those plus size models being so happy, I wanna try that, I wanna try being happy with what I got. But I can’t help to have bad days.

Thank you for reading this. Just knowing someone out there knows my story makes me feel I’m not so lonely.

Thank you."


I'm sure your reaction will be like mine after reading what this poor young woman has endured. It goes beyond the pale.

I'm hoping you can give her some advice, some inspiration, some hope...because tears are not enough.


"As every day goes by
How can we close our eyes
Until we open up our hearts

We can learn to share
And show how much we care
Right from the moment that we start

Seems like overnight
We see the world in a different light
Somehow our innocence is lost

How can we look away
'cause every single day
We've got to help at any cost

We can bridge the distance
Only we can make the difference
Don't ya know that tears are not enough..."

From Tears are Not Enough by Bryan Adams et al.

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12 comments:

Brandee said...

where do I begin! First the Norman Rockwell photo I have and am in the process of drawing the exact photo I started years ago and never finished because I never felt good enough as an artist and didn't want to ruin it.
I feel so bad hearing this story. I grew up with severe abuse and being locked out of the house and starved as a very young child. Life was hell growing up with no real father, abusive step fathers and a mother who did drugs but I had teachers who reached out to me and gave me hope to survive. I never did drugs but did get addicted to anorexia.
Your mom and sister don't deserve you in their lives until they learn to love themselves enough to treat you as the beautiful person you are which shines through even this horrific story!
Don't compare to anyone on who has worst story. Your pain is very real and you need to be validated in it.
It's so not about the number on the scale but about relationships and how we deal. Please get help because you are so worth what it takes!
Thank you for being brave enough to share!
(( tight hugs))
Brandee

Laynie said...

Hello, I know what it is like to not know how you look. I too have Googled pictures of my height compared to my weight to see what I look like, it's always a grab bag of body types, in the end I still never really know what I look like.
It's been more than fifteen years for me & despite several years of sustained recovery, I relapsed.
This year I did, hooked on diet pills & spinning down the proverbial toilet of an eating disorder.
I can say the only thing that's keeping me alive is God, and the will to share my story with other people, like you.

The truth is, we will always be fat. That's all we see, no matter if you & me lost five or fifty pounds by tomorrow morning, we all see the same out of control, needy beast that we fear & think we are.

Today I feel like a cow, stomach distended, round chubby moonface, jutting hips & wiggly arms, an utter nightmare.

It doesn't matter, it doesn't matter.You know I've told so many women who I tell my "stats" to over the years & they all tell me "That's sooooo thin! That's a model weight!"
I always scoff & think that if they were me they'd hate my body as much as I do, because it doesn't matter if what your body weight is, you see the awful person in the mirror you feel you are.

I became fifteen pounds underweight this year, and now I am back up to being (about, haven't weighed myself in a very long while!) three pounds underweight.
I was fat twelve pounds ago, and I am (scared, addicted, sick, out of control, needy, whiny, hurt...) now.

It doesn't matter, it doesn't matter what you weigh & what I weigh, we both are one in the same. And we are not a number, I am not, you are not.

Don't you see? "Fat" is a metaphor, we see our pain as pounds, we try to starve away the pain, we try to drown in food, purge it away.

That's why, that's why the anorectic on the brink of death will look at her emaciated body & always see the enourmous hag she feels like, because no amount of weight loss will free our soul from what binds us.
Remember that, we are not numbers

Anonymous said...

Wow.
May I say I absolutely admire your strength? If I were in your position I probably wouldn't be alive right now.
Although people tried to put you down in the worst ways, and you often don't think good of yourself, you still keep trying to be happy, live a normal live. You UNDERSTAND that these people did you wrong and that yes, you should work with what you got.
And this alone makes you a strong, independent person, you just didn't realize yet.
Please, keep on trying. Seeing a therapist did help me to a certain degree, I don't know, maybe you should give it a try. Another thing that helped recently is belief. I don't call it "god", but I accepted that everything happens for a purpose, as weird as it sounds.
With your stregth you could crush everyone that has wronged you, you just have to start believing it.
I wish you all the best and sincerely hope that you will see all that in yourself one day.
But you are an inspiration already.
Love,
Kate

Anonymous said...

Hello,

I felt really sad about your story, and decided to write some words ( even if I am not a native speaker...) How to start...

At first, being fat is not the same as being ugly- and even if you are big, you can be a wonderful and attractive person!

You might think "how can a stranger from the other side of the world tell me this- if even my own mother is telling me the opposite?"

You mentioned, that she is suffering from bulemia. Bulemia is, like anorexia, nothing but mental desease (by the way, these are the mental diseases that the hardest to restore). Which means, that her opinion about you was predefined by her mental desease.

Apart from this, the negative opinion of your mother is nothing but her opinion- and doesnt have to reflect the reality!

For example: a few months ago, I came to know a really beautiful girl. Later she told me, that she thought she was really ugly- because her father always told her so.

the most fatal point is that we oftentimes start to believe in other peoples negative opinion about ourselves.

So, nothing I said could convince the really beautiful girl I know that she actually is beautiful- because she was too persuaded of being ugly.

Please, dont let your mothers negative opinion control your life!
Its a mental desease that doesnt let your mother recognize that you are adoreable just the way you are.
And you are.

Bogrins said...

I sympathize with this girl's story, having at one point in my life reaching 200 lbs (but only standing 5' tall.)

I never had an issue with my parents. In fact, their response was rarely anything at all. So when I started putting on weight and getting the reaction from my peers, I was in for a bit of a rocky ride.

There is always someone who can't look past your physical appearance. Someone there to remind you that you are a "blob", that though your weight may be equal to two people you are less than a person, and not worth being around. I can only imagine that this is a million times harder when the people reminding you are the ones who should be supporting you and helping you into healthy habits.

It sounds easier than it is, but...at some point in time you have to just look past everyone else's opinions. Forget about whatever venom drips from your mother and sister, and let them know however much they seem to have a problem with you, you still love them. Dig deep and find something that you like about yourself and build your confidence around that.

For me, I got to a point where I was tired of dwelling on the numbers. I stopped worrying about how fat I was, stopped worrying about losing pounds and shifted gears into getting healthy without crutches like diet pills and laxatives. I go out and enjoy the fresh air and get my work out on. Anyone who has something to say about my weight at that point can know that I am making an effort and they are being petty.

The point is that you are who you are, and that is something beautiful. Changing, when we are able, the things we dislike about ourselves, and accepting the things we cannot is all part of the learning.

Laila said...

There are so many rude people out there in the world, and some of them speak before they think, and dont think about how much they can hurt someone with theire behaviour. I'm really sorry you had to be one of them.

Weight doesn't matter when it comes to beauty, its only the surfuce of a person, its whats inside that counts.

I suffer from bulimia, 14 years now, and i have to say its not worth trying to get your body and mind into something more trouble. Be who you are, and be proud of who you are. Dont let people turn you into someone else.

Anonymous said...

I am in your shoes. At 5'6" I recently hit my 200 pound mark. My mother constantly rags on me for my weight. I once called her out on it, telling her that calling me fat only hurt my feelings and made me binge more. Her response "I never called you fat". No, instead she constantly told me I was putting on weight, how my clothes didn't fit me right, whether I exercised anymore, that I need to stop eating bad foods. My mom is 5'3" and weighs more than I do. These are all things that she should be telling herself, but instead feels the need to use them on me. She thinks it's to protect me, when all it does is hurt me.

I have cut myself. I still wear the scars. To me, cutting was bringing the pain from the inside out. I understand. Oh and the thoughts of suicide. Driving is my out, and to this day I still envision myself "accidently" making a sharp turn and plunging car first into the median, or a tree.

In fact, I see this site for many reasons. I was borderline anorexic when I was in middle school, borderline bulimic when I was out of college. I'm an athlete to the utmost degree, and I make the diet rounds like nobody's business. Borderline only because I never lost my period. Forget the fact that I was only eating one piece of fruit a day for an entire summer, and exercising 700 calories off my body. Nevermind that when I would purge, my face would grow spots, and my puke would have dribbles of blood.

Again I'm 200 pounds. And 5'6". I find myself to be a failure.

I go out with sleezy guys because I don't think I'm good enough to land a "hottie". And it doesn't help that the one moment I believed a guy who told me I was his "French Indian Goddess" he tells me he was just using me for sex.

I know I'm not ugly. I've heard often enough that I'm beautiful from friends. All female. Never from my family, never from guys. And in truth, it makes me feel like it's something they "have to say".

I have issues. I see it. I actually am/have been seeing a shrink because of them. But, what I discovered most is that the only person who is judging me, is me. I am the most self-depricating person. I am the largest self-doubter of myself.

I haven't dealt with those issues completely, but I am working on them. At least, like you, I am aware of it.

Keep up. It's all I can say. Because it's all I can do.

GoodbyeGrl said...

I must start by stating the thing that you fear most....YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!!! I ache for you that you cannot accept this fact, but I promise you, it is true. I too, have always been a larger girl/woman, and that is what I shall always be...not because I necessarily choose to be, but because it is how I am built. I know I come by it honestly from both sides of my family.

However, the best advise I can impart to you from my 37 (almost 38) years is to stop comparing. Quit looking for photos...it doesn't matter what you look like to others in the long run, it matters how you look to you...and sadly, you will probably never see a photo that truly represents what you are looking for, until you start looking at photos of yourself. We are all so very different, even if we weigh the same, same height, etc....there are no real comparisons.

Just know...no matter what...there is someone in this world who does love you just as you are...no wishes to change you...no longing for you to be something you are not...I LOVE YOU...and always will.

Amy said...

I came across this a bit late, but I'm going to reply anyway. I am your exact height and weight, and I can tell you now, you are not nearly as fat as you think you are. This is your mind messing with you. Your mother's mental illness is doing the talking here, try not to listen to it.

Please try to have a look at some of the size acceptance websites out there - they are really great and can give you some real support for what you are going through. The F-word is a great place to start (http://the-f-word.org/blog/).

Also, Joy Nash's "Fat Rant" - please watch, it changed my life. http://fatrantblog.wordpress.com/2007/06/19/hello-world/

Anonymous said...

Its been a while since my comment was posted, I wrote the story, and I really want to thank everyone for your advice, your support. just by reading my story. I was afraid to respond to my own story. I really have tried to see myself as i really am. And I think i have. I feel a lot better now, I have tried to follow your advice: to love myself as I am and stop comparing myself to others.
I talked to my mom, I opened my heart to her and with tears in my face i told her how much she hurt me. she apologized, and she told me that she has felt the same as me every day of her life. I feel like a scar has grown over my old injuries. I feel like I can move on, that a future may be awaiting. Again, you all gave me hope. You gave me company. thank you!!
You can never totally cure a diseased mind, but now I know I was wrong.God made me beautiful,and thats all I care about.

Anonymous said...

This is incredibly sad, my heart goes out to you. It must be awful having your mother and sister to tell you those things. But you're so strong. If I were in your place, I would've starved myself and ended up with even less than I started out with. Don't let them get to you.

heartbrokenisluv said...

This is incredibly sad, my heart goes out to you. It must be awful having your mother and sister to tell you those things. But you're so strong. If I were in your place, I would've starved myself and ended up with even less than I started out with. Don't let them get to you.