Sunday, September 16, 2007

Family Disorders

To also understand me and my weight loss issues, I think it is important to write about my family because I think a lot of my issues stem from my family, primarily my mom.

My parents were always very concerned with image and how our family looked. Our house had to be a certain way, all of us children had to look and act a certain way, and my mom wanted my father to act a certain way too. Later on this would cause issues between my parents. Issues they thankfully worked through.

In high school when it was natural to rebel, I didnt want to fall into this cookie cutter image that my mother was trying to force on me of what girls should look like. I started wearing tshirts that had names of bands on them that I liked, such as Rage Against the Machine, Bush, etc. I had this pair of black vinyl pants that I loooved to wear. My mom hated this. Somehow she felt this meant I had problems. So she took me to family counseling. This right there, will always haunt me because what mother tells her daugher she has problems for wanting to dress differently than everyone else, to be different and unique? Luckily the therapist agreed with me and basically told my mom that there was nothing wrong with me, that I was actually more mentally healthy than most girls at my age. My mom did not like to hear this and so she stopped counseling. Really, she was the one who needed counseling.

So all through high school my mom punished me. She wouldnt buy me any clothes that she did not like. She bought my sister tons of clothes because she felt that they were appropriate clothes. My sister was the pride and joy of our family. I overheard my mom telling my dad one day that she had nothing to be proud of when it came to be. That other teachers at her school were bragging about their daughters and she had nothing to say about me. That hurt and to this day, I will always remember that.

I went on to college and actually started dressing how I liked which was more socially acceptable I guess than the band tshirts of my youth. Actually though, Im glad I rebelled in high school and wanted to be different. I think it gave me a strong sense of self and that is something that I am always admired and commended for. I listen to my gut instincts, I trust in myself. I dont have to be like everyone else or fall into the various trends. I also think it has kept me going all these years being overweight and not socially accepted.

It was in college that I learned my sister had an eating disorder. Going back slightly, my sister lost a lot of weight her last year of high school. My parents tried to figure out what was wrong as my sister was very athletic. Had she not given up everything to dive into her disease, she could have gotten a softball scholarship as she was the best pitcher in all of our town and neighboring towns. She would spend hours in the bathroom with diarrhea all of the time. My parents took her to doctor after doctor who didnt know what she had...IBS? colon or kidney problems? thyroid problems? I would come home from school and my parents would barely pay any attention to me. It was all about my sister and how she felt and what she could do. My mom would promise me something and then if my sister wanted it, she would just take it and my mom would say, well she is sick. My sister acted like a spoiled brat and this ruined my relationship with my mom even more as she just didnt pay attention to me. And I feel bad for my brother all those years, trapped in that house barely even existing in my parents eyes. My parents spend tons and tons of money on my sister trying to find out what was wrong. They took her to the Mayo clinic even. No dr knew what her problem was. I think it was asked, do you have an eating disorder, but my sister always said no, and no one in my family could ever believe that she would do that anyways. My dad lost his job due to the money spent on insurance as well as time had to take off to take care of her. My family consequently moved away from me from IL to PA.

My senior year of college was the year my sister went away to college for the first time. AFter she left, my mom found a journal that described what my sister had been doing. My sister had been abusing laxatives for about a year. That is why she was always in the bathroom and why she was always being hospitalized. When you abuse laxatives, the levels in your body go all crazy and you are extremely dehydrated. That is how Terry Schaivo ended up in the hospital, a living potato. My family was in turmoil. Everyone was concerned, however we all felt deceit in different levels. My mom mostly because she had been so close with her. Me because I had come home to being ignored when it was all for nothing. My dad because of all the money spent on figuring out what was wrong when she could have just told us.

My parents stuck her in a hospital. She learned the tricks and got out and played the game. She became bulimic. When that was discovered, anorexic. To this day she is everything. She abuses laxatives, has tried to commit suicide, is bulimic and doesnt eat.

All of this to look good and be thin. What has it gotten her? Nothing. She has messed up any relationship she has had with a friend or boyfriend because she cannot be honest about who she is and her problems. She lies constantly to make herself sound better. My mother taught her perfectly to have a certain image and to attain it at all costs.

I hate my sister. And I know how that sounds. She is sick yes. I was a psychology major, I know about mental diseases. However I also know that if you are sick, you need help. She doesnt want help. She has been offered and given help many times. What she has done on those occaisons is steal the money from my mom and spend it on herself. She comes home to my parents house and cannot even respect them and their rules. She leaves vomit stains on the carpets and rugs. She leaves vomit in the shower, on washrags. She hides food in drawers and attacts bugs. Her teeth are yellow and decaying. Her fingers are stained. She stayed with me last Christmas to not have to stay with my parents. And she disrespected me. I left to go on a date with my boyfriend and while I was gone, she ate all of my food, and all of the christmas cookies and things my mom had made for me. She left crumbs and hot chocolate packets everywhere. She left vomit stains in my toilet. I hated my own apartment when she was there.

She is someone who needs help and doesnt want it. And it is hard for people to understand my hatred of her but it is what it is. The reason I write all of this is because it does affect me and my weight loss. It affects me because we are both from the same family and essentially we both have eating disorders. She is clinically diagnosed and hers is certainly more serious, but I went the other way and used food as comfort and as reward. I wanted to show people you could be fat and happy and accomplish things while she was thin and socially acceptable, yet failing in every aspect of her life.

Now I realize that there is a happy medium. I dont have to be her. I dont have to be the way I have been. I can be HEALTHY. that is all that really matters. Food should not be a reward or a comfort. It is a way to survive. That is what we both have in common, she hates food and deprives her body of it and its killing her. I loved food, especially food that was not healthy and was not giving my body what it needed either, which would have slowly killed me too.

For her, it was probably all the years of hearing about how important image was in our family and to not be an embarassment to our family. She saw how I had to go to counseling, she saw how my mom criticized me in college when I began to gain weight. The moment I clearly remember is the day I came home for the summer from sophmore year. My mom had been acting weird all day to me and I couldnt figure out why. Later on that night she came into my room and said, we need to go shopping tomorrow, you look horrible in all of your clothes. You have gained too much weight. That was hurtful to me and my mom could not comprehend why I would be upset? She said that its her job as a mother to tell her daughter when she looks bad to help change it. Last time I checked, its a mothers job to love her daugher no matter what. But my sister saw that and saw how to make my mother love her. And we each went our own way.

Today I have a better relationship with my mom because I think she realizes she is responsible partly for my sisters eating disorder. However I still always feel that she is watching what I eat, or looking at me in my clothes. When I lost a lot of that weight on WW, she always complimented me and told me how good I looked. Now that most of it is back on, she rarely says anything. Any time I go to visit my family, I meticulously pick out my clothes, the ones that make me look less fat and will hold up under her eye. This summer we went to Cedar point and I had to be in a bathing suit in front of her. It was very uncomfortable. Most of the time I feel ok with how I look to a certain extent, but whenever I am in front of her, I feel horrible. I dont like feeling judged and watched. But that is my life. And that is how I got to where I am now.


Teale said...

I think it's good to get all of this out there and off your chest. It's so important to get to the bottom of WHY we've become how we have, in order to change it. Keep it up:)

Losing Weight: said...

I just found your blog today. First of all congrats on reaching your 50 pound weight loss. Because I need to lose 50 more pounds I decided to go back to the beginning of your blog to read where you started. I am very sorry to read about your family and how it impacted you. I too had problems with my family. They always felt we should all look a certain way, just the way you described. It had a very strong impact on my self-esteem. I wish parents would learn that the things they do and say, stay with their children for life!

I hope you are very proud of your accomplishments! Your picture looks great!