Monday, May 9, 2011

Dirty Laundry

I have a very vivid memory of being chewed out by my mother.  I was about 9 or 10 in the bathroom at our church, and I was getting yelled at for (in my opinion) being a talker.  Apparently, I had told someone way too much about our family and my mother, being the good Southern woman that she is, informed me, "We don't air our dirty laundry in public."  Well, Mama's not going to be happy about this.

It's laundry day in my house and between rinse cycles I started pondering about people and our dirty laundry.  Can't you always tell just by looking at someone when it's laundry day by the mismatched and ratty clothes paired with a sheepish look on their face?  Now, can't you also tell just by looking at someone when they have a lot of dirty laundry that just needs to be aired?  Yet, we're told all of our lives don't do it.  Don't you dare tell all your secrets.  My question is, why not?

Turn on a television these days and all you see are people opening up their closets to let the skeletons roam free.  Our obsession with reality TV and the fact that Maury is still on the air testifies that we want to know what's lurking in all the laundry baskets.  People even pay thousands of dollars to therapists every year hoping that by resurrecting the ghosts of the past with a perfect stranger they will be cured, and aren't they even if it's just a little bit?  I must admit, letting someone see all your filth can be incredibly freeing, like the proverbial weight has been lifted off of your shoulders.  So why did Mama tell me not to?  Was she afraid that by exposing myself I would somehow also expose her?  My secrets are not hers to tell, nor are hers mine, and I would never betray my mother in such a way.  However, by always piling up my dirty laundry I think I've struggled more till I've almost become consumed.  Maybe it's time for me to crack open my closet and let just a few skeletons out and this seems to be a good format to do so.

DISCLAIMER:  To my family, this story is mine alone and I apologize now if you get upset by my telling of it.  I love you all, and it's not my intention to hurt you.

I have recently embarked on a weight loss journey for about the millionth time in my life, and I've been questioning the roots of my struggle.  Where in my life did things get out of hand?  I realize that I always had food addiction issues, but was there a certain point when I gave in to the demons?  In my opinion, there are many fingers of blame, but I do point a lot of them at myself.  Yes, people could have told me "no" a lot more when I reached for the fork, but I was the one reaching for it, wasn't I?  But what about the comfort eating as it's so affectionately called?  What am I comforting myself from, and where did it start?  When I pose those questions to myself, the skeletons start to rattle and the dirty laundry really starts to stink.

Deep breath.

I was twelve, a little chunky and fully immersed in the awkward stage of my per-teen life.  That didn't stop me from being completely boy crazy, however.  I swear, back then I developed a crush on any boy who smiled in my general direction.  There was a cute boy my age that I was friends with in the youth group at church.  Let's just call him "J".  One night after Wednesday evening service we were playing hide and seek with a few other kids.  A kid came up to me to tell me that "J" wanted to talk to me in one of the back classrooms.  I entered the dark room not thinking anything out of the ordinary till the door slammed shut behind me.  I pulled on it to no avail.  "J" was waiting for me, and I immediately started asking him what was going on.  He said he just wanted to talk but before I knew it, he wrapped his arms tightly around me from behind.  I started struggling and he was grabbing me in places I wasn't prepared to be grabbed at that age.  He kept saying he just wanted to kiss me, but cute or not, I wasn't having it.  I managed to get loose and ran to the door, hollering to be let out.  Thankfully the door opened, and that's when I found out that another boy I had been good friends with had been guarding the door and holding it closed.

I'm incredibly thankful to this day that what happened to me didn't go any further than it did.  I know a lot of people weren't as lucky as me.  I did tell my parents and they had a nice talkin'-to with "J" and his father and I never saw them again.  After the dust settled though, I had bruises all over my arms for 2 weeks and bruises that still hurt me to this day.  The worst part is that I felt guilty.  I hated that "J" got in trouble and that they switched churches.  I still don't know why but that part has affected me the most. 

Now where does the weight come in?  After the incident, I went from being just a little bit chunky to nearly 200 lbs by the time I graduated high school.  I feel that I used my weight as a shield.  I thought that by keeping myself fat, boys wouldn't want me.  Don't get me wrong, I still liked boys but I couldn't trust them.  I had one boyfriend in high school that I dated because he was popular, but when things got serious I purposefully sabotaged it.  I went further with boys than I really wanted, telling myself that if I just gave them what they wanted they would leave me alone.  Let me say though, that I never gave them everything.  Even in my shame, I kept my virginity.  That sounds so oxymoronical (pretty sure I just made up a word) but it's true and as strange as it sounds, I held pride in that fact.

This destructive pattern continued pretty much to the day that I met my husband.  I'm happily married now to a man that I trust with all of my dirty laundry and I feel like it's time to finally release my "shield".  I hope and pray that by finally opening up I can help myself and help others and be rid of my demons for good.  Don't they always say that the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem?  Do I think this will cure me completely?  Absolutely not, but hopefully recognizing what I'm comforting myself from will keep me from reaching for the Ben and Jerry's as often.  I'll keep you posted.

1 comment:

  1. Wow--what a story. You have such courage sharing it. Thanks for the honesty.

    I have a fun rosette necklace giveaway going on, and you should enter!