Sunday, June 13, 2010

That Loving Feelin'

A friend recently pointed out to me that I'm much more open in this blog than I am in real life. I suppose that's true. I do have a difficult time opening myself up to people, though I'm getting better at that.

Back in high school, I was so shy around guys I liked that I wouldn't speak to them unless they said something to me first. Great strategy, huh? I guess they could sense how uncomfortable I was in my own skin because I wasn't very good at flirting at none of the boys I liked ever liked me back. This definitely took a toll on me emotionally. What initially kicked off my starvation dietback then was that I was hoping to impress a boy whom I'd had a crush on for a long time. He was a total jerk and we had nothing in common, but well, I was 16 and clueless. When we were at a mutual friend's party, we were playing truth or dare and he had to name which girl in the room he thought was the most attractive. He picked this cute, pixie-ish girl who was extremely slender. I was so desperate to get him to like me that I figured that I just had to lose some weight.

The thing is, when I began this diet I wasn't even close to being chubby, let alone fat. I was 5'2" and weighed 115 pounds, which is right in my ideal weight range. My goal at the time was to lose five pounds, but I ended up losing almost 25. Thankfully, I managed to reel myself in before I became completely skeletal.

Looking back, there were other factors that contributed to me crossing into anorexia: I was in an extremely competitive academic program at school, so I was stressed out with work and exams. My music class had also become incredibly stressful because our conductor insisted on pitting all of the flute players against each other. What should've been a fun class was instead agonizing. Meanwhile, family was dealing with several crises at once, including my grandmother getting injured an uncle dying, so there was also a lot of stress at home. And then I had to deal with the typical teen stuff like friends and dating and hormones.

No wonder why I began starving myself -- this was totally about gaining control when everything else in my life seemed to be spiraling. Even though I managed to overcome that, however, I still didn't feel comfortable in my body and started bingeing and purging instead.

But my issues didn't disappear simply because I was able to wear the "perfect" size. I still didn't know what the hell I was doing when it came to guys and continued to be clueless when I got to college. There, I fell for two men, neither who reciprocated my feelings. Meanwhile, it seemed as it my roommates, especially my now sister-in-law, could get any man they wanted. I was heartbroken and felt so disgusting. As I listened to my housemates giggle with their boyfriends in their bedrooms, I comforted myself by dishing out huge portions of lasagna.

As I continue my weight loss journey and try to figure out WHY I'm morbidly obese, more and more of these memories are jumping out at me. I suppose that there are a million things that triggered my eating disorder in its various forms, but I definitely think that my ability (or lack thereof) to relate to people is a huge factor. Happily, I met my husband and we have a really good relationship, but I still have a lot of work to do. Like I said, I've gotten better at relating to people and am lucky to have the close friends that I do, but in general, I'm not very demonstrative. I'll hug my friends and family members, but it's usually kind of perfunctory and done as a greeting because it's expected. I rarely hug people (other than my husband) spontaneously.

I'm also not that comfortable saying, "I love you" to friends. I think it's because I take those words so seriously. I've actually only had three men (other than my dad or family members) tell me that they love me ... and two of them were gay. Since my only serious romantic relationship has been with my husband, I've come to truly value love and see it as something sacred. Some people can walk around easily saying that they love everyone -- and there's nothing wrong with that -- but I've always been very reserved about that sort of thing.

I'm beginning to wonder, though, if I need to relax about love and let more people in. Is that what my fat is -- a layer between myself and others? I've been hurt A LOT by people in the past, friends and family and unrequited romantic interests alike, but I now have a core group of people in my life who've proven to me that they can be trusted. Maybe it's about time I let down my guard and be the loving person I know I can be.

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