Monday, May 28, 2012

the skinny on skinny, or MOASB #12--Anonymous

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Maybe I just don’t understand, but I know that my Mom just doesn’t understand.

You see, I believe myself to have a decent understanding. I know very well that she does not. And therein lies the conflict. 

Growing up 10 minutes away from the beach, I just … was skinny. So was everyone. You were skinny, or you didn’t matter.

My Mom was a cheerleader in high school. I … was not.
She was popular in high school. I … was not.
She was skinny in high school. So was I.

The basis is similar, but somewhere along the lines, my sweet Mother, realized for perhaps the first time that she was aging. I was 15 and she was 40.

She was 40. I ... was not.
She was gaining weight. I ... was not.
I grew boobs. She did not.

Our relationship grew strained. Suddenly, I was no longer a little girl, and she was no longer a young woman. I was accused of “taking something” to obtain the perky things on my chest that I had obviously not received genetically. I felt betrayed.

I thought she was my best friend. She … was not.

Her weight gain and image issues became my issues. “Stop eating so much candy!” she begged me. I did not. “You’ve gained weight, you know.” I had not. “You’re outgrowing your pants.” I was not.

The fact that my mother and I look so much alike was no longer something cute that a little girl and her young mother shared. It was the stark difference between 15 and 40.

Suddenly we were almost the same height. She had wrinkles. I did not. She dyed her hair. I did not.

A move brought new conflict to our lives. I gained weight. At last, my mother had something to point out. “You’ve gained weight you know.” To my astonishment … I had. “You’re outgrowing your pants.” Shockingly … I was. “You’ll never get dates that way.” I did not.

Not that I had any dates in the first place.

My weight was the basis for my happiness for too long. I cannot blame my mother entirely, but I cannot entirely accept the blame for what I think of myself.

I only forgave her when on one particular evening, wandering a parking lot, I could finally tell one man how much I hated myself. How much that “extra weight” dragged me down. How much I wanted to tell her she was wrong. How much I wanted to love myself but could not.

He didn’t tell me I should hate myself.
He didn’t tell me to hate her.
He only said that I was beautiful. And for the first time, I believed it.

I may not believe it every day, but it helps when I wake up next to him and he reminds me. He still thinks I’m beautiful. He’s been telling me every day for a couple of years now, and it seems like he just might keep it up.

When one man changed the image I had of myself with one word, I could forgive my mother for what she had done to me. But I still know what it was. Can I completely absolve a woman who is so clearly obsessed with the body image not only of herself, but of her three daughters?

“You’re really pretty when you lose the extra weight.”
“Well, she’s skinny, but she’ll never look it for those broad shoulders.”
“She’d be skinny if she wanted to be, but she’s just not … active.”

Actual sentences uttered by an actual woman who was meant to love us.

Maybe I just don’t understand, but there’s no way she does.

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for posting this. I could really relate. You're so amazing for having the courage to be vulnerable and share this with others. I often heard the same phrases from my own mother, and somehow the hurt was much more intense and long lingering than it would have been if those words had come from anyone else.

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  2. Wow! I don't know how you handled this. I would've had a lot of problems with it, because my mother never did this and I already had a ton of issues with my self esteem growing up. Thank you for sharing this, and for being so tough and wonderful! Very well written.

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  3. Agreed, Lana. She is s strong woman. Some of the dialogue between mother and daughter is tragic.

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  4. Thank you for posting this! I have literally had the same experience. Reading this felt like I was reading my own journal. Its comforting to know I'm not alone. I look up to you for being able to forgive your mother :).

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