This post lifts the lid on a very sensitive issue to me. In writing it I'm choosing to be honest and vulnerable about something I've always felt deeply ashamed and guilty about.
Throughout my life body weight, body shape and food has been a huge issue. I’ve been overweight for as long as I can remember, even as a child I was overweight. I’ve never been anywhere near what should have been the right weight for me. There are many reasons for this, some only my abusers know and are responsible for.
I’ve never been one for exercise. It’s not because I’m lazy or like being fat. In fact I hate being fat and overweight and always have done. I hate the way my body looks. I hated to dress in special clothes to do PE at school or exercise at classes or gyms. I hated being made to run cross country runs in the winter time at school and find I couldn’t breathe properly in the cold air. I just thought it was because I was a fat kid, but actually I had undiagnosed childhood asthma. Because seeing a doctor was a very rare event in my childhood the asthma was not diagnosed until I was an adult.
I’ve always hated the thought of someone being able to see my body, see me sweat and so on. I hate getting sweaty. I hate the smell and look of sweat, especially stale sweat which is a huge trigger for me. So exercising is a whole difficult area for me, it triggers me big time!!
As a child I was forced to do gymnastics. That meant wearing horrible disgusting gym suits. Those gym suits made me feel very naked and exposed. I found that ultra embarrassing as a child. I couldn’t hide how I looked and hated that! At home there was no place to hide from being goggled at and poked, especially in the bath and in my bed. Then I had to go to public places (sports hall) and wear things that made me feel just as exposed and naked. It was horrible and I had no choice over whether I did those things, went those places or wore those things.
My abusers also forced me to take part in talent contests. I’ve never known their reasons for doing that except I had a good singing voice and was a cute looking kid with freckles and dimples. I remember as a little girl people poking my face and saying “what lovely dimples you have”. I want to scream at them to leave me alone and stop touching me, that I hated my dimples. Instead I smiled sweetly and screamed silently inside. I hated those talent contests. I hated being dressed in frilly dresses. I hated having to go on stage and ‘perform’, knowing if I didn’t I’d get beat afterwards. But my abusers always had reasons for beating me whatever I did – not smiling broadly enough, singing slightly off tune or whatever. I was forced on to stage to sing and dance. I loved to sing and dance as a kid but I hated having to do it on stage in front of so many grown-ups goggling at me and at my body. Those talent shows ended when we moved north. I’ve never danced since. That’s another reason why I hate exercising. I still have a good singing voice but hate singing in front of other people. That’s one reason I don’t like going to church.
I feel embarrassed when people talk about dancing. I hate watching dancing as it triggers me back to being that little girl on stage wanting to run away and hide but having to ‘perform’ instead. I hate going to social events where there are discos because I feel embarrassed and clumsy on the dance floor and just want to run away and hide. Dancing means you and other people getting sweaty. That is such a huge trigger for me that I want nothing to do with it.
I'm very aware of my body size and shape and really sensitive about it. I tend to wear baggy clothes which hide my shape and I suppose hide me. I hate to draw attention to myself in any way and hate getting sweaty. That’s one reason why I prefer winter to summer - and a major reason why I avoid exercise - not because I'm lazy, it just has too many triggers for me to even go there. BIG HUGE triggers for me!!!
I hate the way my body looks because I was told by my abusers that my body was horrible and no one would want to know someone who had such a horrible body. My body was just a piece of meat to them. A piece of meat they could do whatever they chose to. My body was a piece of meat that had no rights to privacy. It was a piece of meat that was poked, prodded and used for anything and everything. Being told I was fat, ugly, horrible and no one would want to know me because of it meant my body image has always been pretty awful.
Being overweight has its compensations – for me it means it’s less likely someone’s going to be sexually attracted to me – now that’s a real biggie. I went the way of wanting to be unattractive to the opposite sex because I was scared of them and didn’t want anyone touching me or getting anywhere near me. I wanted to claim my body back but didn’t do it in the right way, just the only way I knew how and that was through the whole chaotic eating thing. So I’d hide my horrible body underneath baggy clothes.
My abusers deliberately starved me and then force fed me, as punishments but also as a means of humiliating and controlling me too.
I had no sense of food being something that could sustain you or being a good thing. Food was always in the context of bad things happening. I had no idea what a healthy diet was. I had no idea how to cook.
Food was just something which had really bad connotations.
Throughout my adult life I’ve kept up the starving/binging processes. I never even realised that it was an eating disorder until a few months ago I read a leaflet about eating disorders and saw binging mentioned as a specific disorder.
I use food as a comfort but that has a double edge to it. I start feeling guilty about stuffing myself and making myself fatter so I starve myself to get rid of the guilt. But the guilt and shame never really go away. I’ve always been deeply ashamed about myself, my body shape and size and my chaotic relationship with food.
Over the years Doctors and nutritionalists have tried to get me to diet or eat more healthily but to no avail. None of it worked because the root cause of my weight problems goes far deeper than not just eating the right kind of food. And of course adding in exercise was never going to work for me either for reasons already mentioned.
I guess that the truth is I use and misuse food in the same way I was used and misused!
I was always too ashamed to admit to the truth – that I binge a lot – but I also starve myself too – that I don’t know the first thing about what healthy eating or even a healthy relationship to food is about. I so wish I could be different but I don’t know how to find a way out of such a mess!! It’s not about weight, weight is a symptom!
The shame abuse causes is so multi-faceted and so deep. It goes deep to my very core. It does deep into my belief system about myself and my value, or lack of it! It goes deep into my belief system about food, my chaotic eating and so many other things. It goes deep into my belief system about my body, about how ugly and horrible it is. It goes deep into those lies and many others!
That’s a tiny snapshot of what the sexual abuse did to me deep inside.
I wish I could stop feeling so ashamed and embarrassed about my body, about the eating disorders, about ME.
I suppose going public in this way is my first step towards hoping and thinking that maybe there is a way out the other side of all this stuff.
I am a survivor of extremely severe ritualistic childhood abuse and sadistic systematic torture. This blog has helped me get my voice back and documents the journey I'm on to heal from the trauma and damage caused by that appalling abuse. Now is the time for me to tell of MY experience by speaking the truth about MY life. I will be silenced no more! On this blog I share MY life, MY healing journey; helpful quotes/stuff I come across and MY thoughts along the way. The more I speak out the more liberated I am from the shame and trauma of the abuse. My broken wings are gradually being repaired. Without God in my life I wouldn't still be here. But somehow, I keep on staying alive, surviving and rarely, occasionally, living a little!