Welcome Back! Our guest community blogger last week, Tracy Gonzalez, really touched your hearts. Our community bloggers this month were courageous both in their personal journey’s and their ability to share their stories. We thank you.
I would also like to thank our guest DO, Dr. Laura Rosch for contributing. She was willing to step up this month and fill an unexpected hole in our schedule, so we really appreciate her!
And now comes the week where I get to share a piece of myself with all of you. So grab a cup of coffee, and let’s chat.
I don’t think any of us set out to be overweight. I don’t know anyone who wakes up every morning and thinks, “I wonder how much I can gain today?”. During my years of working in social services, I met many people who had experienced trauma in their lives and, as a result, addiction followed.
One such story, I will share with you today. I know the story well.
When I was just eight years old, my parents decided to enroll me in voice, dance, and acting lessons, because I was deemed “too shy”. I had lived a very sheltered life, wasn’t allowed much socialization outside of my home, and didn’t have an understanding of what was expected of me. I didn’t understand why being shy wasn’t ok.
I didn’t want to disappoint my parents, so I agreed. Even though my mother was not your typical stage mother, I still felt the unspoken pressure to perform. Literally. Our dance troupe went everywhere and we were very popular in our small rural home town.
One day, we were all dressed in a two piece dance outfit, and we were lined up getting ready to go onstage, when suddenly one of the girls said, “Look at your navel…if it sticks out, you are thin and pretty…if it sticks in, you are fat and ugly”. You guessed it, mine was the only one that “stuck in”. (Is that even a thing?) I fought back tears, finished the number, and prayed for the day to end.
That night, I remember perseverating over my navel. I measured it, and made a plan to lose enough weight that it would stick out, like a proper naval should. I stopped eating, swam in our family pool as often as I was allowed, rode my bike, did sit ups in my room, and if I ate something like a piece of cake, I would force myself to throw it back up right away. Sometimes I would chew the food just to taste it, then spit it out. I was only 10 years old.
(Pictured at right, Linda Tate, far right, David Tate, middle, right)
I lost not only weight, but muscle. I had been a strong swimmer and dancer, but suddenly I felt weak most of the time. I then contracted the flu. Unable to eat and unwilling to talk about it, I ended up having a seizure.
The doctors put me on phenobarbital for two years, and since I didn’t have any other seizures, it was considered an “isolated black out”, puzzling to the doctors, but I knew the truth.
(Pictured at left, Linda Tate, and David Tate, circa 1972 (8 and 9 years old)
At 15, I had an ulcer. It was around this time that our troupe broke up. High school demanded too much from all of us, and there was simply no time to dance. Once my physical exercise was gone, my weight started to climb. My teen years were filled with friends, hobbies, school activities, and bullying. Constant bullying. “You’re too fat for that outfit”, and “God you’re hideous” were things I heard daily.
After high school, I took a job taking care of three teenage boys while their mother traveled. One night, the unthinkable happened, and one of them broke my bedroom door down and assaulted me. This trauma only served to exacerbate my symptoms.
My attacker was the high school track star, so I was not believed. It couldn’t have happened the way I said it did…I was a liar with obvious psychological issues. If my friends hadn’t sustained me, I’m very afraid I would have become a suicide statistic.
From that point on, my weight was my protector. If you are overweight, men don’t want you. If you are overweight, you are also overlooked, a dream come true for an introvert. I was hiding behind the numbers on my scale.
Every once in a while, I would get concerned about my health, and would make an attempt to lose weight. The scale would start to drop, and then I would panic. I couldn’t, I mustn’t, allow this to happen! What if it happened again? What if some guy saw what he liked and just took it? Then, I would gain back the lost weight, and add a few pounds for good measure.
I sought help through counseling, and eventually started to heal. It took over two years, but my ability to thin back out finally came back to me. Just in time to meet and marry a man who would eventually drive me to get a restraining order and hide for my life and the lives of my children.
During my six year marriage, the weight started creeping back up. His put downs, his controlling nature (none of which he demonstrated until after the wedding, of course) gave me so much anxiety that I would literally hide in the bathroom or the car and eat an entire box of Hostess whatever. In hindsight, I probably should have purchased stock in Hostess.
I finally broke free of him, and within 90 days of our divorce being finalized, was rear ended by a commercial truck that didn’t see us stopped. I ended up with a traumatic brain injury.
(Pictured left, David and Linda Tate, NYC “romance on the subway”)
Long story short, my ability to prepare a healthy meal for myself and my kids ended, along with my executive function. Now the weight not only came back to me, but also to my kids, as frozen dinners and fast food became a staple in our home.
It took a good five years to recover from the brain injury and work my way off of social security disability, and back into a career. My weight stabilized during this time. I was busy and fulfilled, and to be honest, just thankful to be functioning again.
The problem was, when I say my weight stabilized, what I mean by that is “I didn’t gain any more, but I didn’t lose any more either.”. I weighed 225 lbs. I stand 5′ 6″. Not good.
Fast forward and life got substantially better. I married the boy I was assigned to in dance class so many years ago. He lived in NYC, and after moving there, I lost 30 lbs. It could be said that in NYC, walking is the only mode of transportation worth employing, and I would agree. I loved it. My cooking skills improved over time, with my husband’s encouragement and support.
(Pictured right, Linda Tate, 2012, NYC)
In January of 2017, I fell and broke my leg. It’s been over a year, and I still don’t have mobility back. Too many steps in one day equals a very swollen limb and no sleep that night. I’ve now ballooned up to 250 pounds.
I say all of this not to make excuses, or to seek pity, but to relate to those of you out there, and I know you are out there, who don’t just struggle with food addiction. Your issues, like mine, are multifaceted and will demand a multifaceted approach on your road to wellness. As Tracy so beautifully said in her blog, “You have to get your head straight FIRST”. Osteopathic doctors are unique, in that they work with the whole body. Their mind, body, spirit approach to wellness is very effective.
In facilitating this blog for the past year, I’ve really enjoyed our contributors. I’ve laughed, I’ve cried, and I’ve related. But this month, I had an epiphany. I will be moving forward on my own personal weight loss journey, and will hopefully, under the guidance of both of these brave ladies, Molly Brady and Tracy Gonzalez, along with my DO, find the success that has eluded me all these years.
I must bury my past and live in the now. Right now, today, I have the power to change my life for the better. How can I say no to that?
Next week, we will have a “one of” blog, and invite a guest blogger to give us some really cool information on coffee creamers! She will teach you how to make your own. You won’t want to miss this if you love coffee as much as I do!
Thank you for reading us…we really appreciate you. Take care of yourself and each other, and we will see you next time.