When I was eleven, I discovered that I was “different”, and that “different” was apparently an appalling thing to be.
That was the year my size ballooned like a marshmallow in a microwave, topping out at 220 lbs. I wore a size sixteen in jeans, and I wasn’t able to shop in the junior’s section because I was simple too large. And with a loving mother and a family who believed that I was still holding onto my nearly 100 lbs of “baby fat”, I never necessarily disliked myself. I was ignorant to the upturned noses of the department store employees or waitresses or peers, simply unaware of not only the discomfort but the disgust my sheer presence brought to them. Really. Yeah, I knew I was big, but I had never given it much thought beyond that. As far as I was concerned, life was pretty damn good. I had not a care in the world. In fact, I prided myself on being “big, blonde, and beautiful“, preaching everywhere I went on how “inner beauty” was invincible and trumped all! Well, it turns out that I never knew the profound weight of my words, but I did later discover that while I was ignorant to others’ displeasure, I was by no means immune.
Unfortunately, that all changed in 7th grade. Thanks to my good ol’ buddies at school, that was also the year I discovered that I was fat. And ugly. And gross. And in retrospect, it’s rather difficult to put words to the overwhelming humiliation I was put through. Perhaps it’s because I’m lacking in writing ability, which is definitely possible. Maybe, and more than likely, it’s because my mind has repressed these memories in fear that, if reminisced upon, a side of me that has been locked up for years now will be released and given free reign to torment me into ultimate submission. The most poignant memories, however, I have never forgotten. No, I have never for one nanosecond forgotten the most belittling and disastrous of them all, and unfortunately, they’ve never benevolently forgotten about me either. They never did let me forget what it was like to be “the fat girl” in middle school.
Guys and girls from all grade levels mooed at me in the hallways, or when I got up to turn a paper in during class. Mooed, since I was a cow, get it? They were too clever, those little rascals.
I was tripped on the way back to the locker rooms after P.E., then laughed at because I made it “earthquake.” Original, that line was.
One gentleman even snickered during class one day,”Dang, two of me could fit into only one of her, easily.” His name was Nathaniel and he was blonde, one of two identical twins. To this day he doesn’t know what wildfire he sparked. I think we’re actually friends on Facebook.
Needless to say, I fell apart. Not all at once though, not like the Twin Towers, but more like my pseudo-self-confidence eroded over time. A Grand Canyon of sorts slowly formed in my mind, with plunging chasms like deep scars on my psyche. Each and every day I went home a little more crestfallen, my world a little bit darker, my spirit dimmer and dimmer. The change was so subtle and gradual that nobody noticed the shift in my demeanor, and I was completely and totally okay with that. Over time I let myself get dangerously low, sinking deeper into this comfortable sadness that swaddled and suffocated me like a woolen blanket. And as the months passed by I retreated further and further into myself, and while I was physically present at home and at school, I most certainly was not “there.” My conversations became so mundane and generic, and I guess nobody noticed they were on a loop. I was in survival mode, you see. I was only ever concerned with making it through the day. Miserable. Desolate. Volatile. And this was only the first year. For three years I would suffer the consequences of someone’s careless actions.
I was only eleven years old.