I'm reading a book called Women Food and God about how women use food and diets to mask the bigger emotional problems in our lives. So far, it's more geared toward binge eaters, which I have never truly been. I've eaten way too much on way too many occasions, and I've used food as comfort plenty 'o times, but I don't think I qualify as a true binge eater. Anyway. Beside the point.
There was a bit early on in the book where the author talks about how we need to go back to that time when we were children when we remember being free from anxiety and worry and were able to cry and get over it without it being a big deal. Before life became filled with emotional instability and constant worry. Then we will be able to start rethinking ourselves and our relationship to food. She said, "Do you remember when..." and listed all of that, and after thinking for a minute, I realized, "No. I really can't remember then."
Now, I suppose it may partly be because that was quite some time ago, and I was little and little memories are often a little fuzzy. But the times I remember quite clearly from when I was four and five years old are filled with anxiety, doubt, and fear. Fear of school. Anxiety about getting in trouble. Worry about doing something wrong or badly. Anxiety that something would happen to me or my family. That God would be mad at us for tearing up our sidewalk, which he specifically put there when he created the world. Anxiety about being grabbed and stolen by the people lurking under the bed (okay, that one's pretty common, right?). I was terrified to spend the night at other people's houses without mom and dad, even when it was a house I knew well and with people I trusted (which turned out not always to be true, but that's another story).
I'm sure I must have felt secure some of the time, and I certainly had reason to feel so. I had a safe and loving home and family life. My teachers (with the exception of my 2nd grade one) were compassionate. I was never told I was bad or dumb or expendable. But truth be told, it's all kind of overlaid with this feeling of the need to tread lightly because things weren't right or safe.
It certainly explains why I spent so much time bursting into tears for no darn good reason until I was about 11. By that point, I had finally learned the art of keeping it in because it was hard to make friends with people who knew you were a nervous freak all the time. Looking back, even the kids across the street, who were my only real friends as a young child, made fun of me. One night after dinner I was waiting for them to finish up dinner so we could play. They were at their kitchen window facing the street and my front yard, where I waited. They started taunting me for reasons I couldn't fathom, and I started to cry. I went in to tell Mom, who by this point was understandably exasperated with my constant crying, and she told me to go up and tell them to knock it off if it bothered me. Instead I just stayed in my room and cried and played alone. Perhaps that was when I began my path of hiding my tears to keep people from knowing--and therefore disliking--me.
So here I sit. I'm 33. I live in fairly constant paranoia and anxiety. Just like I did then. Maybe I just never had a period in my life where that wasn't normal, which is why it's so hard now, despite my best efforts over the past few years to change it, to be the person I know on some level that I deserve to be. Maybe that's why even after all this weight loss, I still feel the anxiety of being overweight, unattractive, and socially stupid. Maybe my posting this on the web is a step toward not hiding it...maybe that's a good thing. But maybe not.