Saturday, October 25, 2008

Full Disclosure, Part 2

So, I've poured myself a cocktail and decided to get this all out. Yay, it's the second part in my series about eating disorders! If that isn't just a pile of fun, I don't know what is.

I'm not sure whether it's funny or sad that I developed my very own set of disordered eating habits after I had "recovered" from what basically amounted to forced anorexia. Part of me now wishes I had paid more attention in therapy instead of smiling and nodding and wondering when I would get to eat again. Maybe I would have learned some coping skills or something that could have saved me from what happened to me later in life. Then again, maybe not. Who knows?

The last couple years of elementary school were interesting in their own right, but nothing stands out as far as food, fat and all that fun stuff goes. I learned to smile and nod and ignore Karen when she started going on about how fat she was, how fat David was, and how fat I was going to get if I didn't watch myself. I ate pretty much like a normal kid, I think.

Then...high school. Take an outspoken, nerdy, highly-intelligent thirteen year old with a messed up family history and no social skills to speak of, and throw them into grade nine. Yeah, there's a recipe for something good.

Long story short, within a week I started "secretly" (meaning everyone knew but if Karen had found out she would have literally hospitalized me) dating an equally nerdy and messed-up grade 12 student. (Who some of you now know. I'll leave you to guess at who, lol.) We had a torrid two-week romance which ended with him threatening suicide when I dumped him at the welcome dance. There's a good low-key start to a high school career. It may seem like a small thing, but when your home life consists of daily beatings and "time outs" in the linen closet, a bizzaro high school drama like that is a big deal. I started looking for things in my life I could control, and the first thing I found was-you guessed it-food. Before too long I was splitting my breaks between groups of friends to make it easier for myself to pull the classic "I ate with the other guys already" line. I usually had breakfast, and something small for dinner, so I didn't feel like skipping lunch was a problem. It's not really a disorder if you're eating two meals a day, right? But now I think that was setting the stage for bigger problems down the line.

Grade 10 was my "athletic" year. I played football, at least until I was taken out for the season by this TOTAL dickweed...but that's another story. Anyway, I ate really well during the football season, and for once I was really healthy. But once football wasn't an option I cut down on my meals (you don't need that many calories if you're not burning them) and took up biking and running-anything to keep me burning calories. I regularly walked to and from school, which doesn't seem like a big deal until you consider that I was attending Bedford and living on the corner of 20th St. and Avenue T (for you non-Saskatoon folks, that's a long damn walk) and usually only ate supper. (By this time I was just having coffee for breakfast, and kept up the lunch routines of the previous year.)

To compound matters, grade 10 was the year I suddenly became aware of my sexuality. Where previously I had enjoyed kissing boys and got vague tingly feelings in my girly bits sometimes, I was suddenly caught in a flood of hormones and desire, as well as all sorts of confusing feelings about girls. (I'd like to have a nice long chat with anyone who thinks that sexual orientation is a choice.) I mentioned in my last post that Karen didn't like girls...well, that's because she figures that young women are all filthy whores looking for something, anything, to stick in their cunts. (Apparently she was quite the little tramp as a teenager and decided that all girls are naturally like that.) So when I tried to talk to her about all this confusing teenager stuff, all I got was a lot of "you'd better fucking not come home knocked up, you little skank," and "what are you, some kind of fucking dyke?" (Both of those sentences now amuse me to no end, but at the time it just scared me more.) So, in the throes of my first "serious" relationship (five whole months with someone way more popular than I was) and the subsequent painful breakup (he did it over the phone), the only thing I could really understand and control was my food intake. I had started to worry about myself by the time I got serious with my boyfriend. I didn't want to become truly anorexic. So I started eating more, but I was rigorous with my portioning, as well as with what I allowed myself to eat. Some of my girlfriends admired my discipline and healthy eating habits, and I was more or less following the food guide, so I figured it was okay. What I want to tell young women everywhere is that obsessing about only eating "healthy" food is not okay. It's called orthorexia, and while it's sometimes hard to draw the line between healthy eating and unhealthy obsession, it's pretty safe to say that if you spend more than an hour or two a day thinking about and planning your meals because you want to be sure you're putting the "right" things in your body, then you should look at your priorities.

In true mood-swingy, teen girl fashion, once the tears stopped flowing over the breakup, I dropped the obsessive eating habits and started trying to be "normal." But when you have no frame of reference as to what constitutes proper behavior, normal is a dangerous word. I filled the void in my life with alcohol and pot, and intentionally lost my virginity to a guy I hadn't even been on one real date with just because I knew my ex didn't like him. How's that for wholesome-my first time was a spite fuck. Then within a couple of weeks after that, I started dating a guy who would end up raping me. Not too long after that, I started dating the guy who ended up fathering my child. As you can see, "stability" wasn't really key for me at this point.

Once I got pregnant, I essentially moved out of Karen's house. I mean, all my stuff was still there and my mail still went there, but I bounced around between friends' places a lot for the whole pregnancy. I just couldn't deal with being around her. When I did stay at home, I had either Ray (Ronin's dad) or a friend stay with me.

Because I had actually been pregnant before Ronin and miscarried just into my second trimester, resulting in wacky periods and all sorts of other fun, I didn't actually know I was pregnant until the first trimester was almost up. When I found out and told Karen, the first thing she said was "I had noticed you getting kind of fat." For some reason, that really hurt me. And I'm sure you can guess what kind of behavior that triggered.

I didn't starve myself. I ate something every day, and I took my vitamins. But for most of the second trimester of my pregnancy, I claimed to be too nauseated to eat much at a time. I was scared to gain weight. Thankfully, after a few months of this I smartened up and started eating for two...okay, really for about seven. After the sixth month of my pregnancy, I suddenly ballooned all at once.

The thing is, Ronin was so small when he was born. Granted, he was premature. And I was in an accident a few weeks before his birth that affected the last bit of his growth. So some of that couldn't be helped. But I've spent the past eight years wondering how much bigger he would have been if I had eaten better during my pregnancy. He was born weighing three and a half pounds. If I had eaten, would that have been four? Five? Would his lungs have been just that little bit stronger? Could he have avoided at least some of that time in the hospital? Would he have been able to fight off the infection (RSV) that led to him being re-hospitalized at 3 months of age? And since it's those weak preemie lungs and early infections that make him so prone to pneumonia now, what have I really done to my child? Once he was born, I did everything I could from the first moment to help him grow. But what did I do before that?

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