Up until fourth grade I was homeschooled. I excelled academically, but, craved the social interaction of other kids my own age. In fourth grade, my parents put me into Hood Canal School. I will never forget how terrified I was that first day. I remember every detail about my first day of school – I remember what my binder looked like, I remember what I wore. I especially remember feeling like everything about me wasn’t quite right compared to the other kids – I didn’t know what pencil to use, or what binder was cool. Luckily, I quickly made some wonderful friends who helped me navigate this new normal.
There was one friend that I grew closer to as I continued at Hood Canal. She was wonderful to be around. She was inclusive and made those close to her realize that they were HER best friends. Many social decisions I made during that period were strongly influenced by her. In sixth grade, she gave me a “best friends” necklace and I wore it proudly. I watched as she would bring others close to us and then alienate them. I just never thought it would happen to me.
During eighth grade, she and I had made grand plans for how high school was going to be for us. Over the summer, she made other plans. The first day of high school came and it was clear to me that our plans that we made no longer included me. She had replaced me. I remember feeling so exposed at lunch time, seeing the table I should have been sitting at and realizing I was not welcome.
Telling this story, I now have the perspective to know that this event was so small and so common. Time offers perspective. Her leaving me in her tracks encouraged me to make many friendships that I still have today. Honestly, it was a needed push to get out of my comfort zone.
However, in the moment, I had ZERO perspective. This was everything to me. I was devastated.
This event was the first time that I realized that I couldn’t control things or people but I could control what I ate and the reactions I would get from losing weight. From them on, when things got stressful, my immediate response was to control what I ate.
When a stressful time would come – my first heartbreak, my second heartbreak, starting college, getting married, my first instinct always was to control what I ate (or didn’t).
This coping mechanism is still very much a part of me even today. When I have a stressful day at work, at home or in a time of transition especially, my instinct is ALWAYS to control food until things around me calm down.
The problem with this method is that it doesn’t actually help manage the stress of a transition. It is a coping mechanism that truly is not a benefit to anyone involved. I want my boys to learn how to properly cope from me. I never want them to think that a way to manage stress is to skip a meal or be overly restrictive with their diet. Just that thought, breaks my heart.
Today, I am choosing to love myself even when.
Even when, times are stressful, my body deserves nutrition.
Even when I want to control, my body deserves to be appreciated.