Monday, 20 July 2015

Dear Able People: I Eat. by Jennifer E. Hudgens

Dear Able People: I Eat.
by Jennifer E. Hudgens

You know the feeling that you get when someone holds you down to tickle you, then you’re laughing uncontrollably, and you have lost control over your body? It’s the same sort of fight or flight that rolls through a person with anxiety -- this is what it feels like to live with an eating disorder. As of July 28th, I will have hit my six-year mark of having had a gastric bypass. Just prior to the surgery I weighed 500 pounds.

I was proved sane enough and ready to undergo one of the most damaging and transformative things I’ve ever experienced.

I lost around 200 pounds in less than six months. I had a difficult time looking at myself in the mirror, I didn’t know who I was looking at. Among the massive amount of speed bumps and trauma that go with having this sort of surgery, I had to finally face the dark thing that brought me to 500 pounds in the first place. At one point I’d gone back to smoking three packs a day and living on diet pills and laxatives. I’d lost over 320 pounds and I could not get thin enough. If you see a picture from around that time my cheeks look caved in. One might wonder what causes a person to gain that much weight.

When I was little and still in diapers, I was molested. The molestation went on until I was around twelve years old. I had some unsavory family members that to this day make me sick to even think about, let alone see, at family functions. I was withdrawn, often kept to myself, and had very few friends as a child. When I was ten, my younger cousin and I had a shared birthday party. I was taken aside by one of the men that had hurt me; he told me that if I ever told anyone about what he had done, he would kill my mother.

That day, I gathered a large amount of cake on a plate, I hid in a room and shoveled as much of it in my face as I could. I ate so much cake that I made myself physically ill. There was a bathroom in the back of the house that nobody really used; I hid in there, feeling like I was going to vomit. That’s exactly what happened. After vomiting every bit of that cake and crying like crazy, I felt euphoric. I felt like I was in control.

I’d like to think if I had been an adult around a child that was so obviously introverted and shy, and had any number of signs of abuse, I would have done or said something. This is not to judge my parents, they worked hard, and provided the best they could. All of those years, nobody noticed. No one. I have barely spoken to anyone about the abuse that’s happened to me, I swallowed the guilt and shame of it.

The cycle of addiction, of binging and purging, continued for a few more years. I hoarded food. I hid food in my closet, under my bed, any place I thought that I could. I learned that gorging myself and purging the self-hatred was the only way I felt any sort of control.

As I became a teenager, I stopped the purging and started living on diet pills and cigarettes, a behavior that went well into my adulthood. I attempted suicide my freshman year of high school. I was sick of being bullied because I was quiet, fat, and didn’t fight back. I learned very early on that my only means of fighting back was a battle I had to fight internally.

I have had a number of abusive relationships that definitely contributed, too. I once dated a guy who sexually assaulted me and convinced me nobody would believe me. He said, “Who would believe a disgusting thing like you?” For so long I believed this about myself. I used to let others define my value as a woman and as a person. I thought my weight defined my worth.

I am now 36 years old. I weigh 255 pounds. I have loose skin, about 40 pounds worth. As a way to cope, I still eat my feelings. I will, on occasion, stop eating and start taking diet pills, water pills, and laxatives. I do this because sometimes I spin out of control, sometimes I unravel. I am not one of those people who thinks that eating disorders can be cured. I think that we can grow healthier relationships with food, absolutely. We can learn to love ourselves, and realize that those things that made us, do not define us. I still have days where I hate my body. More often, I find myself just not caring what anyone else thinks.

Originally from Oklahoma City, Jennifer E. Hudgens has been published in some stuff and is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing at the University of Central Oklahoma. She thinks life is poetry if you’re paying attention. Jennifer watches the sky the way most people watch television. She is terrified of clowns, horses, and animatronic toys. She genuinely hopes you enjoy her poems.

More posts in this series:

Wearing the Inside Out by Jerry Garcia
Dear Able People: New Series

If you would like to share your thoughts, please comment below. If you would like to be a guest blogger, please feel free to get in touch. We welcome anonymous guest posts on this subject, as we are aware of the pressures of discussing these subjects in a public forum.

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