I’ve always hated you.
I’m sure that doesn’t come as a surprise seeing as how poorly I’ve treated you all these years. From a very, very young age I knew you weren’t up to snuff. Everything around me told me so. You were too big, like an over-stuffed suitcase I couldn’t quite close and too cumbersome to lug around. I’ve always wanted to replace you.
Remember when I was around ten and had a sleep over with our neighbor friend, Kathy, and my sister? We woke up and her mom was making us pancakes. But. . . we were on a diet and didn’t want to be “bad” so I asked Kathy to ask her mom if we could just have cereal. Her mom got really mad and thought us rude. We left crying and walked the 5 blocks back to our house very dejected. I thought I was doing the right thing by trying to eat better but then I was punished for it.
Remember that time when I had my first crush? The yearbooks came out and Vince R., the crush, wrote, “You’re one big triple stuffed Oreo.” I was convinced he meant I was fat. No wonder he didn’t like me back. Stupid fat. You have always been to blame. Who cares if he meant I was really sweet? It stung.
I’ve tried to exercise and eat right. A lot of the time, as a kid, I starved myself and worked out in secret. Then I’d lie flat on my bed on my back and touch my belly because then and only then did it feel flat. I hated you for betraying me. I hated how you kept me from fitting in. How I couldn’t wear the latest fashions from Benetton or Esprit. I hated shopping in the sections of the store for women because I was too chubby to fit into the junior section.
I’ve always been ashamed of you.
Remember when I was 22 and had finally lost all that weight? We walked and walked and walked every morning and the pounds fell off. No one knew because we were away at school and perpetually hiding in over-sized overalls. When I went home for the summer, I kept working out. That one day we were heading back from the neighborhood track and those two young boys on their bikes rode by and yelled, “You’re so fat!” and kept going. It crushed me inside. I cried all the way home. Because of two rude kids. Because here I was finally thinner and still, I could not find acceptance.
I was thin for a bit. By thin I mean I was “passing.” I could shop at regular stores. I didn’t mind being naked. I felt a false sense of confidence. Inside, no matter what I looked like on the outside, I felt like the fat girl I had always been. Men hit on me more and more and I hated them for it. I was convinced they never would have seen me when I was heavy. I started to feel too exposed. I gained the weight back.
And now I hide in it.
Remember the men who told me that they loved me and in the same breath uttered things like, “You’d be really hot if you lost weight.” Or, “I don’t know what I’d say if someone commented on your body.” Or my personal favorite, “My friends look down on me because I date you.” I was mortified. I wasn’t enough. Or I was too much of one particular thing. I wished I could trade you in as to spare me these painful situations. I wanted to be rid of you.
My whole life I have never felt comfortable in you. I’ve judged you by unattainable standards. I’ve looked down on you, demeaned you, settled for second best for you, and used you as an excuse. I have never loved you and for that, I regret. That’s 34 years of time wasted. And that? That’s a fucking shame.
I’m so sorry for never loving you. I’m trying to look at you differently now. I’m trying to heal all those old wounds that keep us separated. Maybe, hopefully, the next time I write to you the letter won’t be full of apologies.