Sometimes, I default to food for comfort. It's a sick habit I've had my whole life, I'm pretty sure. I have a lot of memories of eating for eating's sake as a little girl. I remember being about nine or ten and getting home from school and making myself one microwave frozen burrito after another, just eating. I also have memories of eating several of those little snack-sized chip bags, one at a time, trying not to get caught. I felt shame about eating, even as a child. But, ate I did. And often hated myself for it.
I never got into vomiting or starvation. I wasn't vain like that. I just over-ate. I believe it was my rebellion against some people in my life that were so weight- and appearance- concious that it consumed them. I was bitter, and hated those people for being thin and beautiful, but in opposition I went to the other end of the spectrum and ate, as if to say "Screw you. I'll be fat, and people will like me for ME, so take THAT." As if it mattered to their lives that I ate!! Turns out, people don't always like you because of that chip on your shoulder, not necessarily because you are overweight.
And PMS? FORGET ABOUT IT. I could eat the house down for a week every month.
There were times when I dieted and was in shape, sort of, but it never lasted. Not that it mattered, I still hated myself and thought I was a fat blob. Now when I look back at pictures of myself in highschool or in my early 20's I think "I was hot! What a waste!" It didn't matter how much grandma told me I was beautiful and wasn't fat because my head was warped, convinced of the opposite. Size mattered, and I was always bigger than anyone else in class, at clubs, wherever. I remember being "thin" (for me) and still being the biggest girl at the bars when I used to go out.
I was already almost 5'9 in 6th grade, with a large frame and a shoe size so big I used to order oars with them. I went to a new school in 6th grade, and early on two female classmates told me that "Karli" in Spanish meant "cow." I learned years later, of course, that it was a cut. At the time, just a bit embarrassing that my name meant "cow." In 8th grade, one of the mean girls that we'd now call a "bully" commented about a new outfit I was wearing, that I was quite proud of. "People with fat **** like yours shouldn't wear pants like that!" What, you mean my black acid washed and pegged stretch jeans didn't flatter me? The probably didn't, but I was pretty proud of that outfit, complete with over-sized sweater and tennis shoes, likely a Payless version of L.A. Gear's. I bet she doesn't even remember me. As a freshman in high school, we had to write epitaphs about our classmates. One labled me "Karli Rocks the Temple." Upon asking her for an explanation, she said "You know, it's because you're so big, when you walk you rock the temple!" as if it was obvious.
Sure, we all have moments in our past that create how we feel about ourselves. The meaningful people in our lives have likely long forgotted those few words they said to us that ingrained themselves like a brand in out psyche, and hurt just as bad. See, it doesn't matter that I had food, clothing, shelter, love, and a good head on my shoulders. Even as an adult, I made a life and had relationships and friends and worked sometimes 4 jobs and was independent, and I still hated myself. Comfort in the "worldly" things came and went, fleeting. Nothing lasted, nothing made me "happy." I was never good enough.
Until I met Jesus. I still don’t understand why it is he found ME, chose ME, but he did and I can’t ignore that. Understanding God’s love for me despite my size or how I feel about myself has been so life-changing. I still have self-esteem issues, pick at my body and shape even at a healthy weight and BMI after dropping over 80 lbs this year. The weight loss has improved how I feel when I wear clothes and how I feel physically, sure. And of course, it’s healthier to be a normal weight and it makes this life easier, but having the peace of knowing that I am unconditionally loved by the Lord surpasses anything else I could ever do for myself, earn for myself. I don’t understand it, because I’m a complete screw up, but I BELIEVE it. I believe it. I am unconditionally loved and accepted by the one who made me and sent His son to die for me so I could be in His presence. For Him, I should treat my body right by eating right (not that I always do) and being healthy (not that I always am.) He loved me enough to die for me, and He doesn’t care if I’m fat, thin, ugly, pretty, have pimples in my 30s or use high-end skin care products. He loves me, just as I am, and that is more than enough for me. Keeping that foremost in my mind is a daily struggle, given the pressures of this world and the deep-rooted thoughts about what “matters.”
Sweet little song