I apologize for the reoccurring themes that seem to be the focus of my last few posts – overly inspirational and weight-loss oriented – but the start of a brand new year can have that kind of influence on people, and I feel that this post needs to be written.
As a very shy and reserved person, due to many of the reasons you’re about to read, this subject is very difficult for me to talk about. I doubt I can even do it justice. It’s a serious topic and a long post, but my hope in writing this is that someone, at least one person, will take this story to heart, relate, and change for the better.
For the very early part of my childhood, I was healthy. I played outside, I ate what my parents fed me, I was a normal kid. Then, for reasons that shall be left to a post at another time, I decided to become a vegetarian at the ripe old age of six. Mealtime now became exceedingly challenging for my parents, and it was difficult for them to find food I would be willing to eat. That’s probably what started it.
I didn’t know what to feed myself either. I was six. I liked candy and junk as much as the next kid. So, that’s what I ate. I never realized something so good would eventually lead to something so bad.
I started to put on some weight. I always knew I was larger than the other children in my grade. Even as my weight continued to increase, it never seriously bothered me until the summer before I started middle school. My best friend’s new boyfriend, who I had only briefly met once before, had called me fat. That was the first time.
After school started, he and his friends amped up the insults. Fat led to ugly. Ugly led to a whole myriad of other taunts about my physical appearance. The bullying did not stop. On the bus, in the lunchroom, during class, I was teased everywhere, even by people I had once considered my friends.
I would come home after school and cry. Then I would eat. I would sit and consume ungodly amounts of food because for some reason, some screwed up cell in my brain seemed to think that it would help. The food tasted good, so maybe it would make me feel good too.
It didn’t. I was never pushed, never punched or hit. I was never physically bullied. But no amount of Cheez-its could ever conceal the mental and emotional scarring bullying had caused. Middle school lasted for three years. For three years, I continued to grow heavier and was bullied even more.
Those who care about me tried to reassure me that the weight I was experiencing was just baby fat, and that as I got older, it would basically just fall right off. I knew that wasn’t the case. I wasn’t that naïve.
I don’t know exactly what triggered it. If there was a specific moment or something said that just really inspired me, I don’t remember it. But the summer before high school, I made a change.
I dug deep inside and found the push that I needed, the drive, in order to better myself. No more being the victim. No more hiding because I couldn’t handle the hurt. I drastically changed my eating habits from almost an entire bag of Oreos and a glass of milk after school, to a small 100-calorie pack of crackers. Then I actually tried eating salad. I incorporated vegetables and drank more water. I started exercising little by little. I would try to keep telling myself was that I was tired of feeling so helpless and held back because I believed what someone else thought about me. I dropped at least 20 pounds that summer.
After that, school wasn’t so hard. Losing all that weight, showing myself that I could actually accomplish what I worked hard to achieve, gave me the confidence and the edge I needed to begin to heal my scars. When the bullies realized that I had quit caring about what they said, so did they. Surely enough, the mocking eventually stopped.
This post isn’t about weight-loss. This post isn’t even about bullying. This is about digging down and finding out who you truly are. This is about being fed up with unhappiness. Because when you finally get a taste of what you’re made of, you’ll get addicted, and you’ll become unstoppable.
No matter what anyone says, no matter what anyone does, you can relish in the fact that you know exactly who you are and what you’re capable of. Your determination, your will, your fight…those are things no one can ever take away from you. You can rise from the flames. And after the war is over, and you’re standing on the battlefield staring your defeated enemy right in the eyes, you’ll know what true happiness really feels like.
Don’t ever stop fighting. Do it for you.