CW & TW: Intentional Weight Loss, WLS, general unpleasantness...
I will probably never show this letter to you, because I know it would hurt you. Unlike you, I don’t want to hurt one of the people I love the most in this world. I’m not entirely sure you ever wanted to hurt me either, but the words you’ve said to me in the past and present certainly did and do and still hurt. I keep wondering if writing this will do any good, but I need to get this out on paper because I keep thinking about it and it keeps hurting me. If you ever see this, I hope you understand why I needed to get this out.
I remember the first time you made me feel bad about myself. I was in the second grade and struggling with my math homework. You were trying to help me, but you kept getting frustrated. You thought I was “playing dumb” and threatened to spank me. I remember the words you used...you said “get me the paddle!” as if to say “that’s it!”….you threatened to spank me because I didn’t know the math. Granted, you thought I did know it and was playing dumb, but I was really struggling and that hurt me a lot. I talked you out of spanking me by promises that I would try. But I was trying. I really was. I keep trying to understand you probably didn’t really know how to handle a kid with ADD.
When I was 14 at Tim Jr. and Melanie’s wedding rehearsal you called me a pig when I kept going back for cheese cubes. That hurt me horribly and I burst into tears right there at the table. You never apologized. When I was in high school and trying to lose weight, you picked at everything I ate and everything I did that “wasn’t active enough”. If you saw me getting anything you thought I shouldn’t have, you’d say “do you even want to lose weight?” You’d hover around me and say “that’s enough!” if I got even a spoonful more than you thought I should have.
The first time I did Weight Watchers, I’d lost a pretty good amount of weight and I thought I looked good. You said “well, you still have a ways to go.” Gee, thanks, Dad. You never apologized for making me cry with those jibes. I know you thought you were displaying tough love, but all those little comments did over time was hurt me and chip away at my self esteem. Fat shaming and food policing is never the way to go. Do you do this to Andrew? I bet you do, he has more mental and emotional problems than I do.
The second time I did Weight Watchers was in college. I began right after school let out in 2005, and I’d lost about ten pounds the first week. I was feeling pretty good about myself and I’d just gotten up around 11 am or thereabouts to have a bite to eat and watch some TV. I fully intended to go swimming later, because that was when you had the pool in the back yard. So I was sitting in the living room eating a cheese sandwich and watching TV. You came in and almost right away began lecturing me about not being active, saying rather seriously that you thought you would outlive me (keep in mind, I was a little less than half as big as I am now) because of my sedentary lifestyle. I burst into tears and that ruined my entire day. I went swimming immediately after that and told Mom and she said she thought you saying that was a bit over the top.
That’s another thing. Mom. She never liked when I would talk about you to her behind your back, but I had to because I had to tell someone. I know why, too. Whenever she’d try to defend me to you, you’d get after her for taking my side against you. It was always me against you. You’re so defensive. What you need to do is listen and consider how you make a person feel. Andrew and I are not the only people you treat this way. I’ve seen you treat Aunt Evelyn this way too, when she and Mark and the kids lived in their first home and the neighbors put up that barrier to their driveway. She felt hurt by it and you lectured her about not being neighborly enough. You blamed her for it and that made her feel bad. I never saw you apologize to her either. You always think you’re right and everyone else is wrong. Please work on that.
When I lived in Morehead with Wayne, Mom and I were talking on the phone one day. She mentioned she was trying to lose weight and casually told me you were wonderful about it. She said you never said anything when she’d eat too much and you supported her wholeheartedly. I began to cry and told her I wished you’d shown the same courtesy to me when I was younger. I think she was taken aback by that. Another time I posted a status on Facebook, with the Selena Gomez song quote “I’m no beauty queen, I’m just beautiful me.”. You commented that I’d always be beautiful to you. I replied something like “aw shucks”, but what I was thinking was “it’d be nice if you’d tell me that in person.”
Wayne and I decided to divorce in early 2013, and after that he began saying hurtful things to me too. Once he asked me about a certain thing I was interested in...he asked me, mind you. I tried explaining it to him, and like just about two minutes later, he said “what makes you think I have the slightest interest in that?”…that hit me hard, because it was verbatim something you’d said to me in an incident years earlier. We were watching a movie and I gave you some harmless actor trivia, and you snapped at me the same words verbatim. That’s when I knew my marriage was truly dead.
When I told you and Mom about my divorce, after it happened, you two took it surprisingly well, considering the fuss you made over Andrew’s impending divorce (before we all found out Jessi was gay). He told me you told him he was a failure at making it work and I was so afraid you’d hit the roof again with me, but you didn’t. I’m not complaining about that, because I was relieved, but I was also a bit bewildered and confused at why you didn’t afford Andrew the same courtesy. Maybe it’s because he had a kid to take care of and I didn’t? I dunno.
Fast forward to 2016. I’m getting ready to go back to Morehead the day after Christmas, and I was on my laptop letting Johnathan know that I was coming back soon. He’d had a row with his dad and I was trying to make sure he was ok. You passed the bedroom, saw me on my computer, and immediately said “that’s a waste of life”...because I was on my computer. I replied, “not if it’s talking to someone I love!”. You said, “do you know this person in person?” I said, “YES!” and you didn’t say anything after that. Why didn’t you give me the benefit of the doubt? You walked by and just immediately assumed I was wasting time. You really need to work on thinking before you speak. Just saying.
Then yesterday at China Star. Johnathan and I were talking about becoming homeowners and were excited about that, and we mentioned me getting on disability benefits. You said I should be focusing on getting back to work. That took me aback and stung me a little. The reason is, everything is up in the air right now about that. I’m trying to be able to qualify for surgery, and when I have it I’m not sure if that’s going to help my back or not. It might and it might not. If it does I’ll be able to go back to work. If it doesn’t I won’t be able to. But I’m also worried about if it does; qualifying for disability is a long process and if my surgery goes well, I worry will it all be for nothing? Will I have wasted everyone’s time? I couldn’t explain it then, but Mom noticed that I was subdued after that. She asked if I was okay and I sort of gave a “meh” hand wave. When she hugged me later she whispered you just meant eventually. My self esteem is so shot from being criticized over the years that you made me feel once again like I’m not good enough.
Why do you do that? Are you trying to push me into “doing my best”? What if I’m already doing my best? Believe me, if my back hadn’t started hurting me so bad, I would still be cashiering at Wal Mart. I’m not trying to get out of work! I am legitimately in pain! I’m trying to work on my own health and well-being and Johnathan understands that 100%. He’s only known me a fraction of the time you’ve known me, and I feel safer talking with him about things than I’ve ever felt with you. I know he won’t ever judge me or lecture me.
Johnathan is so good to me. He’s trying so hard to make me feel good about myself, but in the back of my mind I don’t believe him when he tells me how marvelous I am and how wonderful I am, how strong I am, how smart I am, and how gorgeous and beautiful I am. Every time he says it, I feel grateful, but I am always so afraid that one day he’s going to wake up and begin to think I’m just a waste of time...that I’m a mistake...I’m afraid he’ll come to his senses and realize that I’m useless. After all, Wayne did. Wayne was with me from 2002 to 2015 (we broke up in 2013, though), and he eventually gave up on me...Johnathan keeps saying he won’t ever do that, but what if he does? I’m terrified!
Things are going so well, so wonderful, and I keep being scared it’ll all end because I don’t deserve it. Every time I sleep in...every time I’m not active...every time I eat a lot...all I hear in my head is your voice criticizing me for all of it. My anxiety reminds me of that every day. My depression tells me I’m a failure...a disappointment...and I know it’s my depression and anxiety telling me these things. When I was younger I thought it was the devil...but now I no longer believe the devil exists. I think I’ve always had anxiety, but it went untreated for so long it became severe...because of religion. That’s a whole other conversation I don’t have the energy to go into right now….another day perhaps, but not right now.
I can’t have my surgery until I make a significant decrease in anxiety and depression, and I’m not sure how long that’s going to take. So I don’t know when or if I’ll be able to return to work. Be patient with me...I know it’s hard. I keep getting the impression you’re disappointed in your children because we haven’t turned out the way you wanted us to. I’m a mess and my brother has health problems, purple hair and tattoos (nothing wrong with that, by the way), and lives with you at 31. We’re Millennials, we’re doing the best we can. Please please believe in us.
I’m most likely never going to give you this letter. You’d get defensive and say I’m blaming all my problems on you. This isn’t true. I’m not one of those people who blames all her shortcomings on everyone else. Our financial problems are not your fault. In fact you’ve helped us out immensely with that, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You and Mom are one of the reasons we still have this house and can keep most of the bills paid. Thank you for that.
Another reason I’m most likely never going to show you this letter is because I fear it would cause a rift between me and the family, and I don’t want that. I don’t want to lose you and Mom...not because of money, but because I’d feel so lost without my family. I know I’m not the person you hoped I would be, but I’m doing my best to survive.
I am deeply saddened and heartsick that you and Mom are Trump supporters, but even then I can’t leave you like so many other people have left family members after the 2016 election. I don’t have the energy to go very far into why I’m so strongly against Trump either, I just wanted to get that sentence off my chest. I don’t want to leave the family like Ksenia has...is her boyfriend also against Trump? I know Uncle Tim and Aunt Jackie are probably huge Trump supporters, MAGA hats and everything...they’re Republican after all. I won’t show them this letter either.
I won’t show you this letter mostly because I know it would do more harm than good, and I really don’t want to lose you guys. I’ve had you all my life, and even though I love and adore Johnathan so much and he loves and adores me, one person can’t replace a whole family. He wouldn’t ever ask me to cut you out of my life either. He loves his family just as much and he completely understands how I can’t lose you all. I won’t ever leave you unless I die, because that’s something I have no control of. I just had to write all this down. It’s therapeutic and it’s better than keeping it all inside. If you ever see this letter, know that I bear you no ill will. I just had to spill my feelings out on cyber paper. I love you and I love my family and I just can’t lose you...I can’t.