Friday, February 6, 2009

Night moves

Waking up in the middle of the night wanting sweets has been part of my life since I was seven years old. I don't remember exactly how it began, but I can certainly put it into some context.

My father was in prison; my mother had died five or six years previously. It was the third U. S. state in which I had lived in my short life, and was at least the third family group with which I shared a household. I was just beginning to figure out that my mother was really gone for good and what that might mean, but I didn't talk about it with anyone; I had long since learned that the more invisible I could make myself and the less demands I appeared to have, the better off I would be. I had also been molested by this age, and as a result, did not sleep well.

So--I'm seven. I'm living with a relative I'll call Mr. Forced Starvation, who I mentioned previously in this blog. Mr. FS has a wife, too, but, as I recall, she mostly serves as a Greek chorus for his (largely negative) pronouncements, though she has a few choice ones of her own. Needless to say, they are not the most pleasant of people to live with. He seems to really enjoy eating in front of me, talking about what he's eating, taunting me about how I can't have it--and it's usually chocolate ice cream, which is my favorite. To add insult to injury, some friends of theirs have a little girl who comes over to our house frequently, and she's allowed to eat whatever she wants, whatever they're having. A point is made to send me to my room, where I can hear everything that is going on. I haven't misbehaved; the only way I have failed at this point is to be born shaped in a certain way. In the pictures from this time period, I'm not particularly heavy yet, but I'm definitely a child that a practiced eye can see will be struggling with her weight later--even if the environment in which I was living wasn't already handing me an eating disorder on the proverbial silver platter.

I can remember waking up in the middle of the night and looking out the window, hearing other people's snores, knowing I had reliable privacy for the moment. There was a tendency in this particular household to be walked in on in the bathroom, a distinct overall lack of healthy boundaries. This household taught me not only the necessity of, but joy, even revelation in my own ability to hide: not only who I was, but what I felt and needed, and simply to get away from the world.

I remember the light of the moon shining down on my contraband roll of Sweet Tarts, which I had either stolen from the store or stolen the money to buy (probably the latter). As low as the moonlight often was, I can still remember the sound the wrapper made as I peeled it off, and the quiet shot of glee within me when I could distinguish that the next piece of candy was pink or orange. How appropriate this memory is now, more than thirty years later, when I still awaken in the night with similar cravings. This memory, and many others like it, contain the presence of the only true sweetness I was able to rely on for the first half of my life; but the very weight of articulating this truth is sour, and its tartness burns.

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This blog focuses largely on a personal journey to and through weight-loss surgery. It's also about reading, writing, animals, photography, love, humor, music, thinking out loud, and memes. In other
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