For Part 1, click here.
I grew up in a culture obsessed with thinness. I cannot remember a time when being thin was not the goal of my mother and every other female I knew. Being thin was the very definition of beauty. My mother herself had so much shame surrounding her body. I would watch as she did her exercises, which included slapping furiously at the adipose tissue on her thighs, as if she could beat it away by shear disgust.
Life had gone relatively smoothly for me since I had gotten off of the antidepressant at the end of 6th grade. I had grown 6 inches taller and come out of my pathetically shy shell a bit. I even had a boyfriend for a few months. But the glory days didn't last long.
The fall of 1977 started the long downhill into the pathetic years of adolescence. In October, just before my 14th birthday, I got the Grill of Shame, AKA braces. If I didn't feel ugly before, this did the trick.
A couple of weeks later my mother informed me that she and my father were divorcing after 31 years of marriage. At the time it didn't really phase me. I knew he had been gone a lot. I knew he had been unfaithful. And I never had had a close relationship with him. He had always frightened me.
Over the next few weeks I noticed various pieces of furniture from the house being moved to the garage. On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving my sister and I drove into the driveway after school and the garage was empty. My father was gone.
There are times now that I cannot shake that awful sense of abandonment that I felt at that moment. Two days later, on Thanksgiving, my mother fell apart. She screamed and wept and fell to the floor as she realized that the life that she had with my father was over. He had left her for a much younger (and supposedly more beautiful) woman. Being the youngest of the four children, I just stood there helpless. Watching my world crumble.
The next day I started my first diet.