1990s Jen to Now

Osiyo readers!

“Osiyo” is “hello” in Tsalagi or as many of you know us as: Cherokee.

So I am still around. I’ve just been all consumed with my move to DC and my new career as a journalist. I’m now all settled into my new place with more articles being published every day so I thought since insomnia is plaguing me I’ll write a little something here.

In an effort to unwind and get to bed at a decent hour for myself I decided to make myself a martini and listen to some music from the 90s. This of course led me to think about my high school self which led me to think about my college self and then down the rabbit hole I went.

The music from my late teen years brought to mind the movies and fashion which naturally led me to think about the body image issues I had. Grunge was easy for a chubby girl like me because I could hide behind big tshirts, flannels, and jeans. It was the late 90s crop tops that became an issue though. My eating disorder switched gears from hoarding food, over-eating, and trying to make myself vomit, and ultimately failing and hating myself for failing to severely restricting my diet. The later would continue on throughout my adult life. It still plagues me to this day.

I spent part of my high school years being the smart, cute, funny, chubby girl that boys were friends with and would talk to about other girls and secretly date to eventually being the thin, hot girl that they had zero interest in talking to. Both situations fucking sucked. Frankly, dating men isn’t much different. Yes, there are men out there that are into women for who they are and blah blah blah, but they’re few and far between. Yes, there are men that are into larger women, but many of those men are fetishists and still wouldn’t date a fat woman openly.

Anyway, I digress. I eventually began to think about myself at my thinnest point in college. I was a size 10 and 156lbs. I know that doesn’t sound small, but I was really freaking skinny. It was bones holding my skirts and jeans up. I looked like I had a giraffe neck. I would double up from pain because I was so hungry. The only thing that probably kept me from looking sickly is that I worked out often and had well rounded workouts so I had muscle on me. By senior year of college though, I was throwing up. During the summer between junior and senior year, I had a horrible drunken night because I was upset about some asshole, undeserving man. When I came to the next morning on my friend’s couch I instantly ran to the bathroom and prayed to the porcelain gods to make it stop. As absurd as this may sound to some, throwing up felt cleansing to me. It felt like all of the pain that I was carrying around inside of me was everyday was leaving me. I couldn’t make the nightmares, flashbacks, hypervigilance, and panic attacks from being raped and a survivor of domestic abuse and childhood abuse go away, but I could make myself feel better by puking.

Jump ahead a decade or so and I’ve finally mostly made peace with my appearance and was finally getting help for all of the abuse from my past and that had occurred since college. I won’t say all was well in candy land, but I was trying. Then my existing health issues became a problem. I’ve had health problems since I was very young, migraines since I was 13, and chronic pain due to knee and spinal problems since I was 14. This wasn’t new, but the intensity and frequency was.

These health issues have presented so many problems for me, which I’ve talked about here, but what it also did was present a new reason to hate my body. I had finally begun to accept my body for its size and shape, but now I hated it for all of its limitations and how it was ruining my life. It has triggered my eating disorder. I’ve been struggling with severely restricting my diet since 2012 which is unhealthy for even the healthiest of people. For someone with my health conditions it’s downright dangerous. My last PCP, Therapist, and myself were constantly working to find ways for me to manage my health, in particular checking my sugars (I’m diabetic) without triggering my eating disorder, as well as how I could safely take all of my medications even if I didn’t eat.

Believe me when I say it’s a difficult balance. What I intellectually know my sugars should be versus what my disorder tells me my sugars should be are two very different things. Fear is a powerful motivator. The thought of losing more of myself, more of my freedom, my autonomy, my life, my hopes, my dreams, my wishes, my ability to fight off potential abusers, is too much to bear. Sometimes I don’t eat when I know I should.

So there you have it. One martini and a little music from the 1990s and I have all of this, and a whole lot more, speeding through my mind. I intended for this to only be 3 paragraphs. My brain works an awful lot.

If you’re interested, and you should be, you can read my work on Autostraddle, The Establishment, Wear Your Voice, Medium, and the Matador Network.

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