Sunday, April 27, 2014

"Fat" is a four-letter word (part III) .....

As I've already mentioned, my weight was a constant source of irritation to my uncle's wife, and it was something she regularly criticized me for.
The school day started early, so I was always out of the house by 7:30AM or so.  Lunch was at  approximately 12:00PM, and dinner was usually around 7:00PM, since we had to wait for my uncle to arrive home from work, and his commute was at least an hour.
Once my aunt declared that my weight was unacceptable, food was off-limits to me between meals.  As a growing adolescent, seven hours was a looooooooooong time to have to wait between lunch and dinner.  I've also mentioned that food was a source of comfort, so I had a constant and ongoing combination of physical and emotional hunger. 
That pretty much sums it up.
But a hungry child is a clever child.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Dreams .....

Over the approximately seven years that I lived with my uncle and his wife, I often had what I called "escape dreams" in which I was trying to run away from various captors.  Quite often, I was being held prisoner by Germans, which I attribute to the numerous WWII-themed TV shows of that era, but even then I recognized that the people I was trying to escape from were actually my uncle and (more significantly) his wife.  Occasionally I recorded dreams in my diary, but often I forgot the details before I was able to write them down.
One exception is the escape dream I had in late July, 1970.  It was strikingly vivid in its details and realism (I physically *felt* some dreamed objects), and I was able to get it all on paper while it was still fresh in my mind.
I present it here exactly as I penned it in 1970:
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"I had another dream the other night.  It is the worst dream and one of the most realistic dreams I have ever had."
If I'd run as much in my waking life as I did while dreaming,
I wouldn't have had a weight problem.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

No voice .....

My first adoption was finalized in 1960, approximately 18 months after going to live with my grandparents.  Since I was only three at the time, no one consulted me on the decision and, honestly, I don't think there's anything inappropriate about that.
My second adoption?  Well, the circumstances of that event were much different.
It was at dinner, sometime in 1968.  As we sat at the table, my uncle said "How about we adopt you?"

Horrified, I responded, "No!"

He asked for my reasons.

My inner child was shouting:

  • I feel guilty about "replacing" my grandparents, whom I consider my "real parents".
  • I feel an intense desire to return to the Midwest, which I consider my "real home."
  • I'm being bullied by my peers at school.
  • I'm being emotionally abused by your wife.
  • I'm being physically abused by your wife.
  • I'm occasionally being physically abused by you (and your leather belt).
  • I just don't feel like I belong this family, this school, this town.

But all I said was:
"Because I don't want to."

"Fat" is a four-letter word (part II) .....

As I matured, I wanted to wear pantyhose, which had become increasingly popular in the late 1960's and early 1970's.  Of course, this was another item that my uncle's wife refused to buy for me.  She told me I could buy my own pantyhose with my own money.  Unfortunately, since I had no money of my own, and no realistic way of earning any, this was impossible.
Instead, she got me white bobby socks -- a style that had gone out of fashion at least a decade prior.

OK, sure -- I wear these now, but I'm old and don't care anymore.
It's very different when you're a young teenager desperately trying to fit in with your peers.

My oh-so-sophisticated classmates -- who'd earlier mocked my Girl Scout uniform and Go-Go lunch box -- again let me know that I was in violation of societal norms.  One memory is indelibly imprinted in my memory:  Popular girl Taryn sneering at me before Gym class and saying, with oh-so-false sincerity, "I like your so-oooocks."  My response?  "Thanks."  What else could I say?

"Fat" is a four-letter word (part I) .....

My weight was a constant source of irritation to my uncle's wife, who was tall and naturally slim.  Although I was "chubby" when I arrived, it wasn't long before I started gaining weight fairly steadily.  The exercise I'd gotten in the city -- walking to school, walking to the park, walking to friends' houses, roller skating on the sidewalk -- was replaced by riding a school bus and driving to town.  I was able to ride my bike until my brother destroyed it.  The bike was never replaced and I didn't ride again until I went to college a decade later.
The dreaded scale, verifying what was already obvious.
My uncle's wife frequently commented, negatively, about my eating habits.  She never commented on my younger brother, who ate voraciously.  However, since he was always on the go, his weight stayed well within a "normal" range.   Obviously, it wasn't what I ate, but what I looked like, that was so unacceptable.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

It's the thought that counts .....

One of the many differences in my new "home" was the weather.  I'd been living in the Midwest, and had seen a fair amount of cold and snow -- but not nearly the amount that I'd experience in New England, and my wardrobe wasn't adequate.
At the first snow, realizing that my lightweight coat wouldn't be warm enough, my uncle's wife reached into the hall closet and pulled out the blue ski jacket that had previously been worn by her daughter.  She gave it to me and told me to wear it.

I'd never even seen a ski jacket before.  The one I was given
looked very much like this and had belonged to my adoptive sister.

I wasn't happy about wearing someone else's coat, but knew better than to complain (too much).  In the end, it didn't matter because it was already on the small size and would only fit me that one season.