A Memoir: coming of age
Dedications: I want to thank my parents for loving me, even when I was unlovable and my friends, for coming into my life after the damage had already been done. Without you, I am not me.
When they met, they didn’t know they would love each other unconditionally. For eight, long years, they would be in love. Not everything was perfect, but they tried, and that’s all that any family could ask for. Sometimes you are not meant to love a person forever. They built a life together that would ultimately last forever, no matter what the circumstances might be. They have been stuck with me for seventeen and a half years now, and until death do us part, they will be stuck with me, and I will be stuck with them. My parents have been through a lot in their lives, but every day they manage to wake up and survive another day. They have taught me all that I know, and now it is my turn to teach them something.
It was an ordinary day, as far as I could remember. All of a sudden it came crashing down. One minute I was an innocent eight year old and the next thing I knew I was helpless, being forced by life’s misfortunes, to grow up. The next nine years of my life were going to be unbearably exhausting.
They say that bad things happen to good people and I was beginning to think that this was only true in regards to me. As I sat and pondered my constant, nagging thoughts, I realized my life had turned to complete crap. I could remember the day it all happened too. We were all happy, or at least good at playing pretend.
My mother, my father, and two younger, annoying siblings: the ideal family. Wrong. The fighting, the yelling – there was constant tension in the house. At first, my parents were really good at hiding it but as their problems progressed, the fighting became more and more evident. As the oldest, I felt obligated to step in for my parents whenever I could. I remember my little sister grew a preference towards me, and would throw complete tantrums until I was at her side. My mother and I were never really close, don’t get me wrong, I loved my mother and always will but her and I saw the world differently. Even at a young age, I knew I wanted to live my life to the fullest, I never wanted to settle for anything less than the best. My parents were both the type to settle, that is probably why they ended up together. My little world was closing in around me, as I realized I was the glue that kept my family together, at only eight years old I was the stable and responsible one for not only myself but for my sister, brother, and both of my adult parents. I did not choose to be the reliable one, it was just my fate and it was better to accept it than to watch my life waste away because of my own selfish decisions. That is how I grew up too fast. At the age of eight, I put my big girl pants on and juggled my parents failing marriage, raising my siblings, and not to mention the third grade.
The calm, black night engulfed me as I sat in my bedroom, listening, once again, to a fight that was never going to end. My bedroom window was open and out I looked, into the night sky, caught in my thoughts once again. As I stared off into the pitch black sky, I saw a shooting star. This is my chance, I thought to myself as the deed had already been done without much thought. The next week my parents split up. My wish had come true. I could not quit crying as my small body shuddered against my now damp pillow. What have I done? I asked myself repeatedly as my mother packed box after box into her shitty emerald green dodge caravan. That van, that house, that fading, crooked fence, all puzzle pieces that fit together to create the only life I had ever known. It was all so normal to me. I was going to have to adapt to a new life, a new house, and a new me. My family was being ripped right out from underneath of me. I refused to fall down. I made all the adjustments that I needed to. I was really only worried about how everybody else felt, as I watched my three year old sister look around hopeless, barely old enough to understand what was going on, and my brother, he never said a word.
The school year came to an end, and summer was starting, but this year I wasn’t excited. This year I would not be playing on the trampoline with my sister and my brother while my dad watched wearily from the kitchen window and my mom sat out in a lawn chair, soaking up the glorious rays into her beautiful, tan skin. I wouldn’t be swimming in my pool in the backyard either, playing Marco polo with my dad and my brother while my mother held my sister by the edge, laughing at how silly the three of us were being in the shimmery, blue water. I would not be able to see my parents go off for their typical Friday night date either, while the three of us stayed with my grandmother and watched movies, talking about everything under the sun, and eating three different types of ice cream just because we wanted to. There would be no happiness this summer.
I was always one to love new things, whether it be trying something new or starting something new. New things were always exciting, and inviting to me. A new school was what my parents decided would be good for me and my brother that year. This meant on top of the move, and the divorce, I would have to leave all of my friends behind. Maybe starting over won’t be so bad, I tried to convince myself in the car on my way to school the first day that year. Unfamiliar faces made me go red with embarrassment as all the children whispered among each other, wondering who the hell I was. This was going to be one hell of a school year, that was for certain. They all seemed stuck up to me, but as long as they were friendly, I didn’t mind.
Making friends became easy in this school, since it was so small. I spotted her on the playground. She was quiet and shy just like I had become around these strangers. Alaina and I would become increasingly close throughout the next couple of years. I found myself struggling with my schoolwork, not like I had been a straight A student before or anything, but the school change hadn’t helped in that aspect. On top of that, I began gaining a noticeable amount of weight. Soon, I would surpass my mother in height and weight. I know I embarrassed her, but I couldn’t talk to her, she was dealing with things too, so I bit my tongue. I let my mother sulk into her pillowcase every night while I stood at the edge of her half open bedroom door, checking on her like she was supposed to be doing for me. I became embarrassed of how I looked. Most days I did not want to look into the mirror, I hated the way I looked. My glasses always sat a little crooked on my small button nose, and my damn hair, always curly and frizzy and pulled up into an outrageously large bun on top of my head. Sweat pants and large, baggy sweatshirts were what I wore on a daily basis. I could hide myself from everybody, from the world. I wanted to disappear but it was kind of hard to go unnoticed considering the size that I was.
I would love to write about the next couple of months but honestly, I became so depressed throughout this time period that my mind literally blocked everything out. I wish that I could remember, for the sake of this memoir, but I just can not remember, and I’m becoming frustrated with myself now, so I’m skipping to what I can so clearly remember happening next.
Fifth grade is probably one of the best and worst grades to be in. This year I was hoping to come back from my depressing period of numbness. Although still over weight, I began to accept myself, or trick myself into thinking that I had accepted myself. I played volleyball that year. I was a terrible player but I had fun, and I was ten years old. What ten year old has any coordination skills? I sure as hell didn’t have any. By the end of the season, my friend group had expanded, and I became happier. A couple of girls accepted me into their small circle of friendship. I can’t even explain how happy this made me, and my parents, feel. They made me feel like I was on top of the world. I had not felt this good in a long time, I was beginning to think that my life was worth living again. We were all innocent ten year olds, or so I thought. After the school year had progressed, they must have second guessed the friendship because all of a sudden I hit rock bottom again. The taunting and teasing started first. I know I’m fat, I thought as I changed in front of all the girls for P.E… I know I’m ugly, I thought as I looked into the mirror while asking to use the restroom because my thoughts became too much to bear. It would go on like this for a long time. Eventually, my family noticed a change because one night, my dad sat me down and asked me how school has been going. I instantly broke down, tears streaming down my chubby little cheeks. The taste of salt distracted me from the words I so desperately wanted to say to him. Please help me dad, please, I’m drowning, I pleaded silently in my head. How was I supposed to tell my dad that I hated myself? That I hated school? That I wish I could just disappear forever?
He took me shopping. Never take a fat, depressed preteen shopping. Ever. My confidence boosted for maybe ten minutes, The first day back from the weekend and I wore my new outfit. She had the same shorts, oh no. She’s going to think that I copied her. I’m doomed, I muttered to myself as I saw her. I couldn’t tell who was more mortified. I over heard her the next day. “I will never wear those shorts again, especially since she has them,” she hissed down the hall to her best friend while chatting at their lockers. Ouch. It wasn’t that bad, I thought to myself as I rolled my eyes towards her back once she had turned away from me. Everybody shopped at Aeropostale anyway, it was bound to happen.
The rest of the school year dragged on but it was finally summer time which meant staying in and watching television on the couch all day while I stuffed my face with whatever food was available to me. You’re disgusting, I told myself on a daily basis. I just shrugged as I stuffed another chip into my already full face. Talk about disgusting, huh? Food was my only comfort in this world. This is what would ultimately ruin my life in about four years.
I can’t even remember when it got out of hand but it did. I couldn’t even pin it on anything specific, because at the end of the day, it was all in me. My weight got in the way of everything but that is because I let it. It prevented me from having real friends, it prevented me from being pretty, but most importantly, it distanced me from my image obsessed mother. She never said it, but I know I was an embarrassment to her. I dressed like a slob, I did not care about the way I looked because no matter what I wore, I was still fat. To be exact, I was 214 pounds. If I did not change, I would never be happy, I was convinced. So that is exactly what I did, I changed myself. It was a drastic life changing decision but it was now or never. You can do this, Cars, I told myself as I saw the chips on the counter that tempted me. My pant size begged me not to turn back now.
This is where I am going to be very blunt. I starved myself. I went days without eating, cup after cup of water to fill that void in my stomach. It wasn’t working, I wasn’t losing any weight. I sat up night after night, and cried. I turned on myself when I started to throw up anything that I could. It became addicting to throw up, eventually, my mom would put an end to it. I just wanted to put an end to my misery. I even convinced myself that my life was worth losing, if it meant the pain that I felt would stop forever. I tried, oh god. You won’t do it, my alter ego hissed from the darkest, most depressed part of my mind. I did it, one by one the pills went down, and so did I. I prayed to God that night, before I slipped under my covers and into a deep sleep. I told him that if I wake up tomorrow, I will never attempt to take my life again, I will never put myself down and I will change. The next morning when I woke, I cried for hours. That is when I knew I had a greater purpose in this life. I got a second chance and I would not waste this one.
I got myself a membership at the local recreational center that September. My great grandmother would be so damn proud of me. God I missed her like crazy. Everyday, I strived to make her proud. I knew that she’d be disappointed in me if she knew all the hell I had put myself though since she’s been gone. Four months without her felt like my whole life. She was everything to me, and I had to watch her die, at home. For three months I watched her suffer, I was suffering too, but in more ways than one. She would never get to see me graduate high school or go off to college, and start a family, I had to focus. I couldn’t think about all of these negative things anymore…
It was now or never. I began working out every morning at six A.M. before school and after school. Twice a day almost felt like it wasn’t enough. I wanted the results now. I drank strictly water, and didn’t eat out either. I was strict on myself, but it was rewarding. I lost 54 pounds that year. I would go on to lose another small six pounds. Suddenly, I felt like the old, miserable me died and a new, happier me was reborn.
Life has been one big roller coaster for me. Today, it still isn’t perfect, but every day that passes I am learning and I am suddenly grateful for the life that I have built for myself. Throughout the years I have realized that I should have been living instead of dwelling. Today, I am making up for the time that I lost, when I had my head stuck up in the clouds. Life is so important, and it is so easy to waste it away. I can not name a specific date for my freedom, but every day I am thankful that I broke out of my shell. Life is precious, and I am glad that I realized this before it was too late.