I don’t really know when food became my security blanket. Maybe I was born with it. But somehow, somewhere along the way food became my safe place. Happy? Eat a cheeseburger. Sad? Have a slice of cake.
Food has, and still is, a huge thing in my family. Now don’t get me wrong... I’m not blaming this on my family by any means. I knew darn well what I was doing... just a few years too late.
Let me take you to the beginning. Like I said, I don’t really know when it all happened. I guess my first sign should have been sneaking a bag of potato chips in my Aladdin lunch box. But five-year-old me really didn’t see how twisted that was. To me it was more like “oh crap mom can’t find these or I’m grounded” so I hid them under my bed and ate them at night when my mom thought I was sleeping.
There are a lot of things that come along with being obese. One thing I never really came to terms with was the constant bullying. You know when they says kids are the worse. Dear God, they really are. I’ve tried a lot to block out a lot of what was said. I do remember though a girl tried to give me her hoodie because I was cold and forgot my coat. I didn’t think “I’m too big to fit into this,” that was until I couldn’t get it past my chest. It was then a boy saw what had happened. Started showing his other friends and they started laughing.
I remember feeling so ashamed. I felt like a fish out of water. I definitely remember going home and crying to my mom. She held me. Said it would all be okay. And then I ate dinner. Followed up my a big helping of ice cream. You know, kids make fun of you for being fat. So what do you do? Eat ice cream. Duh.
That was just the first incident. And trust me, there was more to follow. In third grade I was the first girl in the entire grade to actually have boobs. I was walking down the hallway when an older boy walked by me and he just stared at me. I didn’t notice the two bags hanging from my chest. I went home to my mom and yet again cried. I stayed home the next day and then that night I got my first bra. In third freaking grade....
In fourth grade there was an enormous rumor going around I was pregnant. That’s right guys, I was the pregnant fourth grader. Call me the Virgin Mary! Yet again crying to my mom. The next day she stormed, and I do mean stormed into the principals office. And Mama Bear was out in full force. I kept my head down and walked into class, meanwhile 50 feet away I hear my mom ripping my principal a new one. We went home later that night and she told me to tell all the boys Brad Pitt was the father. My mom was great like that. She always knows how to make a crappy situation funny. Thank the Lord for her.
Fifth grade is where life kicked me in my metaphorical balls. In the lunch room they all called me “turkey village”; where the hell that came from is beyond me. But regardless it hurt. What was worse is they gobbled when I walked... remember kids can be cruel. They made fun of me on the playground... saying I was going to break the swing. And the slide was going to collapse.
The worst part of that entire year... at the very end a kid made a poster. Of what we all looked like in 20 years. They had cut out this gorgeous skinny woman with looooog brunette hair. Absolutly stunning! And that was supposed to be me. Kids laughed and said “Yeah right. When pigs fly.” That poster hung in the classroom for a few days. The teacher liked it. I mean who wouldn’t? Until...
One day I walked into class. And over the picture of what was supposed to be me... was Jabba the Hutt...
Yup... I was the fat, gross slug thing from Star Wars... that’s how kids saw me. The teacher came in shortly after the ENTIRE class had already seen it, and took it down. Too late Mr. Heasley. Tooo late...
And again. Came home crying. As you can see my mom was my go too. She too, like me was overweight and she knew all too well how hurtful kids could be .
Sixth grade, I thought would be better. Silly me... we had a young girl who was a transfer from another school. At first she seemed pretty cool. I thought “yeah this could be something” and the "cool girls" got their claws into her. That year our teacher had put our desks into groups of six. I sat across from the new girl. And right now your probably thinking... well how could this go wrong.
Oh but wait, THERE’S MORE!
One day we were sitting in class and by sixth grade I had been a C-cup in bras. I had some tig ole’ bitties.
Anyway, we were all working on some assignment and out of nowhere the new girl just yells “OH MY GOD KAYLA (she didn’t even know my real name) YOU NEED TO PUT THOSE AWAY!”
The entire class looked right at me. I didn’t look around and then looked down and my boobs were fine. They were just here. I hunched my self over so my chest was under the table and tried so hard not to cry.
Now at this point my two younger brothers were in the same school as I was in the first grade. My brothers had special needs and in the early 2000s special needs classes weren’t really a thing.. .they were failing and not getting the education they needed.
That day I came home from school, told my mom what had happened. And like always my mom took care of it. About a week later I came home. Plopped myself down and my mom looks at me and says “Do you want to go to school next year or would you rather be home schooled?”
HOMESCHOOLED!? That was a thing poor people could do!? I asked my mom a few questions, like how it worked and she explained.
So I sat there on the couch with my mom. So you mean to tell me... I can stay home all day... everyday...? I don’t have to get dressed. I can wear my jammas all day? I can sleep in too!? SIGN. ME. UP!
So the school year ended. I “graduated” from sixth grade. And that August I got all my books and my computer in the mail and I started home schooling.
Finally I had a break from others. I didn’t have people snickering at me In the hallways. I didn’t have to listen to people berate me for my weight.
The downfall, however, I was home all day, mostly alone. So I ate. I did my classwork and ate. And I didn’t realize how bad it was getting. By seventh grade I was more than 200 pounds. It was bad.
Unfortunately that was just the tipping point.