I am being brave. For the whole of my life I have struggled with my weight. I was always a fat kid and to the embarrassment of my mother; I was the one of her two children at the time who would eat incessantly if allowed. Shit, looking back I can say that I ate so much during meals that I cannot even tell you if I ever truly experienced hunger until the days when I had to take care of myself as a young adult, and bare the responsibility of feeding myself. I think that I may have eaten so much that I didn’t ever allow myself to get hungry. I loved food. I still love food; it’s just that as an adult I have more self control than I’ve had in the past formative years. Nevertheless…
When I was nine years old I remember talking to my mom about going to the prom in the future, in high-school. I remember we were watching an episode of the Cosby Show and Claire Huxtable had on this gorgeous, yellow formal dress. She and Dr. Huxtable were getting ready to go out for the evening and he had on a suit to match her gracefulness and eloquent presence. I told my mom that I wanted my prom dress to look like that when it was my time to wear formal dresses; to which she responded, “you’re so fat now, by the time YOU go to the prom we’ll have to make your dress from a flat bed sheet.” Boom! Metaphorical punch in the face from the woman who’s greatest investment I should have been.
I was tall, I wore glasses (still do sometimes), I was pigeon – toed (currently knock-kneed), I was fat and I definitely was an embarrassment to my mom. She would not ever miss an opportunity to tell me how fat I was, or how much I ate. My mom once told me when I was ten that during a field trip (she’d chaperoned) she overheard a conversation where some kids were saying to give whatever they didn’t eat to me because I ate everything. Looking back, I don’t know why she felt the need to share what those kids said with me. Maybe she thought that she was helping me; and that telling me the truth would motivate me to change my behavior. But the truth is that I couldn’t control my eating. I now realize that back then eating was most comforting to me. I ate because I did not know any other ways to express myself nor was I concerned with learning new ways given my age and lack of insight. Another truth is that her telling me didn’t change my interactions with those girls. I was new to that school and I wanted to be liked; I didn’t necessarily care what they said. I felt like since they didn’t say it to me, it didn’t matter. I am still like that as an adult; except I now don’t give a shit whether I am liked or not. Regardless, I feel like if there is something that you have to say to me; say it, if you don’t, well then it doesn’t matter.
My sixth grade teacher Mr. Girasoulo did an activity with our class where we had to discuss what we had for dinner the night previous. I being the congenial and expressive child that I was raised my hand to proudly discuss what I’d eaten for dinner the night prior. I told the class that I had firsts and seconds of meatloaf, mashed potatoes and peas. Mr. Girasoulo said, “wow, you keep eating like that, you’re going to be the size of a cow.” And he moved on to the next child. I say all that to say for a large part of my childhood I was blatantly aware of how people saw me aside from my intelligence. Back then I felt like to many adults, nothing else mattered except that I was a fat kid, and I was always eating…again. Shit, I realized that everyone took notice. My family knew me as the fat, baby sister. My friends knew me as the fat, token, new girl. And my teachers recognized me as the tall, fat girl with glasses. Everyone knew me though, and for the most part everyone could agree that I was a sweet person.
By the time 7th grade came I was in a size 16W. Back then there were not many stores in Connecticut to find clothes for plus size women; let alone preteen girls. I was twelve years old and over two hundred pounds and I wore a DD bra cup. My friends were pretty though and my peer group was growing rapidly as a middle school student. You know? Because in middle school, friends are EVERYTHING! I entered middle school having been the the benefactor of attending two different elementary schools, in two different districts in West Haven. What that means is that, by the time I entered Bailey Middle School (one of the only two middle schools in the city) I was running into kids that I knew from both Forest School and Seth Haley. Essentially, I knew kids from all over the city of West Haven; and it made my transition easier once it was time to branch out and eventually attend high school at West Haven High.
7th grade in middle school was a year that I almost killed myself. In fact, I know that if I was not so scared of dying I would have certainly offed myself. I am so fucking grateful and blessed that I did not.
Anyway, 7th grade was contrary. I was learning about myself relative to boys in middle school. Up to that point, I had only had the repressed memory of my sexual abuse and I had not ever talked about it to anybody. In fact, there were times in middle school when I thought maybe that I was tripping and that my sexual abuse was a dream or some type of fucked up illusion that I’d seen or made up in the darkness of my mind. Our brains are amazing at blocking out things (traumatic events) and I can testify to that.
My sister was a teenage mom, and her boyfriend at the time had a cousin who wanted to be my 12 or 13 year old boyfriend; I don’t remember his age, but I was twelve for sure. Anyhow, he actually called me on the phone (because back then, that’s what we did) and asked me to ‘go’ with him. Fucking hilarious. I excitedly said yes, of course yes, a million times yes. Are you kidding me? Someone actually thought that my fat ass was attractive enough to GO with! I had a boyfriend.
Me and my boyfriend used to pass letters in the hallway at school; he wasn’t in my class because I was an excellent student and I was in the smart kid classes. Adversely, he was dumb as fuck and in the class level right above learning lab (back then it was called the D group that he was in, I was in the B group). In the letters he would ask me to meet him afterschool at certain places like behind the store, or next to the basketball courts by the woods; always places that were in the cut and seemingly private. I used to deny him; until one day I didn’t.
I lived in Meadowbook Court back in the 80’s and through most of the 90’s. Meadowbrook was an apartment complex and right across the street was a grey plaza; my boyfriend wanted me to meet him there. I did. We were kissing and touching and then he asked me to suck his dick. I didn’t want to because that is not what I planned on doing. He said what he needed to say to convince me and his penis in my mouth it went. Then he wanted to have sex with me; and so I did. No condom, no thought, outside. Only a desire to be liked and to keep my boyfriend. I met up with him for a couple more of our outside rendezvous’ where we ritually would have sex and I would perform oral sex. I don’t know if he ever ejaculated inside me because I didn’t know anything about that at that age. But, I knew at the time that I should not have been doing it. It came to a point where I actually liked having sex with him, outside like some kind of damn savage. As twelve year olds, we probably had sex like 4 times. Then, when he was not my boyfriend anymore he told so many people about what we’d done; well really, what I’d done.
It was horrible. Horrible, fucking horrible. I really did want to kill myself. The 8th graders had no problem approaching me about it, and the other 7th graders including my friends had caught word of it. I denied it, but, I think that my friends knew that it was true. Retrospectively, I think that I displayed behaviors that would be red flags to normally behaving kids who’d not the experience or exposure that I’d had. I was boy crazy. Like, hot in the pants boy crazy. And my parents didn’t know anything about it until they read my journal. Once they read it, they sat me down, chastised and shamed me. Told me how grown I was acting and that I was going to stop. Not once did they try to figure out why their 12 year old was FUCKING AND SUCKING OUTSIDE, BEHIND BUILDINGS. I mean, talk about a red flag. That was the last time either of my parents spoke to me about my sexual health, sexual responsibilities, sexual experiences and such. Literally, all they did was shame me and keep it moving; instead of digging to find out the cause of the symptoms that I displayed with my hyper-sexual behavior.
Though the embarrassment of having true rumors spread about me still haunts me to this day; back then I bounced back. Eventually, the kids started talking about something or somebody else, but shit; that took about a month, felt like maybe more. My second boyfriend in 7th grade was a friend of the first boyfriend. I didn’t care though, and my moral compass made me feel like it shouldn’t matter that they knew each other as friends. I was on some real hoodrat shit. I felt like he didn’t give a shit about me; essentially he tried to ruin my life. The immature child that I was did not even see my actions as inappropriate, I was just moving on in my mind. Boyfriend number two and I had sex too; many times. I don’t remember it coming back to me though. Maybe my sexually proclivities were not longer of interest to others since they’d long been established at the beginning of the school year. Who knows? One thing that I knew for sure is that I should not have been having sex. My best friend at the time (still a current bestie) had prided herself on her virginity; she was my first friend who actually made such an impression on me. I dearly wanted to be like her. But, I kept poppin’ this pussy as I moved onto boyfriend number three-who, yes, also knew boyfriends number one and two…talk about a hoe-tation.
Boyfriend number three was an experienced 8th grader. He and I were ‘going’ together for awhile. He used to come to the projects to see me. We used to meet up underneath the stairs in our school and have sex. Can you believe that shit? I am just now really remembering that! Holyshit. Yeah, that’s what we used to do. We would get a hall pass, and meet in the hallway. There were times when, like I said I didn’t really want to go thru with our elicit plans but I would. I didn’t want to disappoint him, and so I would always meet up. He would finger me, suck on my nipples and have sex with me. I mean we actually made the most out of those few minutes. I was open but I knew that that was not the way; I just did not know what the way was. Shit, I still don’t know what the way is; it’s just that I know what it isn’t. Once seventh grade was over and all of my boyfriends had expired I had vowed to myself to steer clear of the dick. I was committed to not having sex until I could handle the reputation and possible consequences that accompany it and I did well by that mantra.
My mom didn’t take me shopping for my eighth grade graduation. She gave me 60 bucks and told me to work with that; and so I did. I took the B bus from the projects in West Haven to downtown New Haven to the Chapel Square Mall. I went to a store called Mariams, they had trendy, plus-size clothing section. I bought an outfit that was a cream two piece pant suit. The top was a long vest and there were pants to match; I wore a shirt under it. My mother did not come to my eighth grade graduation that year in 1994. She said that she had an appointment to get her nails and hair done. That hurt my feelings and at that point I vowed to never allow her to attend anymore of my graduations or promotions.
My aunt Debbi, my niece Alexis and my sister attended my graduation that year. I was moving forward. I moved forward, the way that I knew best.