What do I see in this picture?

When I look at this picture I feel like I’m staring at a stranger. I mean I clearly know it’s me, but I feel like I don’t know her at all.

When I look at her I feel the same emptiness I felt when I was her. I feel like I look at her and am instantly reminded that when I used to be her, I’d look in the mirror and imagine the new me. When I would look in the mirror though I felt like I was a skinny girl trapped in a fat body. I wanted to get out of the one I was trapped in for so long, be the “skinny” person that I felt I was inside. I tried so hard to explain this to my doctor and others, no one heard me.

No matter how many things I tried I couldn’t loose weight. Probably because of my combined eating disorders, the ones that make me starve, binge, restrict, monitor, and so on. You don’t have to be skinny to have anorexia or bulimia either. Those conditions along with about 4 other eating disorders can overlap, mix together, and never be the “classic” type.

I’m certain that my family doctor growing up would feel terrible if he knew how much he missed. I seriously remember telling my doctor with every single new “diet” he wanted me to try, “I don’t eat enough calories for this weight gain”, then he’d look at my 300 pound mother and hear her say, “oh yeah she eats.” Sometimes I’d argue with her, he never believed me.

This person in the photo is hard for me to recognize. I wanted to be anyone, but her. I hated her. She was me though.

I look at her now and I still feel empty. I still feel like I don’t know who she is then or now. I can’t tell you what she really likes or doesn’t like. I can’t tell you what brings her joy or fulfillment. I can tell you that she always wanted to be a doctor and still does, but knows it’s impossible to achieve at this point, just like they said then.

I try new things and distract myself, but it’s all I ever do is find distractions to occupy my time. Once I learn how to do it, then I’m done and bored and need to move one. I can never keep on one thing.

I know that the person in the photo is still here although that body isn’t.

It’s a struggle for me. I have no clue who I am or what I like. I never had money and still I really don’t. I stay home unless I’m invited along. I always assume I’m not invited or not wanted so unless someone specifically asks me to join them I will not even recommend that I go. I will just silently hope they want to include me.

I find that I’m happiest doing stuff with people when they invite me along. I stayed home a lot by myself growing up. I never really got to experience things, and everything I did enjoy doing was criticized. And heaven forbid if someone didn’t enjoy themselves doing my thing, I was the most terrible person for picking such a “stupid” or “boring” thing.

If I drew, it wasn’t as good as my brother and I needed to “realize” he was the artist and I wasn’t, “he had a book published you know?” Yes, in elementary school and it was cool, but why couldn’t I be an artist too? So I stopped drawing. Now anytime I try to draw, I’m so overly critical I can’t even enjoy it, I know it’s their voices inside me I hear as my own, but damn!

I was criticized for reading books. I was criticized for wanting to learn. I was criticized for being smart. I was criticized for so many things. I can’t help but wonder if the ridicule had stopped what I’d be like today.

When I try to crochet I can’t get through it, all I can remember is who taught me it, when she taught me it, and all the ridicule I got for being a 20 something year old who crocheted. I mean my ex-husband was just as cruel as my step-dad, and always justifying the cruelness as a “joke” and I needed to “lighten up”. So I stopped. Now when I try to accomplish a project I can’t.

As a matter of fact writing this, I’m thinking I need to get rid of all my crochet stuff, because clearly it is a trigger for me, and the only reason it’s taking up space in our house for 3 years without being touched is because I bought it all, and I can’t bring myself to part with it. I don’t touch it, I don’t think about touching it, and when I do nothing comes out of it.

When I was growing up I was taught a couple things about who I was.

I was told I needed to grow up, get a good job, and make enough money to buy my parents a house and to take care of them. I was encouraged that if I couldn’t make the money to marry someone with money to take care of me. I literally learned that I was just a meal ticket or someone else’s “problem”. Wouldn’t you know I married someone who thought the same thing?!

I was trained to be the care giver that I was asked and expected to tend to things on the private parts of one of my parents. I was always forced to rub “daddys” back (which is not what I called my step-dad). I was given the task of popping boils on backs and rubbing feet.

I was hungry all the time. So much so that I’ve trained myself to not feel hunger and now I never feel hungry it seems like. I literally can go days without eating and not think twice about it, that’s always been normal for me. Food insecurity and ridicule will do that to you I suppose, especially if you’re already struggling to eat because of un-dealt with and unknown Autism at the same time, which causes its own set of eating difficulties with textures and smells and colors and so-on.

When I began working it was all theirs and I couldn’t do anything for me. I payed their bills and asked for scholarships for church events. I hated how poor people saw me as. I hated how bad with money people thought and still think I am. Even though I’m not and I wasn’t. People still think I’m “unpredictable” with money and just going to use it all.

Because of them and how they were with their finances, when I was a minor, I have this stigma attached to me that I must be bad with money as well. I carry their shame just by association. I wish people understood that I am not them. That I am trustworthy. That I was their child and their shame is their shame. Their mistakes are their, not mine.

I see the person that people thought was “in charge” and “ran the show”. I see the person who rebutted with, “I pay the bills, their not in control, so someone has to be in control.” The truth is I wasn’t in control of them, I was trying to be in control of my own life. Now I understand that was a safety mechanism. A survival skill if you will. I subconsciously saw a need to protect myself from my parents long before I ever realized it. Growing up in this it is your “normal” it’s not to you are shown different that you realize it was not “normal.

So this woman in this picture knew only wanting to be a different person. She was and is still so empty inside. The only good inside her is the way she loves people, and even that she fails at. I may always be there person who just goes along for the ride and enjoys whatever is at the end of that ride.

I may always be the person who hopes you’ll think of something I’ll like and we’ll do what you come up with. I am in no way shape or form looking for things to do. I would hate for someone to do something with me and they not like it, so if I just do what they like there can be no problem. I can’t be shamed or hurt because they didn’t have a good time. I didn’t pick not my problem.

I won’t sit around and ask people to spend money on me. I actually get very upset and take it to heart when people spend money one me. I will always tell them that they don’t need to get me anything and I will lock my wish list down so no one can see it. I feel guilt when people buy me gifts. I feel like I have to buy them something in return or they’re are expecting something in return at the very least. I’ve also have found that gifts can be hung over your head later on and used as a way to make you feel guilty later.

I don’t listen to new music. I don’t follow pop-culture; I didn’t have cable, internet, or phone growing up. I didn’t have those things until I moved out really. So we’re talking about post 2003. I don’t know what to be interested in and often ask “what do you look at?”, “what do you read?”, how do people find stuff to read or be interested in?”

I’m 35 damnit! Shouldn’t I be more than just somebody’s mother? I mean I’ve been doing it since I was a kid, but you’d think that’s all I was made for, to care for people. I don’t have a list of favorite places to eat and I’ve learned to cook restaurant quality food because I never got to go to them.

Today I see this picture and think to myself, “I’ve changed so much, yet the one way I’ve needed to change I can’t.”

I can’t change who she is at her core. She is just as lost and empty as she was then. Even more so now because there is no one to care for. There is no grueling intense schedule of trying to mom everyone. There is nothing but trying to figure out me. Quite honestly I don’t think I can be me without someone to care for.

I’m so empty inside. I can tell you that my favorite thing is mint green and that’s about it. I can’t tell you anything more than when I’m upset I’m like The Hulk—you definitely wont like me when I am angry, a little reference to Marvel Comics for all you fans out there. That’s pretty much all I can tell you about me.

I’m not certain there is really anything good about me. I’m not feeling depressed right now, so that statement isn’t a depression thing, it’s a true feeling, I’ve felt long before this picture was taken, so way before now.

I feel as if everyone expects me to change something about me. That I’m never okay just being me. It makes me feel more stress when I’m stressed, making the my response worse. Constantly trying to watch and correct myself, never being okay just being me. That I always have to fix something. That I’m always too much for people. I’m too loud. I’m too outspoken. I’m too quiet. I talk to much. I don’t speak up enough. So-on and so-on. There is always something about me that needs to be fixed.

So when I see this picture I’m reminded I have come a long way. I also see fat. I see ugly. I see empty. I see broken. I see just someone staring at a camera. Not knowing how to love herself, but loving so many others.

I see a picture that makes me sad because I’m reminded of just how much I don’t know me. Just how much I can’t speak up. Just how much I won’t ask for. Just how lonely I am. Just how empty I am. Just how much I don’t know how to get my needs met.

I’m reminded that no matter how far I’ve come, I’ll always still be me; broken, burden, crazy, empty, lonely, loud, “motormouth”, obsessive, outspoken, unfiltered…

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