Thursday, May 26, 2011

How Did This Happen? (The first of many installments)

One of the things I want to address in this blog (over time,not all at once!) is how on Earth I got to this place of being so overweight, so unhappy, so unhealthy, so addicted to food. I have a lot of issues to work out, and I know that if I don't work on my insides as well as my outsides, I'm doomed to failure - been there, done that. My dream is to be able to afford both the time and money to attend a session with Tennie McCarty at Shades of Hope, but I know we will never be able to afford that and there's no way I could be away from my kids for 42 days - no one to watch them. So I need to work it out myself. And even though I know I have no readers, I thought I would do it here in case it ever helps someone else in my position.

I went out to lunch today with my children's preschool group for an end-of-year party. During the lunch, a friend and fellow preschool mom was talking about her daughter's dance lessons. I've also seen a lot of friends posting their recital pictures of their cutes kids on Facebook lately. All of this has brought back many memories of my dancing days.

I started dance classes at age 4. I am from a small town, where activities for small children were few and far between in the 70s, and I had a relative who taught dance lessons - so it was a natural for my mom to choose to enroll me. I took dance until around 4th grade. And I hated almost every minute of it.

I am not built small. Even as a child and at a "normal" weight, I was just built on a larger frame. I think there is some truth to being "big boned" sometimes. At any rate, I was not built on a dancer's frame, and it was obvious during dance classes. My classmates were all smaller than I was, and many made a point of pointing that out (even before I started becoming overweight!).

By the time I was approaching puberty - 8, 9, 10ish, I had begun gaining weight. I remember feeling HUGE even though when I look at pictures now, I see I was not the size I felt I was. I grew breasts before other girls and at dance class; that was particularly hard. I had now passed into being "chubby" and the comments were terrible - and not just from classmates, also from dance teachers. I wasn't chosen for the "star" dances. I was ridiculed during costume fittings. I felt worthless. During our annual pictures, where they would haul out a variety of costumes for kids to put on for photographs, there would be one or two outfits to fit me. I often faked illness to get out of dance class, or "forgot" key elements of our practice clothes at home so that I would have to sit out of class.

I endured a lot of teasing and honestly what I would call bullying. And because it was a small town, many of these dance class girls were also classmates at school. The longer it went on, the uglier and fatter I felt - and the more I turned to food for comfort. A vicious cycle.

I was finally allowed to quit dancing in 5th grade and I was so thankful. I still carry scars from that time in my life and as such can't even comprehend enrolling my daughter in dance lessons. I know my mom has no idea how unhappy I was - she was just doing her best and spent lots of money for me to have dance lessons. She couldn't have anticipated the hell that awaited me nor did I ever discuss it with her. I was embarrassed - of the teasing, that it bothered me, and of my weight.

I think my mom has an inkling now of how much I hated it - I expressed joy when the director of the dance center I went to died (she was hateful, awful, and looked down her nose at me for so many years.) I was happy to hear that the lead teacher of my classes went through a bitter divorce and is living a sad life in that same small town. Even the star teacher, who went to New York and danced in some music videos, etc., is still just a nobody - and too old to get famous off her good looks and dance moves now. My relative who taught dance at this same school is still a world class witch and preaches her gospel on Facebook daily, but she's not fooling me. I was there. I am not proud of feeling this way about all of them, but I have to admit that I do feel this way.

What's sad is that I love the act of actually dancing. But I can remember that dancing school was where I was first called fat. And I wasn't, at that time. But I am now. It's time to heal and let it go.


  1. First, I want to say thank you for the sweet comment you left on my blog. Second, I wanted to tell you that Shades of Hope is actually about 20 minutes from my house!
    I really liked that show, so imagine my surprise when I saw you mention it!
    Keep up the hard work, and girl I know how hard it is. I know we can do this. With some determination and some support from our wonderful blends :)

  2. It's amazing how words and actions from an adult to a child can profoundly affect them. And children can just be cruel to other children.

    Although I didn't endure the bullying in my sport (synchronized swimming) that you did, a coach told me to lose weight and when I decided to leave the sport another coach asked me how I was going to stay thin without training for 20+ hours a week.

    The teachers could have either received the same treatment (or saw other dancers receive this treatment) and thought that this was a normal way to speak to a child. They also could have been putting their own eating issues or disorders on you.

    It's amazing how therapeutic writing can be. Hopefully writing this post and continuing to blog will help you forget about them all. They aren't worth another second of your time.