Body image

I remember one afternoon when I was 8 or so, Drew and I were sitting on my swing set. I got the nerve to ask him why he did the things he did to me. He sat there quietly for a minute. When he answered me it was in such a calm and normal way. It was like I asked him why the sky was blue or something. His answer was that I needed to learn how to treat a man, know all the ways to please him and I needed to be prepared for the things they'd want to do to me. Someday I'd get a boyfriend and I needed to be ready for them. If I didn't know how to do these things then no guy would want to keep me around. If I don't know how to please them, or anticipate their needs, then I have no use. He said I don't look like the type of girl boys want so I had to know these things. I asked him why he wanted to touch me like he did if I didn't look like the women in the pics and movies he showed me, but he had no answer. He told me that when I turned 16 he was going to take my virginity. It was his. I said maybe I'd have a boyfriend before I turned 16 and I'd lose it to him. That got him terrifyingly upset and he made me promise my virginity belonged to him. He'd been working a long time on preparing me for sex so he gets to have it first. And it's true. He had been working on getting me used to being penetrated. He didn't put it in too far because it hurt too much. I'd start to cry from the burning pain and I guess he'd take pity on me or something. He'd try every few months to put it all the way in. Out of fear of him getting more angry I said I promised, never intending to have it actually happen. He went on to taunt me about how much fun it will be. I'd have boobs by then and pubic hair. I'd look like a real woman. He'd talk about us having a baby together, or "teaching any children I had the lessons I was learning" if I got pregnant from someone he didn't approve of. I vowed to run away before I was 16 if he was still around. I'd never have a boyfriend and I swore off children. I struggled with my weight starting in 1st grade. I had epileptic seizures and I was on meds. I was told those kind of contributed to being chubby. But I know that the majority of it was from taking comfort from food. I didn't think about the thing it'd do to my body. I just knew that in that moment I had what I wanted and nothing else mattered. Drew would give me whatever I wanted and let me eat as much as I wanted. I weighed over 200 lbs by age 12 or 13. Even after Drew was out of my life I took comfort from food. But after I ate I immediately hated myself. I was fully addicted to food and needed it to feel calm. By age 13 or 14 I was fed up. I stopped eating as much as I could. I'd eat at dinner because my mom was watching, but I got away with hardly touching my plate. I began walking all over my neighborhood. As I got fitter I'd push myself harder. In less than a year I went from a size 22 to a size 10. I had developed my curves and boobs. I started to notice cars slowed down so guys could look at me. I started getting whistled and hollered at. For the first time I was receiving positive reactions to my appearance. I was thrilled! I know Drew was out of the picture, but his "lessons" had been taught and I had my impression of what men were like. So I continued barely eating and exercising for 2 hours a day. I gradually started wearing skimpier clothes and received more attention. All the things Drew taught me about my looks was true. Skinny body, show lots of skin and you have attention. I received that attention and ended up in compromising situation after compromising situation. I'll go into that another time. So here I am, 30 years old. I have more confidence than I did then but I still feel uncomfortable around men. Perhaps it has to do with how much weight I've put on over the last decade. I know Drew was a horrible person and that most men don't hate you if you don't look like a porn star, but I hated myself for not being skinny. I told Brandon often about how much I hated my body. There wasn't anything I liked about it. I was disgusting and I didn't know what he saw in me. He would tell me how sad it made him that I felt that way and wished I could see me how he did. I knew he was attracted to me, but I didn't see how he could handle looking at me. In my head I was disgusting. But at the end of May I was driving back from a camping trip with a new friend and we decided to stop for a small hike. There was a pretty waterfall and we took individual pictures in front of it. When I got home and saw it I couldn't believe what I was looking at. My body had become this lumpy glob of yuck and it was embarrassing. So I started working out, initially because I wanted to look a certain way. But my motivation has changed into I want to be healthy and not end up with diabetes. It runs in my family. My grandma had it and my mom was diagnosed with it in her late 30's or early 40's. I'm in the middle of a slump right now and it's hard to get out of it. But I'm trying. What's nice though, is that while I still struggle with wanting to look like something I never will, for the most part I feel like I've accepted my body and I don't hate it anymore. I'd just like to improve what I've got.

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