Monday, March 27, 2006

Let's Get Real Monday

Okay, inspired by Randi's blog (if I knew how, I would link it here, but I can't figure out how to do that!), today is all about high school. It's kind of deep, so brace yourself!

Anyone who knows me only as a mom will be amazed to know that I used to be extremely shy. Painfully shy. Not on stage, where I could sing anything or become any character. But if I had to be myself, I couldn't quite figure out how not to be self-concious. I was painfully aware of every movement, every word, every stupid thing I did. And I was most aware of how I looked.

In Junior High I remember very clearly being teased about my looks. One boy in particular (Joe Leone I think was his name) used to call me "Big Eyes." I very clearly remember coming to the realization that I cannot control my looks or the size of my eyes, but I can control how much I weigh. And so began my five year battle with anorexia. No, I was never hospitalized, and my parents never really even noticed too much (my brother took a lot of their attention in those days), but it soon took up much of my thoughts and much of my time. Seventh grade was tough for me - new school, new people, all very very hard. Controlling my food intake helped me feel better, like I could control something even when everything around me felt like it was spinning out of control. By eighth grade I felt more confident - I was a soloist in the choir, the lead in the school play, even had my own advice column in the newspaper, the Hollow Log. But I limited what I ate to such an extent in an effort to keep my weight around 100. My breakfast was an apple, my lunch a piece of cheese and some brocolli, dinner would be as little as I could get away with.

By the time high school rolled around, things spun out of control again - new school, new people, just like Junior High but now times four. Finding my way was so hard - I think I tried to shrink down, become invisible by losing even more weight. I did become a soloist in the choir and got the lead in the school play, but felt so out of my league any time I stepped off stage. By sophmore year I developed mono (my immune system so compromised by my diet) and lost even more weight. I was out of school for almost half the year, and was devastated that none of my "friends" had called or come to see me. When I came back to school my junior year I actually started dating and while my main high school boyfriend ended up being a pathalogical liar (could I pick them then?!!) he did help me deal with emotions I never could express, thus dealing with the eating disorder that had been my main coping mechanism growing up. No longer could I count my ribs each time I got out of the shower to feel right with myself, or make sure that my stomach was still concave if I laid down before I could feel okay to go out. I didn't use food the same way again.

That's not to say I became socially confident. That didn't happen until I got pregnant with my boys, a long time later. I gave the appearance of someone who was friendly and fearless, but mostly that was a mask covering the discomfort I felt around other people. I never knew what to say, always wanted to look like I knew what was going on.

High school was tough. College too. Looking back, I think they were way harder in my mind than they needed to be. But I know that I couldn't handle the casual friendships, the weekend parties at that time in my life. So I didn't. I never made those lifelong friends like most people made at that point in their lives. I have two - a friend from first grade (my gentile sister) and my husband. And as much as I wish it could have been different, my shyness and social anxiety made it virtually impossible for things to have been any other way.

I am so grateful for the fact that I don't feel that way anymore. It makes me want to somehow go back to that high school me and shake her, just tell her to get over herself, that no one cared how "fat" you were, that people were mainly interested in their own world so step out of your self-centered one for a little bit and become more aware of everyone else's . But that can't be. So I guess I'll just continue focusing on the here and now and be grateful those years are behind me.


Mom Nancy said...


I'm sure you know this already, but I just wanted to say that I love you and am sorry you had to go through all that. You come across as such a together person. I really admire you.

Chaotic Mom said...

You are an AMAZING person! Very insightful post, too. I had the same problems making friends in school, too.

Rachel, maybe we can get together some time and take pics for you to post? I'll upload them for you, too... ;)

RANDI said...

I am so glad that my high school years are long gone too!

"Big eyes" seems like an odd putdown--it seems more like a compliment to me!

Praying for your Prodigal said...

Junior High years can be so horrendous! Somehow, and thankfully, we all grow out of that hurtful time...and if we are you...we take those hard-knock lessons...and make something great out of them. You sound like you have done just that.


Anonymous said...

Few people have great things to say about jr. high. High school was usually a bit better for most but not all. You would think our world would learn.

I am glad we predominately homeschool. We were able to help a bit in those years but hurtful things always find a way into our lives no matter how diligent we are.

Thankfully we have a chance to move on and begin anew throughout our lives!

EmilyRoseJewel said...

Teen years are definitely tough. I know that has to make you a stronger person now for what you went through then. Very inspiring post about going through tough times and coming out a better person.

mysticwill said...

Rachel -- I got a diffent nickname --BATTLE BOOBS! Yes I was the first girl to develop in my class and used a tough, no BS exterior to hide a cowing girl inside.... and boy did I pick some winners.... ANYWAY I am glad to be fluttering with you (andmaybe someday I will figure oout how to do a blog on my own!)

Abbe L. said...

Ahhhh yes... the junior and senior high school years..... does anyone come out of them unscathed? I've found as I've gotten older (and hopefully wiser) that it seems everyone had problems then. Even the people we thought were perfect. Some people's pain is just more obvious than others.

Don't worry, Rachel - you're not alone. You're just one of the brave ones who admits it publicly.

You are a great person and I have to assume that you are the person you are today due to those experiences in your past.