When I was a teenager I became a vegetarian and I NEVER heard the end of it. Any chance ANYONE in my family had to comment on my vegetarianism, they did. “What you need is a hamburger!” That one got old pretty quick. “So you aren’t going to eat turkey on Thanksgiving??!” That got old after the second Thanksgiving. Once I was diagnosed with a muscle disease then my vegetarianism was the obvious cause sayeth my family, extended family, and basically every person I knew. Because, we all know, that animal meat can and will alter a genetic mutation causing a disease! It wasn’t about the meat. It was about the constant need to question my choices and ridicule me. It was ALWAYS something. I didn’t have on enough make up. “Why aren’t you wearing make up?” I didn’t curl my hair. “Are you straightening your hair now? Why?” I wasn’t tan enough.” Do you not lay out anymore, you are so pale!” I NEVER met with any member of my family who embraced me, told me I was beautiful, or built me up. I met with any one member of my family and they tore me down by each tiny comment they made. There was always a comment. They were pack dogs and did it with each other with no regard for me as a person.I started eating meat again a number of years ago. Interestingly, no one mentioned the fact that eating meat didn’t cure me of all the diseases they were certain it would. They seemed thrilled when witnessing me eat a dorito instead of my organic food. There was always a big scene when I was doing something they considered normal or what they considered abnormal. They could never just leave me alone.
My family has not been in my life now for almost 2 years. I guess they finally decided to leave me alone. Only because the stomped on Bethany finally decided to speak and that Bethany just wasn’t fun anymore. In the past 2 years, they missed my cupcake binge phase, my growing my hair past the approved acceptable length, and my daughter choosing to be a vegetarian. Bullet dodged!
They also missed the moment where I accepted myself, my body, and my choices, and embraced them. Only to be an accomplishment achieved without their constant negative chatter.
My family made fun of healthy choices in my lifestyle. I no longer have to listen to their words, but those words had a huge impact on my self esteem.
During those years of squashing my self esteem, I had no voice to tell them all to just shut up. Instead I shrunk. My self esteem got smaller and smaller and smaller. My family were a bunch of bullies under the false pretense of “joking” and “poking fun”. It wasn’t fun for me.
I was never perfect enough. My choices were never good enough. My boyfriends never had the right hair cuts, or the right clothes. It is no wonder I became anorexic. It is no wonder that surviving childhood sexual abuse never got me any sort of validation. How can a family acknowledge sexual abuse when they care more about a fucking dorito?
I wish I could say these things no longer bothered me. Even as I release the anger I feel for the individual and try to put them in my past, their words still haunt me. I’m sure one day they wont. I don’t think of “them” per-say as much as their lingering words which left a residue that I can’t scrub off. It is a constant battle to look in the mirror and tell myself, “You are worthy. You are good enough. You are beautiful. You matter,” and believe it. I am a work in progress though. I will keep trying.