Parenting: eating disorders

Healthy food was always available to us growing up. If we were hungry, we ate. If it was an hour before dinner and we were hungry, we ate. If we were not hungry we were not forced to eat. If it was 2 hours after dinner and we were hungry, we ate. We were never forced to eat or deprived of eating. If we were full, our plate did not have to be “clean”. No guilt trips of “starving children” were ever used to make us eat beyond what our own bodies told us were full. We were never told we were “wasteful” by not finishing what we put on our plate, nor made to sit there for 2 hours until what we DID put on our plate was eaten. What we didn’t eat was put in a Tupperware and eaten later, or given to the dogs. Our parents never held food over our heads, never used food as leverage “if you eat this then I will give you that,” or punished us for not eating what they made if we didn’t like it. Food was meant for nourishment and if we did not like what we were given we had the option to make ourselves something else. We did not have little debbies as options because my mother did not buy that food. We had no sugar cereals either. On the weekends she made brownies or cinnamon rolls and we put syrup on our pancakes and french toast. Otherwise, if we wanted a snack it was applesauce, or raisins, or a sandwich or a granola bar, etc. 

Then I would go to a friend’s house. They put too much food on their plate and had to eat it. So our sleep over consisted of me sitting there at that table for 2 hours until it was time to go to bed until my friend ate all of her food. I mean she was only 8 so she should have known exactly how much food her stomach could handle when putting the food on her plate right? WRONG! I wish these parents had degrees in child development or just common sense. But they did not. So the power control began and the parents seemed to get some sort of joy out of this embarrassing behavior, this “sit there until it is all eaten” power trip. It seemed mean to me as a child. Even as a very young girl I could see the sadness and emotional scarring that that parental behavior was causing. 

Then I would go to another friend’s house. No snacks before dinner. Then the kid would be over hungry and nauseous and not want to eat dinner at all or not able to eat much and then be hungry and hour later but be deprived of food. WHY!?? 

Then another friend’s house where they spent all afternoon eating snickers bars and the parents legitimately seemed confused as to why the child did not want to eat a steak!

It blows my mind thinking back on it now. 

Why?

There was no: 1. Listen to your own body. 

I heard every excuse a parent could give on why they controlled food. If the child ate, it would “ruin their dinner.” The only thing that ruined dinner was the fact that the child was then overly hungry and the parent made asparagus which the child hated and then was forced to eat cold 2 hours later because they didn’t clean their plate. 

I watched as EACH of these kids had obesity issues, control over their food issues, bulemia, anorexia, and everything in between. Is that such a shocking outcome? The child was never given the ability to eat based on their own hunger. It is pretty simple. If you put leverage and controls and rules on everything food…your child is going to develop a food issue which will result in a body image issue that they will battle for many years to come. 

I will never forget my friend reaching over the table to get a roll from the basket and her parent sticking her in the hand with her fork because “MANNERS!” We do NOT reach across the table. We ask for the food to be passed. Because we are raising endentured servants and we are part of the Royal family and we are on camera being video taped right now and others watching may think our children are impolite! I mean who was this, fork stabbing, and lecture benefitting? All it did was scare the shit out of me and I never wanted to eat there again. I can tell you that it instilled fear. I can tell you that eating at that house made me nervous of what the consequences of me eating or not eating would be. 

This is not healthy!

I chose to raise my daughter eating food just like my parents raised me. When she is hungry she eats! If she is full, we put the food in a container and she finishes it when she wants. If she is hungry an hour before dinner, she has a banana. 

These choices parents make are only a part of what can potentially cause eating disorders. My eating disorder came about NOT because of food. It came about because of control. I needed to control something. I needed to control my body and by doing that I could control my food. This happened as a direct result of sexual abuse. 

So there are many potential contributors to eating disorders. As a parent we are blessed with the ability to NOT contribute to any of them. 

The girl and the pimp.

I could have told the girl a million times that he was a pimp. How did she not see this? How could anyone not see it? The girl bounded in the front door calling his name, “Tommy, you here?” His roommate Bob said he was out so she could wait in his room if she wanted. She threw herself on his huge king size bed. Everything was so fancy there. His dresser. His desk. His house! She was only barely 19. How did he, at 23 have this big house? He had recently put up a 10 foot chain link fence. She had never seen one that tall before. His dog’s name was Roxie. She was a Rottweiler. The girl had always heard they were dangerous but Roxie was very sweet to her. She lay sprawled out on his bed looking around at all of his nice clothes and suits hanging in the closet. The girl loved wearing dresses. They were supposed to go out to a nice restaurant. Tommy finally arrived. He had had a meeting. He took her to the most expensive restaurant in town. The food was very elegant. Elegant meant drizzle. One nicely arranged carrot strip with another strip of vegetable with something drizzled over the top. One bite. The next course was similar. One bite of…something orange. The main meal was steak. It was the size of a quarter. It was the smallest steak ever to appear at a restaurant. But everyone else seemed pleased with their portions. They laughed their boisterous laughs, some, and others their pretentious snickers. These people seemed very important at this restaurant. The girl felt very out of place but she pretended to be important and believed to have pulled off this charade very well. After dinner they went back to his house where she promptly got in her car and drove to a fast food drive in and got a full meal. 

That was the only restaurant Tommy and the girl ever went to. After that he said they had to order in because his business was keeping him too busy. They originally met at one of her college classes. He was some sort of assistant. He was very handsome. He said he was getting his degree but she never saw him at class. As time went on he was always “working” but she had no idea doing what. 

His roommate was engaged but the girl never saw the fiancé. Just many other young girls coming over. There were always young girls there. Much younger than the girl. 

As dating continued the girl was not allowed to just show up anymore. She had to call first. Tommy told her that he had started an escort service providing rich business men with dates for the evening. The girl believed him. How could she believe him? She even thought, “How nice that a lonely man would not have to be embarrassed to go to an event alone and no one would ever know that she was a paid escort!’

One night the girl was having an upsetting night. She was arguing with her parents and wanted to go see Tommy. She got to the house and the front door was unlocked. No one was there. She called from room to room. She knocked on Bob’s room door and he didn’t answer. She cracked open his door to yell incase he was in the bathroom. She really needed to see Tommy. Bob wasn’t there. But she saw the inside of Bob’s room for the first time. She stepped in. She had never in her life seen such a repulsive and jaw dropping sight. There were hundreds if not thousands of used condoms littering the entire room. You could not step into the room more than an inch with out stepping on one. The stench was gagging. What was going on? Why were there…what was this? She went into Tommy’s bathroom to get sick. There were used condoms in there too. The girl stood there. Tommy was cheating on her. Oh my God Tommy was cheating on her. But he had given her gifts. He had pampered her with words and lavished her with compliments, or was it lavished her with gifts and pampered her with compliments. Either way she was pampered and lavished! He loved her. He said he did. This must be a mistake. 

I could have told the girl that this was not a mistake but she would not have believed me. She had convinced herself that Tommy loved her and that Tommy would never lie to her. 

She didn’t even cry because she knew there was an explanation. 

The next day she set up a time to talk and she demanded an explanation for what she had seen. He explained to her that it was all part of the escort service. He told her that for the girls to get the job that they had to have sex with his roommate Bob and prove they would be willing to do anything to get that job. He said Bob must have used his room, too, because he never would have done such a thing. He told her how much he loved her. How she meant the world to him. She believed him. 

Until the police questioned her at the end of the road after she left. She was convinced that escort services were a legitimate business and if the girls wanted to have sex, well then they could do that. Idiot. The girl was an idiot!

That house had been under surveillance for months. The police thought she was a prostitute. All the women were prostitutes she was told. They had video of the girl, through the window, lounging on the bed. They thought she was part of it. No, this couldn’t be. Tommy could not be the “pimp” they said he was. The girl stomped back to that house, barreled in and started rummaging through his desk (the police had suggested this), trying to find proof that these girls were underage and this was a whore house. She thought, there was no way she’d find anything. But she did. These girls were only 16 years old. They had to do “practice dates” and have sex with Tommy and Bob at the same time. Oh the horror. The girl was in love with a pimp. A pimp who was abusing underage girls, trafficking them, selling them. But…he loved the girl. He did. She was sure of it. How could this be true. What was true?! The girl didn’t know how to process any of this. The girl lived in her own little world where love meant fancy restaurants and pink gift bags with love letters attached. 

Bob came into the room and saw her looking through files. He started in on her. Screaming that he was going to kill her. She ran. Bob ordered Roxie, the dog she loved, to attack her and Roxie tried to. Roxie and Bob were barking, screaming, he had a gun, she ran for the fence gate. Her white skirt was caught on the dogs tooth or the gate, but it tore as she got away. She was running but she was numb. She couldn’t feel her feet or her head or her fingers. It wasn’t even the girl running. She was watching herself like in a scary movie where you don’t know, “will the girl get away, or will she not make it.” Bob screamed at the girl never to come back or she would be dead. She didn’t. The girl never told anyone else about the full story. She was always worried Bob would find her and kill her. She was probably correct. 

A few days later Tommy ratted Bob out as some sort of deal to not do jail time. The girl was not told what punishment Tommy got. She did not talk to Tommy again. Bob went to prison. Tommy moved away. Bob spent at least 15 years in prison before getting out and immediately murdering an airline stewardess. Bob certainly was not lying all those years before when he said he would kill the girl. She just didn’t know at that time the capabilities of some men. She knew the capabilities of a few men. But the girl did not know the amount of men who would cross her path that were capable of such atrocities. 

Years later Tommy showed up at the girl’s parent’s home. The girl was there. Her mother commented how handsome Tommy was. He was a boxer now. All ripped and muscular. Such a handsome pimp. The girl was not impressed as the mother was. The girl had had her share of liars. He really believed that he could win the girl back. He believed that his body alone would be impressive enough for her to give another glance. Like a male bird all bowed up showing the girl that he was the biggest of the stock. But everything that was for show didn’t matter to the girl anymore. She had felt fear. She hadn’t forgotten. All of the fluffy bright feathers in the world could not lure her back. 

The television was playing 20/20 in another room one night and the girl heard Tommy and Bob’s name. She ran to the screen. They were being interviewed about the prostitution RINGS, there were two they had run the ENTIRE time the girl had been dating him. “Please, she thought, don’t bring up my name, please don’t bring up my name.” No one did. But the girls mother called very excited about the pimp being on TV as if somehow this was something to be proud of, I mean, the girl dated a pimp who was on TV! Maybe the mother thought this made the girl somehow famous, secretly. The girl did not know. It wasn’t until then that she thought about the girls. Those poor girls! What had the girl’s boyfriend made them do? What did he get money for them doing to others? What had other men done to them against their wills? Those girls had been desperate and were lured in just like she herself had been. But the girl was the girlfriend. These girls, they were just children really. There were files on what they would be willing to have done to them. Those poor girls. This was the first time the girl stopped thinking about herself and realized that she was the least to be harmed. A broken heart does not equate to what was done to those other girls. 

I wish I could have pulled the girl aside before she walked up to him that first time. I wish I could have told her, “walk on past.” She wouldn’t have listened. She was to be blinded by a lethal love. She was very fortunate to have gotten away alive. She was so desperate to be loved that any smooth buttery words and gifts would have tricked her fragile heart. He knew this the moment he saw the girl. All of the bad men do.