I grew up in a house with a woman who’d survived war and civil unrest in the Dominican Republic and by the time she established her new life in Brooklyn she became what we can now safely assume was a food hoarder.
Part of her relationship with food, and the rationing of it, was to make everyone clean their plate. She didn’t care if you didn’t like it, felt ill, was full, whatever. If it was on your plate GOD HELP YOU if you tried to throw it away.
My story isn’t unique, I’m sure. Most people who were raised in a poor, ethnic household had a mom or grandmother who knew what it was like to almost starve and have nothing, and they compensated by making you eat and have everything.
So began my journey with food.
I’m sure that as an infant, cereal was added to my formula wayyyyy ahead of schedule. And I’m sure I was allowed to sleep with the bottle in my mouth. I know this because this happened when Mari was a baby, and with every other baby Grandma cared for.
As a little girl, carbohydrates were 90% of our daily diet. Grandma would pile the rice high on our plates, and it wasn’t unusual to eat that rice with spaghetti and fried plantains. Imagine the euphoric itis that followed such a meal; it soon became an addiction. If there wasn’t rice on my plate- and lots of it- I felt as if I’d never eaten at all.
As a teen I still ate at an alarming rate for my size, which, if you didn’t know me you’d think I was anorexic. Because we were never allowed to play outside we just sat around and ate and watched TV all afternoon. I’m truly thankful for the fast metabolism that I clearly possessed, which saved me from being an obese child.
When I left home, I was only armed w/a tiny bit of ammunition in the battle for my dietary health, and gained my Freshman 20 right away. And then I got pregnant and then married and so on and then, horror of horrors, Grandma died.
Since then I’ve used food to self-medicate because that’s what she’d do if she were alive. Feeling blue? Have some cake. Bad day? Rice is done! And I just wanted to keep living as if she were in my kitchen making all those goodies for me until I fell asleep from a full belly.
So food became my most cherished friend and my most hated enemy. When I felt (feel) anxious it swoops in and soothes me until everything else melts away (temporarily). When I'm depressed it left (leaves) me alone to bask in my depression without having the added responsibility of eating. I played (have been playing) this cat & mouse game with food my entire adult life: starving myself as punishment for being sad and gorging myself to appease the panic attacks.
It's no wonder I currently struggle with my weight.
*reads back at what I just wrote*
If this whole post doesn't scream out #FirstWorldProblems... smh...
*smooches...battling old demons one at a time*
eventually, food and I will just be casual acquaintances.