Adrienne #65

    It must have been around ten years ago. I had gone to my parents house earlier in the evening for a dinner with the family. I rarely went out to visit because I couldn't stand being around my Father. But once every few months, I would feel the accumulated pressure of my family to have a dinner with all of us together. I'd have to get in my car and usually drag whoever my current boyfriend was along as a buffer between me and my immediate relatives. I never really got along with anyone in my family except for my Mother. I love my Mother with all my heart. But this evening, I couldn't convince my boyfriend to come with me so I headed out to my home town all by myself. I figured I could rush over, have dinner, hang out for an hour and then make some kind of excuse to get the hell out of there before too much psychological damage was done. Boy, did I figure that one wrong.
    For the last two years, I had been involved in a pretty strenuous and rigorous fitness routine and had gotten myself into really great shape. I'd always been athletic when I was young, but when I moved out of my parents house I gained a LOT of weight. Looking back at that time when I got so big, I think that a part of me was in shock and reeling over what I had lived through at the hands of my Father while I was in his house. I was 17 when I moved out, and I spent the next two years withdrawing further and further into myself. I lost contact with all my friends and all of the activities that I had previously been involved with. I went to school, worked, lived with my boyfriend and didn't do much else. I stopped talking with most people and became really reclusive. I ate. I gained weight. I felt like a wounded animal who had crawled into a cave and hidden away as the deep gashes and rips and tears my Father had inflicted on my mind and heart mended themselves. Eventually, I dragged myself out of that cave and began to make positive changes for myself. I began to make friends, broke up with my boyfriend and moved into my own space. I began to work out regularly at school and began to lose weight. I actually felt powerful and in control of myself for one of the first times in my life. And I felt beautiful. As my body transformed, I began to see it as something to be proud of, not something removed from me. Not something used to inflict pain and humiliation. I used to wear black dresses that went down to the floor and layers and layers of clothes with shirts that had long sleeves and sweaters over that. I was always covered in layers of fat and layers of clothes. Hidden away so no one could find me or touch me. But after years of working out and feeling so good, I began to remove those layers. I was down to 120 pounds and I felt good. I began to wear miniskirts and little shirts and leopard print dresses and bleached my hair blond and crimped it ... I finally felt as if I wanted to look sexy. Vibrant. Sensual. So I went to the family dinner wearing my favorite leopard print dress and my hair bleach blond and crimped and feeling wonderful about myself. I thought I could escape that house unscathed. I'd spent years regaining the ground that my Father had taken from me. I thought I was strong.
    Everything went fine until it was time to leave. My Mother had hurt her ankle and was on crutches and we were standing in the foyer talking before I left. My Father had been drinking before, during and after the dinner so he was pretty lit by then. He came up to me and my Mother and before I knew it, he had his hands on my shoulders and began to slowly spin me around, saying things like 'Now look at this. This is what a real woman should look like. Look at that ass. Look at this body. This is what a real woman should look like.' Every time I'd slowly spin past my Mother, she would just be hanging on her crutches, looking at the floor, limp. As if she were a doll that was propped up on a pair of sticks. I felt myself growing smaller and smaller. Losing my control again. With each spin, I felt as if I were turning into a small child at the hands of this man once again. He finally stumbled away, mumbling something to himself, and I grabbed my Mother in a hug and ran.
    From that moment on, I began to gain weight. I began to put back on those protective layers onto my body. Anything that would make me feel protected from this man and his prying eyes and his vision of what a 'real woman" should look like. I've never been able to weigh 120 pounds since that moment, and that was 10 years ago. I still feel powerful and sexy and vibrant, but something about that moment with my Father and Mother ten years ago has always left me with the feeling that I lost a part of my body. That my Father took something at that moment that I will never quite understand, but that it had a negative effect on me and a hold on me for years and years.
    My pursuit now isn't to weigh 120 pounds. My pursuit is to regain that part of myself that he stole with his treatment of me as a child and as an adult. He hasn't been in my life for years and years and I'm grateful because his absence makes it an easier process to continue healing and moving forward. And now I pursue health and happiness. To eat healthy, to be able to be physically strong and sure of myself. I may never be that girl with crimped blond hair and the leopard print dress ever again, but I will always continue to be a strong and passionate woman. And he will never be able to take that away from me. peace/equality,
— Adrienne