So, there I was, 23 years old. A single parent. Divorced. Living with my mother. Things were not looking up for me.
I had weighed less than 100 pounds when I became pregnant. I weighed 150 pounds when I went in to have the baby. By the time the my son was 9 or 10 months old, I had stopped losing weight and was stuck at about 125 pounds. I am 5’4, so 125 is actually thin. I know that now. But at the time, I honestly thought I was really fat. I know that is a weird thing for anyone with a normal view of themselves to understand. I know a lot now that I didn’t know then.
I had gone from a tiny little A cup to a C cup after I stopped nursing. Those were some enormous breasts! I had these round hips and these huge boobs. I was unable to ever go back to wearing any of my pre-pregnancy clothes. I had to give away every single item of clothing I had and start fresh after the maternity wear. My body was this completely alien being. Nothing about it was the same. My small firm breasts had become these huge pillowy squishy things. My slim hips had become these full round saddles. My perception of myself had become unrecognizable. It was all I could do not to cry when I saw myself in a mirror.
Also, I had gotten this divorce. It wrecked my confidence. I thought that if someone said they loved me, then they must. And if someone loved me, then I must try to spend my life with them. I had been lied to before, my whole life, about many things. But having married a pathological liar and spent almost two years with him without knowing it, made me lose all faith in my ability to believe anything anyone said.
I had made a close friend during my pregnancy. After the baby was born, we tried actually dating. Somehow, I could never believe he really cared about me. I thought, the whole time, that he felt sorry for me. That he only went out with me because he believed that since I was divorced and had a kid already, it wouldn’t be too hard to sleep with me. We broke up for several months during my son’s first year. But at the end of May 1994, we got back together. He swore he really loved me. He was sincere. I was at a loss to understand why anyone would want me now that I was fat and a parent, but after so many months of loneliness and sadness, I had to just force myself to trust him.
When my son was a couple months old, I went back to work. I had a new part-time job working in the claims department of a moving company. I worked there for 7 full months. Most of which went through a long and arduous winter. My baby was sick all the freaking time. He had maybe 10 ear infections that year. Seriously, 10. Plus he had bronchitis twice. And a few other illnesses. He was staying in an in-home daycare center and he was exposed to numerous germs. Add to that the copious amount of regular well-child doctor appointments, and I was absent from work. A lot. I did all my work. But, they decided I wasn’t actually on-premises enough. At the end of May, they fired me.
Out of work, divorced, single parent, fat, living with my mother. When my boyfriend called and swore he had missed me unbearably and wanted to get back together, I took him up on it. A month later, I moved in with him. We decided to get married. As far as I could see, he was the only chance I had. I could not even imagine that I could do better. I couldn’t even really imagine that I could get anyone else at all, let alone anyone better. He had flunked out of GA Tech once before the baby was born. He had appealed and gotten back in on an academic probation contract. Then, he had flunked out again after we broke up. He was a heavy drinker. He had few friends. He was opinionated and full of self-importance. he was arrogant and loud. I think he was going to grow into my father. But I honestly didn’t see it at the time.
Gah. I had no faith in myself at all. I took what I could get and pretended to be happy and thankful about it.