* I’m going to discuss my life in segments. I find it a little exhausting to dredge it all up, and I start to lose coherency.

 So… this is what I’m about.

 When I was nine years old, my petite, small-boned mother told me I needed to cut down on my snacking, because I was getting fat. Until this moment of illumination, I had been a girl without reserve. I was the first one in the water when my class went to the beach. I dressed like many a Disney princess on Halloween. I was confident, goofy and bubbly. A normal, optimistic child who was only a little shy. With my mother’s gentle admonishment, it was as if a veil had been lifted from my eyes. I saw with utter clarity that I was wrong. I was undesirable. Ugly. Different. FAT. By weighing more than my thinner peers, I had somehow become less.

 I went through school with a crippling lack of self esteem. I was the ultimate wallflower. I burst into tears at the most benign criticism. I had few friends, and the ones I had I clung to with a paranoid ferocity, certain that they would abandon me at any minute. I was jealous of classmates who were thinner than me- relieved at the presence of those who were larger. Puberty came early for me- I had large breasts and big hips in a sea of boy-shaped girls. I was teased and sexually harrassed. Where I once had a healthy relationship with food, I entered into an emotional one. I ate to make myself happy. Entire boxes of Cheez-Its while I sat immobile in front of the television. Several bowls of cereal in the morning if I could get away with it. I grew larger, and I hated myself.

 In my junior year of highschool, I stopped eating. My depression, carved from years of my mother’s emotional neglect, my father’s battle with alcohol and drug addiction, my failing grades, sprung forth to fuel my new eating disorder. I went from 145 lbs to 120. And then the school nurse caught me. Alerted my mother. I spent a few weeks in a locked ward, suicidal and mal-nourished. When I emerged, I had a brief respite from my food and body pains. My wonderful boyfriend [now my fiance] was there for me. We ate together. We ate poorly, and more than we needed to, but he made me feel beautiful. For a time.