Pickles

When I was 11, my parents hosted Thanksgiving. In my family, we generally ate breakfast and then fasted until gorging ourselves on the impending feast in the early afternoon. There were no appetizers or snacking pre-turkey. Partly because I grew up poor and partly because my family is punitive around food. 

So that’s about six or seven hours without food. Which, when you’re 11, is a long time. 

On this particular holiday, my mother put a dish of pickles out on the table just before dinner. They were sweet pickles, the “bread and butter” type, sliced into pieces. 

Our dining room table was pulled apart with the extra leaves stuck in to make room for more guests. It barely fit into the dining room. I was carefully navigating my way between the wall and a line of chairs when I spotted the pickles. The porcelain dish sat next to a tiny pickle fork used only for this occasion. 

I impulsively reached for the pickles. I was hungry and I love sweet pickles. 

My uncle, however, was watching me. He was standing on the threshold between the dining room and family room, arms crossed, apparently surveying his environment. 

Just as I put the first pickle slice in my mouth, my uncle pointing at the remaining 2-3 slices in my hand and said,

“See, Andi, that’s why you’re fat.”

I can’t remember what I said. Probably nothing. I think I was stunned and embarrassed, so I just shrugged. I was also mid-chew, so I finished eating. And since I’d already touched the other slices, I ate those too. 

Later on when dinner was served, it was the first time I restricted what I ate for the sake of not wanting to be held responsible for “being fat”.  I also felt acutely aware that people may be watching me eat, thinking the very same thoughts my uncle did as he watched me eat the pickle slices. 

He violated me. He humiliated me. I was a hungry little girl who was innocently eating a few slices of sweet pickle. He intruded on my moment of pleasure to shame and guilt me for a very natural thing: eating because I was hungry and the food in front of me looked good. 

I don’t think I have ever been able to do that since. 

He’s a shit person who has no influence on my life now whatsoever. But that moment, and his choices in that moment, had a profound impact on me.

And from that experience, I learned that I could control uncomfortable emotions by altering the amount, type, and quality of food I eat. I also learned that “fat” is highly undesirable and I should do everything in my power to avoid it. 

A lesson that has tormented me ever since and come into full relapse for just over a year now. 

Can I just sleep until Friday??

Fuck Thanksgiving. 

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26 thoughts on “Pickles

  1. Anxious Mom says:

    What a fucking douchebag. I’m sorry he did that to you. People just have no idea how damaging their words can be, especially with children, and how long lasting that damage can be.

    I hope the next couple days pass quickly. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Sirena says:

    What an absolute Bastard. How dare he! Shaming a child must have made him feel awfully fulfilled. Prick. I just want to hug 11 year old you and give you a full jar of pickles and tell you to eat them til your perfect little heart is content.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. multiplikaytion says:

    From the time I was a toddler I was called “Chunk” by my family, aunts and uncles. Looking back at the pictures of the little girl, I was never fat at all so it never made sense really. But every thanksgiving that nickname resurfaced, deciding for me that I was fat. From before I knew what fat meant, I was told that I was it. Yes, it really screws up your head and its so lasting on your view of yourself. I’m sorry it happened to you too.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Zoe says:

    I had the problem reversed. I was so thin that family used to shove food at me. And since manners dictate you should not refuse people’s generosity, I had to eat the multiple servings even though I wanted to puke or was full.

    Every time there is a party they comment on my weight, how I should just eat more and how unattractive slim women are to men, as if somehow my value as a person is summed up by how many guys get a boner seeing me.

    People are the worst. Not all. Enough though.

    I’m sorry your uncle ruined something we should all have a right to enjoy: the taste of something we love when we are hungry. May karma bite off his whole ass.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andi says:

      Ugh. Gross. One of my best friends growing up was naturally very thin. Her family called her “anorexic barbie” and thought it was just fine. It’s NOT fine. It was hurtful and made her feel like shit about herself. I fucking hated that. And YAS! As if ANY of us should be measuring our self-worth based on how well it jibes with the male gaze? Ick!

      Like

  5. ambivalencegirl says:

    So Andi, deep breath. And now you get to choose, right?! Choose to remain in the past and influenced by someone’s ignorant comment or to move into the present and your beauty. You get to make new traditions and nourish not only your body but also your soul. My kids were laughing at me because they know my saying is that “it’s all good”. They laughed not at me but with me that yoga is solving all my problems. Yoga won’t solve the problems of the world but it helps me nourish myself in ways I’ve never done before. It seemingly takes my mind away from all awfulness of my past and brings me into grace. I’m certain that if you search your day today and your evening that you will find your grace filled moments. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andi says:

      Yes. Indeed. I work so hard to find peace with my body and with nurturing it with food and water. The struggle is tremendous and I feel so helpless much of the time. But I will continue fighting. Thanks for your support xo

      Liked by 1 person

  6. dianetharp70 says:

    Ugh, so sorry, that’s horrible! When I was 10 or 11 my mom & I were sitting side by side on those folding chairs & she said “your thighs are bigger than mine. . I don’t think she thought of the repercussions, mean it in a undermining way so I don’t hold it against her or feel any kind of way toward her, we have a great & loving relationship. But that shit is SCARRING!! I did end up developing anorexia/bulimia I stopped nursing my then 11 month old. I still very strictly calorie restrict.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andi says:

      See, and that’s the thing – sometimes comments are made with genuine innocent, but the repercussion are still real and damaging. Children are so vulnerable and susceptible to these kinds of comments. I wish adults were more mindful of their language and content of conversation around children!

      Liked by 1 person

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