Carmen M Colon wants her sons to know you’re not what you eat but you are what’s eating you.
I have always been a “fatty”. I do not know what it is like to grow up thin or fit, I was that pudgy girl that was teased and stared at in school. To this day some of my elders take joy in retelling stories about how voracious my appetite was as a child. I hate those stories. But the truth is I am emotional eater and so when that line about “you are what you eat” came about I looked in the mirror and wondered, “is this what a pork shoulder really looks like?”
Over the course of all these decades I only now realize just how in control we are of our eating habits. After all, we eat when we are happy, when we are sad, angry, frustrated and we definitely eat when we are bored!
You know Mom is better for it now don’t you? You’ve heard me say, “Mom’s larger than life! Of course she has to be a bit bigger than the rest!” I am much happier with my body nowadays, although I still find myself grimacing at photographs. It took me 47 years to realize that how I was feeling was how I was feeding myself. Now bullying is a whole other sets of letters believe you me but self esteem and self awareness are things I hope I’ve taught you all well enough so that you don’t have to endure all the suffering I did within my very own head.
As I sit here, looking at my one egg and tomato omelette on toast I am reminded of those feelings being squelched after the first mouthful. I am reminded of a sense of love practically warming my young unknowing frame as I went through that pint of Haagen-Dazs after the last break up. Well, at least I loved me as I ate it to medicate my senses and put salve on my bruised ego.
You are all coming to those wonderful ages of 18, 21 and 25. I watch how you eat and if I haven’t taught you how to care for yourselves by now I never will. You all eat in moderation, for the most part. You all have your indulging moments but I see you reward yourselves and so I know it’s more of a present than a punishment.
Thank goodness you are all so much better at it than your Mom. Enjoy the freedom and the power to choose the foods you’re eating. You all are so handsome and healthy in your long, lanky and lean frames and the chunky little girl in me is so glad that you don’t have to endure what I did, what I sometimes still feel like in my own skin. You don’t have that fear of being rejected or looked at as being weak or less appealing.
The power to believe what you’re told by others lies within you. The power to start a bad habit or stop one is yours. The power to believe what people say about you because you’re different lies in your head and in your heart. Yes, we can buy that five pound tub of ice cream but what’s the rule? One cup a day, if that, and never to self medicate ourselves because we’re feeling something very strongly. Of course all of this seems reasonable until you’re besieged with name calling or dirty looks in school or at the office. Then your body starts freaking out and you want to hide and sometimes there simply is nowhere to hide so you hide in that tub of ice cream.
Life is funny and human beings are even funnier. People would rather put high marks on body size than on what others contribute to their every day life and those around them. We all want to be loved and appreciated, to be respected and to feel relevant and needed. We give those distinctions to ourselves boys, not other people. We certainly don’t get what we want from others out of a food container (or a bottle).