I am pretty sure that most everyone on some very large spectrum likes attention. Whether it be from their family or spouse, friends or strangers, acknowledgements for accomplishments or just a passing ‘hi’ from acquaintances, I am sure the majority of people crave interaction and therefore attention. And this is my problem. I think one of the reasons I am so stressed and so stuck in this junk food binging rut is because I am receiving a friggin ton of bad attention (i.e. the berating from my mom, the pity parties from my ex etc) and not enough good attention (i.e. personal conversations with my mom just mom to daughter, visits with friends, words of encouragement from people I speak to face to face everyday) So, I’m going to work back to this point from the beginning and see if I am just being overly needy or if there is a pattern of a need for attention OR if I’m just normal and craving acceptance)
So, without further adieu:
From a very young age I remember both loving and loathing attention. I loved attention from my friends and family. I specifically remember after I moved back from Washington to California when I was 10 years old and resumed studies at the same elementary school I had attended the year before that my two best friends had a screaming contest about who was my bestest friend. I felt special.
As a young child I had many issues. Separation anxiety was a big one. I hated school, especially if for some reason I was late. I DID NOT want to be the one who walked into class and everyone looked at as I took my seat. I didn’t want to go to my class at Church on Sundays and whenever my grandparents or mom put me in dance or gymnastics or Vacation Bible School they always lost their money because they couldn’t force me away from them long enough to see if I even enjoyed the activity. I did however, love group activities. I enjoyed being in the church kids’ choir, and doing assemblies where the kids sing up in front of the school. Odd, I think.
I remember from a very young age being teased about my weight. I was always called fat, chubby, a whale, an elephant (even though I was never really THAT big) I remember in sixth grade a boy asked me why I was wearing legging shorts and a t-shirt. It was not in style anymore but it was what I was comfy in. I had shrugged and he had proceeded to go whisper to his friends about how huge I was. That was the kind of attention I did not like.
At home I don’t remember much about what kind of attention I got from whom. I remember living at my grandparent’s house until I was 6 years old. My mom had me when she was 16 and so obviously we lived with them. My mom was a self-admitted narcissist. She knew her poo-poo did not stink and that every boy/man should fall at her feet. I remember much of those first 6 years of my life being with my grandparents, my great grandparents and sometimes my aunt (who now as I look back was between 14-20 during those 6 years) I remember spending a lot of time in front of the TV with food. Now, I’m not blaming anyone for anything. I honestly don’t know if this is how I spent most of my time or just how I remember it. I remember watching the Disney channel (when it still played all the good cartoons) and the WB (when it still existed on basic cable) with fruit chews or chips or what have you as an after school snack. I clearly remember in the mornings sharing my grandpa’s fruity protein shakes with him. He was a retired police officer turned contractor-gym buff so his protein shakes were always full of yummy goodness like protein powder, frozen fruit, yogurt, juice etc.
In my gramma’s care I remember often working out to workout videos with her. Like I said, my grandpa was a gym buff and he expected his wife to be fit and so she worked her butt off literally to please him – which she never fully could. So I remember doing Richard Simmons with her, Jane Fonda (sp?) and she would take me to the local gym and leave me in the kid’s room to be watched after while she worked out. I never did like that place. She would also take me for walks and encourage me to either walk or ride my bike. Often though, I remember her either carrying me or pushing me back home on my bike. That, OR me pouting/screaming all the way home that I didn’t want to go for a walk.
In my great grandparent’s care life was much different and much more sedentary. My great grandma and I played barbies, marbles, dollies, watched TV and ate. I remember eating A LOT with them. Eggo waffles in the morning if I had spent the night with butter and syrup in ALL the little squares. For lunch I often had cup’O soup or top ramen and I most commonly remember her making spaghetti-os or corned beef hash with eggs and toast for dinner. I spent the night there often and would sleep either in my great grandpa’s bed (they never shared a bed and slept in separate twin beds my entire life) or when I got a little older my great grandma would pull out the hide-away bed couch and we would sleep together on it. That was when TGIF was still on every Friday night and we would watch the good old shows like Step By Step, (of whom I went to school with one of the children) Family Matters, Full House and more and of course we would always have snacks.
When I turned 6 my mom got married. ((cringe)) Since I had been 6 months old my mom had an on again off again relationship with my step father. (yes, she is still married to him 20 years later – in fact I think their 20th anniversary is coming up on August 31st) Anyway, the man was super verbally abusive, possessive and just so very wrong.
My first memory of him is sitting in my mom’s then 1980-sumthin red Toyota pickup in my car seat (so I must have been maybe 3?) and we had stopped at a stop sign in front of a busy street that was perpendicular to where my step-dad lived. While stopped at that intersection my step-dad (her then boyfriend) pulls up along side of her in his silver pickup, rolls down his window and she does the same. These were the manual window rollers though so she was leaning across me in order to do so. Immediately a fight ensued. Loud screaming and yelling. I don’t remember thinking anything in particular. I don’t remember much except the vehement expression on my step-dad’s face. Scary stuff.
Fast forward 3 years and now she’s gonna marry the dude. This is the third proposal after the first two were rejected because my family had been able to talk some sense into my mom. The third time was the charm (haha, not so much) and she married him. I was moved out of my grandparent’s home to go live in the next city over in a small apartment. I remember missing my grandparents so very much.
This time of my life is non-existent in my memory except for one small thing. I remember that when my mom and step-dad would fight I would go to the freezer for popsicles and eat and eat and eat popsicles until there were none left. I found solace in the popsicles. How this started I have no recollection. Perhaps while my mom was in the midst of screaming at my step-dad in person or on the phone and I had needed her attention she had stuffed a popsicle in my mouth to shut me up. Maybe. I don’t know for sure. All I do know is that when they fought, I looked to food for comfort and attention because my mom was not physically or emotionally able to give it to me.
My mom worked nights during those times as one of the highest paid managers at our local grocery store and I was left alone with my step-dad. I have extremely few memories of these occasions as well. Two are crystal clear though. One night I was particularly upset that my mom was leaving me to go to work, and leaving me with HIM at that and I just kept crying and crying well after she had left. He was not consoling, telling me she’d back but to stop crying about it. All of these very few words spoken from his relaxed position on the couch watching his precious sports. This same night when I couldn’t stop crying he finally told me, at 7pm (my bedtime was 10) to go to bed and not come out of my room. That he didn’t want to hear me anymore. So I sat on my bed and cried until I fell asleep. I don’t remember if I had dinner.
And tonight this is where I will end the first segment of the Attention Posts. Next soon to follow.