Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Guilt & The Food Game

My relationship with food has been a sensitive subject for me even now, so many years after the incidents that transformed my life. After writing the book, "Toilet Paper People," I was stunned at just how many times I referenced food in my accounting of a childhood laced with guilt and fear. 

Whether it was a doughnut I had rescued from the trash, or the chicken sandwiches I used to hide in the liner of my backpack, my adopted mom's attempts at controlling my behavior with food would leave one of the more indelible footprints of my life. 

"While 'that woman' (my adopted mom) berated my father out in the garage, I gathered up the remainder of his breakfast and headed to my room to hide it. I didn’t know from one day to the next if I would be eating or not, when or how much. Squirreling away food would become as necessary for me as shelter. At least, that is what I was preparing for. Guilt for “stealing” his food, or anyone else’s for that matter, was always balanced against my current circumstances. I knew that stealing was “wrong,” but I was hungry and hurting from the night before. I had to stop feeling guilty for doing what was necessary to survive, or I wouldn’t." 
-toilet paper people

On my adopted mom's insecure days, food was nowhere to be found. At least for me, it wasn't. My adopted mom seemed to think that withholding food from me would teach me "important" lessons about how to take care of her antiques or, in what specific tone I should respond to her myriad of rantings and ravings. If I offended her in anyway, I would be lucky to see the crusts of her and my father's leftover ham sandwiches. Sometimes, I think she was just too drunk to remember whether she had fed me, or not.

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