The past comes back sometimes in ways that I can never anticipate. Cleaning out my childhood room, for instance, held some memories that punched me in the stomach. Memories that I’d thought were buried. You see, forgetfulness is a drug that I’ve enjoyed for a long time. To cope with the trauma from my childhood, my mind clamped down hard, like an iron wall, on several of my most painful memories. But sometimes a crow bar gets in there and pries a hole underneath that iron wall. A hole that lets painful memories seep in under the gap.
That’s what happened when I cleaned through my stuff in my parents’ house (finally!) a few weekends ago. For nearly as long as I’ve been able to write, I’ve been journaling. When there was no one else to listen to, to talk to about anything, I had my best friend, my journal, to tell my thoughts and confusion to. Well, I found one of these journals the other day. An old school journal, I almost threw it out thinking that it held nothing of importance or value. But, since I’m a pack rat who never throws anything away without intense consideration, naturally I had to peek inside.
I kind of wish I hadn’t.
I’ve always been incredibly protective of my food. Nothing makes my eyebrows raise and my nostrils flare faster than when someone snags a bite from my plate without asking. Nothing makes me grumpier than being super hungry.
When I was little, I was constantly hungry. Constantly. There was always a deep, gnawing, painful hunger in the pit of my stomach. And sometimes, when I’d get food all to myself, I’d scarf it so fast I nearly made myself sick.
That day, at my parents’ house, I found a journal entry that explained why. In the innocent voice of my 7 year old self, I read about how I gave away my last fish stick to my brother, because he needed it more than me. Because I remembered that if I didn’t give him my food, he’d take it. If my mom bought me chocolate milk, he’d drink it. If someone made me a birthday cake, he’d lick all the icing off before I even got a chance to see it. He “needed” more food than me, he needed the food “more” than me, and to me, that “logic” made perfect sense.
So I gave him more food. I gave him my food. And the gnawing emptiness in my stomach continued to grumble, desperate for someone to pay attention to it.
For most of my life, I felt starved; starved for attention, starved for food, starved for love. I guess now I know why I have to fight the beast within me every time someone asks me for one of my french fries…