Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Chapter III: Gaining more in College than an Education

With college came immense amounts of freedom – no one looking over my shoulder to see what I was eating, no one to monitor what time I came home, no one to whom I had to be accountable. The very first night I was there, a high school friend of mine who also went to U of I and I went to a bar and drank beer for the first time. I hated the taste but loved the buzz and the way all my problems disappeared in a haze of alcohol induced euphoria. Soon I moved on to mixed drinks, finding them to be much more to my taste plus it took less volume to achieve the same buzz. This is not to say I didn’t take my studies seriously. I did – from Sunday afternoon through Friday afternoon. Friday nights and Saturdays were normally spent wasted followed by a huge hangover on Sunday morning. I guess what is truly amazing is that almost every Sunday I still managed to make the 10:30 church service (had to keep the illusion up to myself that I was still the good girl). In addition to all the added calories of my alcohol consumption, the dorm cafeteria provided me with ample opportunities to eat in unlimited quantities. I gained every bit of the “freshman 15” and then some. Every time I would go home on a break, Mom (and sometimes Dad) would give me a hard time about the weight I was gaining. When I started to outgrow my clothes they refused to buy more I guess because they thought that would force me to lose weight. It did not. Instead I wore the few things that still fit and squeezed in the best I could to some that didn’t.

The summer between freshman and sophomore year I found out exactly how much I weighed when I went to the student health clinic asking for a prescription for birth control pills (yes, I had discovered the joys of the one thing I never ever did in high school). I weighed in at 165 lbs, making me too overweight for them to prescribe birth control pills (which is actually kind of laughable as I was later on the pill for menstrual problems when I weighed much more) so they fitted me for a diaphragm instead. I went back to my room and cried over how “obese” I was. My roommate (I spent every summer at school going to summer school to finish quicker) and my boyfriend tried to comfort me and tell me I wasn’t that big, but I knew better.

In the fall of my sophomore year I went and got a part-time job so I would have my own money to spend. That way I had even more freedom to spend money on going out to bars and to buy my own clothes in ever larger sizes. My grades slipped that year, probably as much due to the time I wasted with the loser I was dating (practically living with) at school as to the 20-hour-a-week job I had. Cooking for the loser at his apartment meant further weight gain for me as I tried to become the perfect little “housewife” for him and cooked all his and my favorite southern (high fat, high calorie) foods. BTW, this boyfriend earned the name "the loser" because at one point he tried to hit me (only losers hit), but a friend of his (bigger and stronger) stepped in and stopped him. I immediately broke up with him. I may have self-esteem issues, but I have never allowed anybody to hit me. In my world you only get one strike, and you are out.

The next two-and-a-half years netted me the following:
Both a bachelors and masters degrees
A new college boyfriend, very overweight, (who told me on one of our first dates that he had to settle for a fat girl like me because the skinny ones wouldn't date him) who became a great eating buddy, but couldn’t drink alcohol due to a congenital kidney problem so he also helped me control my drinking
Lots more weight (I wouldn’t have dared step on a scale so I have no idea what I weighed when I finished college, but I was wearing size 22W)
A series of yoyo dieting that didn’t really seem to affect my weight all that much
The discovery of the “women’s” section of stores where I could actually find clothes that fit my new larger body

I finished school mid-year, in January, and moved back home with my parents as I didn’t yet have a job. I spent my days job-hunting, and reading, and watching TV, and pretty much being a bum. Back under watchful eyes, I managed to control my eating somewhat, enough that I didn’t gain more but not enough to actually lose either.

To be continued. . .

Next Installment: Life as an Adult


Digger Jones said...

I always like a good story/series like this because it really does help to get to know a person better. And despite all the indulgences, you still managed to get a bachelor's and a master's in less time than I was able to get a bachelor's alone!

Trueself said...

Digger - I worked to get those degrees fast because I had a four year scholarship, including summers. My original plan was to have both the bachelor's and master's in four years. Alas, The Loser got me a bit off track so it took me four and half instead. Still, to walk away with two degrees after only paying one semester's tuition is not a bad deal! I ain't complainin'.