Two thanksgivings ago we were at my oldest brothers having dinner with my family. My brothers wedding anniversary, is November the 24th, and that year it happened to be Thanksgiving Day as well. My nephew Wesley was looking at the wedding album, and when he turned to the picture of my family he asked, "well who's the fat girl in the photo?" We all looked at the picture, and he points to the picture of me. I was the "fat girl." Everyone laughs, not to be mean, but because he didn't know who it was. I didn't know who the "fat girl" was either back then.
I grew up as the pretty girl, with a pretty amazing childhood. Life had been kind to me. I was the social girl who had a lot of friends, and was all about the boys. My oldest brother had a lot of cute friends, that would hang around the house. I think most came to see me, but he would probably disagree. There were some great perks to being pretty. Let's be honest people like pretty girls. I got out of a few traffic tickets being pretty, and got a few A's that probably should've been B's. I was the aid for the football coach not because he needed one, but because I was pretty. In high school I dated one of the popular football players. He was my first love. I thought we would get married have five kids, and live happily ever after.
During my senior year in high school, I was raped. My car broke down, and three men pulled over to help me. They weren't offering help that night. After that my life changed in a lot of ways and for a lot of years. Being pretty after that, was scary for me. Attention was no longer what I wanted, especially from men. I didn't want the perks of being pretty anymore, because I thought all it lead to was being raped.
I'm pretty sure it wasn't an intentional plan for me to get fat, but I was depressed and wasn't really sure what had happened. I blamed myself for being raped. The shame was unbearable. It was so bad that I swore my friends to secrecy about my rape, and didn't even tell my parents. Somehow in my teenage brain I thought it was my fault, and that I had done something wrong. I turned away from anyone that could help, and I hated all men. Being a male put my Heavenly Father at the top of my list, and I turned away from him. After all, if anyone could've stepped in that horrible night he would've been the one with the ability to do it. For at least ten years, my Heavenly Father was male enemy number one, and I wasn't talking to him. He never gave up on me, but I had given up on him. I had given up on me.
I carried my secret inside. I shut everyone out, and instead I made friends with food. Within months, I had managed to gain at least 40 pounds, flunk out of school and get myself kicked out of my parents home. I'm sure the change in me was incredibly hard for my parents, especially considering that they had no idea what had happened. With no place to turn my parents shipped me off to live with my aunt and uncle in Vancouver, Washington. With my secret hidden deep inside, I started my new life. Depressed, full of shame, fat, and getting fatter every day. I started Fort Vancouver high school. For the first time in my life I was the girl that nobody talked to. I used to be able to walk in a room, and have friends, and boyfriends, and attention. I was always the girl that people wanted to be friends with. I'm grateful I was never a mean girl, I always had a soft place in my heart for those that didn't fit in. Suddenly, I was the girl that didn't fit in. High school can be an incredibly hard place, and kids are the meanest. In my history class, I sat behind a group of football players. In my old life they would've loved me, but not in my new life. I didn't think I cared, until they started teasing me. They would make pig noises, and say rude things. Then one day, I came to class and they had put Jenny Craig pamphlets on my desk. I have never been so humiliated in my life. I wanted to disappear. I remember thinking if you knew me before you would've liked me. In my old life you wouldn't have treated me this way you would've wanted to date me. I would've stood up for the "fat girl" at my old school. Yet here I was the "fat girl." Nobody stood up for me that day.
I've learned a few things from fat Nikki. Your life can change in an instant at anytime and we don't really have as much control as we think. I know you control freaks are running for the control button right now, but the reality is the only thing we truly have control over is how we handle the things that happen to us in life. I've learned to handle hard things better. I've learned to deal with the pain of life, and not chose an addiction to cope. For me it was food but now days addictions are a dime a dozen. Alcohol, sex, drugs, spending, eating, working, shopping, exercising, the list goes on and on. An addiction is anything you use to avoid life, or feeling the pain of life. There is no way to avoid pain in this life. I hate to break it to all of you that believe that if you live right, pray enough, go to church, and all the Sunday school answers that pain will pass you by, but that just isn't the case. Pain is why we are here. Pain makes us who we are. Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional, and choosing not to walk through the pain will lead to years of suffering. Just ask fat Nikki, she knows that road well.
I try not to get caught up in titles anymore pretty girl, soccer mom, single mom, fat girl, I have had a lot of titles in my life. Some that I love, like being a mom and others that I hated, like fat Nikki, but the problem with a title is it won't last forever, and if we define ourselves by our titles when we lose them or they change we lose who we are. We are not are worst mistake, or the worst thing that has happened to us. We are also not are highest achievement, or greatest success. There is only one title that we were all born with, and will die with, and that is child of God. Had I really known that I was a child of God deep inside, I could've dealt with being raped a lot better. I always wondered how Elizabeth Smart, who was kidnapped out of her home, and rapped daily for six months didn't destroy her life the way I had. She knew who she belonged to. She knew, and believed that she was a child of God. I on the other hand didn't.
We were all born a child of God, and we all have that commonality. It is something that can never be taken from us. We were born with divine worth and we don't need to do something, or be something for that worth. We don't have to earn it, and it isn't taken away if we make a mistake. It is our birthright. Knowing that we should treat ourselves a little kinder, when we have titles that are difficult, and we should also treat others kinder when they carry titles that we don't understand, or even agree with. They, like we are, are children of God. We are his and he is ours, and with that comes an expectation to treat each other accordingly. If you can't find something in common with someone, start with child of God, and I don't think you will need to look any further.