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I had a realization today that totally shocked me. I was thinking about eating and not eating and trying to remember the first time I intentionally went hungry. And I remembered something that, while I hadn’t forgotten it, I somehow never made the connection.

When I was 10, my mom was still trying to force me to eat things. I was an extremely picky eater (I still am) and would vomit if I ate something I didn’t like. I don’t even remember what she made. Something I didn’t want.

And when I didn’t eat it; she threatened to serve it to me for breakfast the next day. I know that is a common threat. But she actually did it. And I didn’t care. I didn’t get breakfast. Or lunch. Or dinner. And it went the same the next day.

Finally, on the second or third day she relented. I was always a very thin child. She grew worried about me going so long without eating. From then on she always let me have a peanut butter sandwich if I didn’t want dinner.

It was an unbelievably powerful moment for me. I had won. My parents never relented. They were strict, abusive, unreasonable people. They never apologized, they never admitted to being wrong. Not ever.

Logic didn’t work on them. Or emotional appeals. No amount of reasoning or conversation could sway them. There was no conversation. It was always their way because they were the adults.

Children have very limited power over their own lives. And in my family, we had none. But I had won. I had beaten my mother at her own game. I had shown her how stubborn I could be.

And all I had to do was not eat.

Which I continued to do for the next 20 years. And nobody ever seemed to notice. I barely noticed what I was doing. I was always just “not hungry.” At sleepovers, my friends would bring soda and chips. I would bring water and bread rolls.

And nobody ever confronted me. Nobody asked me a single question about it.


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