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Athena Perez

June 18, 2015

Have you ever had one of those extension cords – you know, the long orange kind? It doesn’t matter how carefully I unwind that damn thing, the minute I try to roll it up it gets all tangled. Attempting to untangle knots drives me batty.  The extension cord reminds me of my mind. I needed outlets for all that balled up energy the previous ten years had created. And…. Something to take my mind off. I needed to unplug it.

I was 11 now. I imagine kids have all kinds of outlets; sports, playing, they have friends.  Up to this point, I didn’t have any friends; I wasn’t allowed friends.  I didn’t grow up with a bunch of toys because whatever I enjoyed got taken away. Playing, ……well I don’t remember much of that either. I spent most of my free time growing up doing some form of a chore or “restitution”. Weeding flower beds, pulling grass with my hands, scrubbing sidewalks. I actually cut grass with scissors a few times.

When I went to live with my mom, those first years were interesting. She was working on a third divorce shortly after I moved in so there another period of instability. I was getting in trouble for sneaking food – a habit that didn’t go away overnight.  By the middle of 6th grade, I was already over 200 pounds, and it was not conducive to making friends. In general, kids can be cruel.

{{Laughing}} I really couldn’t win. I was already trying to cope with a horrible past, but now I had a new problem. It was called 6th grade.  I’d go to school, get teased, feel bad, come home andchildhood obesity want to soothe those feelings.  I sure did too. I don’t know what “normal” kids did – but I had a TV, and I had food. Life was perfect.  I knew I was already “fat”, but at 11 there is no rationalizing.  There is no conscious thought of what I was doing. There was no psycho-babble going on in my head about why I was eating. I just did.  

Macaroni and cheese, spaghetti, toast with cinnamon and sugar… Mmmm  *giggle*. It didn’t matter. Food wasn’t psychological warfare anymore; it was my best friend.  If I was feeling sad, it was always right there, waiting for me.  It wasn’t going to leave me notes about being a “porker”,  it wasn’t going to put gum in my hair.  I was still hiding food in my room, but not from habit. I wanted friends around.  Food was how I plugged in.  It wasn’t just an extension cord; it was my lifeline. This girl was going to protect that food like a ravaged dog. RAAAAAARRRR. Nobody was ever going to take that shit away from me again ((laugh)). I was serious.

I was just shy of 12 now. I had a few friends at school (thank God) and life was normalizing. I’m not sure how else to put that. Define normal, right? I discovered music and was developing interests. I had my first friend spend the night when I was 11.  Yes… it would seem I was a little late to the punch.

My best friend in the world here in Minnesota gives me a hard time about living 80’s music.  It’s kind of funny, and he has me regularly laughing about it. I firmly believe it was because I didn’t get to hear too much of it growing up. How do you miss a decade? I felt like I had.

I started my climb. I had my extension cord, food, and headphones playing New Kids on the Block. What else did I need?

In many ways I believe God was looking out for me. He knew  I was well on my way to self-sabotage mountain, but he had heard one of my prayers in 1989. Today, I call this man “Dad.”  I needed one. I prayed for one……… and he heard me.

Being a fat kid sucks, but by now, life was pretty darned good. I was forgetting the past. Twinkies and New Kids on the Block helped with memory loss. I had something new to focus on and his name………. was Joey McIntyre. All that was missing were my two brothers. That would come…….. sorta……………………… sooner than I had expected.

I wasn’t kidding about the twinkies thing. They are so gross…… but I still love them today.

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I’m Athena Perez, a Christ-loving dog mom and CrossFitter who has lost over 200 pounds on a long journey of self-discovery. I’m obsessed with sharing everything I’ve learned to help you too!  

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