The following short story is another one based upon a prompt taken from “The Amazing Story Generator”. The prompt this time was:
Despite a disapproving family, a plus size model is initiated into a secret cult.
No matter how many magazines I’m in, all my family sees is a fat girl who needs to go on a diet. They don’t understand or care that it’s because of how I look that we all got to take that awesome vacation to Bermuda last year. Despite the fact that I paid for the tickets, rooms…well, you name it…when it came time to go out onto the beach not a one of them would sit by me. They all made their excuses. Mom needed to lie down. Dad was hungry. My sister and brother didn’t want to sit in the sun. It really stung.
Of course they went out to eat and shopping with me. After all, they wanted me to pay for that too. On our fourth night we went to a fantastic restaurant. There were so many choices on the menu that I ordered several appetizers so that we could all sample a variety. The entire time I was placing the appetizer order, my mother clucked her tongue disapprovingly while my siblings snickered behind their hands. The insults and snide comments had finally taken their toll, and I snapped. “Why don’t you fuckers figure out how to pay for this without me? The fat lady has lost her appetite”.
My father sat there gaping while my mother made a comment about my language as I stormed off. I was so angry that I even called the airline to see if I could leave early. There were no flights available, so I was stuck here. The perfect beaches and beautiful weather had been marred. Fortunately I was able to get another room so that I wouldn’t have to face my sister. Little miss perfect had married a lawyer and was a stay at home mom. Our parents thought that she was the ideal woman with the ideal life. They had no idea that she made herself throw up almost every time she ate to stay thin for her cheating husband. She thought that it would make him stay.
My super hero brother was really something too. He had lost his last three jobs at top marketing firms because he had missed too many days of work due to being hung over. Mom and dad were naive enough to believe that all of his bosses had it out for him, despite the fact that he got bombed at every holiday meal. Hell, last Christmas he got sick in one of mom’s poinsettias. They made excuses for him, saying that he just got carried away and had a little too much fun from time to time. That he needed to blow off steam from his high stress job. I could go on about all of them. Yes including mom and dad, but I won’t. The point is that I was sick and tired of them being so critical of me when none of us are perfect.
I managed to steer clear of them for most of the rest of the vacation. After all, I had a photo shoot and an interview so it was easy for me to fib and say that I worked later, or that I had a meeting. Truth be told, I think that they were just as relieved as I was to spend the rest of our trip apart. On the flight back, we all put on our polite smiles and talked about nothing. It was the safest topic. As soon as the plane touched down, we all went our separate ways.
I was just thinking that none of us had talked for three weeks and was about to call mom and dad when an ad on TV distracted me. There was a conference coming to town later this week that was all about learning to love yourself no matter how other people made you feel. Screw it! I called the number on the screen and bought a ticket instead of calling my mother. As soon as the ticket was purchased, I hung up the phone and went to the freezer for that pint of ice cream that was calling my name.
The work week flew by. I had been booked every day, and spent several evenings in meetings with my agent. Finally, the night of the conference came. I found myself in tears early in the event. It was like they were talking directly to me. They spoke of families who degraded one another to the point that a person had almost no sense of self worth, no matter how successful they were. As the evening wore on, I could have sworn that they had somehow seen footage of my family. Then they got into how to recover self esteem and learn to live confidently. There was a whole program to sign up for if you were interested…and I was.
Each time my family called to invite me to a dinner or other family function, I had to decline. Between work and my new group I was entirely too busy. Just when I started to feel bad about never seeing any of them, my mother called and laid a guilt trip on me. My group leader had said that something like this would happen. It was amazing how insightful these people were! What would I do without them? How had I managed before they came along? As soon as I hung up with my mother, I dialed the crisis number we were given, and as soon as I provided my credit card number I was connected to a special counselor.
After several months had gone by, my accountant called with concerns about the rate at which I was spending money. My group leader had predicted that this would happen too. The group warned me that the people in my life were all looking out for themselves. Once more I called the crisis line. I was so upset that I needed a double session this time. The next day, my dad dropped by unannounced. He asked me to go to lunch with him to talk. It had been a long time so I agreed.
When we got to the restaurant, the whole family was there. Even my agent was there. It felt like an ambush. My family wanted to know what was going on. When I explained about my new group, my mother and sister both cried and apologized. All of them said how sorry they were to have treated me the way that they had. Of all people, my sister suggested that we all go to a real counselor together in order to work on ourselves and on the family. They had brought some articles about the group and I was aghast to see how many times they had been accused of fraud, only to slip away and go elsewhere.
After six months of therapy, things had really began to turn around. My sister had left her cheating husband and was happier than she had been in years. She and her two kids moved in with mom and dad. My brother was in his fifth successful month of AA. Mom and dad were in a group for co-dependency. Last but not least, I was learning to turn to things other than food when I was dealing with something difficult. The weight was coming off and the modeling jobs were still pouring in. Who would have ever thought that we would have to become so lost in order to find our way?