Ready to be 75, it is hard to recollect which story would be most interesting.
I would be almost four when Cindy was born, and I knew I needed to be loved by somebody. I needed differentiation from my younger sister. That has followed me most of my life.
I never felt loved by Mommy. That’s not to say she didn’t love me, but I never felt love. A lot of the baggage she loaded on me, her mother loaded on her.
My grandfather was a state senator, and my grandmother was entitled. She had a hired girl. She once told my sister, “Never admit you are wrong.” I never liked her much. One day, at their ranch, I wondered behind the house and got lost. I was scared and started screaming. It was my father who found me. It was the first time I knew I was loved unconditionally.
I grew up with the values of my mother and her mother; a woman’s appearance and clothes. Both of these women filled me with the notion I was fat, which I wasn’t. I was bigger boned than my mother, but I was certainly not fat.
The image had implanted itself, so I always thought I was fat, and trying to lose weight. As a senior in high school, I wore two girdles; one a panty girdle, and over that a rubber Playtex. Both were very hot in the summer.
Around the time I was fifteen, my mother pulled me into the hallway closet to point out in the mirror I was fatter than she. I grew up harboring an inferiority complex and feeling I always had to try harder to be acceptable in whatever I took on.
My first year of college I went to an all-girls school because that is what my mother had wanted. She died when I was 16. The school had a father-daughter banquet. I saw my father come down the stairs wearing a white dinner jacket. I knew he didn’t have a white dinner jacket; he had rented that along with trousers. He was wearing black shoes, and he had always said he would only wear brown shoes. Until that time, I don’t think I had ever felt that kind of special.
During dinner, I said, “Oh, look at Gayle Rogan, isn’t she beautiful?” My dad said, “I ran into Mr. Rogan upstairs, and he said, “My, what an attractive daughter you have!” I know perfectly well now that he didn’t run into Mr. Rogan, but that was my father. He loved me totally and unconditionally.
When I was a few years older and planning a cruise trip, my dad, who saw how I tried to be thin, said, “For God’s sake, EAT! Stay off your diet because the food will be wonderful.”
A friend gave me a birthday book, like a journal, and year after year after year, I weighed 140 to 145, but I always wrote 135.
I lived seventeen years in New York City and was not cheated of life on any scale. I worked hard and played hard and missed nothing.
From the influence of an ordained woman I met at St. James on Madison Ave., and God’s call on me, I entered the seminary in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Episcopal Divinity School. I didn’t do it for ordination, but to examine the spiritual course of my life, and my relationship with God. I resisted ordination at first, but in the words of scripture, Galatians 4:4, “In the fullness of time…”
I was ordained, and through the same women, I became involved with Charismatic Renewal. I found a relationship with God through Jesus Christ I had never had before. I became very much alive and very much who I am today.
Ordained life was also good for me because nobody could see under all the vestments.
Some years later, while working in Virginia, I had a vision. I was on the grounds of Fountains Abbey in Northern England, and I was naked with no cover in sight. Jesus came and threw a translucent or transparent cape-like thing over me. It seemed he was covering me because of my concerns, not his.
Jesus didn’t care if I was fat or not. He didn’t see me that way. It was another example of unconditional love.
I found myself and became a whole person through my dad’s love and God’s love through Jesus Christ.
Written on 6-28-16
Dr J’s Comments
So many women struggle with body image, and Sara’s story is an honest portrayal of her journey to healing and thriving. Enjoy and learn.