My childhood – Alex from Antwerp

My childhood was not a happy time for me. I grew up in a family with two brothers. As a kid I always felt excluded. I felt different. My brothers where sporty, smart and excelled in everything. It was like everything they touched turned into gold. I was the fat, dumber brother who always played by himself and even at home felt lonely. Luckily I’ve had a big imagination. At night in bed I fantasized about being a world traveler or a super successful fashion designer.

I was the child of a hardworking mother. Who focused more on her business then on her children. I guess it was her way of escaping her horrible marriage.  We were typical neglected children who where raised by the nanny. My father always felt like a stranger to me. He didn’t show any interest in me. After all he had two kids who excelled in sports and at school and for him that was the most important. As a child I didn’t understand this. I kept thinking my father hated me and at some point I even questioned myself if he really was my father.  My parents’ marriage was a typical don’t speak about it marriage. 

We never talked about feelings at home. When I was sad or felt blue, my mother found it easier to buy me a new pair of designer shoes or a pair of way overpriced jeans. At the time it felt like a normal thing. And for a while, all that stuff made me happy. But when I became older I realized that things didn’t make me happier. That deep down I just wanted a mother who listened to my problems and gave me advice. And a father that for once didn’t ignore me.

I will always remember the annual play performance of middle school. The graduating class of that year had to perform play. After the show all the parents were invited backstage to congratulate their children. I remember being all alone backstage surrounded by parents congratulating their children. I didn’t understand it. My parents promised to be there. It broke my heart. My teacher came to me and told me my parents called the school they had to work. She told me “mommy en daddy” had to work and weren’t able to catch the show. It broke my heart. From that moment on I built this wall around me to protect myself. My teacher dropped me of at home. As I entered the living room my parents weren’t there instead there was this big wrapped box in the living room with my name on it. It was their way of saying sorry. As of today I never told this to anyone. 

In high school I always felt left out. Other kids picked on me for being different. It looked like I didn’t care. After all I became pretty good at hiding my feelings. But deep down I just wanted to fit in. I developed this attitude to protect myself. It made me survive high school. At home I would eat every single piece of junk food to comfort myself. By the time I graduated high school I was overweight and still unhappy. And by the time I was 20, I was seriously overweight and struggled with my feelings. 

But everything changed when I came out of the closet. It was such a relief. I felt reborn. I moved to Antwerp and started to study. I was far away from home and my crappy childhood.  I started to work out and felt like a real person for the first time in my life. In the beginning al was fine. I lost a lot of weight. For the first time ever I felt good about myself.