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MY THINNING YEARS: Starving the Gay Within ~Jon Derek Croteau

“From the time I was a child in such an unsafe household, I’d been putting on layers of emotional fat, thickening myself for years to protect myself from the inevitable truth.  I must have been preparing myself for the ultimate rejection I assumed would come from my father, and eventually, everyone else.” (from page 210 of Advanced Copy Uncorrected Proofs)


MY THINNING YEARS is another self-help/recovery book from Hazelden Publishing.  It is a well written biography of a young man having to deal with identity issues in a verbally and often physically abusive household.  The author’s father only wanted certainly things for his three children and then they could not do them “right”.   His father was determined to destroy any “sissy” tendencies in his youngest son and determined that he was going to be a sports star in school – especially in baseball.   Croteau was a sport’s star but only in tennis.  His mother was very supportive and tried to protect her children managing her anger by chain smoking.

Food was a big issue along with perfect grades and achievements.  For the author, this translated into anxiety, anorexia, obsessive behaviors, perfectionism, and nearly suicide.  Many of his friends were females and neighbors who allowed Croteau access to their homes when his father rampaged.   Many of these friends stuck by him all of his life and protected him at school.  He loved to sing but was only allowed to be in theater productions required at school.

Croteau’s mother got him counseling help as best as she could provide by cashing checks at the grocery store and having a teacher provide the transportation so husband/father would not know.   His brother and sister had a hard time too, but not as tough as Jon because they were great at sports and not as sensitive.  Appearance was important and not having any “faggy” behaviors.

This is a well written account of how difficult it was in the 80s and 90s to find an identity and become self-affirming.  At one point in my career I was working with a group of teens as a counselor – all had eating issues, identity issues and food issues.  4 of the males in the group were anorexic and I wished I had had a copy of this book to share with them all; they were not alone it was a struggle for many.

I could identify with Croteau’s pathway too, because my home was run by a quiet perfectionist who used criticism as a tool.   My siblings were not safe or protective we were all in competition for attention and sometimes food.  Many, many people could relate to this recovery process and issues of self-affirmation.  It is good story telling.

“Jon Derek Croteau, Ed.D. is vice president at a leadership consultancy for higher education and health care clients across the globe. He is the author of three academic books on staff development and leadership as well as numerous articles for journals and periodicals, and he is a member of the speaker’s bureau of the National Eating Disorders Association.  Jon legally married his partner, Justin Croteau, in 2007 and currently resides in Vermont”

TLC Online Book Tours   and Hazelden sent me a copy of this book for review. MY THINNING YEARS is a very good read and resource.  Thank you for the opportunity.

Related
Conquering Shame and Co-Dependency 
Mind Without a Home 
Shadows In The Sun
The Isolation Door

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8 Responses to “MY THINNING YEARS: Starving the Gay Within ~Jon Derek Croteau”

  1. Chris Edgar Says:

    Thanks for this, Patricia — the subject of male anorexia and other forms of body dysmorphia isn’t one that I think is discussed often enough. Men with “ideal male bodies,” such as athletes and the male models in clothing commercials with the chiseled abs, often dehydrate themselves severely, and dangerously, in order to achieve that look, in addition to doing the self-starvation the author talks about. Hopefully more public discussions of the issue like this one will help men in this situation get the support they need.

    Patricia Reply:

    Chris,
    Thank you for coming by and your insights, this is a very worthwhile book and I am going to pass my copy on to several folks I know.

    Seeing the Father’s control and fear tendencies from this angle is very enlightening also – it is important to have someone to hold you up and in this story Mom did just that and loyal and long lasting friends.

    Lots of hope here for others
    Patricia recently posted..MY THINNING YEARS: Starving the Gay Within ~Jon Derek CroteauMy Profile

  2. Laurie Buchanan Says:

    Patricia – Thank you for sharing this much (much!) needed book with your readers. I oh-so-appreciate your reviews.
    Laurie Buchanan recently posted..Give and TakeMy Profile

    Patricia Reply:

    Thank you Laurie for your good words to me…appreciated
    Yes, this is an important read and excellent resource.
    I am going to pass my copy on to several folks I know…I believe it will go far and wide – it is needed
    Patricia recently posted..MY THINNING YEARS: Starving the Gay Within ~Jon Derek CroteauMy Profile

  3. Sara Says:

    Like others said in the comment box, this is an important topic as men are often left out in the “eating disorder” discussion.

    I clicked on the book and read some excerpts. It is well written and drew me in very fast to his story. It reminded me of someone I knew ages ago who struggled with sexual identity and how unforgiving people could be.

    Also, you mentioned working with a group of teenagers. To me, this is critical in our schools — more education about respecting differences in people, as well getting assistance for those who are struggling.

    Hopefully, Mr. Croteau’s book will bring attention to these interwoven issues and help others.
    Sara recently posted..The Ghost at Victoria’s SecretMy Profile

    Patricia Reply:

    Sara,
    This is an important read and I got copies to our local Planned Parenthood and 6 school counselors in the area. It is a well done story and offers some great coping skills besides food or starving.

    We can put this book into our schools here, but most schools it is not ok and is banned reading here in the USA.
    Patricia recently posted..DARING MY PASSAGES: a Memoir ~Gail SheehyMy Profile

  4. Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours Says:

    Thanks for being a part of the tour for this powerful read.

    Patricia Reply:

    Heather J
    You are welcome. Trying to share this one with school counselors and clergy – teens need to know and understand
    Patricia recently posted..DARING MY PASSAGES: a Memoir ~Gail SheehyMy Profile