“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.