Nicole says she when she was in high school, she thought of herself as "extremely" overweight.
"In my senior year, I weighed about 160 pounds, while most girls were around 110. I wore a large or extra-large."
Weight, says Nicole, was a constant issue in her house.
"My mom was always putting me on a diet. I'm the only kid I know who had an angel food birthday cake because it had fewer calories than chocolate cake. My mom also always complained about how fat she was and called any larger person a 'fat slob.' She even called my godmother that."
Nicole's mother had been very thin when she was a young woman. But she gave birth to Nicole when she was 39 and gained weight. "I only remember her as being 50 or older, and she was about a size 14 to 16 then."
Nicole had one sibling, a sister, who was always thin. "Even if we got fed the exact same food!"
When it came to boys, Nicole's mother told her nobody was going to want her — because she was fat. "And if they did ask me out, they probably only wanted one thing."
Nicole went to an all-girls high school and didn't meet too many boys. She knew a few from grammar school, but they were just pals, not potential romantic partners. And because of her weight and her mother's voice in her head, she was too self-conscious to go to the dances at the local all-boys school.
"I made it all the way through high school without a kiss."
After school, Nicole went to work. It was while she was working at a department store that she first started meeting men — "most of whom wanted nothing to do with me."
It was at work that Nicole became friends with Ned. They were part of a group that hung out together. Her mother overheard her talking about him.
"Once a real date was planned, my mother's first question to me was, 'Why does he want to go out with you?' I felt like I'd been slapped. I felt insulted, and she made me unsure about Ned and his motives."
Nicole didn't need to worry.
"Luckily, he was raised to be a complete gentleman, or I might have figured Mom was right, that he was only after one thing. I would never have trusted anyone again. I might never have dated anyone after that. Also, luckily, he was my one and only boyfriend, and we've now been married for 38 years."
Looking back, Nicole realizes she was never "extremely" overweight. "I see that I wasn't so bad after all. In fact, I would love to weigh that little now."
Nicole's weight has gone up over the years, but she says it's never been an issue between her and Ned.
"I've gained (and lost) a lot since our wedding. But he's never said a word or treated me any differently. His mother was a larger woman, and his dad clearly adored her, so I think he learned from his family."
Did your parents send you destuctive messages? How have they affected you? Send your tale, along with your questions, problems and rants to [email protected] And check out my e-books, "Dear Cheryl: Advice from Tales from the Front" and "I'll Call You. Not."