"This Is Us" viewers have shed plenty of tears for Kate Pearson as she's struggled to accept herself, navigate feelings of guilt over her father's death, suffered pregnancy loss and more on the always-emotional series.
But what those fans may not know is that the star who brings the character to life has personal stories of her own that would have them reaching for the tissues just the same.
Actress Chrissy Metz details some of those painful memories in an excerpt from her upcoming book, "This Is Me: Loving the Person You Are Today," published in People magazine.
One particularly difficult chapter from Metz's past involved her stepfather, known only as "Trigger" in the book, who she says became fixated on her diet, her weight and his own ability to torment her.
"My body seemed to offend him, but he couldn’t help but stare, especially when I was eating," she wrote. "He joked about putting a lock on the refrigerator."
At that point in her childhood, food meant relief and happiness for Metz after a period when she, her siblings and her mother had often gone without the basics. That made Trigger's focus more disturbing for her, and led her to hide her eating.
But it soon went from bad to worse when physical abuse became part of her life.
"I don’t remember why Trigger hit me the first time," she wrote. "He never punched my face. Just my body, the thing that offended him so much. He shoved me, slapped me, punched my arm. He would hit me if he thought I looked at him wrong. I remember being on the kitchen floor after he knocked me over, and I was begging to know what I did. He just shoved me hard with his foot."
The heartbreaking story didn't end there. As Metz grew older, she recalls Trigger becoming more obsessed with her body.
“When I was 14, Trigger began weighing me,” wrote Metz. “He’d get the scale from the bathroom and clang it hard on the kitchen floor. ‘Well, get on the damn thing!’ Trigger would yell."
And no matter what the number on the scale was, she described his response as the same: "Good God almighty!"
As the alleged harassment and violence continued, it caused Metz to contemplate harming him — and then left her immediately feeling guilty for even considering it.
"How could I think that about this person I loved so much?"
Yes, despite everything, she loved her stepfather and still considered him a better provider than her own father had been. And, since he's since shown remorse for their painful past, she admits still loves him today.
But she never let that love cloud her mind when it came to knowing her true worth.
"I'm a tough cookie," she told People.
"This Is Me: Loving the Person You Are Today" hits bookstores March 27, and is currently available to preorder on Amazon.
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