Something happens when your first experience of this world is through a fat suit. People see you not as you are but something else. It’s not their fault really. Rather taught or innate we pass judgment and form opinions with our perceptions; an ancient survival skill.
I remember the first time around the age of fourteen discovering my hip bones. At first, I was alarmed at what I thought was a lump. Cancer? But wait I have a matching one on the other side and two more at the base of my neck. Crazy, I know but I’d been overweight since I was seven. I was feeling my bones for the first time. Being overweight is like being imprisoned. You want to pull off your skin. I still wake every morning and my first thought is about my body, because I’m terrified to go back there. Now it is a part of my identity, I will always have a fat center. I can’t change that. It is my reference point. I cried myself to sleep most nights for different reasons but mostly because I hated myself and being overweight is very uncomfortable.
I had my fair share of bullies: Call Jenny, Godzilla, Freak, (and those are the friendly ones). The bully that stands out the most tortured me on the school bus in the sixth grade. She’d call out Free Willy every morning as I came up the bus steps. A few times she got physical with me and pulled my hair. Ironically, she was much larger than me. Reflecting back now, I pity her. She must’ve been very unhappy.
Honestly, I must thank my bullies. I never told any adults, I just got mad. I starting working out. I was going to prove something to them, to everyone, to me. Their voices still reverberate in the back of my mind when I’m training, for what, I don’t know; life I guess, adventures maybe. My sanity, definitely.
It’s amazing; when you’re big, people literally let doors shut in your face. Not when your outer shell changes though. Then they’ll hold it open while you cross the parking lot. What’s a girl to make of this?
Every distant snicker was about me, every room was scanned to see if I was the biggest. I took my experiences and I became a people pleasing push over, sometimes, because I had no ego, no self-esteem. I was/am too nice, because I know what it feels like for someone to look into your soul with a look of disgust on their face.
For years I’ve struggled with terrible shyness, sometimes debilitating. There was a time when eating in front of others would give me panic attacks. Crazy, I know. Miserable, yes. But I met this man, this beautiful man. A man and his beautiful crazy family. They are bold and strong and warm and I saw for this first time what it was to be authentic in the face of fear. The fear of other people’s opinions about you. My husband is not perfect but he’s genuine and doesn’t change for anyone, or filter himself for anyone; I fell madly in love with him for this.
My biggest struggle in life has been my mental health. I can not take anti-anxiety medications, it makes me worse! “Scientists have long recognized that many psychiatric disorders tend to run in families, suggesting potential genetic roots. Such disorders include autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, major depression and schizophrenia.” (nih.gov) In other words, we can be predisposed to certain mental behaviors based on genetics, and those behaviors can lie dormant or be exacerbated by outside environmental factors such as childhood trauma. My biggest fear is that my children will spend a life in torment with their own thoughts.
For years I have made small changes to where I finally feel good most days and comfortable in my own body. One because my husband compliments me like it’s his job and because when I had my first son, I knew I was going to have to teach him to love and respect himself. How can I do that and be a hypocrite?
I am not sure why I am sharing this. Maybe because I want the noise of it all to be set free. Maybe it’s to encourage others to see each other more empathetically. If you’re overweight or hate your body and feel stuck I’d tell you, you are going to have to make a change; and not for 6 weeks or 6 months, but forever; and that you’ll have to keep pushing through every failure.
It may be cliche, but you have to adopt a new lifestyle for the rest of your days on this earth. People think I’m strange because I won’t eat fast food, but that’s a choice I made a long time ago. It didn’t fit into my new lifestyle and I don’t miss it one single bit, because it was keeping me sick. Now I meditate, eat clean and sweat. I must do these three things to stay present and stay happy.
I want to be more authentic in my time here as this tiny spec in a vast universe. I want to keep it real and stay humble and enjoy my friends and family without the pressure of being something or someone I am not just to fit in. I know there are others like me and maybe you’ll see this.