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I am ranty and upset and I really miss home.

I have always hated shopping.  Shopping is difficult for me.  Being a big girl, I’ve resigned myself to years of living in shapeless clothes.  Lots of black, no colors, no shape at all.  I have a shape, and it’s round, and should be something that is hidden under as much clothing as possible.  There was a brief time when I didn’t give a shit, and would wear sleeveless shirts with lots of cleavage.  But I have learned to be absolutely ashamed of my body, and should hide it as much as possible.

I wish that I had it in me to wear pink tights and skirts and sleeveless shirts, just because.  But I can’t.  So I find stuff that sorta fits, and have stopped caring what I wear, as long as the flab isn’t showing.  It doesn’t help that I now live in a country that’s even LESS accepting of people like me.  And even if I wanted to buy new clothes, I couldn’t find any that even “sorta” fit.  Not unless I want to spend a fortune.

So WalMart stuff is cheaply made and mostly crap, but I know I could walk into any WalMart in America and find trousers that fit me.  I could find sweaters and tshirts and workout gear that fit me.  Sure, it’s crap.  But at least it’s available.

What the high street here tells me is that “You are not allowed to feel good about yourself if you are overweight.”  I went into a store trying to find a bra my size.  The store has an entire floor full of bras, but poorly organised, and I found 30 minutes trying to hunt down the color combination for my size.  I found -3-.  3.  And they’re not the prettiest in the world.  There was a grand total of 1 sports bra in my size.  And it’s like origami to try to put it on my body.  So, you want me to work out and lose my fat? Ok, great, where do I start?

And shoes.  The whole shoe department had maybe 3 pairs of shoes that were wide fitting.  And we’re talking about 30 racks of shoes.  I don’t care how much weight I lose, I’m still going to have wide feet that are a half size that no one carries.  And I’m always going to have these calves that no normal size boots will fit.  Unless I have some sort of calf liposuction to reduce the mass of muscles there, they’re never going away.

There was one store here in town that was a “fat girl” store.  3 floors of awesomeness staffed with these amazing women that always looked stunning. It closed a few months after I got here and moved into a tiny corner of a department store where no one even looks twice at you or tries to help.  The clothes look so sad and pathetic, as if they were just kind of thrown in there, in the back of the store, to hide the fat women from the rest of their customers.

I’m pissed. I’m SO sick of being told that I need to hide.  I just wanted to find some sweaters and a few pairs of khakis for our trip to Scotland.  But no luck.  I ended up crying in the store’s cafe while my husband tried to calm me down.  I’m sick of being told how worthless I am for being my size, and that I can’t possibly be happy with my body until I’m this unreachable ideal.

I hate having to apologise for living.  I feel like I have to make an excuse for everything I put in my mouth.  I hate having to make an excuse for being alive.

I’m sick of having no voice.  I’m sick of being told that I am a worthless human being.

So I’ll go on my trip with shapeless clothes that are 2 years old and falling apart because I can’t find anything in this entire country that fits me and makes me feel beautiful.

You think I should lose weight for my health? For my Happiness?  And if I agree to do it, does that mean I have to hate myself and be depressed the entire time? What about the body I have RIGHT NOW?  It’s not ok to love it because it’s disgusting right?  I shouldn’t show my arms or my legs or any part of me, cover it and wear black until I am thin or I die from being such a fat fat fatterson. Because obviously all I do is sit on my couch and eat junk food all day, because that’s what we do, isn’t it?  People like that shouldn’t be allowed to live or have feelings right? No, I don’t have feelings, I’m too insulated to feel them, right?

I am sick of living my life waiting to be happy because I don’t think I deserve it.  And if I keep listening to what everyone tells me, I don’t.

I remember vividly the first time I ever told my mother about my husband.  I was in the blissful throes of “omg he likes me so much” and I wanted to tell her all about it.  And she said “You know what I love?  Is that you found someone to love you despite your body type.  You know, he loves you as you are”.  I know in my brain that these words were not meant maliciously, because I know my mom loves me.  As I am.  Whatever that means.  But tell my heart that? The words were like weapons and I took them to heart.  As if I was this unlovable person that couldn’t possibly be loved at my weight.  As there was something absolutely wrong with me that someone would have to completely overlook or “get over” before they could decide to love me.But isn’t that what society tells you? If you’re fat, you’re going to die alone and no one will ever love you unless you fit some mold?

A few years ago when I was living in Alabama, one of my coworkers asked why I wasn’t married, since I was about to turn 30.  Ignoring the rudeness of that, I just told her that I hadn’t found the right person yet.  And this woman, who I’d just met a few weeks earlier said to me “Well, you’re just too picky, then.  I know lots of guys who would go out with someone like you“. 

So what can I ascertain from that phrase “someone like you”?  Intelligent? Geeky? Funny? White? Short? Curly haired? Of course not.  And in case it wasn’t clear the first time, she made sure to spell it out for me.  “There are lots of guys who like women with extra meat on their bones”.  Well…good for them, then.  And thanks for thinking that I am not capable of finding someone to love someone like me and that I am being TOO PICKY with something as important as the person with whom I will spend the rest of my life. 

My husband observed that people are so worried about being “PC” that making fun of fat people is the only thing that’s allowed these days.  And in his way, he’s absolutely right.  Being fat is regarded as something that makes you a second class citizen.  And it’s perfectly acceptable for people to tell you how fat and disgusting you are.  As if you had “no idea”! And that it’s “for your own good”.  It’s ok to be prejudiced against someone who’s fat because we’re conditioned to believe that weight = unhealthiness.  So if someone’s unhealthy, they don’t deserve to live.  Or they don’t deserve to live as comfortably as everyone else.  So why shouldn’t you be able to discriminate against them? Because it’s really all their fault, isn’t it?  And if they really wanted to change and be better, they would be.

Guess what? You can’t tell a damn thing about what kind of person I am by looking at what’s on the outside of my body.  You can’t instantly tell me what my cholesterol levels are, or my blood sugar, or the status of my organs, or my fitness level.  You could guess, but you’d be wrong.  And do ANY of these things make me a person of worth?  And furthermore, are any of these things any of your business?

The realization I’m slowly coming to is that I’ve spent most of my life letting these judgements define me.  I see myself reflected back in the eyes of strangers and I have learned to hate what I see staring back at me.  And it’s hard to break that habit.  It’s hard to be allowed to love someone like me when I am told by everyone else that I don’t deserve that love because of what I am.

Someone like me is someone who is a person of worth who is loved BECAUSE of who I am. And I have to keep telling myself that I am a person of worth until I can shut out the voices that keep telling me that I’m not.

 

It’s very difficult, damn near impossible I’d say, to explain triggers to someone who doesn’t really understand them or doesn’t –seem- to be affected by them.  My triggers are as if someone put post-hypnotic suggestions  in my brain.  They’re like a landmine , and one small trip up into that dangerous territory causes a tumult of emotions that I don’t feel like I can control.  I’ve been called weak for being slave to such things, but in order to cope I’ve figured out my workarounds, and it’s hard to tell people I love what they are.  Especially when they either don’t have them or aren’t as aware of theirs as I am of mine.

It should be no surprise to those who know me that my biggest trigger is the topic of weight loss.  It’s a very difficult area for me to even talk about or write about, and I tiptoe around the subject as much as I can.  Even the words put me into either a blind rage or a blubbering 7 year old.  I become a slave to that raw emotion, and I wish to hell that I could control it.  So I dance around the subject, trying to talk about it the best way that I can.

It wasn’t until I came across an inspirational woman’s blog that I was finally able to find the words that I could use to talk about the issue without tripping my triggers.  It’s when I took away the words weight loss and replaced them with “getting healthy” that my head instantly started to clear. .  The Health at Every Size movement is really fascinating and I had never heard of it before.  It was the freedom of being freed from the dependence on the scale and the pounds that I felt like maybe I was ready to take control of my life. I am not talented enough to put things the way that she does, so you should give her stuff a read if you get a chance – http://danceswithfat.wordpress.com

Now, I am definitely not saying that I am Healthy.  I eat like crap, I don’t get enough activity, and I am really bad at taking care of myself.  But I think that if I can focus on loving my body enough to WANT to change things to make me feel better I can actually do it.  And if I don’t even focus on the losing weight as a measure of my progress, then I might actually succeed.  I want to stop hating myself.  And that doesn’t start with getting healthy, but maybe in the process of appreciating the skin I’m in, I will learn to take better care of it.

So where does this body shame come from?  Is it any wonder?  We’re surrounded by imagery every day of the ways that we should hate ourselves.  But they’re telling us this for “our own good”.  As if they will FINALLY get our attention that we should hate the way we look and do something about it.
And it hurts worse when it’s taught from a young age how much you should hate yourself by someone who is supposed to love you unconditionally.

One of my previous therapists wanted me to write out what I thought were “pivotal moments” in the development of my self-image.  I was in a bad place at the time and didn’t take it seriously.  But now I think it’s quite helpful to try to pinpoint where it all went wrong.  Does identifying the source of these triggers make them go away?

When I was 7 years old, I gained 50 pounds in 6 months.  My mother was incredibly concerned and confused, because as a nurse, this was something she couldn’t wrap her head around.  I don’t remember this of course, but I know this happened shortly after I started taking phenobarbital for my seizures.  Again, I’m not a doctor, so I don’t know what happened here, and my memories are pretty cloudy for that time of my life.  So without explaining, my mother took me to the doctor.  Well, no, to a dietician.  I remember sitting next to my mom in uncomfortable chairs on the other side of a huge desk.  And the doctor telling me that my weight was unacceptable and it had to change.  As if I had any control over what I was eating.  As if I wasn’t a really active kid already.  I remember looking to my mom for encouragement or help or something, and she wasn’t saying anything, it was like she was tuned out.  I don’t remember anything else about the appointment.  But I remember crying later when I told my dad about it.  I asked him why everyone wanted me to change who I was.  He just hugged me while I cried.  I remember getting really angry and slamming my door. I remember crying and screaming and throwing things. I remember feeling completely out of control.  My mother never spoke to me about that appointment again.  But put me on what was my first “diet”.

At 7, I was on swim team, and I rode my bike everywhere.  Ok, so I sucked at running and gym class was usually a nightmare for me, but I was a kid.  I was doing kid things.  I didn’t have any understanding of the side effects of my medication.  I didn’t understand what having epilepsy meant.  I was just…a kid.  I wanted to be a kid like everyone else.  But suddenly all this “diet” food started creeping into the house, and my mom started taking me to aerobics classes with her.  And I was hungry all the time.  And I thought I deserved it.  I took everything to heart.  I didn’t understand why my sister and I did the exact same things and ate the exact same things and she looked the way she did.  But I learned to hate the scale, and hate the food, and hate the person looking back in the mirror.  I was 7.

That is just scratching the surface of the layers upon layers of hurt and sadness I have on my body and on my heart.  And maybe I am weak because I can’t control it.  Maybe I’m crazy because I let that still define me.  That was 27 years ago.  But I instantly feel like that 7 year old girl that is out of control when the topic of “weight loss” and “diets” come up.

I don’t want to be out of control.  I want to tell 7 year old me that it’s ok, not to hate herself, not to be so hard on herself.  To enjoy the amazingness of being a kid.  To love every swim meet, and cherish every race, victory or not.  To love the skin she’s in.  I want to nurture her and love her in the ways that I lacked nurturing and love.

How do you explain all that to someone you love without alienating them? I feel like I’m making demands on the types of conversations we have, but I think this small allowance should be ok?  When this topic comes up, I lash out and say things to try to wound the other person to make them feel as hurt as I do.  As if that is fair.  It’s not fair.  And certain things, once said, can’t be taken back.  So how do I admit how scared I am?

I’m scared.  I want to be supportive and nurturing and loving, but how can I do that when I can’t nurture myself?