I had a dream once. After I had done therapy. After I had lost all the weight and started running seriously up to a half-marathon. After I had done everything to get away from who I use to be. I dreamed about seeing myself at a distance. Fat, high-school me laughing and talking to friends under a gazebo. And I realized something.
I loved that girl so much, and I had not been fair to her.
Being thinner didn’t make me better. Traveling the world didn’t really change who I was. Achieving this that or the other did not make me superior to that girl.
In many ways she was a better friend, a better dreamer, more honest, and a lot less full of crap. And the fact that she was fatter didn’t matter at all. In pursuit of being a new person, I’d killed a lot of things about myself that were actually the best bits. And I needed to go back for that girl to apologize to her for so many things.
Hate is such a strong word, and yet, I would be lying if hate wasn’t the way I felt about many of the people I have met in my life who commented on my weight. Maybe not the entirety of each person, but definitely the part of them that decided they needed to fix me or comment. Hate. Hate. Hate. Hate.
Whoever decided school weigh-ins were a good idea. Hate them.
To anyone who ever told me that I would need to lose weight to get a date or a job. Hate whatever in you thought that was a thing you should say.
To anyone who compared me to someone thin and used that as means to show me how successful I could be–yup. Hate that. Trying hard to not hate you. Hate you a little.
To anyone who looked at all the success I did in fact have in my life and then hinted that I should still lose weight for it to count. Hate oh I hate that.
I hate the entire cultural dialogue around weight. Hate it hate it hate it.
And to me, the person who has absorbed and accepted those comments, or over-interpretted those comments into a thin layer of pain coating my skin at every moment, I hate me a little too.
My weight, or abundance of it, or IMAGINED abundance of it, was at the epicenter of so many weird choices I made in life.
I didn’t wear things that looked pretty or take care of myself because being fat made it seem pointless.
I didn’t assert myself in things I wanted to do or accomplish, because I thought I was too fat.
I couldn’t walk into a single room without checking to see if I was the fattest girl there, and thereby reduced every other woman I knew to fat/not fat (becoming, myself, one of the people I hated).
Here’s the weird thing–I KNOW how to lose weight and I’m good at it. But sometimes I’m vengefully fat. I’m fat so I don’t get flirted with by random strangers when I just wanted to be left alone. I’m fat so I get evaluated as harmless instead of competition by other women. I’m fat as proof that my intelligence and ability can stand on their own thank-you-very-much and I never needed to be thin to succeed, get a job, get a date, or have a life.
But there’s always this little girl inside of me that hates being fat. That girl also hates that there’s probably about a half a pound of acceptability before the people who label you as fat suddenly label you as “too thin.” (Actually, it’s probably optimistic to assume there’s a half pound like that at all). That little girl has been a mad, self-hating, people who are obsessed with fatness hating, ball of rage for a very long time.
I’ve lost some weight again, post baby. I’m back on that special part of my brain that seems to be good at it, and with no future children planned, this time it has a chance to stick forever. I’ve felt it click. I could do this for a long time. And again I’m confronted with what always surprises me: my absolute fear of losing weight. What if I’m thin and still fail? What if I’m thin but actually still a miserable self-hating person? Or far, far WORSE, what if I’m thin and it really is the only thing anyone cared about and everything gets easier?
When I want to lose weight, really want to–It’s not to change how I look or please people.
It’s because I want to run faster.
It’s because I don’t want to get so tired playing soccer with my sons.
It’s because I actually love fashion and I’m more excited about it when I feel better.
It’s because I like it when I can sit up without having to fight my belly for permission.
It’s because when I eat what I know I should, my brain doesn’t feel like pea soup.
I don’t hate fat me. I just like the hobbies of thin me a bit more. But sometimes fat me is better at keeping it real and I need to remember that and keep her in my head for the ride. I need to remember just how small the part of the story is where I am this size or that one.
When you spend a lifetime of anger and hate trying to get people to validate you, to give you permission to exist, to tell you that you finally did it, that you crossed some line where finally you don’t have to earn love or approval anymore…it never comes.
You know that as well as I do. We all know it. We all keep testing to see if it’s really true.
It’s really true.
When I spent time traveling the world, I packed less and less with every trip that I took. And when I had less to carry, the adventure got better. More natural. Easier to move around. The kind where you run down ships and jump off the dock over water to catch them before they leave. The kind where you let a cat in Turkey hop on your back-pack for a ride. The kind where you smell because you haven’t showered in days and you’ve never ever been happier or cared less about something like that. When you have less to carry, you go places you never would have before. You DO things you never would have before.
I don’t want to carry all this anymore. I carried it for my babies. I carried it for spite. I carried it for comfort and refuge–and that was the weight. The toxic negativity weighed more, and I have no excuse for it. I don’t want to carry it anymore.
I want to move. I want to run. I want to travel lighter.
And all those people who will feel like my life will be better mostly because I LOOK better or because somehow I’m not good enough fat can kiss my A….pples. KISS. MY. APPLES. (I’m sorry, writer Andi wrote that in ALL CAPS exactly the way I felt it and meant it. Andi who knows her father’s congregants read this sometimes always deletes words that others may find too truthful to handle. THAT’S RIGHT I SAID TRUTHFUL).
I need to be angry and I need to acknowledge that I have hated, because it’s time that I forgive. People were never really capable of holding me back and hurting me. I did all that. I let all that in. I took what people said as truth instead of their own compulsions out of their own hurt.
I forgive all the people who thought they could or should shame me, either out of concern or stupidity. Because the hatred weighs a whole lot more than I ever did. I forgive you. I forgive myself for letting it define me.
May we all be rid of anything that weighs us down, in our minds or in reality. And may we all for the love of spaghetti stop treating the word “fat” like a swear word or the worst possible thing someone could be.
Because visible imperfection is the best kind. It’s the kind you absolutely must deal with, get in the ring with, be honest about and make decisions on. I’ve seen enough of people’s secrets to know visible sin and imperfection is very truly the least dangerous kind.
And people who comment on it usually are the ones with the most invisible sin and brokenness.
And that *stuff* lays dormant for years. Sometimes for ever.
The problem is less that other people thought I was fat, and more that I did. And less that I did, and more that I let it define me. The problem is we don’t know how to validate and value ourselves well enough to know what shape or size we even want to come in, totally outside of the opinions of others.
I’m still not totally sure what size I want to come in. Do souls have shape or size? That seems more important.
Let’s put it all down. The judgments. The secrets. The brokenness. The self-hatred. The shamer hatred. Whatever would hinder us from our own beautiful races we have yet to finish. Whether it involves actual weight or not.
I won’t hate you anymore. I won’t hate me anymore.
Run with me.