Telling the ugly truth and letting the chips fall where they may
This blog has surfaced an inner conflict in me. It’s hard to put words to. It has me confused and hurt and ashamed. It is about how I see obesity in general, and the way I was treated when I was fat, the way I saw being fat when I was fat, and the way I see it from this body. They are all jumbled and mashed together. I am full of fear and anger. And I am sad.
Being fat in America is not fun. It is associated with being lazy and a slob. It is associated with not caring about yourself. With a total lack of will power. With being pathetic. It is associated with many things that are not true. Some of the go-gettiest go-getters I know are overweight. Some of the most meticulous house-keepers. Some of the best dressed/coiffed people I’ve ever met.
But living in a 300 pound body was a horrible experience for me. It was exhausting. And shameful. To huff and pant my way up a flight of stairs. To dread the thought of tying my shoes. To live in abject terror of having to hurry, God forbid, run anywhere. And most especially, to have to do any of those things in front of other people.
Because I also remember the looks, and the comments and the cruel ways that I was treated by others. And it hurt. I was so sensitive. I was fair game. Except it was not fair. Everyone was allowed to express an opinion about my body. Everyone! Heroin addicts living in boxes on the street were allowed to comment on my size. Society told them so. Too much cake, it seemed, was my waiver of any claim on common courtesy.
But I hated being fat too! I thought it was shameful too! How could I disagree? How could I stand up for myself? How could I separate being treated disrespectfully from the reason it was happening? I couldn’t then. And I am not sure I can right now. I know that belittling and shaming me was gross behavior, but who punished me more than me!?
I do not lack willpower. I can be the most stubborn mule on the planet. But I was never ever ever able to control my eating with willpower. Because my eating disorders are bigger than will. I’m sick. I treat them now, but they are chronic. They will never go away. I will never be able to eat sugar again. At least not if I want to be happy and peaceful. Not if I don’t want to kill myself with diabetes or other obesity related illnesses. Not if I want to like myself and my body. Not if I don’t want to be fat. And I don’t.
For the first 25ish years of my life, I thought there was something wrong with my body. That it was fat. That it was broken. That by the luck of the draw, I got a bad one. And then somebody said to me. “Sweetie, there’s nothing wrong with you! Calories in calories out. Do the math.” And I was skeptical. But it turned out she was mostly right. There is, actually, something wrong with my body. It can’t handle sugar. When I eat it, I can’t stop eating it. But my body is not naturally fat, as I believed for so many years. The problem I had/have has a solution. There was and is something to do about it. And doing something about it was literally the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. If that woman hadn’t said that to me, “Do the math, Kate”, I may have gone through my whole life hating myself because God cursed me with a fat body. But I’m not cursed. I’m blessed! I’m so incredibly grateful!
So here’s where is starts to get sticky and muddled and painful. I promised myself (and you) that I would be honest in this blog. And I am afraid of the things I am about to write. They are not what is known as “tactful”. And I am afraid of hurting people. People I genuinely like and love.
But I hate seeing fat people. It hurts my heart. It makes me feel ashamed. It brings up a lot of guilt and bad feelings I don’t even know how to name at this moment. And that is confusing in this body. Because even at 5′ 6 1/2″, 134 pounds, I see me in them. I am them. And I hated myself in a big body. I felt ugly and grotesque. I felt less than. Totally unworthy. And when I look back at her/me, I still feel like she/I was totally unworthy. Seeing another person living in a fat body brings up my own self hatred. It makes me look at the person that I was, whom I don’t like. Whom I’ve never liked. I did not like her then. I do not like her now. She is the part of me that I wish I could wish away.
It’s funny. I learned to reconcile with the liar in me, and the drama queen, and the good girl. I learned to reconcile by stopping those behaviors. But now it seems I have to reconcile with the body itself. And right now I don’t know how to do that. It is not enough to just not be fat anymore. I am not fat. I have not been for years. But that has not eliminated the icky feelings I have around obesity.
So the honest-to-God truth is, I do not know how to honor another person’s choice to be fat. I can live and let live. I can be respectful. But I do not know how to not care. I do not know how to see someone live in a fat body and not relive my own pain and self-loathing. I do not know how to reconcile the body I have with the body I had. I never want that life again. But, good Lord, I never want that body again.
And it’s fucking possible! It will always be possible. Like I said, my condition is chronic. The possibility of a fat body lives inside this little body. It wouldn’t take long for me to reach 300 pounds (and then some) if I lost control of the food. Seriously. A year. Maybe less. So how do I honor someone’s choice to live in a body that I fear?
Of course I have fat people in my life. Yes I love them. Yes I do understand intellectually that not everybody who is overweight has eating disorders. But when I hear overweight people say that they are comfortable with themselves, I cannot imagine it. I have a fantastic imagination. I can grasp many foreign concepts. But I have lived this “concept” of being fat, and it was nothing but torment. So in all honesty, I do not know how to not judge it. It’s personal. It’s raw. It is not fair, but it is what is so. And I am ashamed of my own judgment.
I don’t know how to wrap this up. I don’t know how to give you the moral of the story and an eloquently executed insight to take with you for the day. I do not know what to do except tell you, and pray to God for a solution to my own judgment. So now I have told you and I am praying about it. And it’s time to let the chips fall where they may.