I really do try to be positive, but sometimes you have to call an asshole an asshole. I was walking back into the old town when I got buzzed by a guy on bike, laughing and shouting something about fat Americans. I do understand more Slovene than I can speak. Yes, I know it says way more about him than me and, yes, I know people can sometimes be awful. Here’s the thing – still hurts, still makes hot tears well up in your embarrassed face. Thank the gods for giant sunglasses and being close enough to my flat I could escape the world for a bit.
It may come as a surprise to Captain Obvious that I do, in fact, know that I am fat, American or otherwise. I’ve known it my whole life, even when I wasn’t actually fat. I am not the person in need of information in this transaction. There’s quite a lot said asshole doesn’t know about me but here are the pertinent facts:
1. I was super sickly and skinny as a child, until puberty hit at 11. From that point on I was informed by my mother and others that a woman’s life’s work is to fight against, punish, and despise the vessel she lives in. Not with a sit down talk but with every hint that I might be getting heavy (even when that “heavy” was hips and breasts that come with the territory). And with her, and by extension myself, always being on some kind of crackpot diet.
2. I stopped eating for a year in high school. I got skinny. I mean really skinny. Skeletor in a bathing suit, rib counting, ass too bony to sit on anything but a cushion for more than five minutes skinny. I also started blacking out when I stood up. My fear of being locked up in the mental ward was stronger than my fear of being fat so I started eating again.
3. When I came to Slovenia to live, I had a roommate who in many ways finished the work my mother started. She thought she was trying to help by pushing me to get in shape (be thinner) and commenting on how I dressed (too slutty), ate (too slowly), and existed (too cluelessly and naively). I spent the entire year feeling inadequate and undeserving. And confused. I didn’t have any trouble getting dates and I had friends, etc.
4. Much angst ensued for nearly twenty more years. The number on the scale went up and down. The pant sizes went up and down. I made a career where I was around food all the time to the point of not really wanting to eat it. I woke up every morning, not grateful to be alive another day or realizing how amazing my life was, but promising myself that day was the day I would get skinny again so I could do all the things I wanted to do.
5. Maybe two or three years ago, I had an epiphany of sorts. My life really was pretty good. Good job, amazing kids, smart and sexy husband. I was writing again, more seriously. I had a long chat with my NP about my weight and she said that all my numbers are good, I get exercise and eat well, and I don’t smoke (except occasionally on vacation). She wasn’t worried. I decided I did still need to change something. And that was this conversation I’d been having with myself for as long as I could remember. There was no point in waiting for some miraculous new body to show up so I could do the things I wanted to do. There was no point in hating the body that worked and carried me and had carried and fed a child. So I basically said, fuck it. This is me. No amount of someone else reassuring me was going to ever be enough (though it is so very nice when your husband looks at you and smiles like that). I had to accept me and think I was deserving of my own respect.
So, I’m here. In a place I have dreamed of returning to for twenty years. I walked eight miles yesterday total, including a trip around a gorgeous alpine lake. I’m older, I’m fat, and I am happier in me and in my life than I have ever been. Did it still really hurt when that asshole got his rocks off by being a complete jerk? Yes. I haven’t gotten this being cool with myself thing down 100% all the time. I probably never will. But I do bounce back much faster than I used to.