This title is from a Van Morrison song off the “Healing Game” album.  It has nothing to do with body weight but it occasionally gets stuck in my head as some kind of “alt mantra” that puts itself on repeat when I am body shaming myself.

I just finished reading “Shrill” from Lindy West.  When I first started reading it I thought she might be a little basic and precious.  By that I mean she grew up fat and had to deal with fat shaming plenty.  But her parents weren’t pressuring her to be thinner or to think less of herself because of it.  She got a decent start on confidence that may have deteriorated for awhile as a young adult starting out in comedy and writing but she got it back.  She also had some decent financial backing from her parents which helps with confidence when taking risks and starting out.

Maybe I was a little jealous.  Weight was absolutely a topic with me and my parents.  I would estimate my first diet to be around age 12 and that’s generous.  It’s possible they started me even before that.   By the time I went to college I had been on the Scarsdale Diet, Hilton Head Diet, grapefruit Diet and Weight Watchers.  Beyond college came Atkins and South Beach where I compared notes with my parents who were also trying those out.  At no point was I ever considered to be “ok” just as I was.  

This wasn’t from a malicious place.  My parents didn’t want me to be made fun of for my weight or held back from any opportunities because of it.  They were trying to be proactive.  They somehow knew the world would be cruel to me long before I did.  That’s the unfortunate part.  They put it in my head long before my brain was probably developed enough to manage the message.  I learned early on that I wasn’t good enough from the wrong audience.  Therefore, I didn’t go into adulthood with any level of confidence in my self worth that could be detached from my body size.  If I lost weight it was a good time.  If I gained weight it was bad.

Junior high was bad.  Those were the “pink porker” years.  High school, I lost weight before starting so I felt good during that period.  I even got upper class boyfriends which only the cheerleaders typically scored.  But, I still made my boyfriend turn around in the pool with his back facing me when I needed to get in or out because I didn’t want him to see my thighs in a bathing suit.  By senior year of high school, I was able to wear a size 8 dress so heading to college felt hopeful.  But freshman 15 was probably more like 40 for me.  And getting into the working world I was running between a 12 and 14.  And then there were the 16, 18 and even 20 years.  No confidence or self worth at that time.

Reading this book definitely made me reflect that I really wish I could have had that childhood time where my parents emphasized how great I was no matter what.  Once I admitted that to myself, I kept reading and gave it a chance.  By the end, I had more revelations like my suffering from imposter syndrome all these years.  It held me back from writing because I figured my writing is crap.  But real writers know you have to write a lot of crap in order to get something good so I started again this year.  But I feared it for 20 years.  And staying in my role at work as long as I have, total imposter syndrome.  Yet, I do have this private little superhero that kicks me in the butt on occasion which resulted in buying a house by myself, getting a masters, losing 80 pounds.  Maybe that’s my imposter.  

The biggest realization which hit me was reading about her experiences around falling in love and marriage.  To quote:

“When I think back on my teenage self, what I really needed to hear wasn’t that someone might love me one day if I lost enough weight to qualify as human – it was that I was worthy of love now, just as I was.  Being fat and happy and in love is still a radical act.  That’s why a wedding mattered to me.  Not because of a dress or a diamond or a cake or a blender. (Okay, maybe a cake.)”

Whoa.  

Who is this women and how did she see into my soul farther than I allow myself to see?  I mean getting married for me has a lot of angst around my dad and wanting it to happen while he is still alive, can walk me down the aisle and dance with me.  I have had that song picked out for about 20 years now.  Every girl who has a good relationship with her dad wants that.  I am desperate for it.  I have pre and post 9/11 dad.  All you folks hear about is the idyllic dad I have now and how every time he gets cancer I can’t get myself off the floor to vomit.  But pre 9/11 dad was pretty awful at times and life pliant meaning all of it factored into my every bend of personality ; good and bad.  It created the endless nadir need of validation I cannot ever satisfy.  To have all that normal dad wedding stuff is critical to topping my cake.  Seeing my sister get it made me happy for her but also really, really, really sad for me.  I was fat so it was never going to happen for me.

Then I decided to have gastric bypass surgery.  Yes, I am leaving out other fully formed stories to jump ahead to this but it’s important to admit that the main reason I did it when I did at 36 was because I figured once I lost the weight, I would immediately attract the man I would marry and I would be able to fit into a great dress that I could try on in the store.  When I got my bridesmaid dress for my sister’s wedding, I had to just pick out something I thought would be ok and they ordered it in my size.  I didn’t know until right before her wedding when the order came in that I hated it.  I was not going to go through that for my own wedding.

I had a plan.  I figured I would still have time to meet the right person and be married before 40 with the option for kids still on the table in case I changed my mind.  I had a plan.  It hasn’t worked.  I forgot I still had depression and I didn’t know I would eventually get PTSD and become a binge drinker.  

So here I am now, still single.  Why does that matter so much to me?  Because a wedding would validate that I am love worthy just as I am.  Until then, every….

pink porker

your face is so pretty, imagine how beautiful you would be if you just lost weight

You crazy bitch

She has a great personality

Do you really think you should be eating that

Too much drama

Why can’t you just be happy

Yes, I was with another woman

I’m really looking for someone whose body weight and height are more in proportion 

I really want this other girl first but I should keep Christine on the back burner in case the other girl doesn’t work out.

And all the “unsaid” but implied reasons “she” always gets picked over me 

Every one of those sentiments and sayings is valid.  They have yet to be unproven.  I have nothing to show to combat any of it.  This revelation happened last night when I finished the book.  My wedding is the only validation I can see and I don’t get to have it.  

Today, at the beach, there was a man sitting alone on the private side.  I am pretty sure I have seen him there before.  Equal parts cool that he is chilling by himself and also just as creepy because it’s pretty rare to see a dude alone at the beach.  Anyway, he “just happened” to head to the water right after I was in and he was striking up conversation about what I was seeing – regular crabs or horseshoe crabs.  Pleasant enough. In the past I would have figured maybe I was being hit on and I wouldn’t be interested as he wasn’t for me.  But today I was in my bathing suit and instead of having a healthy confident thought like “hey, this guy is hitting on me while I am in a bathing suit so he can see it all and still thinks I am attractive” I thought “oh, he can see my fat so he figures I am an easy target and he can easily get me because what other options do I have?” 

 Hence, what Lindy wrote so much about in her book.  Because, let’s face it.  While I have dropped a lot of weight and look like a different person, I have been deluding myself by thinking I am not fat.  To everyone else, I am still fat.  That’s what they see.  They don’t see “way less fat.”  They don’t see super active, strong girl.  They just see fat is fat.  While I get hit on a lot, it’s probably been more of the “she’s fat, she’s easy and good in bed” variety rather than “I am so visually and mentally captivated by this woman, I can’t stop buying her drinks and let the night end.”  I actually believed it was the second one.  So yeah, getting married kind of carries a lot of weight.