My 25th High School Reunion looms.
1991 was the last time I loved my body unequivocally. Despite my Doc Martins I walked the halls with a light step. I let vintage silver charms dip into my perky cleavage. I could hike in Cat Rock Park with my smoker friends, and even if I had taken a drag I wouldn’t have dragged ass back uphill to campus with unde-roxygenated lungs. The only time in high school that I carried an extra 65 pounds was during winter camping trips. Then I could sit at the end of the day and wriggle out of that onerous back pack returning to the way I was without extra baggage.
Now it is time to return to the scene.
Despite the likely heat of summer I will not wear shorts. If I do my legs will reveal their strange triangular shape which now finish in thick rather than graceful ankles. I will likely wear a dress with tights to stop the worst of the chafing, but instead of my trying hard to be alternativeDoc Martins I will probably look at Frye boots and finally decide on decades old Dansko Clogs. The sound of my steps will echo up the stairs as I push my wide ass backwards to create a center of gravity that works for my mass. I won’t be able to hear that though as the blood rushes around my head to quickly redden my face from the exertion. The same stairs that I bounded up from school bookstore to dining room will just about be the death of me. It is likely that I will rest at the landing to slow my breathing.
When I reach the main level with its plate glass looking out at the quad my classmates might already be there. Who am I kidding. I will be the first, chatting uncomfortably with a fundraiser who was not on campus when I was there. At least I won’t have to hug her. I will rudely look over her shoulder, seeking a familiar face. My graduating class had 45 students so to varying degrees I knew all of them. When the first arrives it is likely we will embrace. When that happens I will hold myself slightly apart. I worry both about my feelings of claustrophobia and the sinking squishy self that will be in full frontal contact with my old friend. I will pat her back quickly to try to model how I want her to touch me. I don’t want her nimble fingers to feel the flesh that mounds around my bra.
The clogs will help with the worst of it but after a small slice of time I will shift from left foot to right trying to ease the pain of too much self on my feet. My left hip will throb and as I reach to massage it I will dig my fingers deep into my upper butt to reach the tight muscle below. It does what it can the muscle, but it is tired. Just like I am. When I realize that there won’t be a place to sit until after cocktail hour I remind myself to draw strength from my core and reach the crown of my head to the sky. I spread my toes and feel the earth under my clogged feet. This momentary redirection will work. I will feel my spine stretching and the space that I take up will be conscious and strong. As quickly as this confidence comes it will leave me. As I am brushing a strand of hair out of my face I will realize that it is stuck in my neck fold and I am slumping again, feeling the rolls of skin on skin…sin on sin.
That last bit is the worst of it. Not the vanity. Not even way my weight exacerbates my health problems. But the self loathing. What does it mean that I can’t lose weight? That I carry around my failures in fat cells?
All of this is the way my outside effects my inside. To my husband there is nothing more false than those paragraphs. He loves me. My body and skin, my softness, my lower butt and upper butt. He can’t get enough of me. Yet this is not enough. When I am at my lowest and I talk like this to my friends they respond with denial. You are NOT obese. My son says the same thing. You are NOT fat, mama. Even my 9 year old knows how the world feels. He loves me+ fat is horrible = I can’t be fat. Being smart and appealing and fat are not mutually exclusive. Yet with the exception of Adele and Melissa McCarthy they are. So my friends think that means I can’t be fat. And I think it means I can’t be appealing.
I read the blogs, I watch the videos. I try to internalize the self love that every sized women sing about. I am both inspired by and jealous of the women who are truly comfortable in their own skin. Which includes whatever adipose might lurk beneath it. But for me the bottom line is that I hate my bottom. I worry about how my curves effect my breathing at night, my mood, my joints and my blood pressure. I worry that each time I change my eating and lose weight only to rebound with more it makes me hold more tightly to the idea that I am a failure. As I teach my kids how much is possible I am face to fat face with the seeming impossibility of making any sort of lasting change.
I have been in therapy. I have looked to the East with herbs and accupuncture. I have practiced yoga. I have joined weight loss studies. I have spent years eschewing the idea of diets and others carefully chewing my food. I have embraced new eating habits to temporary success and longer distress. I have engaged in loving kindness meditation and Western medication. I have read about Awareness and focused on the power of Now. I have grown my own food. I have read ridiculous numbers of studies on protein and fat and carbohydrates. I have logged my eating on apps and in diaries. I have examined my priorities.
Through 20 years of effort I am a little fatter every year.
With my aches and my sadness, with my judgement and my trudging steps I realize I have reached the final stage of grief. I have traveled through denial, anger and bargaining. I am ready for acceptance.I am laying down my sword. I don’t want to fight anymore. I can’t want to cut away a huge piece of myself and love myself at the same time.Even if I never lose a pound I am going to lighten my load. I can let go of diets and tracking and eat for literal and figurative nourishment. I can see what my kids see. I can feel what Steve feels.
And I can hug my high school friends. I’m sure they will be feeling nostalgia, not back fat.