Monday, June 24, 2013

Changing Shape and Body Relationships, Slightly Thinner Fat Girl Perspective

I don't feel safe with TB because I do not trust myself.

The last time I was with him, I was broken and at the end of my capacity to manage anything more, and then I asked for a hug. And I was sleep deprived, and exhausted, and tapped out, and overwhelmed, and I did not let go. Worse than not letting go, I nuzzled into his neck and told him how incredible he smelled. And still he hugged me, letting me end the hug when I was ready.

Let me just take a moment to acknowledge how completely, fucking inappropriate this was on my part. Boundary. Violation. Big time. I kind of suck as a human being.

So, there I am, and we're discussing his friend, and I mention that I don't feel safe with BG, and TB says he doesn't find him threatening, which surprises me, and he says, "Well, it's not as though I'm in danger of him raping me," and I think, "Well, yeah. That's basically it, right? The man is incredibly sexually threatening to me, and I do not feel safe with him. And whether this is justified and fair or not, I'm trusting my gut, because I have too much experience with what happens when I do not trust my gut and give people the benefit of the doubt."

And I do not feel totally safe with TB. But not because of who TB is. Rather because of how I respond to him.

But then, this weird thing happened.

We walked down to the gas station to get a Diet Coke.

And on the walk back, we were waiting for the light at the intersection. The intersection is in the middle of an incline, and he was standing toward the top of the incline, towering over me.

I was so incredibly uncomfortable with this. And it largely boils down to the weight I've lost. Suddenly, I was acutely aware of my slightly diminished stature. Because of my smaller size, despite being faster and more agile and likely stronger, I feel physically more vulnerable. Which in turn leaves me feeling more emotionally vulnerable.

Then, later in the weekend, TB was showing me a YouTube video on his tablet. I was seated in the big chair, and he sat on the arm, and was leaning over me holding the tablet, and again, I was acutely aware of how much smaller my body is now than it was when I first visited him 9 months ago, and when I first met him nearly two years ago.

He feels correspondingly huger.

Which is weird. Because I do not know what it means, this change in our physical relatedness.

When he hugs me, he feels stronger. Which means the hug feels safer and warmer. I feel more protected and more sheltered in those hugs.

And yet, when it's just a matter of his being over me, physically, it totally freaks me out. There is no good reason for this. No reason at all, really.

I mean, on the one hand, I do not trust myself to always be able to act with the utmost respect in regards to maintaining super strict boundaries. With good reason. See above. I suck.

This was different.

I did not feel even remotely threatened by his being physically over me. But I do feel less safe in one more way that I cannot totally make any sense of.

Rather than feeling threatened, I was just physically aware of him and me and our respective bodies in a way I haven't been before. And I do not know what that means or how to process it.

Whatever. It's weird.

And that's basically it.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Power Shopping, Slightly Thinner Fat Girl Style

I needed to update my wardrobe.

Mostly because everything I own is quickly becoming too large to be wearable. Some things I want to keep and I know I will have to find someone to do alterations. Others can just be thrown out because they are worn, stained, or have holes.

In the past couple of months I've picked up a variety of items as I've slowly begun to shrink. I have taken my mother shopping for wardrobe updates as well. In doing so, I have received a number of coupons. And, I earned a rebate check in the form of a merchandise voucher.

So, knowing that the coupons would expire in a week and the rebate check would expire at the end of the end of the month, I took my slightly thinner fat girl self to the plus size women's boutique and shopped.

And shopped.

And shopped.

And shopped.

I shopped for three hours straight.

Because I positively HATE the idea of purchasing anything full price, I started with their clearance rack, where everything was previously marked down AND would have an additional 40% taken off the lowest ticket price at the counter.

Then, I moved on to their sales racks -- $10 off this dress, $20 off these dresses, $10 off shorts.

The sales lady rang up my purchases and I read my total.

Not even close to using all of my coupons.

Off to the panties bins -- normally $16 a pair marked down to 5 for $25.

And the bra racks, normally $42 marked down to $20.

And that amazing dress I love, and, hey just in case something happens, why not have a second hanging in my closet. It'll save on wear and tear, too, since I'm likely to wear it whenever I get the chance.

And jewelry at buy 1 get 1 50% off, even though I rarely wear it. But I know this piece will go with the amazing dresses.

And their non-sale panties -- normally $16 a pair bundled at 3 for $30.

And socks.

FINALLY, some three hours later, I had used all of my coupons. I had used my merchandise voucher.

4 dresses
4 pairs of shorts (summer is here tomorrow)
1 skort
7 camis/knit shirts
13 pairs of panties
3 bras
1 pajama set
1 spanx
1 pair earrings
1 necklace
3 pairs socks

Then the saleswoman applied the coupons and applied the rebate check. In the end, I paid less than 1/4 of the list price on each item.

I believe I can safely cross "clothes shopping" off my list for at least the next year.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Confessions of a Slightly Thinner Fat Girl, Part II

Well meaning friends and co-workers have remarked on my weight loss. "You're getting so skinny!" they'll exclaim.

While I appreciate the encouragement and boost to my self-esteem, it is simply a fact that I am not getting skinny. I'm simply less fat.

I still have to shop at a plus-size women's boutique. I'm still two sizes into that boutique. Perhaps in another four months, I'll have to find a new boutique that caters to a different body type.

Even then, however, I will not be skinny. I will still be less fat and approaching something closer to merely overweight, rather than obese. I will be average.

It is also a fact that who I am has not changed at all in the last 60 pounds. All of the me that make me, well, me, is still here. Rattling around in that huge head and slightly less huge body of mine.

I will say, I suppose, that I am more prepared this time around. When I lost weight in grad school, I had never been so thin before, and it was traumatic.

I didn't know or understand my body. That was hugely disconcerting. The image in my head didn't match the image in the mirror and I had no idea who the person looking back at me was.

I was walking down the street one day and passed a newly constructed building on campus. The entire front wall of the building was glass. I happened to glance at the building and saw the reflection of a stunning woman walking close to me. I turned to see who she was, and only then realized that I had caught a glimpse of my own, much thinner, reflection. I ran into a ladies' room, locked myself in the first stall, sat on the toilet and cried.

I would go shopping and pick up clothing that was supposed to fit me (if a bit tightly) 4x, and find that hung off of me, and I would have to back for the 3x; nope, the 2x; nope, the 1x; nope, the XL.

I would sit on the floor of the dressing room in a panic, sobbing, because I did not know this body; and it was my body.

Where did my body go?

How did my body now engage the world?

What did it mean that my body was taking up so much less space? And yet had become so much more visible to others?

How did my body fill a space differently?

How did my body fit the world differently?

Why did I suddenly garner so much more attention?

Men smiled at me. Asked me for the time. When the next bus was expected. The quickest way to the train. All of this was weird.

Frightening were the men who would remark about their desire to engage physically with me.

I cried. A lot.

I haven't had that experience this time around.

I suppose in part because the change feels and looks much less dramatic to me, and because I am not yet thin enough to attract the gaze of men. I do not see any actual changes to my body. Before, when I lost weight, I lost it everywhere, but not everywhere all at once. When I regained it, I regained it disproportionately. The entire shape of my body had changed.

As I lose weight now, I seem to be losing it proportionately. My basic body shape has remained the same. I may be thinner, but the basic outline has not been altered. This makes it difficult for me to see the changes at all.

I know that my panties have fallen off, my pants are sagging, my shirts are baggy, and my breasts no longer fill out the cups of my bra as the band sits just above my waist. Therefore, I know I need to buy panties, pants, shirts, dresses, and bras that are all a size smaller. So, I remember to grab the next size down.

I look at my body in the mirror and I see great folds of fat that just kind of hang out. They've been hanging out for awhile. They'll continue to hang out for awhile longer. I do notice that my belly button is lower, that I have slightly more wrinkles in place of the fat. But it's still there.

Sometimes, I sigh and wonder why I was so terrified of my thinner body all those years ago rather than appreciative of it.

Mostly, I just look at my saggy fat and think, just X number of pounds to go and I can start running again! Because that was the biggest benefit to being a much thinner fat girl:  I could run.

None of that is what got me writing today, however.

Today, it is simply this:  I appreciate the compliments and attention. It means a lot to me that people have noticed the change.

Please remain cognizant, however, that my value is not inversely proportionate to my weight.

And remember to compliment my character occasionally as well. Because that will never change.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Communion Sunday, Bearded Iris, and M. Roger Holland, II

I awoke ashamed.

I thought I would be able to maintain an emotional distance, but I didn't.

I'm stuck and I don't know how to get out, though I'm fairly sure that getting out is the right and healthy thing to do.

I thought that perhaps I could walk the line very carefully until I had a clear plan, an answer, some idea of what to do.  I thought that perhaps emotional vulnerability only happened when I had a need and shared openly.

I was wrong.

These are the single best smelling
 flower in all the world
Instead, I learned that emotional vulnerability happens when we share our joys as well as our sorrows.  And as the bearded iris have bloomed--10 weeks late--I shared this love.  I did not share why I love bearded iris so much.

Very few people know that I love these flowers.  Far fewer know why.  Only a handful know the significance they came to hold in 2007.

I shared none of this.  Just that they had finally bloomed, and how extraordinary was their fragrance, and how sad that the petals had been blown off the three in the neighbor's yard.

Instead of feeling connected, instead of feeling joy and delight in our conversation and in our relationship, I felt empty and ashamed for sharing any part of myself.

And I awoke this morning still carrying that sense of shame.  As though, more than having done something wrong, there was something wrong with me, that I would continue in this at all.

Then, I put it out of my mind.  I went to church.  Communion Sunday.

I smelled them as I walked through the doors of the basement, into the fellowship hall.

The church was full of bearded iris.  A moment in which I felt utterly loved.

Then, I headed upstairs to review the service and my role in Communion.  And I read the text and I read the prayers and I thought about what it means.  A moment in which I felt utterly loved.

M. Roger Holland, II
I stole this from his website, which
I genuinely hope he does not mind.
For some reason, the complete, holy, and wholly unconditional love communicated by bearded iris and the complete, holy, and wholly unconditional love communicated by Communion brought to mind M. Roger Holland, II.

M. Roger Holland, II is an incredible human being with extraordinary talents and a fierce passion to use those talents to minister to others.

It so happens that Roger's talents and my tastes aren't super meshy.  Roger is a musician.  At the time I knew him, I hated all music.  Roger, who cannot breathe without making music, was confused my hatred for all music, and we sat down one day so I could explain it to him.  Roger was filled with compassion and an incredible understanding about my relationship to music.  And it saddened him that I had experienced music in the ways that I had, which had led me to so despise it.

Except for one song.  Intrigued, Roger asked what song it was, and I shared it with him on a bright October afternoon.

Seven months later, Roger had arranged to serenade me at the annual Gospel Choir Concert with back up vocals, guitar, and cello.  This song.  This one song.  The only song that meant something good and beautiful and lovely to me.  Roger got the whole gospel choir behind this, and they pestered me endlessly about attending the concert.  None ever gave away what he had planned.  It was a complete surprise.

I am loved.  The complete, holy, and wholly unconditional love of a friend who simply wanted to use his gifts to bless me in a moment when I was hurting.

With fifteen minutes to go before the service started, I began to cry.  Rather uncontrollably.  Shame and fear and hurt and humiliation and invalidation.  Undergirded by the sense that I was inviting such things to remain in my life.  Something must be wrong with me.  To know such love; to accept something that is such a poor reflection, and which more and more often hurts me, and which is justified in its hurting by it being "for my own good," surely there is something profoundly wrong with me.

I won't even begin to dissect the abusive reality of that last.

I will, however, write this:  BULLSHIT.

Shaming, invalidating, and hurting others when they are hurting and come to us in moments of intense vulnerability is not for their good.

And then....

And then....

Communion Sunday.  Bearded iris.  Roger.  Roger who is one of hundreds who have loved me well.

Still, I do not know what to do.  Still, I am lost and confused and hurting.

As I leave the church, carrying all of these ways of love with me, I hear Jesus ask, "Do you want to be made well?"  And I remember the last time he asked me this, and what he told me when I responded with an emphatic, "YES!"

"Get up, put a leash on your dog, and take him for a walk."  I have a different dog now.  And I continue to hold this, faithfully, continuing to trust that while I may not understand, at some point, I will know the path, healing will begin or continue or become more evident.

Each morning, I get up.  I put a leash on my dog.  I take her for a walk.

And I remember Communion Sunday.  I remember bearded iris.  I remember M. Roger Holland, II.

I remember that I am completely, holy, and wholly unconditionally loved.

1 Peter 4:8.  What the heck does it mean?