Thursday, August 28, 2008

Being everything I can be

I read a post on Nat's blog this morning that got me thinking. Here's the bit that gave the old brain cells a prod:

...even now, 'just' 52 kilos lighter I am much more of a person than I ever was before.

This seems so shallow but it reinforces my belief that we categorise ourselves and filter our world through our obesity...just like someone who is depressed. And this stops us from sharing so many of our good qualities with others. We allow ourselves to become less of a human being. We allow ourselves to watch the rest of the world go by. I am certain that there is the rare human who weighs 150 kilos and takes part in everything, but I'd be certain also that they are RARE! How many of us have sat back and said no to something, or not taken part in something that we really wanted to because of our weight? Or has our weight physically limited us in such a way that we can't do something because of it?

Having made the no more WW decision, I have to acknowledge that there are physical limitations associated with my size. I want to go horse-riding but unless there's a something like a Clydesdale-Thoroughbred cross on hand that's pretty much a no-go. I'm hesitant to go ice-skating because the last time I did I was in some serious pain in my feet in a very short time, I'm planning on testing the (frozen) waters on Saturday though. I wish I could do the free fall thing at Questacon, but I wouldn't fit in the jumpsuits they have and I can't support my weight with my arms. I'd like to fit easily into seats in restaurants, theatres, aeroplanes and the like. There's more but I'm actually having a hard time thinking of things to add to the list just now. There's lots of things that would be easier if there was less of me but which I do anyway.

The thing is, I've been on a bit of a journey of self-discovery too in the last few years. And it's happened not because I lost weight, but in spite of my weight.

Here's something I wrote back in September last year:

I made a conscious decision years ago that my feelings of discomfort would not stop me from doing with my kids all the things we should be doing together as a family. So I decided I would go places with them, swim at public pools and at beaches, run around helping with soccer coaching (that one only lasted as long as David's interest in soccer). And then I started doing stuff for myself. I wear sleeveless tops so I can be out when it's hot without expiring. I bought clothes using the primary criteria of comfort rather than to hide my body. I went out on a limb and met people I knew from the net. I stood up in front of a theatre full of strangers and led a sing-a-long. I ended up on film doing the same (it's in the Sydney Q&A bonus feature on the Serenity DVD) and when I watch that I DON'T cringe, laugh at the geekiness yes but the physical me? that I'm ok with.

Since then I've done more. I've taken up jewellery making and managed to sell some of my creations - I've never thought of myself as creative or artistic so this came as a bit of a surprise to me. I've dressed in dark ages period costume and participated in a living history display at a public event - being in the public gaze like that is hard. I've taken on the P&C presidency at my kids' school - each time I run a meeting I'm conscious of being the fat person sitting at the front of the room with everyone looking at me (I'm sure none of them care what size I am, they're all just grateful they don't have to do my job but still, I feel exposed). I went for a job interview and convinced someone to hire me - my last job interview was 14 years ago and I was sure at the time that my (then much smaller) size was the reason I didn't get the job (nonsense of course). I went out dancing and had a great time - need to do that more often.

Every day as I get dressed, as I move around, as I pass a reflective surface, I am confronted by my body. How I fit (or don't) into my clothes, how I get hot and sweaty so very easily even in the middle of winter, how my reflected image sometimes makes me smile giving me a spring to my step and sometimes makes me wince and yank at my shirt trying to cover up the bulges (as if another layer of cloth somehow makes them invisible :P). I smile at myself more often now than I used to.

I don't know why I was able to choose to at least sometimes put aside that filter Nat mentions. It's not gone, at best I see double, but that seems to be enough.

I like who I am. I'm happy with what I'm doing with my life. There's an effort involved but I suspect that's not unique to being fat.

Could I be more, if there was less of me? I don't know. But I do know that I'm being all that I can be now and that is good enough.

4 comments:

Shrinking Tardie said...

Amen Mim. I think, in some way, it's about comfort zones too - I'm being all that I can be right here, right now. But I wasn't giving it all I had when I was 156 kilos.

As I said, I'm sure there are people who can set the filter aside and just get out there. But I couldn't. And as always, my posts have the disclaimed that they're just my opinion!

But based on the ancedotal evidence of the WW forum, there's so many women out there who don't do this or can't do that because of their weight - or they're trying to lose a certain amount of weight to 'do xyz thing'.

We categorise/filter with depression....it's a learnt cognitive style of thinking...I have no reason to doubt that the cognitive side effects of being obese (at least some/most of the time) are much the same.

Good on you for being able to see double :-0

Oh, and thanks for the first line in your comment on my blog - you've got lovely ears btw!

Dina said...

I think you're wonderful and this post is awesome.

Obesity is such a confusing issue. On one hand, it's unhealthy. But this obsession with fighting obesity is unhealthy as well.

I think the most important thing personally is being okay with yourself.

I think it's great that you have this self-confidence and this love of life.

Physical health is important, but I think emotional health is more important.

I give more kudos to someone who is fat and okay with themselves, then someone who is thin and spends thousands of dollars on dieting and plastic surgery.

I had a mild eating disorder once. I got really thin. I thought it would make people like me more. It didn't. I think maybe superficial people NOTICE you more and give you more attention--but it doesn't win you friends.

Shrinking Tardie said...

Mim,

Just got your comment on my blog (and I would email you but only have your old optus one - of course!).

I've done cognitive before and during this whole weight loss shebang...and I'm beginning to believe that both are vitally important.

I wish I could have been happy with who I was at the size that I was - but I just wasn't. And I didn't take your post to be any of those things you said it might have been.

I'm envious of you that you are able to put that filter aside and do those awesome things. I never could. Mind you, for many years I was working through a number of filters - none of them particularly positive!

The further I go down this path the more I realise that our self concept needs to be constantly tweaked as we shrink. Perhaps that's why so many of 'us' get stuck around 100 kilos and seem to have problems moving from there. Maybe it's because comparitively speaking, we're at a much better place than we were? Or perhaps we're scared of going the whole hog.

I dunno - enough thoughts here to write a book.

Will leave it at that I think.

N

Ariane said...

For supposedly "rational creatures", us humans find it incredibly difficult to keep the irrational in check.

It seems like you are winning more than you are losing, so that's probably a champion result.