I am that story…you know the one. You’ve heard it a million times. I’m the fat girl, the one you pass and pretend you don’t see. The one you internally feel pity and disgust for all at the same time. I’m the one you see that makes you think to yourself, “Why doesn’t she just quit eating, or why did she let herself get that way?” How profound your questions, but shallow and insensitive, too. I am me, fat, invisible, sloppy, angry, sad, emotionally scarred, misunderstood, reckless, insecure, tired, and buried. That’s right. I said buried.
I’ve been buried in these layers of stinky, nasty, hot fat for years. I’ve been buried within this prison of fat cells and heavy skin for far too long. I’ve buried away my life under layers of fat while letting the fat suck the very desire to exist completely out of me. I have been buried so far beneath the surface of lard that I no longer know the girl hidden beneath.
Did I mention I was tired? I am so tired…and I don’t mean the physical kind of tired that you get from working hard or exercising. I certainly haven’t worked hard, and I darn sure haven’t exercised. I am the kind of tired that makes opening my eyes, thinking, getting out of bed, taking a shower, washing clothes, or having a conversation nearly impossible. The very thought of moving my body through space exhausts me. I am tired of just getting by, but not really getting by. Being buried in a coffin of fat keeps me from even doing the bare essentials.
So, when does this kind of tired become so exhausting that life is no longer livable, you ask? Well, that question is one I am willing to answer. It is now…now; I am too tired to live life any longer buried in a coffin of fat that I have managed to build for myself one cheeseburger, snack cake, and french fry at a time. I am going to dig myself out, not because I have to, but because I want to live…really, really live. Ain’t no living going on in a coffin…just dying…slow, painful, suffocating dying.
So, I guess your next question is, “What are you going to do differently that you haven’t already done before?” I am going to fight the ugliness that clouds my good thoughts and drives my well-intentioned fat fighting train right into the nearest brick wall. I am going to get up, get out, and get the life I was meant to have. Ideally, a change of mind would be enough to cause me to change my life. Realistically, I know just setting my mind to losing weight isn’t enough.
Real success will only come when I pull out one skeleton, one hurt, one bad memory at a time and let them go. Yep, that’s right. I am going to let them all go. I am going to sort through the fat cells that are each really emotional wounds that I have chosen to never let heal in the past. I have picked at the scabs of those wounds and bandaged them with tons of grease and carbs. Never really letting any of them heal, because true healing meant I could no longer bandage them with a pack of chocolate bars or bag of chips. Opening up wounds and exposing them for what they are can only happen when I decide that the pain of dealing with my past is easier than dealing with the pain that will be my future. So, it’s a toss up. I choose to sort through the past, tossing out each fat cell, to make room for real living cells. The kind of living that happens when I can play ball with my kid and not feel like I am going to die after 5 minutes. The kind of living that comes from hiking trails, bike riding, camping, swimming, and sitting in the floor and playing cards. The kind of living that sees life not for what it could have been, but how great it can be.
I have wanted to write so many times. Words were there, and I had plenty to say. The truth is, putting words to paper is impossible when there is truth that begs to be told, but too painful to see in print. And then, it dawned on me today. It wouldn’t matter if the truths of my life, painful as they are, were ever written. The excruciating painful truth is already evident in every dimple of fat on my butt, every roll of lard on my stomach, and in my disgusting, sagging, sweaty breasts. I just couldn’t uncloud my thoughts long enough to let the truths come to light and really expose them to myself for the prison they have created within my own body of morbid fat. Any spectator can see something just isn’t right. No human body is meant to be like this. No one comes to be this gross, miserable, and fat, because they want to be. It just happens, and then one day…like today…you wake up. You wake up and realize you are dying, literally, in a coffin of fat. You wake up and smell the horrific smell of death and see the sight of rotting flesh which has become what you know as life, but isn’t really life at all.
So today, I am prying open the coffin of fat one fingernail at a time. There are glimmers of light, small as they are, creeping through the cracks. I can see them. I have hope. I have hope that today is not just another promise to myself that tomorrow I will do better. No, I have hope in today. It is only today that I can get through. I will deal with tomorrow tomorrow. As I pull myself out of this dark, desperate coffin of fat, I will leave behind, to be buried forever, all of the emotional crap I have stuffed with food so as to avoid dealing with it. Yep, life for me begins today. So, here’s how I got this way…
I cannot remember being skinny…ever. There are pictures of me as a small child in which I was not at all overweight. I don’t know when it actually started…the fat that is. I just know that around 3rd grade, I wasn’t like everyone else…skinny that is. My father would tell me I was the most beautiful girl in the world. The world told me differently. School was hard. No, it wasn’t hard; it was horrific. I was tormented daily. I was called elephant girl, fatty, and big ‘un by my classmates, who I so desperately wanted to like me. They drew pictures of me, picked me last for teams, heckled me, hit me, and made me cry. I hated myself. I hated them. I hated my life at home. I hated everything and everyone around me. And yet, I always smiled, pretended like nothing bothered me, and was the jolly Angie I thought the world wanted me to be, except I was fat. I thought would hide the shelter of fat that would eventually become my grave. My dad, who I lived with, had remarried. My step mom, as much as I wanted to love her, never really bonded with me. I think I was resentful that she had taken my dad away. I manifested that resentment by being an intolerable brat towards her. I am certain I was not easy to love.
My stepbrother, on the other hand, was perfect in every way and bonded quite naturally with my father, which caused even more resentment on my behalf. I was so jealous of him. He was cute, dressed in hip clothes, and was skinny. I, on the other hand, was forced to wear handmade fat clothes that my stepmother sewed. Buying clothes for me in department stores was difficult. I was too fat. The kids at school would heckle me by saying that my mom must have had to use a parachute to make my clothes. Clearly they liked me…ha! Much of junior high school was the same. I ate when I was lonely. I ate when I was happy. I ate when I was sad. I hid my eating and felt tremendous shame. I wasn’t conscious of my emotional eating, because it was all I knew. I was so lonely, and food was my only non-judging friend. I hated food, though. But I loved it, too. After moving away from home, I did what any sensible thinking food addict would do. I went to culinary school. What better way to feed an addiction than to surround yourself with an all-consuming presence of food? I hated it there. Once again, I felt insecure and out of place. I had no desire to learn. I just wanted to eat.
Food has been the only constant in my life. When no one else was there, food was. I have tried to lose weight before...lots of times. I have done every diet there is and done quite well at many. But like so many others, I only cared about losing the weight rather than dealing with what made me gain it all in the first place.
I have had several good jobs since culinary school. I went back to college, not once but twice. Somewhere in the midst of jumping through hoops in the working world and attempting to complete college, I just gave up...on me. I lost sight of what could be and became complacent with what was my reality...my coffin of fat.
Nearly 10 years ago, unable to see through my haze of fat and self-loathing, I met a man who showed me some attention...you know the kind of attention any girl wants. He was married. I have always had strong Christian morals, but again...I was just lost and so wanted to have someone...anyone love me even if it was a married man who only wanted one thing.
For one night, I let down my guard and nine months later, I had a child. Now, let me just say right now that I don't condone my behavior one bit. I have wished a million times that I would have had just one ounce of enough self-esteem to stand up for myself and say no. But the truth is, I didn't. The only good thing that came from that night was my beautiful soon-to-be 9 year old son.
Having gotten pregnant, unmarried, and by a married man of a different race kind of put a strain, to put it nicely, on my relationship with my parents. They severed ties with me when I told them I was pregnant. However, regardless of what I knew I would lose by keeping my son, I loved him whole-heartedly from the moment the doctor shocked me by saying I was pregnant.
And...well, I have lost everything...everything that is except my weight. I have gained nearly 100 pounds in the last 9 years. I have continued to eat and gain and eat and gain until I am disgusted by the reflection of myself in the mirror. If I thought I could get clean by showering with my clothes on, I'd never get naked.
I have been homeless, broke, broken, and nearly drove my son and I off a bridge when he was an infant, because I couldn't see how anyone could ever love us. But God...well, God loved us and loves us still. I have seen Him do things that only He could have done.
So here I am today...I finally have a home with bricks and windows and a working stove and a refrigerator that has an ice and water dispenser. I have a working car and a job that pays the bills. My son has clothes and name brand shoes. I have struggled to get here. Nothing has been easy! Why, then, would I continue to punish myself by living in a coffin of fat?
Don't I deserve more? Doesn't my son deserve more??? We both do! And I am ready. Yes, I said it. I am ready! I am ready to get off my lazy, tired, sweaty, stinky rear and do something different.
So why in the world would I put all of this out there into cyber land knowing that someone would see my personal battle? Because I know without a doubt, I am not alone. There are other girls who pretend to be living, but are really dying slowly one fat cell at a time in a coffin of fat. While, I would like to believe that the road ahead will be easy, I already know it won't be. The difference this time, is that I would rather suffer through the journey of trying, then leave my son alone in this world because his fat mama was just too sorry to try.
So here's my journey...all 387 pounds of it. Yep...I really did just put it out there. And for once, I am ok with it, because that is who I am. I am the fat girl. But I don't have to be her anymore. I choose today to crack open that fat coffin and begin life. It took me nearly 40 years to get to this weight, so I know full well that nothing will happen overnight. But by gosh, I am determined to live. I mean it...really start living.
I will post here regularly as a way to hold myself accountable. I am what I am, but I have hope and total faith that I can do better.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11