Friday, September 04, 2009

Upon seeing what others see

Today a friend of mine sent some photos taken of me and her together this summer. I was appalled at how fat I have become. I do not have full length mirrors in my house and even when I'm looking in them at the gym or at a restaurant -- I'm standing up, have my shirt carefully pulled down to hide the width and breadth of my stomach and simply am not able or willing to focus on the "whole" picture. These images captured with the lens of a camera on warm summer days, however, don't hide a thing. I can see the swollen face, the stomach bulging out on all sides, the rolls of fat that form my short legs. I am thoroughly disgusted and ashamed and repulsed. I am cringing at the thought of the person other people see me to be, their comments whispered in their minds or aloud.

I began carrying this weight to protect myself. It increased as I held in the emotions and feelings. I used my girth for the strength to carry the responsibility of my mother, my sister, and for my badness. I have eaten and avoided taking care of myself as a form of self-hatred and self-abuse. Compulsive eating and living life as an obese woman is a slow form of suicide. All of these things are things that therapists, former fatties and books have told me. I haven't connected a single bit of it to my soul. I believe it ... but I don't feel it. Why? Because if the feelings come -- I stuff them inside with cookies, cakes, candy, hamburgers, ice cream, anything my body craves. I consume mounds of rich, sweet, fatty foods -- almost always in solitude, and almost never walked, ran or swam off. It has all just gathered on the bones and around the organs and muscles of my body, enveloping me, hiding me, protecting me, strengthening me. Those last three things are a lie that my inner child believes.

I remember in her book, "Make the Connection," Oprah Winfrey talks about hitting rock bottom when she was accepting an Emmy nomination and was embarrassed to go on stage. She recently talked about another bottom, where she began again to feel embarrassed to live in her own skin, despite her magnanimous success. I watched the preliminaries of the show "Dance Your Ass Off" earlier this week. Men and women shared how they wanted for the person who lived behind the fat to be revealed. The Battle of the Bulge it's called -- this war humans fight to reclaim the person who lives behind the blubber.

TT commented on a previous post, "I just can't help but wonder, Rae, whether you first need to find your rage toward those who damaged you, and go through it, THEN find forgiveness, then move on. It seems to me you have skipped a critical step, never having experienced that rage."

I can't help but wonder if all that rage is wrapped around my midsection, under my chin, and across my ass. I feel as though waging war against the fat is waging war against myself ... and maybe I'm right. I feel weak to wage a war.

God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the Courage and Strength to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference. I surely cannot do this on my own. God, help me. I've failed so many times, I am afraid to even say I'll try again. I feel the resistance even as I fall at your feet in total surrender -- searching for a way to hold on to my way of living, hoping by some miracle that I will not have to go through the pain of taking off all this armour I've put on.

Help me to be humble, help me to be strong, help me to let this matter when darkness breaks into dawn.


vicariousrising said...

I was thinking a similar thing to your other commenter who said maybe you needed to express your rage against those who had harmed you. When you wrote that you had such unfathomable, enormous pain that you weren't expressing, I thought: what would happen if you did allow yourself to feel the full force of it?

I did a similar excercise myself, and I have to say, it sucked. But I didn't explode into a million shards like I thought I would.

It's also not something I'd do on a regular basis. But it's good for me to know it won't break me.

Bernadine said...

HI Rae,

Ouch, seeing the truth is always hard. I saw a picture of myself recently that I wasn't happy with either.

But I have to say, it sounds to me like you're being really hard on yourself. Can you try to be kind to yourself about it? I mean, pounds come off, eventually and you're also going through a lot. And you understand how and why it happened. Talking about yourself in such a cruel way isn't going to help you in the end.


Just Be Real said...

Rae, I am learning, although hard, to focus my rage anger on the appropriate person(s) that abused me and not myself. I hear you dear one.....

MargauxMeade said...

Rae, I agree that you're being hard on yourself. I highly doubt others look at you and see what you're describing. And, if they do, they have their own serious issues with objectification. I've never seen you with my eyes, but I SEE you here as an incredibly beautiful person. I have a hard time believing that that doesn't shine through to most people who are in your physical presence.

MargauxMeade said...

P.S. Think about why your friend would want to take pictures with you in the first place--to capture some beautiful moments spent with a special person, and then to relive those moments by sharing them again with you. If she saw you the way you described, she wouldn't have taken the pictures or shared them with you. She's seeing something very different and much more accurate.

Ok, now I'm stepping down off my soapbox. :)

the other cj said...

I just read your post, and I'm wondering, is that what your friends see? Is that how they think of you? I've gained weight (a lot) since coming into recovery. Also, the last few years of using took a physical toll. So I'm old and fat. But I don't think people see me that way. At least, they don't treat me that way. Photographs are startling to me, but I have to remind myself they aren't real. Give yourself a break.