Monday, January 09, 2012
On a flight to New Mexico last year, the woman next to me didn't put up her tray table because my fat roll was covering part of the armrest where the table was stored. The ironic thing was that I'd chosen to read a book that day about the "carried shame" which we inherit from others. So I was well aware that the flush of embarrassment and discomfort I felt on the plane at that moment was shame. I wanted to apologize.
But then another (smaller) part of me got angry at the companies who design and manufacture airplane seats. And another part of me said ďOk, this stinks, but SO??? Why is MY FAT the most important thing about me, the one aspect of me everyone can point to Ė the CRIME they can charge me with?Ē
All of these thoughts made me anxious. And anxiety makes me crave chocolate. I struggled with wanting to turn to the woman and say "sorry" for the lack of space that my fat roll caused. And I realized that it wasn't just about that plane trip, it was about all the plane trips, the daily bus to work, the booths at restaurants, carnival rides. I have been on this cycle my ENTIRE life. Literally.
I wanted to apologize for being alive, breathing, taking up space. That was shame.
When I got home from my trip I found a letter in my mailbox from the insurance company, denying me coverage because my weight is above their limits. Never mind that I have no conditions, am not diabetic (or even pre-diabetic), have normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels. I felt angry and frustrated because I need health insurance I can afford, and ashamed because the problem is ME.
My biggest challenge on this journey is to be kind to myself when I feel ashamed about my size. I ask myself "What helps me to move out of feeling bad about myself?" Because thatís what the shame feeling is...the feeling that I am bad, I am worth LESS than everyone else, I donít deserve as much, the same rights or access or whatever else because of my size.
What helps most when I am feeling ashamed is eating. Sure, there are other things I can and sometimes do, like writing, being alone, painting, walking, working in the garden, speaking encouraging words to myself: "you can do it, donít give up, I believe in you."
But those are all poor substitutes. Eating does it like nothing else, because eating says: "I will protect you. You will survive. I wonít let you die. Your life is worth saving."
If I feed me, then I believe in my right to exist, the thing shame denies me. And that is why this cycle is so hard to break.
Does anyone else struggle with feeling ashamed? Does eating make it better? How do you break the cycle?