Saturday, March 30, 2013
To be direct - I feel safer when heavier. There are three main reasons for that.
1) When I was younger, I was tall and very, very thin. Not because we had no food or anything like that. But that was my natural body build. I'm built like my mom who was rather thin while we were growing up.
Kids in the neighborhood were, well... Hmmm... They came from a different socioeconomic background. My parents were both college graduates, my father worked for my uncle (a singer) and then worked in a corporate job before starting his own business, which was very successful for awhile. So my siblings and I stood out.
I tried to disappear as much as possible because I was often a "target" of the other kids. I didn't fight because I often didn't know why fights were being started, especially since I hadn't really done anything to the other kid. I thought they were being kind of silly. I wasn't scared - that came later. I just didn't understand why I would want to fight someone because they said something about my mother (which was untrue and their problem). But the rules of the streets were different.Books because my friend because they were safe.
I also noticed that with the weight gain, which started after college, I like the idea of feeling like I have an imposing enough presence, that people will think twice before wanting to fight me. I have made to association between my weight and protection.
2) I also feel like I have disappeared. Let's just say that while I didn't date much when I was younger, I did get a lot of unwanted attention. Because I had no sense of setting boundaries, I find that the weight did that. No one is going to bother the fat girl, at least they will approach her differently.
This came about in an odd way. When I was in college, there was a rapist who was attacking young college aged girls within a 3-4 block area of my school. At the time I remember that because I was black and overweight (thanks to the freshman 30) that I was safer. When they caught him, I remember feeling grateful for the fact that I was unattractive to him.
I realize now that I associate a normal weight with feeling unsafe. I have lost some weight before, but the moment a guy notices me and says something to me, I would go to the store and grab a pint of ice cream, find reasons to stop exercising, and go on a fast food bender.
But now I am ready to deal with this and put everything in perspective. I do get to set boundaries. I have a right to do so. People can't hurt me unless I allow them to. And a guy telling me that I'm pretty is not the same as rape. I know that now. So when the feelings come up, I have to deal with them.
I've been doing that and have held steady over some trying months. I no longer end my day with two candy bars and a small bag of chips when I leave the classroom. When I'm upset about something, I tell the person about it. This has led me to really be honest and vulnerable. I tell my students how they can and can't talk to me. I tell them to go home and come back with a better attitude. I leave job situations that don't work for me. Little by little I'm putting myself first. And when I do that, I don't have to eat my feelings.
I'm also exercising again. And I'm prioritizing it. When I'm angry at my students I find that being on the treadmill and imagining that I'm running on them is a way to get rid of the energy. I felt the same way after I found out that my dad's cancer had morphed into another kind. I went to the gym and worked out on the elliptical machine. I heard an inner scream with each step and I closed my eyes and allowed it to continue. When I looked up 45 minutes had passed. I had no idea. Afterwards I went home and reheated some salmon and broccoli from the night before.
Instead of stuffing my feelings by eating food, watching TV, and sleeping, I get out and move my body. I also express what I'm feeling. I was subbing in a Spanish GED class and the class complained about me. They said they couldn't understand me ~ my Spanish isn't great, but it's much better than many people which is why bilingual teachers love having me in their classes. The kids get a kick out of it too. But sometimes adults have a hard time buying an African American speaking Spanish. Anyhow, the next time we had class I went into the room and told them that I was angry at them and why. One man brought his young daughter to translate for me and I told them that I didn't need a translator, but that I needed them to listen.
I always thought that I would get in trouble for doing something like that but I didn't. The man and his daughter left, but the rest of them listened and learned. That was the evening that I realized that when I own what's going on with me, I don't need to stuff it with food.
It's amazing. It takes a lot to own up to what's going on - the sadness, the hurt, the disappointment, however, once that it done I find that I am free to move on and do other things. This is something that I want to continue doing.