Sunday, October 3, 2010

What purpose does being fat serve?

I think in addition to this desire I have to want to be healthy, this little band I got, and even this wonderful support I’m finding online – I think to be successful long term, there are some things I need to figure out – or at least have some sort of handle on….

Weight loss is 99.92% mental – at least for me.  Surely we’re all smart enough to know how to lose weight.  Take in less calories than you burn.  It’s just math.  It’s really, really not rocket science.  How hard can this be, right?

As Drazil’s recent post so powerfully put it, I passionately believe there is a reason for everything.  So, I have always believed that being fat is serving a purpose for me.  It’s giving me something, serving some need.  And this need it’s serving must be pretty damn powerful for it to continue to overwhelm my pure desire to be healthier.  To more easily run with my kids.  To not be the fattest mom in the room.  Etc, etc. 

I got my first clue as to what it was about a million years ago (okay, maybe closer to 20) when I lost a bunch of weight and was working downtown Baltimore and people started talking to me.  Now, I’m known or certainly was back then as a pretty loud person, very outgoing, knows everyone, but the truth was – it was completely about control.  If I walked into the room and immediately made my presence known in some loud way – all the attention went to me because I told it to and then the attention was free to move back to the rest of the world and leave me the hell alone.  And everyone there would remember me as having been there and amusing and loud or whatever I wanted them to remember, without anyone ever really seeing me or paying actual attention to me, which is what I thought I wanted.

But this summer, way back when – people through no design of my own started talking to me.  I wasn’t invisible any longer.  It was startling.  And uncomfortable.  I was no longer in control of when people looked at me or noticed me – it was happening all on its own.  It frightened me, though I couldn’t have possibly identified that way back then.

Flash forward to about 4 years ago when I lost about 75 lbs with the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center.  I went from 251 to 174.  I still had more to go, but looked pretty good if I do say so myself.  My next-door neighbor made a pass at me – the kind of pass that involved his lips on mine and his hand on my chest and my hand (held by his free one) on his quite hard… willie mcgee.

I pushed him out of my house and hid from him for a couple of weeks before I got over myself and told him that whatever signals he thought he was getting from me were unintentional and that I had no intention of cheating on my husband.  But… it frightened me.  It was startling and uncomfortable.  I thought long and hard (all puns intended) about it then and decided I truly didn’t know or understand the generic, normal mating rituals out there – or maybe even the generic, normal social rituals of the world.  The neighbor incident was in no way responsible for why I stopped losing weight and started gaining again.  But it didn’t help. 

So I think the thing being fat gives me (or one of the things) is invisibility.  When I’m fat – no one pays any attention to me.  Not in any real way.  Only in ways I control.  Each time I’ve lost weight in the past it has been relatively easy for me.  I like healthy food.  I like to exercise.  But there has always come a point – when it seeps into my mind that “hey look, I’m doing great.  I like what I see in the mirror, this is great.”  And it’s at that moment that it all starts to go to shit for me.  As soon as I realize I’m truly getting somewhere I immediately find a way to stop that nonsense!  

So there it is – I have a real fear of being successful.  Maybe it’s because I’m afraid then people will actually find out I’m a fraud.  Or it’s because I’m afraid people will pay attention to me in a real way and I feel out of my element about that – I truly think there is a ‘rules of social norms and behavior’ book that everyone got, but I had skipped school that day, so I never got one.  Now I need to figure out whether I really want that invisibility (No I don't think so) and/or how to replace any other things being fat is giving me.

What did being fat used to give to you?  And how have you replaced it?


Bonnie said...

It's good that you understand what the weight does for you. I think for me it's more that food tastes good and I'm definitely an emotional eater so I use it no matter what I'm feeling. I've been working on focusing in on what I'm feeling before I eat and making sure I'm actually hungry.

Shane G. said...

I would say that at times, it has given me a tactical advantage in that people doubt the abilities of fat people, and I have gotten ahead for being counted as no competition. But for the most part, I would liken my story to yours. I decided who has to pay attention and on my terms. If you don't like me, then screw you, I got rid of you on my terms.

Patrick said...

What an interesting question... what did being fat give me. Other than allot more daily trips to the bathroom than one person should experience, hmmm... tactically I dont think it gave me anything useful. Mentally it gave me some sense of security. If I was well fed, I was at ease upstairs. If i was uncertain of the next meals abiity to satisfy my ravenous hunger, I was not strong upstairs. So I ate to be at peace.

Joey said...

Good question. I'm an emotional eater. A stress eater. But being fat gave me something to blame for life's failings.