I’m taking a break from my Conversations with Myself series, today. It’s been a good exercise, and there’s more I want to do, but for whatever reason, the ones I’ve done so far have taken a lot out of me. I need some time to process. To read them over, and decide what to do about what I learned. I’m sure it will be a worthwhile endeavour, when the time comes.
For now, however, I’m going to focus on something a bit lighter.
A Sunny Day
Today, it was sunny outside.
It isn’t always. Sunshine is a luxury, and this wet, rainy spring has made me appreciate it all the more. Today, I sat outside while I studied, and I felt warm. It was delicious. The outdoors always does me good, and I like all kinds of weather, but sunshine and warmth are necessary if I’m going to simply sit.
I’ve had a break for the last 4 days, as I’ve been visiting with my sister and her family – and soaking in a good amount of sunshine, while I was at it. My brain felt a little fresher, today, as a result. For the first time this spring, I felt like it actually wanted to learn. Without feeling anxious – well, not much – it was searching out creative ways to organize, summarize, and memorize this mountain of information. And instead of dragging, as it usually does, the day went by quickly. It was over before I knew it, and I didn’t feel fatigued. I felt energized – mentally, if not physically.
God, thank you for the sun.
Avoiding the Sun
I need to make a confession: even when it’s sunny out, when I’m not cold, and I’m not sick and there is no reason I shouldn’t go outside, sometimes, I stay indoors. I know the fresh air is good for me. I know how wonderful it feels on my skin. I know it helps my mind work better, and lifts my spirits. But sometimes, I just can’t bear to go out. I feel too vulnerable. Too exposed. Scared of I don’t even know what – of someone seeing me? Judging me? Who, exactly, am I afraid of – the neighbours? My own grandparents? It’s nonsensical, and I know that. But the truth is that going outside involves putting up some mental barriers – especially in the summer, when parkas and snow pants are not an option. Before I open that door to the outside world, I have to brace myself, and consciously ignore the part of me that is begging to go back inside, where it’s safe. Where I’m all alone, far from prying and curious eyes, from judgement and criticism; from seeing myself the way I know others must see me. The same way I avoid mirrors and pictures.
Bright Line Eating gives me hope. It gives me confidence that things will get better. But for now, I am still carrying around a body that I’m ashamed of. I struggle to put on a bathing suit to swim in front of my own sister. My greatest desire is to simply go unnoticed – for others’ eyes to sweep past me as if I weren’t even there. Because when they do see me, I cannot bear to imagine what they are thinking.
We’ve found a community here, in BLE, where we are understood. Where we look at each other not only with compassion, but with real knowledge. We see extra pounds as signs of true illness – whether active or in remission – of physiological addiction, insulin dysregulation, and leptin resistance. We know the causes. We’ve found the cure. And we know that we’re all doing the best we can.
But outside of this safe community, out there in the real world, are people who don’t understand. We know this, because we know how we’ve judged ourselves – and possibly others – in the past. We’ve cringed at the sight of the rolls, the flab, the cellulite, the cottage-cheese thighs; and we’ve thought the words: weak; irresponsible; indulgent; gluttonous; lazy; uneducated; unlovable; repulsive.
And possibly words even worse than those.
Weight and The Laws of Gravity
Being overweight is a burden. It’s a physical weight that pins us down, wears us out, and ruins our joints. Mentally, it muddles our thoughts and interferes with our ability to think and act rationally. But it also carries with it a burden of judgement. We can’t change the way we are seen by others. We can’t walk around with a sign over our heads that says I’m trying. We can’t show every new acquaintance an old photo of ourselves and tell them this is who I am on the inside. We can’t force people to believe that our unhealthy bodies are a reflection of illness, and not of moral or intellectual shortcomings. People will think what they think. Well-meaning people and just plain mean ones.
We will be passed over. We will be judged. We may even be publicly confronted. And don’t forget inanimate objects: subway seats, airplane seatbelts, swimsuits and ski boots – all conspiring to increase our sense of conspicuousness and shame.
The truth is, our bodies don’t fit. We are too big. Body positivity and plus-sized stores cannot change the fact that our cartilage is thinning, our arteries are hardening, our hearts are tired of pumping to sustain the extra weight. We can’t adjust reality, or biology, to conform to us.
And the Sun will Shine the Brighter
But thanks to BLE and SPT, there is a way out. We can change our behaviour, and our bodies can heal. We can fit into this world again.
You know what I’m looking forward to? I’m looking forward to the day when my body is the right size. And someone asks me how I did it.
I’m going to have some credibility. I’m going to have the chance to share with others – thick and thin, addicted and free – what it’s like to be out of control. To be helpless and hopeless and sick and afraid, and then to leave that all behind. So that maybe, when they see someone else in that position, they might be able to see past the shell. To understand, just a little bit, what makes them the way they are.
For now, I put my armour on. I enjoy the sunshine as much as I can. I don’t let my happiness depend on the good opinion of strangers. And I work towards the day when I can sit in the sun and not even think about who might see me.