Monday, August 25, 2008

Living a lie

I've been living a lie. Let me tell you about it.

For the last ten years or so I've thought of myself as a fat person.

What's the lie?

I know - it's crazy. Not what you expect.

I'm not fat.

How did this happen? Let me break it down for you. Get a coffee, this might take a while.

When I was in about grade four, something funny started happening. (For the record, I was far, far, far from overweight. I'm not certain of my grade four weight, but I do know that when I was in grade one I weighed thirty seven pounds. That is three pounds less than my four year old weighs. Granted, she is also nearly as tall as me. My point is, though, that I was a tiny little person.) Back to what started to happen.

Christine and I (she was my best friend, and was she ever a gooder. I was lucky.) would be walking to school and suddenly, for no reason at all, my right leg would give out. It happened all the time. I became known for it, much like in grade one I was known for my ability to do the splits both ways and in grade three I was known for my box hockey prowess. At any given moment I would collapse to the ground as though I had been shot. It hurt, but the pain receded quickly, and it never seemed terribly earth shattering to me.

The older I got the more it started to hurt when it happened, and the more inconvenient it became. But the real doozy happened at Checkers.

Dancing away (oh, I thought of myself as a dancing queen), my kneecap slid off my knee and my leg buckled. This time, though, my kneecap stayed stuck in the wrong spot. My leg bent at a horrific angle, kneecap pointing off in the distance, the pain was unbearable. Some thoughtful guy gently pulled my foot out and the kneecap popped back over. My poor brother carried me out of the bar.

The pain was unbelievable and the knee swelled up like crazy. I had to have it drained a few times. That was when I started putting on weight. I was twenty three, I think, and it hurt terribly to walk, I was living on my own and eating a lot of burritos, and I couldn't do anything remotely athletic. No one suggested physiotherapy and so I wallowed in my achy leg and comforted myself with late night burgers.

At this point, from a comfortable one hundred twenty five pounds or so, respectable on a five foot four inch frame, I ballooned up to one hundred and fifty two poungs. Ironically, I worked at a gym (they must have hired me as a reminder: Look: this too, can happen to you!) and it was there that I stepped on a scale and immediately told my co-worker that it was broken. I really thought it was. I feel sorry for my deluded past self. It wasn't until I saw a photograph and wondered who is...oh my GOD IT'S ME. I got it.

I quit smoking, started running, decided to train for a marathon, and lost twenty five pounds. This was when I was twenty six. It was great; running and training was exhilarating and wonderful.

You know what bugged me, though, was the people who just couldn't let it go. We'd meet someone, or they would introduce me to someone, and they would say, all nonchalantly, "This is Kristen and oh, SHE USED TO BE FAT. Can you even believe it??? I know! It's crazy!" It was as though I was a circus freak. Sometimes I wanted to say quietly, hey, I'm pretty sure I'm more than my weight, look, I have a personality and everything. But I let them.

And soon, as it happens, I started to believe the hype. Instead of remembering the oh, thirty one years of my life where I wasn't overweight, I recalled only that I used to be heavy. When I lookedin the mirror there was a constant anxiety; what if it comes back, what if I'm not diligent enough...all that.

On the couch last night as I tried to think of anything I could think about that would distract me from that horrible show Jackass, I had a total epiphany. I'm not fat. I was overweight for a few years, but that is not who I am, it does not define me, and no longer will I give it any power over me.

This is so melodramtic for me. Fitting.

Scintillating, isn't it? Go ahead, subscribe...I know that these intimate details of my life are riveting.


tasha said...

i love reading your blogs/ stories! you are a great writer. i am a 23 yearold, getting married in a couple days and i feel what you went through. i had pics taken of me about two months ago and i looked at them and thought... Wow i need to do something. i have always felt the pressure to be thin... and always thought of my self as FAT! in reality i have only become over weight in the last 6 months. i blame it on everything from stress to my job to not really caring anymore. i have tried to diet and exercize for the 6 weeks and have gotten know where with it. i have just started to jog/ power walk and in the last couple of days i have already noticed a big difference in how i feel. i have troubles running because of athsma but i am working up towards my goal of hopefully running in the near future. i have looked up to you as a mother and wife for the last year or so that i have known you. you are a good example of balance. thank you for your good roll modeling and showing me that you can still be hip and cool while being a mom and wife. :)

spinregina said...

you are so sweet, Tash. you are also a beautiful, beautiful girl, with so many positive attributes it's kind of ridiculous. the best one, off hand, is your smile. and your hair. WAIT A MINUTE - it's your great sense of humour.

I've watched you as we've gotten to know you, look to figure out who you are and how you fit, and from my decade older wisdom-ness let me assure you that looking to figure it out is the biggest and most important step - so look at you, you're on the right track.

Tash, don't forget about the role the media plays in all of this - if women acknowledge the bombardment with unrealistic it's easier to recognize healthy images.

p.s. have you ever heard of probiotics for athsma??? check them out...I think they're amazing.

p.s. Hip? Cool? Whaat? did I mention, your sense of humour is as sharp as ever?

p.s. congrats, Tash. All the best wishes and love from our family to you. we're happy to know you and wish you a wonderful day and life full of blessings.