I am today-years-old when I have an outloud chat with the weight around my middle.
Put on, first, by pregnancy, then restored by wonky midlife hormones, the weight has become an egregious ball and chain.
I want a divorce.
These are the things I say aloud this morning, standing in my dimestore underpants and bra with elastic so dry and useless the strap buckles are practically taught to my navel. Were the elastic fresh and springy, and adjusted to where currently tightened, my breasts would be hoisted up under my chin. Possibly, over my ears.
Why are you still here?
What is your purpose?
Are you here to protect or repel or make me invisible, like so many midlife women fade away from desirability and view?
Are you a punishment for the would-be baby I chose not to have – despite having a finance at the time who became the man I married then divorced? A man who shamed me for being pregnant as though I made myself that way with his help at all; a man who regularly used scare tactics that my father would be ashamed of me (would he, though?) were I to walk the aisle notedly “with child” or, were I (never “we” by the way; this entire situation, being pregnant, was my fault and mine to remedy – he made that very clear) to move or postpone the wedding, willing to risk embarrassing my parents, my greater family, and possibly be left alongside the proverbial roadside, a fallen young woman? The shame.
After that thought, a lightbulb moment: the weight is not punishment. It’s connection.
(Not that the bulge around my waist says anything. I just feel it… and as I feel it deeper, I realize the weight – or really, the fat – has quite a bit to say. But, since it’s not actually talking, it has a lot to emote.)
I am your shame.
Settled right out in front, where a baby would ride – everyone can see me; a bumper or a tumor.
Shame you carry, literally, and others see you carry, wear.
I am a physical, tangible “wrong” with you. You have asked, “What is wrong with me – given away?” “What is wrong with me I wasn’t kept?” “I have not forgiven myself for being so horribly manipulated before marriage…”
Well, nothing is wrong with you but since you need to believe something is awful, here it is: a load of shame you can cart around. Welcome, extra weight.
Not that you haven’t tried to dump me. The calorie counting, the Noom, the WW years back, the eating-by-intuition… now the bioidentical hormone replacement therapy – none of which work, by the way. You’ve been battling something physical when the source is within, Grasshoppah… you can stop hauling around shame and, in all probability, feel better – and fit into your clothing, again.
We continue to chat, the weight and I, silently, as I look for a shirt and skirt that fit both my body and the day’s August swelter. After running the hangers back and forth, I settle on a long, straight navy dress with pockets and a borderline matronly silhouette. It’s fine. It hides a multitude of self-hatred and self-neglect. When dressed, I head to work.
The weight IS just that: a weight, a burden, an embarrassment, a shame. It’s original purpose was to insulate and protect while growing a human but that human is nearly 24 years old now.
Once, many years ago, I lost much of it through strict diet and even stricter cheating. People started taking notice, paying compliments, treating me as though I were more acceptable, more likeable than before. I got a lot of attention and that – out of all the reactions – caused me the most discomfort. Being seen.
With the extra weight, I am still seen but I am no a threat to anyone, nor am I desirable or attractive (in the way a slender person would be). In fact, I have allowed myself to fade into middle age without much of a fight, accepting the shame/weight the way one accepts bad weather or a flat tire. I feed the shame, literally.
But what would happen if I put it down? As in, removed it as a burden. What would happen if I felt shameless rather than ashamed?
I just might be ready to find out.