Thursday, February 23, 2017

Vain. Selfish. Cruel.


There are worse things in the world than being called fat. It's a descriptor that's often hurled as an insult, a catch-all meaning unattractive, sloppy, uncontrolled.

I take up too much space. My shoulders are thick. My thighs are thick. My bones are thick. I could never be slight. Never delicate. Never the femininity of lace and fragility.

It took deprivation, mania, and obsession in order to have a 140-pound body that was rejected nonetheless. So much work. A constant, all-consuming struggle to take up as little space as possible, but still be seen.

If I did everything right, there was a chance I would get what I wanted. There was a chance the parts of me that felt empty and broken could be filled with his temporary solace.

Maybe I'd feel more alive with his hand around my throat.

Maybe I'm not happy, but I could feel that comfort temporarily if it's pounded into me when I ask for it.

There's a galvanization, a resolved confidence that comes when you project it all onto another body. It's easier to call out the cracks.

It's easier to walk away from when it's someone else.

How deeply can you hide from yourself?

On a good day, I wonder if my mental illness isn't just the compacting of my gender and existentialism.

I still have to live here. In this body. A body I too-often resent. Then it grows ill and I see it for what it is, infinitely complex and fragile. Precarious health. Absurd illnesses. Waking up to a paralyzed face. Eye patch and straws for weeks. Waking up to vertigo. A topsy-turvy wild-ride you can't ground. These illnesses of the head and brain. Your true center, unhinged and untethered and yet your only means of communication to this place and these people.

And how can you look to the future? What dignity is there in aging if the world falls apart? How can I live with dignity when it's torn from me, penance for my existence here and now. And when I chose to hold onto myself, when I make choices and attempt at living values I can stand, there is always a price. Goodness is its own reward. A reward you give yourself when nobody cares to look.

And if this world is as bleak as it seems to me, how do others bare it so wholly? How can your glass be half-full, when mine is vinegar in a children's cup?

Why does kindness make me cry? Seeing the goodness in men is something I've given up on an infinite amount, over an endless cycle. Masculine self-worship through the ages. Penis flags and ceremonies. How does a man reject generations of his kind? Why do I expect so little of men? The smallest of kindnesses seems a shucking of his ancestors. Maybe there's hope in him, he held the door open. Maybe he's a radical, he's being kind to the staff. He hints to tearing the system down, by wearing a pink shirt.

I can't seem to think of my body without thinking of those who have judged it so harshly. There was a time when it was new to me, my fatness. Always chubby, but never worryingly so.

Then it was too much. 

I remember walking across the busy city street when I noticed you. I yelled your name and waved excitedly. You mother gasped audibly and looked at my body in horror. She did not look at my face or address me. She looked only at my full body. I remember the look so vividly. Abject disgust. I was ignorant to it then, but it's seared into my mind.

I'd gained so much weight over such a short time.

I remember one night, courting sleep in my basement bedroom, wishing my mother and her friend would settle. They were on their second bottle of wine and were talking loudly. My mother spoke of my body. This new body nobody recognized or understood. It was too big. She couldn't defend it. She had no excuses for my body. She lowered her tone as she said it disgusted her. She said this with shame, hoping for absolution.

It wouldn't be hurtful if it was met with my own anger. But it isn't. My body has stretched outwards, away from myself and into spaces it isn't meant to occupy. Muscles and organs are taxed. Its integrity is compromised. It is not wanted by those I should be courting. It is not courted. It is too soft. Too large. Too heavy. It is the cause of, and answer to, all of my medical problems. No matter the question, no matter the doctor, I'm too fat.

I was never a delicate flower. Always tall. Always thick. Meant for labor and battle. Nordic Viking blood. Hearty settler bodies. Fat was rare. Fat was necessary.

For my frame to be feminine it takes deprivation. It takes sorcery. Body hair removal. Much of it. My hair is deeply rooted. Follicles sprout two or three hairs at a time, happy to keep me warm. My features seem toddler-like,broad faced, large grin, round features. My chest is large, heavy. My only feminine inheritance. Tits. Who cares. They're in the way. They're not perky. They've grown to accommodate my weight gain, obscene and too much. The need to be contained.

It can be difficult to think of my body in new ways. The paths have been set. My only experience with thinness was attained through anorexia and bulimia. That's what it took, for a thick body to be acceptably less thick.

What would it take to get there through acceptable means?

And if I stopped eating, what then? What if I lift weight and lose some weight. Will I be any happier? Will I resent the ways in which I have to manipulate my body in this world in order to feel less hideous? What of romantic love? What comfort is there in knowing your attraction to me is based on a body I've raged with, seemingly endlessly.

Will sex be more accessible to me, if my body fits into certain spaces? Will I trust an easier?

What if with every pound lost all I really gain is bitterness?

And if I'm able to find ways in which to alter my relationship with my body, will that be enough?

What if my thick body wants to be thick and round. What if getting out of my circle and spheres means disordered thinking?

Arguably, it's all disordered thinking. Calorie counting. Obsessive working out. Hard lines. These choices are for one goal, and that goal is acceptable and aesthetically aligned with what is wanted, so it's an acceptable harshness.

Bulimia and anorexia are not healthy. They are worrisome. But in the meantime, I looked good. My disorder was not outwardly visible. It is now. This fatness cannot be ignored.

I am not an easy going person, it seems. Oddly enough, my only true pleasure these days is sitting with a dog and talking to it in a ridiculously detailed way, narrating our situation. Unloading a grocery bag and explaining my purchases. This is a can of beans. This is cellery. These are mushrooms. Smell this cheese. This is garlic. Smell this box of crackers. Tail wag. Giggle.

How is it parts of me are so heavy and the other parts so light? I gravitate towards the ridiculous, no doubt because of the weight of my nihilism. Is that so obvious though, really? An appreciation for the silly and the absurd might be a desperation for levity. It could also just be the biological imperative to laugh at farts.

It always comes back to my body. I don't know how to move forward through mine. I don't know how to readdress myself.

I do not know how to think of my body in a healthy way.

As soon as I became aware of my body, it was through what was wrong with it.

And as soon as I starting craving attention through my body it was quick to be humiliated.

How can anyone want me and my body?

How can I move away from ingrained shame?

There are worst things than being called fat. And of all the terms I would use to describe myself today, many of them I am proud of. I've worked hard on certain parts of myself. But for whatever reason, the most obvious, daily realities of being fat will always be my main signifier. They're also the most painful. Unpacking it all is as difficult as weight-loss. Do I need to run, lift and reflect in order to shed a pound? Is everything linked? Do my guts know how I feel about my self as a sexual being? Does my metabolism slow everytime I wish I were dead? What if my fat cells stick to me in order to keep my warm, and comforted? Do they not know they're smothering me?

There are worse things than being fat, but it doesn't always feel that way.

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