Last night I dreamed about going to some sort of meeting. I don’t really remember what the meeting was about, just that there was a guy who seemed to be the leader who said several things that he’d already said in the email he sent out when he called the meeting. I was glad to be there; I felt I was with like-minded people and that we could perhaps accomplish something, though I don’t remember what.
What I do remember about this dream is catching sight of myself in a mirror and being taken aback by how fat I looked. I was wearing jeans and a pink-purple sweater, an outfit I’ve worn before, and I was sitting down, which is the worst way to see yourself when you’re obese. I didn’t look the way I look now. I wasn’t 179 pounds. I was probably 260.
I looked something like this:
It was really jarring…and yet really familiar. I recognized myself. I wasn’t happy, but I wasn’t horribly depressed. I had a sort of resigned acceptance, like, “Yeah, that’s me.”
The thing is…that’s not me. I don’t look like that. I look like this:
And there’s another weird thing. I can’t recall ever identifying as obese in my dreams before. In my dreams, I always just identified as me. I kind of assumed that my dream self embodied my ideal self.
Maybe my subconscious is confused now that my real body is transforming into something closer to my ideal body than to my obese body, so to keep the existing balance, it’s just flipping the roles. But I really don’t want to think of myself as obese when I’m not. (Technically, I’m still obese, but I won’t be forever.) I want to have a healthy understanding and acceptance of my body as it is. I don’t want to wish for an impossible ideal or long for my known, comforting blubber.
I’ve been thinking more about how I’ve used weight as a shield. I’ve used it as an excuse not to bother learning how to do hair and makeup, because why bother to try to look pretty when you’re fat? Only now when I want to look cute or beautiful, I don’t know how. I’ve used weight as a security blanket, irrationally believing that no one would want to rape me because being fat made me unattractive, and this is now leading me to irrationally believe that I’m turning myself into a target by losing weight. I’ve used my weight as a way to avoid fundamental questions I’ve been having as to what it means to be a woman–the fatter I was, the less feminine I felt. (The infertility contributed to that, too.) I’ve quietly used my weight as an excuse as to why I’m not a social butterfly, why I don’t get invited to parties, why people all around me seem to instantly forge connections while I struggle to make one good friend. That “people would like me if I was pretty” feeling defined my high school existence and sent ripples out into my adulthood, even though I knew the real reason was that I’m simply not an extrovert. I felt comfortable getting fatter and fatter because I could use it as an excuse as to why no one ever called or texted me.
Thankfully, in recent years I have begun to deal with that last problem, so I probably won’t be shocked when I become thin and the world doesn’t come rushing to my door. I have friends, good friends, relationships that I have worked to maintain. I may not be clubbing or partying or whatever, but that’s not who I am. I’m happiest when I’m learning, discussing, hearing someone’s story, appreciating beauty, exploring. And I’ve found friends who also love those things.
But that still leaves all the other things, and perhaps more issues I haven’t identified yet.
So, right now, I reject the idea that my obesity and infertility make me less of a woman. Hell, I reject the idea that womanhood can be so easily defined, and I reject the idea that it needs to be. I reject the idea that obesity defines me. I reject the idea that it’s too late for me to learn how to do hair and makeup–please! And I reject the idea that I can or should do anything to my body to make myself more or less appealing to a lowlife rapist.
I’ll press on, one foot in front of the other. I’ll keep writing when I need to. I’ll identify these mental demons when they rise up, and then I’ll knock them the hell down.