Dear person who walked by me today at the outdoor mall…while I was killing time with my kids before we went to see Captain Underpants,
I wonder what it was you noticed first?
The mole on my face?
Or was it how my fat rolls/skin hangs down low in my front now that I’ve lost a big chunk of weight? I jokingly call it my front-butt, but I am FULLY aware that it’s the first thing people see when they look at me.
Were you offended that I had the audacity to be wearing leggings?
I saw you look me up and down and lean in to whisper something to your girlfriend as we passed each other. Out of decades of practice, I quietly stopped, turned around and waited for a moment. Sure enough, she turned around to “see” whatever it was you must’ve pointed out about my appearance that was too good to miss, but she locked eyes with me instead. She was so startled when she saw me waiting to catch her in the act, she didn’t even try to casually turn around. She knew she was busted, and picked up the pace to get away from me.
It’s my favorite thing to do now. Stop and stare you right back in the face.
I turned and kept walking.
Watching my two kids just steps ahead of me, trying to balance on the edge of the planters, being normal kids. Excited to be on an outing. Un-phased that any kind of micro-bummer-social-event had ever happened.
I let the sting of it, roll over me and dissipate into the air like a vapor…as I’ve learned to do.
But it happens. It happens constantly.
ALL. THE. TIME.
Anyone who is overweight KNOWS that this is real. These tiny social stabs that happen constantly out in public. The exact REASON we are terrified to join gyms…let alone be vulnerable enough to move around and excercise in front of anyone!!
Despite loved ones insisting we are just paranoid, and no one is looking or whispering about you…they are.
Dear guy about 30 minutes later, who tried to push his friend “Anthony” over a stair railing to bump into me “accidentally”.
You were laughing and yelling, “this is Anthony! He’s single, can he have your number?” as I was playfully racing my kids, who had challenged me to run up to the top of the stairs.
“Anthony” scrambled to maneuver away from me as quickly as possible, obviously uncomfortable and embarrassed at his friends “light hearted joke”. He just looked at me sheepishly and said,” I’m so sorry!”
This is actually a pretty common move with groups of dudes when I’m out in public without my husband, so sadly I’m used to ignoring it. I actually ended up feeling bad for Anthony, who had the balls to face me and apologize, so I just nodded and kept running up the stairs to meet my babies who had already beaten me up there.
“We beat you mom!!” they laughed triumphantly, while I stopped to catch my breath. “DANG IT!!” I yelled as I smiled big and high fived them both. They didn’t see what happened, they were just having fun with their mom who can actually DO stuff like that with them now.
But you and Anthony don’t know that.
You don’t know who I am, or how far I’ve come.
You have no concept of my accomplishments.
You have zero understanding of my ability or power.
My FORCE FEILD of genuine confidence that I HAVE EARNED.
It protects me. It tells the TRUTH of who I really am. I wear it like a belt.
You have no clue that you cannot hurt me anymore with your judgments.
You see, I have earned this loose, jiggly skin.
I have earned the right to wear leggings!
I no longer freeze up with social anxiety, and try to make myself as invisible as humanly possible, to somehow take away the pain and shame of merely existing.
You have NO IDEA that my heart beats LOUDLY with pride and passion for this new life that I get to live!
Today, I want to THANK YOU.
Thank you, man with nervous girlfriend and random guy with Anthony…
Thank you for reminding me (again!) what it feels like to be/look different in this culture we have. May I NEVER forget the sting of it…and forget how scary and intimidating it can feel to try and step out into a world that will not easily allow you to love yourself.
May I allow this feeling of strength inside me to ROAR greater than the snickers and whispers of idiots, so that I can continue to “blaze the trail” ahead of me so that others like me, can follow and find their superpowers too.
When I hear the term ‘blaze a trail’ I tend to imagine someone forging ahead with a torch of burning fire and vigor, leaving a smoldering trail in their wake, which is AWESOME and gets me FIRED UP.
However, I learned that is actually not what the original term meant when it was first “coined”.
“A blaze is a notch or mark, like the blaze marks seen on horses’ faces. So, ‘to blaze a trail’ was to mark it out by notching trees so that others could follow. Trees are also often marked this way to single them out for felling. The use of blaze to mean the chipping off of a small piece of bark to mark a path or boundary is American in origin.” -The Phrase Finder
Which means that while it does seem WAY more fun and valiant to talk of torches and smoldering fire blazes, super powers and epic force fields…the reality is that each time this happens, and it feels like someone has just come by and taken a chunk or chip from the bark of my heart, it is not in vain.
I have been marked.
But it WILL mark a path for others to follow.
That pain used to derail me for weeks…shake my confidence, send me into eating binges and spirals of self-doubt.
But not anymore.
That pain is not wasted.
That pain paves a way to the possibility that you can overcome ANYTHING.
Please do NOT let the fear of pain or shame keep you from discovering who you truly are!!!
People HAVE NO IDEA.
YOU will have no idea, unless you push through and find out.
I didn’t. I’m still finding out every damn day.
And to think I actually wanted to go see Wonder Woman instead of Captain Underpants?! I don’t think I need to. ??
You are the most AWESOME Woman I know!!! I can only pray that some day I will have your courage to tackle what scares me, paralyzes me and keeps me stuck! I love your heart, your ability to put it in writing for all the world to see. You are the best example of what a Woman, a Wife and most importantly a Mother should be. You have more power and substance than most Woman will ever know. I am so awed by your perseverance and so proud to have you as my cousin. I love you Girl ?
Tammie! Thank you so much. That really means so much to me. ?????
Oh Mandi..this makes me so sad, yet so proud to see your strength and resolve. Yes, continue to roar and be strong, and be proud that you can challenge those stairs with your kids. Someday you may even beat them (or at least come closer)!!
Thank you Sandy!! I definitely didn’t want anyone to feel sad. I’ve actually refrained from writing about this before because of that. I know that so many people have it WAY worse than me and are treated far worse for the color of their skin or sexual orientation…so my experiences are mild in comparison. But is does happen more than I care to admit…and I KNOW it happens to other people who struggle with being overweight, and it has the power to break you if you let it. I’m so grateful to be in a place where it doesn’t do that to me anymore!
I started following your blog a while back when Amber shared it. Since then, I have seen you at the free Saturday sessions and follow you on Facebook, and let me tell you, what an inspiration you are! Your personality, spirit, love, and dedication are all on FIRE! You are truly an amazing person who touches the lives of so many others. It is an honor to witness someone so pure and strong, especially being able to impact others in such a positive way. We need more people like you, you rock girl!!!
Awwww!! Wow! ?Thank you so much Sheylah!!! It’s easy for me to get excited when I get to hang around Brandon and Amber all the time ?…thank you!!
Once again i find myself wanting to start my journey to emotional freedom from this weight on my body. Like you have so eliquantly said this weight on my spiritt my heart and my soul crushes motivation. I will conquer this demon.
It’s not even the weight we must conquer, it’s the belief that we are worthless because of it. Our bodies will reflect what we believe about ourselves…I keep fighting to remember to show love for this body, as it is now, with all its flaws and limitations… for pushing me through my days…instead of hating it and creating more struggle for myself instead of freedom. We’ve got this!!! Our bodies are AWESOME!! They carry us through our life despite how we’ve treated them…miraculous.
To know you is to love you! People like that are empty insecure weirdos that are lost. Don’t give them a second thought! You are a gifted person who has many talents and someone we all admire! They can F OFF! ?????
I just want to tell you how much your post resonated with me. I, too, have lost a significant amount of weight (150+ lbs) and in the process uncovered a different shape to my body than I started with. But this struggle, this journey, this victory has brought me a whole new life worth living. A life worth loose skin and stretch marks. Worth snide taunts and finger pointing. Worth the tears that sometimes come as a result of people’s cruelty. I, too, am strong, but sometimes it gets exhausting.
Today I celebrate you and your strength.
Way to go, girl!
Wow. This is really amazing to me. I appreciate you reaching out SO MUCH!! This is exactly why I keep putting myself out there and sharing my journey. There is such much healing and power when we realize we aren’t alone! THANK YOU!