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.
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. ??