300 pounds is hard to hide. No matter where you go, you are taking up more space than you should. People notice severely obese people. We just can’t help it. Even when I weighed over 275 pounds, I noticed other overweight people, secretly comparing my size to theirs. Was my arm that big? Did I sway back and forth when I walked? What about my neck? “Surely,” I would think, “My hips aren’t as big as hers.”
Was I judging them? I don’t think I was. Rather, I really was trying to gauge exactly how large I was. I found it very difficult to reconcile my previous size with my current size. I just couldn’t visualize what I looked like to other people.
Walking around the mall gave me the opportunity to play a little game with John. He didn’t know he was playing a game – or maybe he did and never let on. From time to time, I would point out an overweight person in the mall and ask John, “Do you think I’m as big as they are?” He’d look where I was pointing, and say, “Oh, no. Not that big.” I’d be happy for a while, because that person was definitely huge, but then the self-doubt would creep in again. ”What about that person?” I’d say. Again, he’d reassure me that I wasn’t nearly as big as that person either. Every time he reassured me that I wasn’t that large, it temporarily made me feel better. Maybe I wasn’t as big as I thought I was. (Remember, at my worst, I was larger than a size 28.) However, one day I got a perspective that made me wish I had never wondered how I looked to other people.
One day, my perception of myself, got a big fat dose of reality. We were living in Florida at the time, and decided it was time to declutter and clean things up. We gathered together all of our old clothes, shoes, outgrown toys, and unused items and organized them in the garage in preparation for a garage sale. The appointed Saturday rolled around, and people showed up to turn our junk into their treasure. Sales were brisk, and John and I were pleased with how much stuff was going away.
About midway through the morning, a car pulled up and parked on the side of the road by our house. Exiting the car was a very obese woman, accompanied by some friends or family members. They walked up the driveway; we greeted them, and then sat down in our chairs to chat while they looked around.
The large woman had a few things in her hands and walked over to me. She said, “Do you have any of your clothes for sale?”
I looked at her and said, “Excuse me?” She repeated her question, and I said, “No, I’m not selling my clothes today.” She paid for her items and left.
I whipped my head around to my husband and whispered, “Am I as big as that woman leaving?” He looked at her, looked at me and said, “I don’t know.” I said again, “AM I?” He said, “Well, I guess so.” Crushed. I was crushed.
For years I had been trying desperately to see one thing in the mirror, whereas the rest of the world was seeing a huge, large, obese woman. How in the world could I be as big as that woman? I watched her go to her car, gingerly lower herself into the driver’s seat, struggle to reach over and shut the door and leave. And then I knew. She got into her car the same way I did mine, struggling to maneuver herself in.
I was her.
From that day on I never asked John if I was as big as someone else, because I knew the answer. Year after year I thought about that garage sale day, and year after year I kept gaining weight, wishing something magical would happen.
Have you ever had a dose of reality that you wished hadn’t happen? Diane