For the majority of my adult life I have found myself refraining from participating in many activities. I avoid most social events. I even manage to avoid family gatherings. It seems quite senseless; however, I am unable to make myself convinced of that.
When at the gym, I would avoid eye contact with other people at all costs. Going to places, like the fair or a theme park, can become an absolute nightmare. There is this continual fear of being “too big” to fit in the rides. Once, several years ago, I actually had a situation where the restraints on a ride did not fit me properly because of my size. I was horrified during the entire ride that was I was going to slip out of the ride. I could literally feel my own body siding back and forth due to the fact that the ill placed restraints did not have me secured as they should have. I was actually even small then than I am now, and at this point, I make any excuse I can think of to refrain from attending any such park. I absolutely cannot endure something like that again.
At work, I had friends. My fellow coworkers would invite me out to lunch with them. Also, often times, they would all make plans to go out after work and have dinner or go out for drinks. I was never blind to the fact that I was the largest person that worked in out department, and I would therefore, be “the fat one” at the table or out in the clubs. So, it just made more sense that I would politely decline their offers to join the gang for a fun outing. Luckily, I did live farther away from work than anyone else did and I had a substantially longer commute home, so that always made for an easy out, and provided me an unquestionable excuse when I constantly declined the invites.
Being in a relationship seems to be the worse. My husband truly loves me, of that I do not question or doubt. My problem is, I can never convince myself of why he does. I am older than him and feel most days like I weigh twice as much as him. He always has an uncanny knack for getting romantic and wanting to try out various things. You know, to “keep the spark alive.” However, I am so incredibly insecure about myself and have little to no confidence it is damn near impossible for me to be comfortable exposing much of myself to him. No matter how much I know that man loves me, my damn insecurities about myself keep this wall up between us that only causes more turbulence than I can describe. When I feel insecure and reserved with him that way, it, in turn, causes him to feel insecure in our relationship. He begins to question the validity of my attraction to him and begins to convince himself that I am not comfortable around him intimately, because I am not attracted to him. It really is a vicious cycle and hurts everyone.
Going clothes shopping can be one of the greatest nightmares imaginable. I tend to avoid going shopping if at all possible. When I do go, I generally refuse to use the dressing rooms. I cannot really explain it, but I have the crazy idea that if I try on clothes in the store and they do not fit, I will become depressed and leave with nothing. I cannot say that it entirely an idea. I have in the past taken my stash of carefully picked out items to a dressing room, only to try on the items before me in absolute horror, as not a single thing in the pile would fit. Or if they did, it would be a mere one or two pieces. It is devastating. Therefore, I tend to prefer facing that fear and wallowing in my self disgust alone at home. I have also, so many times, picked out clothing in a store in the sizes that I was convinced I would need, only to get home and realize that I was too generous in my thinking. Nothing will damage your pride more than allowing yourself a size, or even two, bigger than the last time you bought clothing, only to realize even the larger sizes are not large enough.
Fun family outings can turn into a nightmare when faced with being that size. There is a constant fear of having to be squeezed into a carnival ride, or worse, that the security bar/belts will not fit around you and you are shamefully escorted off of the ride. Even while eating a salad, the very idea of eating in a public place will send you into a near-panic attack. I once was eating a granola bar as I drove from work to school, knowing that I did not have time between the two to stop for any type of semblance of a meal. While stopped at a red light, a man in the car in the lane next to me looked over. I was overcome with shame. It was a simple granola bar, it is not like it was a foot-long hot dog or anything, and it had been the only thing I had eaten in well over six hours. Yet, the very idea of someone seeing me eat, when I was already so overweight was nothing short of mortifying.
Society’s tendency to “fat-shame” can place an unnecessary amount of stress on someone who is already battling internal demons of mammoth proportion. There are times when those fears may be legitimate, as in, there may be situations whereby you are unable to ride certain rides at the fair. But, more often than not, the majority of those fears are irrational, and bear no legitimacy. The person in the car next to you at the stop light, may in fact look over at you as you are eating your granola bar. However, that in no way means that he finds the whole idea of you eating as disgusting. He could simply be looking around to try and find a pretty lady to smile at. Or perhaps, he is searching the faces of other drivers to see if anyone looks as miserable about commuting in traffic as he does. Perhaps, even, he has had a very bad day, and is just hoping to find one person to smile at him and make his day seem just a little bit better. When you go out to eat with your family and friends, most of the people inside the restaurant are too busy with their own friends and family to be worrying about watching you eat.
Yes, fat-shaming is real. And, there are instances in which someone will gawk at a heavier person and make fun of them or make cynical comments toward their eating habits. And most definitely, being one hundred pounds overweight at the gym can be an incredibly awkward and embarrassing experience. Yet, those are not always the norm, but as the heavier person, we tend to let out minds always draw from the worst case scenario and whether people look at us condescendingly, with disgust, or simply just glance up at a fellow person walking by them, we draw from those fears of what others think and in our own minds, we assume what we believe they are thinking about us. It is a dirty trick that our minds play on us.