I’m squeezed into 1A here on a JetBlue flight Orlando-bound to visit with my daughter’s family for a few days. I hit another milestone today. I was able to get into this seat and fasten the seatbelt. Something so simple that millions of travelers do every day was not available to me. I used to bring a seat belt extender on all my flights. Once in my seat, I would discreetly snap it together before the seats filled up around me. I always tried to make sure I was one of the first in my section to board for this reason. Everyone dislikes overweight seat partners. I know this.
As I have been sitting here, I was thumbing through Texas Monthly and noticed something else. I’ve been paying particular attention to fashion, jewelry, and hairstyles. Now, I secretly think Pinterest is to blame for my sudden interest in all things girlish, but it did catch me by surprise. Now that I’m on a path toward losing my weight, I’m feeling the powerful magnet pull of my inner femininity. This is something very different and very welcome.
Thinking of how life is changing for me, reverting me back to my youthful image-conscious self, I started contemplating why I allowed myself to stay obese. As I’ve explained before, a pharmaceutical drug put a hundred pounds on me very quickly in the 90s. It was around the time I met my ex-husband (1995) that I was really beginning to put on the pounds. He didn’t care about my weight and was always very complimentary about my looks, so I didn’t really care about the weight gain as we wound into our ten-year marriage.
But there was more to it than the malaise that sometimes comes with marriage. For me, the weight was protection. The layers insulated me from physical abuse in my subconscious mind – abuse from my past that I’ve begun to discuss on my personal blog. I know it sounds weird, but I’ve been aware of this for a long while. It’s as if I couldn’t be bruised or broken if I were, well, larger. Further, after my marriage ended, the extra weight served as “male repellent.” I tried dating and had lost some weight right around the time of my divorce, but I was still in love with my ex-husband and was unable to seriously consider a new relationship. A decision I regret, but it was an unavoidable consequence resulting from the disintegration of our family. After that initial stint, I was not interested in dating at all. Obesity is the best way I know to not attract a new partner. I regained those pounds and more, leading up to tipping the scales at 300 at the end of last year. This was the wake-up call I needed. I realized I was limiting my own happiness and decided to shed the toxicity that surrounded me – body and soul.
This post is more serious than my usual posts on this blog, but I have wanted to convey that there are complex psychological reasons why individuals stay obese. Each individual has to deal with his or her own personal demons and should exist in a judgment-free zone. I will always support an individual’s free choice to reject the societal pressure to conform to a commercial ideal of beauty. For me, losing my weight is going to afford me the chance to live again. Rather than dying slowly from the outside in, suffocating under the weight of my own insecurity and mental battle scars.