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from The Dodo

What do I get out of being fat? I must get something, otherwise I would work harder, sacrifice more.

Being fat, for me, is hard work. I do my best not to walk like a fat woman, I dont rub my knees, at least not near my husband or parents. I smile when I want to howl and scream. And I take all the helpful, helpful, “Take care of your health!” hysterical care and stuff it deep inside. I take everyone’s kind advice, and stuff it deeper inside. Maybe, I think, later at night, after my husband would be asleep, I could pour some heavy cream on top of all the stuff I’ve stuffed inside. Because, honestly, what the fuck can I do or say?

I have limited options here, people. To lose the weight, I have to get my poop in a group, my shit together. To do that, I need to know, exactly, what my shit is. So, once again, with feeling — what do I get out of being fat?

For one thing, I can eat everything. As an only child, I hate to deny myself, since I so rarely did in childhood. So, I don’t. I eat what I want, and sometimes I want junk, fast junk. Or butter. Or bread. But like a true obese person, I don’t have an off switch — I eat and I eat, but then, when normal-weight people stop, I eat some more. It doesn’t have anything to do with hunger pangs. I am simply not able to stop.

It is a feeling that’s impossible to describe to anyone who hasn’t felt it — to normal-weight people. It’s a bit like having a wakeful out-of-body experience. You are watching yourself, but you are helpless to do anything. You watch yourself eat, and eat and keep on eating. But you can’t stop yourself, you’re helpless, remember? Inside your own head, there is some screaming, but it’s in Swahili, and you don’t know Swahili. It’s a form of madness, and a part of you knows that. But when you’re in that moment, you are purely on auto-loop, and your lizard brain is in charge. And the lizard brain needs you to feed, so you can survive until the next hunt, the next meal, and be warmed by your body fat.

I have never, not once, craved salad. My husband does, as does our daughter — from time to time they crave crisp, green, fresh things. I have never experienced such cravings, and I am jealous of them.

I’m unclear how feelings are supposed to help. I’ve felt my feelings, I’ve felt pain, emotional and physical, I’ve felt grief and anger, depression and elation. But, and this really burns my heart — I eat my feelings as well as feel them — food doesn’t numb me, but other than an occasional foray into weed (that gives me munchies from hell) I’ve never self-medicated with drugs or booze or self-harm.

I am also out of shape. I am aware that you can be fit at any size, but I haven’t been this out of shape my entire life. Never a skinny child, I was fairly active, and never fat. When I was about 18 years old, I studied Tae Kwon Do for several years. I could run, I had a flat stomach and I was in the best shape of my life. But I’m in my 50s now, and more than being skinny, I want to be fit, to be in shape, to walk up and down stairs with a semblance of grace, to be able to walk into any store and walk out with a sweater — not plus size, not man’s, but a woman’s sweater — in sizes most stores carry.

I knew I had a problem when I started dreaming of myself in my actual size and not in the size I used to be. I could no longer lie to myself.

Let me be perfectly clear — I do not WANT to be fat. I am yet to meet a person who chose that. This wasn’t something I planned — like waking up one day and deciding to become fat and out of shape. But here I am, at square one, at the beginning of a battle, should I choose it. And I do — I want to, I need to choose life, a healthy life, over whatever this is.

I’ve started going back to the Y this week, to supplement my twice-weekly walks with a friend. Considering that I have nowhere to go but to get stronger, this is the first step — the first of many steps on my path to better health.

And I know that this is my battle, not my mother’s, as much as she wishes she could do the painful hard parts instead of me. Not my husband’s, who never pushes, but wants me to be healthy and suffers silently because he can’t do anything himself to help me. This is my dragon to slay — a dragon of my own making, no less.

In other words — leave me alone! I got myself into this mess, I’ll get myself out of it. But do wish me luck.

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