Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Don't encourage me

Taco and I were lying around discussing the Internet, when I mentioned that I wanted to write a post about people who are kind of encouraging in a way, but then mostly they’re annoying.

Taco hesitated for a moment, and then he said, "I think that’s a really unhealthy thought.”

We were a little high, but trust me, it was hilarious.

But in fact, it’s not unhealthy. It’s not that I find encouragement annoying. Far from it. As a matter of fact, I had found great encouragement just hours before, in the gym when I looked in the mirror and recognised that my body has changed subtly and for the better after several weeks of pilates and yoga. I was encouraged when Taco sat with me for an hour after supper and helped me input all the ingredients for said amazing supper into Weight Loss Resources so that I could do the tally for the day. It was terrifically encouraging to answer Taco’s questions, and show him what I’m dealing with.

What I find less encouraging, though?

The other night, we were out and we ran into a mutual acquaintance. Said acquaintance happens to frequent the same gym I do. He is a super nice guy, but he’s…well, he’s very fit. He’s always been very fit. And he said to me, "It’s so good to see you at the gym. You’re really doing great. I think it’s so great that you’re going.”

Oh boy am I churlish. When I type it out, it looks…nothing but encouraging. But you know…I know you know how so often it can feel patronising, not encouraging.

Good for you, fat girl. Good for you for going to the gym. I always hear the subtext…what took you so long?

Actually, this kind of remark used to confuse me desperately. Back when I thought that since no one ever really treated me like I was fat, I must not be. Hee hee, those were funny times. The joke was on me, man. Anyhow. I remember doing a 21-day yoga sadhana in Winnipeg. Near the end of the 21 days, this woman from class said to me, "I’ve been meaning to tell you how glad I am that you’re doing the sadhana. I just think it’s so great. And you have really nice energy in your poses."

Truth be told, I kind of thought she had a crush on me. Maybe two hours later, I figured it out and I was mortified.

She’d singled me out to tell me she was so glad to see me exercising, and she didn’t even KNOW ME. It was so…strange and hot-face-making. I’m sure every person in that class had an excellent reason for taking the sadhana—they’re kind of intense, actually, you don’t do them without some good reason. But I was the only one she spoke to like that. Because my reason—or what she thought was my reason—was visible, she felt within her right to point it out. It feels like such an invasion, it does.

I don’t know if this is reasonable, or if it’s part of my left-over indignation at any notice anyone takes of my shape. I just realised that it wasn’t just everyone else who pretended I wasn’t fat. It was me, it started with me.

In some ways, I realise this is the way the world should be. It sounds like a Free To Be, You and Me kind of philosophy: you know, it’s what’s inside that counts, and all that.

Instead, what it did, what I did, was ignore my body to the point of making myself sick. And I silently, somehow, persuaded almost everyone I came in contact with to do the same thing. To never mention my body in any way that singled it out. To never acknowledge what was frankly impossible to ignore. My size.

Talk about the elephant in the room no one talks about. I mean that as kindly to myself as possible; it’s an unfortunate, but irresistable pun.

I’m not sure what the intelligence is here. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to take away from this realisation. I thought this post was going one way, and here it is veering off in totally another.

I guess the intelligence is this: it’s time to really pay attention to this body. It’s time to be accountable to it. It’s time to realise that indeed, I am my body, and my body is me. I’ve spent more than three decades living almost exclusively in my head. And it’s been a lovely place to live, really. But I know there’s more to life than what’s in there. I know there’s a whole world, a world of fresh cut grass, and learning to canoe, and sharing the couch with Taco, and fixing the house and being in love and cooking amazing food and becoming a runner and a million frillion other experiences. And I know I’m going to need to really live in my body, before I can really live in the world.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow, that was an intense entry
and you're right, I never thought of it like that... everyone has a reason to excercise or meditate or whatever, and could be paternalistic in the grossest way for someone to say "i'm so glad you're here"
the truth is though dude, you are doing great, and you ought to be gd proud
s

12:31 PM  
Blogger Melanie said...

I love this entry! I love it. It's wonderful. You should be incredibly proud of yourself for realizing and saying these things OUT LOUD. Brava!

4:10 AM  

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