Thursday, February 16, 2012

For a Minute, I Felt Normal

As a person who has been at both over and normal weights during my adult years, I know the struggle that takes place between the reality of what I actually look like and my brain's perception.  It's not only something that happens as I lose weight but also as I gain.  Even as my pants are getting tighter, it often takes my brain a while to catch up. In other words, no matter the reality, I have a hard time perceiving it for a while, whether going up or down. I'm fully aware of this but I'm not sure there is anything to be done about it except to wait it out and let the brain catch up.

When my mind is in "heavy" mode and I have to be present at events and in situations where there's a chance others may scrutinize me, my usual silent form of self defense is to quickly scan the room to make sure I'm not the heaviest one there.  Hopefully there is at least one other silent sufferer - and hopefully they are heavier than me.  At least then there is a chance that any scrutiny will land on them. At it's worst I am the heaviest and the room is full of beautiful people.  All I can do then is stand silently in a corner so that no attention is brought to my person.

In the ups and downs of my weight, especially over the last 10 years or so, I've also realized that it's rare that I'll even leave my house unless fully done up:  hair, makeup, nails, jewelry. I can't even say that it's tiring to be this way as I've done it for so many years it's automatic, although I know it's probably wearing on others who are waiting for me to get ready or watching my self-criticism.

Last Friday after we laid Mr. Helen's Aunt Gloria to rest, the immediate family gathered at her son's house. At this gathering I got to meet some of Mr. Helen's relatives who don't live in this area - fun to hear stories of their growing up years.

During the course of the afternoon I floated around from room to room at the house speaking with various friends and relatives. At one point I was leaning up against the kitchen sink and a young woman came over and started chatting with me.  It wasn't long before another cousin joined and then another and as women tend to do we went from topic to topic as we chatted.  I'm not sure exactly how we got on the subject of exercise (maybe due to the fact that we were in the kitchen where all the food was) but the next thing I knew I was talking about Muay Thai and running and finding out that one of the cousins likes to do sprint triathlons.  She then went on to explain that over the last 18 months she's lost 100 pounds and went from barely walking around the block to doing 3 sprint triathlons last summer.  I told her how much I admire people who tackle that event as I can't swim worth a darn.  Then she looked at me and said, "It's funny how you admire my triathlons and I would love to be able to run distance.  The thought of running more than 3-4 miles just does not compute in this former fat girl's head.  You probably don't understand that at all do you?"

My immediate reaction was "Oh of course I understand that, I can't swim."  but then when I saw the confused look on her face and the faces of those in the circle, suddenly a light bulb went on and I understood she wasn't talking about my lack of swimming skills, she was referring to my size.  I realized the women standing there saw me as a normal weight person.  Normal size.  Normal weight.  Normal.  Not fat.  Not chubby. Not formerly fat. Not someone who needs to lose a little bit more.  Normal. N-O-R-M-A-L.

Perhaps even better was the second realization that came a bit later as we were saying our goodbyes.   I realized I had gone to this gathering and not one single time had I thought about my weight or looked to see if there was anyone at all heavier than me or thinner and prettier.

In other words, I felt normal.  It was an amazing feeling.

22 comments:

  1. I can honestly say I haven't ever – even at my thinnest – felt normal. And, like the self-fulfilling prophecy it is, when my head feels fat my body eventually catches up. Heading down again ... hopefully for the last time.

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  2. Its is amazing how we can move about life and feel "normal" for a moment, but if we're not on constant watch, that negative perception of ourselves just creeps out. It can so easily just take over the moment we're feeling comfortable. I can totally relate.

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  3. Beautiful post Helen, I have nothing more to add except that I'm happy for you that you left with such an amazing feeling!

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  4. I was normal weight until 6 yrs ago. I went from healthy to obese to healthy. I have had trouble feeling normal since the weight gain/loss. I feel like I've been obsessed with food for over 6 yrs. I'm glad to see it's possible to get back to normal.

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  5. That's a great story. I'm afraid I play the "hope there's someone bigger than I am in the room" game way too often.

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  6. This is great, Helen. Oh to be normal! And you totally are. How nice to recognize and own it, if only for a moment.

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  7. Wonderful story, one of enlightenment (literally!) and perception. So very cool to realize that others see you as a normal-sized person...I know exactly where you are coming from with this.

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  8. Helen that is a wonderful story! I am like you that I won't leave the house without my makeup and hair just right! I always look around to see if I am the only heavy lady in the room at a gathering. I am so self conscious of my appearance and weight.

    This story made me so happy for you! You are a normal size lady!

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  9. Wow! What a "light bulb moment.". I identify with that make up aspect, also. You are looking fabulous, so enjoy it. It is who you are.

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  10. Well now I'll have to pay attention to myself. Honestly, at my heaviest, where I stayed consistently for so many years, I don't remember ever looking around to see if there was someone heavier. Probably because there just wasn't. I don't think I do it now either. Maybe because of the 'social circle' I run around with--church ladies and quilters. But I do get that 'being in a group and realizing that none of them know I was formerly morbidly obese.' Kinda cool.

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  11. Love it. What a wonderful feeling. I can't wait to experience it.

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  12. Awesome when it doesn't even cross your mind.... rare moments.... but awesome!

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  13. LOVE this Helen!!!!! Must have felt great. Hope you have a wonderful Thursday.

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  14. Lovely story.. My criteria for leaving the house is pants, shirt, wallet, phone and keys.. oh and some little people.

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  15. Oh Helen, I LOVE this post. You must have felt great. I wish we all could feel like this. Thank you for this post. Have a beautiful day.

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  16. When I feel "normal" in my heart & in my confidence, I shine! I talk to folks and don't mind being around folks. Yes, normal is where i want to live! Thumbs Up!

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  17. This post just made me smile for EAR TO EAR! You continue to inspire me - one of these days I'll become a distance runner, and I'll you to thank for it.

    YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!!

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  18. oh helen..I am crying. I know just what that feels like. to have people look at you and think "she can't possibly understand what it means to be fat." And doesn't it feel great...you mesh! I still remember with delight the time the instructor said...well, we will pick the smallest person in the room...Christina....and I am looking around for Christina...and it's ME. I was NEVER the smallest person in the room...in my head I still wasn't. lol. I used to scan the room for bigger women too....maybe it's just a woman thing?

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  19. So awesome! I have had that happen with people who didn't know I was ever overweight. It was like being allowed in a secret society that I didn't know existed.

    I do still struggle with this constantly. Sometimes I feel normal, sometimes I still feel huge. It's so bizarre.

    Go ahead and revel in the normalcy!

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  20. you articulate so beautifully what so so many many of us feel and have felt.

    xo

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  21. Yep...echoing everyone else. BTDT and it's surreal, isn't it? Soak it in, girlfriend. And thank you.

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  22. Awesome post. Here's to "normal". It's been a long time since I saw myself as normal. I wish I was currently as fat as I thought I was in high school. lol.

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