June 29, 2015
Ugh! Hunmphhh! – It is the unmistakable sound of a woman trying to pull something too tight over her abdomen.
In the past it has been caused by skinny jeans, bridesmaid dresses, and the Spanx and corset combo I’ve worn on every special occasion for the last ten years. This time the sound is caused by a swimsuit with tummy control mesh.
I suck in my breath and wiggle my hips while heaving upward. I gain an inch. Adjusting my grip, I try again. My husband knocks at the bedroom door, “everything okay in there?”
I have no air to answer him. “No!” I finally expel, breathless and sweating. “Don’t come in!” I shriek.
After an eternity, it’s finally on. I don’t know why I’ve chosen the most humid day of the year to do this. My skin feels like Velcro. The hair that is not standing on end, is plastered damply to my cheek and neck. I move in front of the full length mirror. I prepare for the worst.
I’m pleasantly surprised. My thighs no longer touch all the way to my knees, and my waist nips in now. I can see light through the gap it creates between my abdomen and arms.
“Can I see?” he asks through the door, interrupting my study.
“Not yet,” I say. I’m not ready.
I turn to check out my bum, and catch a glimpse of my profile. There is it. All the fat. Somehow I’d missed it from the front. Maybe it was the miracle mesh, maybe the disguising black spandex, or maybe my emerging collarbones had allowed me to momentarily forget. I should have known it was there. It is always there. I couldn’t fool myself for long.
My weight has been my weakness my entire life. No matter what I’ve done, I can’t escape it. Diet, exercise, measures subtle and extreme, control over my weight has never been mine. I’m relatively bright, I think, mostly capable at lots of things. But the one I couldn’t get right, was the one thing that’s been ruining my life.
Until now. In the last year I‘ve lost 85lbs, a third of my body weight. I’ve worked really hard, learning to exercise, learning to eat right and control my portions. I’m really proud of what I’ve accomplished, but, I still feel fat.
Before you start calculating what I weigh now, and you add in my shortness of stature, I’ll tell you straight – I’m still overweight. I still have a distance to go, I’ve not yet won the battle. On a good day I would argue that I’m no longer fat/fat, obese, or huge, but rather Mom chubby, but it doesn’t really matter. Frankly, it doesn’t matter what you think.
The problem is, it doesn’t matter how much weight I lose, I’ll still feel fat. I’ve lost, I’ve gained, I’ve always felt the same. I could be skin and bones, I’ll still feel fat.
I’ll always be fat.
My whole life has changed. I feel better. I’m not tired. I can run. I have energy. People treat me differently. I know in my head that I’m different, but not in my heart.
I still feel fat.
Fatness has chased me through every peak and valley of my life. From second grade when I discovered I was fat, when the teacher weighed all of us and I was second heaviest in the entire class. To at thirteen when I rounded a corner at school and came upon my first boyfriend and his best friend. Their backs were to me. I was unseen and eavesdropped. The friend said to the boyfriend, “Meagan seems pretty cool. It’s too bad she’s so fat.” To my high school graduation when I didn’t want my parents to purchase any pictures because I looked too fat. To my wedding when I starved myself for eight months to lose enough to not be a “fat bride” only to put it all back on in a matter of months. My new husband coming to me, red faced with embarrassment, feeling the need to point out to me the expansion of my waistline. To my first pregnancy when my OB/GYN took it upon herself to ruin the occasion of my first sonogram with a lecture about how terribly fat I was.
Every brilliant moment, every accomplishment has been shaded by the fact that I felt fat. Every stumble, every loss has been magnified by feeling fat.
I tell you this because I think that the problem is less about being fat, and more about feeling like a failure. You see, being unable to control my weight is my biggest failure. When I look at myself in the mirror, I don’t see the body that bore two healthy children. I don’t see the determination that earned me two degrees. I don’t see the arms that tuck my babies into bed, or the lips that kiss my husband. I don’t see the legs that can run for miles or the heart that keeps me doing it even when all I want to do is quit.
I see fat.
I think when you look in the mirror you might see fat too. For you, the fat might be something else. It might be not finishing high school or dropping out of college, it might be the one that got away. It might be infertility, divorce, mounting credit card debt, or giving up on your dream. Whatever your perceived failure is, when you look in the mirror, it stares you in the face. It ruins your ability to see yourself for what you really are.
I see it all around me, wonderful, successful people who can’t move past the lowest part of their lives. Juvenile delinquency, abortion, words said in haste, bankruptcy, infidelity, fear. It doesn’t matter what it is, it isn’t you.
No matter what I did. I still felt fat. I was still a failure. Until I learned this:
Your mistakes don’t define you.
A moment of weakness, or two, or ten, aren’t who you are. It is what you do with what you’ve learned that defines you.
I was fat. My family and friends will remember that. My enemies will cling to it. But from this moment forward I am not. I will not let past failure become who I am. I will not let the lens of failure shadow my future success.
I’m standing in front of the mirror. Unconsciously, I’m holding in my stomach. I can’t take my eyes off the dimples in my thighs, or the silver streaks on my breasts and underarms. I fight the urge to rip off the suit, put on my pj’s and bury myself in my bed. Instead, I open the door and walk down the hall. I can feel the heat of my thighs rubbing.
He’s lounging on the couch. He looks up and his eyes widen. A smirk quirks his lower lip.
“Well?” I ask, afraid.
In my mind I’m thirteen, my cheeks are hot and my hands are damp.
“Oh! I like!” he says grinning. “But I thought you were getting a bikini?”
Meagan @ www.meaganlucas.com
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