So, yesterday was therapy day. Yes, I go to therapy.
And before you say something, I did actually go to therapy WHILE I was in the relationship with the ex. You’d think that a psychologist would see the signs of abuse, but let me remind you of something: therapists are human too!!
Given that yes, therapists are human, and that abused people are fairly well gifted at hiding the fact that they are abused – sometimes even from themselves – I can’t blame or fault ANY of the therapists or other medical practitioners for not seeing the signs that I was being emotionally or mentally abused. Hell, if I could hide it from my blood relations, some professional isn’t going to have an easy job of figuring it out either – especially if I am stringently denying I was being abused. If I fooled myself long enough, how could anyone that is NOT me actually see it unless they were in the exact same situation with the exact same people. Hell, one of the ex-wives repeatedly said my ex was abusing her, and I spent a hell of a lot of time telling her she wasn’t being abused. Of course, he hid the worst of what he did to any of us away from the other two wives, because…..to be bluntly honest, it was the ONLY way he could continue to abuse us and get US to refuse to see it as abuse. It’s part of the reason the last ex-wife is still with him – she’s still drinking the Kool-aid. She still believes that we are lying or at least, exaggerating his treatment of us, and that my response to her when I finally chose to refuse to allow my ex to continue to abuse me – that I was abandoning and betraying her.
But, back to the point of the post. On Friday, I had a rather intense discussion with my mother about health. And it was pretty damned good, because it felt like we were talking and actually hearing each other, rather than each of us hiding behind our own defense mechanisms.
Both of these discussions centered somewhat around the reasons I am fat, and how our culture treats those of us who have body shapes that do not reflect the norm.
What it came from was talking to both of them about my adolescent experience. I had always defined myself as a very sedentary child. And, the culture we live in supported that idea of myself. Obviously, I must be fat only because I don’t exercise, and I have no self-control or self-discipline when I eat.
Yet, I went to a boarding school, with a fairly large campus (click on the image to see a larger version of my high school campus – note, it is now a minimum security prison). Waking up and doing all of the morning things in my dorm which was 3 levels, and you were NEVER allowed to use the elevator unless you were medically handicapped (broken leg, or something else that limited movement), and the years I was in a corner room, the bathroom (showers too) was approximately 175 feet from my room. Additionally, I only got a 1st floor dorm room my senior year. So, there was constant stair walking, multiple times a day unless I made sure to get everything I needed for the day that morning.
If I wanted breakfast, I had to walk to the cafeteria, which was approximately 650 feet from my dorm (0.123106 of a mile). Most mornings, because I’m a night owl, and have NEVER liked getting up early, I chose more sleep rather than eating breakfast.
The building classes were in was a bit closer than the cafeteria. It was only 600 feet (0.113636 of a mile) from the front door of the dorm to the front door of the class building. The class building was also 3 floors, as well as being a slightly deformed T shape. The front to back was 100 feet, while the back end hallway was 200 feet, and it was approximately 50 feet from the classroom building to the cafeteria. I personally rarely had two classes in a row that were on the same floor, so there was a hurried jog up or down the stairs to get to my next class. Worse if I had to stop at my locker (on the 2nd floor).
We went to chapel every morning, between 2nd and 3rd hours. The chapel was 550 feet from the classroom building. So, right there, every weekday was a round trip of 1,100 feet (0.2083333 of a mile).
Physical education (PE) was rarely in the old gym, more often than not in the new gym. Plus, they had open swimming most weekday nights, which I took advantage of every day unless I was sick. The new gym was 425 feet from my dorm (which I usually walked at least twice a day, given I needed to go back to the dorm to get my swimming suit), 400 feet from the classroom building, and 450 feet from the cafeteria.
Getting the impression yet? On an average day, I walked even with minimum distance a total of 4,800 FEET, and 24 FLIGHTS of stairs. If you translate that into miles, I walked an average minimum of 0.9090909 miles EVERY day during the school year in high school, and who knows how many laps I ever did in the swimming pool.
While that’s technically less than the supposed desired 10,000 steps per day, stairs are considered to be twice as effective for maintaining a healthy weight than walking is. But the recommended amount of flights of stairs in a given day is EIGHT. Every day of the school year (weekends included) I did FOUR times the recommended flights of stairs.
Except, in my sophomore year of school, I ballooned up from 190 pounds to my heaviest weight of 370 pounds. I ate the same foods my fellow students ate, and depending on whether I’d received yet another lecture about my weight, I sometimes ate even LESS than my fellow students. And like I said above, I rarely if ever ate breakfast.
And talking about that fact, with both my mother and my therapist, it was obvious to me at least, that I didn’t match your stereotype of the “fat chick.”
But, with my therapist, she pushed for a clearer statement of what it feels like to have grown up fat. She wanted concrete examples. So, I told her about the repeated concern-trolling I’ve received at the hands of total strangers in the grocery store. She was absolutely SHOCKED. She wanted to deny that it happened. Then she claimed that those people must also be people with severe mental issues. They aren’t. They are simply individuals who have been brainwashed to believe that fat is ONLY ever from overeating and a sedentary lifestyle. I had to actually prove it to her using herself as an example, how often people who are of a “perfect size” (not too thing, not too fat) feel they have the right to express this supposed concern to complete strangers.
What it did for me is the clue brick that I am a body positivity activist because on some level I knew I was VERY active at the time that I gained most of my weight. I knew and acknowledged that at the very least, I was able to do something that MANY people (male and female) aren’t able to do – maintain my weight at the SAME level, never gaining more, between my 20s and my 40s. I can honestly say that I was the same weight I was in high school when I hit 40. And now, I weigh less than I did in high school. I’m not yet down to my goal weight of 170, but I finally feel able to lose weight – which ONLY happened because my body stopped creating quite so much estrogen.
That may not seem like a huge revelation to any of you. But it certainly was for me.