The Heaviest Armor

Moon Man has recently started playing Assassin’s Creed. Also, for our first anniversary (as a dating couple) several years back, he took me to a modestly fancy restaurant–nothing five-star, but they did have linen napkins and the meal was awfully expensive. Hold on to those two facts: they’ll be relevant later.

One of the realizations I’ve made, as I’ve looked at my experience with weight and food and exercise, is that instead of building myself a body that could outrun zombies / outperform other athletes / fit into any clothing I wanted / turn heads, I’ve built a body that shielded me from having to do any of that. I’ve built a body that doesn’t encourage expectations, so I can’t let anyone down. I’ve built a body that prescreens potential suitors, because if they can accept the fact that I’m fat, then they’re already more tolerant than a lot of people, so maybe some of my other weirdnesses won’t be as shocking to them. I’ve built a body that prevents me from participating in certain activities because of weight limits, size restrictions, etc.

Basically, I’ve built myself a heavy suit of armor, that shields me from the world.

And, y’know, that’s not really an uncommon thing. A lot of us build bodies for ourselves that are padded, squishy, and designed to protect us from cold temperatures, general trips-and-falls, and potential fear or heartbreak. “Of course s/he didn’t love me,” we can say to ourselves, “because look at me!”, and then we don’t have to think very hard about ourselves as people.

I recall a conversation I had once with River Fox Woman, where I actually literally said, “I’m not sure I ever want to get thinner, because I don’t think I want to know who among us would be attracted to me at a different weight. I would judge them, I think, for being shallow”. And while that’s true to the 50% mark, the other 50% is that I didn’t want to know who wouldn’t be attracted to me at a smaller size, because maybe that would mean there was something fundamentally unattractive about me. Far easier to just pin it on my size and be done with it.

And what makes me think I’d fit into society better if I were at a smaller size? Remember that fancy-ish restaurant I mentioned earlier? Yeah, part of me enjoyed feeling like a pretty princess that day (we had reservations and everything, and to the person I was at that time, that was a very big deal), but part of me felt awkward and out-of-place. I’m from a lower-middle-class family. I got less than zero training on how to behave in fancy restaurants because we never went to any, and so I  managed to embarrass myself approximately every 30 seconds while we were there (though Moon Man apparently noticed none of it, so, y’know, that’s a good thing). I ordered the salad wrong. My biscuit crumbled into a thousand pieces so I couldn’t butter it. I dropped my napkin. None of them was a crisis, really, but they all added up to make me pretty well convinced that even if I could wear the red-carpet gown, I’d be completely out of my element on a red carpet. I wouldn’t have the first idea how to act if I were invited to tea with the Queen. Shoot, I barely know how to comport myself when I’m around friends; don’t get me started on how to manage with fancy strangers. Far better to be too fat to be invited to the parties where the swanky people go, y’know?

And then there’s heights. Remember Assassin’s Creed, from up there in the first paragraph? Part of the game is that your character has mad parkour/Spiderman skills, and climbs buildings all the blessed time. Which is cool and all, but as it turns out, it gives me vertigo. I get all tense watching Moon Man play, because his character is forever ascending to high places, and I am just petrified of heights. But apparently leading a fit and healthy life means you have to do things like that–there’s a Citi commercial, for instance, where the nice people go rock climbing instead of getting an engagement ring, and I am forever seeing pictures of healthy people scaling mountains. Skinny people go skiing. They ride roller coasters. They go cliff-diving or parasailing or bungee jumping. And I don’t want to do any of those things. I want to keep my feet right here on terra firma, thank you very much, and as long as I’m fat, I don’t have to do any of those things, because it would never even occur to people to invite me.

So I’ve built myself this armor, so I didn’t have to risk rejection or get invited to swanky parties where I wouldn’t know how to behave, and so I didn’t have to come up with a way to say “No thank you, I would not like to go horseback riding with you, because while I am very excited about the theory of it, the reality is that horses are tall and I am vaguely terrified of the idea of climbing up on something that is more than about six inches off the ground and which might actively try to fling me to  my death”.

But I’m tired of this armor. That’s why I’m working on getting rid of it, one piece at a time. I’m married to a wonderful man. I have wonderful friends. I am learning how to say “no, thank you” to invitations that don’t interest me, and learning how to push my boundaries a little bit when I am interested in something and just don’t have the relevant skill set yet. I am putting myself out there, flappy bits and embarrassing parts and fears and dreams and all, on this little blog, and if people don’t like it, they can just close the tab or window.

I’m still a little bit afraid of this big scary world, but I think it’s time to try it without the training wheels. It’s time to get rid of the armor.

…Well, it’s time to get rid of part of the armor. The legitimate self-preservation part can stay. Surely there’s something skinny people do for fun that doesn’t require a death wish.

(Hint: it’s not rock climbing, that’s for darned sure.)



Filed under Play Nicely

8 responses to “The Heaviest Armor

  1. I cannot believe I didn’t respond to the yesterday. I know I intended to and probably did a half a dozen times in my head – lol
    You have such a gift for hitting the issue square on.

    I know this most of these feelings and I live parts of them daily. I used to live a life that included fancy dinners out and people draping napkins on your laps and using finger bowls with lemon after eating crab legs…etc. Then, as much as I’m ashamed to admit it, I let my beliefs about me slide into a twisted sense of an inexplicable something that resulted in my being poor for a long time. Poor in all ways mostly self-esteem.

    As I’m gaining more and more of that back on a daily basis, experiences of wealth, abundance and opulence are becoming more frequent. And with my expanding self-esteem has surprisingly come a shrinking physique.

    Me likey 🙂

    Me likey you and your insights too 🙂

    • *hugs* Me likey you too, both for who you are now and for the insight you gained along the path to get to who you are now. Me likey you for who you are, who you have been, and who you have the potential to become…and me likey that you likey people for the same reasons, and in the same ways. In other words, you rock. 🙂

  2. Shane McCoy

    Funny thing about those red carpets and 5-stars… I can’t afford to be invited either- but I have had to sweep quite a few and then stand hidden away so they could feel even more important- as if anyone would waste any time in prison to disturb them. But I have noticed interresting things while watching them all behave as they believe they are supposed to- the only ones who would have noticed your napkin or your salad and would not have had the class to overlook it? Were just dying to be there. The Queen would have never done such an atrocious thing as to make you feel anything less than comfortable- and sooner or later you and She would have been escorting eachother down a back hallway and talking about things that mattered in a very selfless and gracious manner… with an ever watchful security detail or two of us smiling quietly nearby- doing our best to forget everything we knew to actually be true. (The rich have a fragile reality and appearances- far more than perimeters- must be kept).

    Love your work Tricia!!! They are nice to come home to!!!

    • Shane, thank you so much for this bit of perspective. It’s funny, isn’t it, how we put all this pressure on ourselves to be magazine-perfect, despite knowing full well that a) that’s a completely unattainable goal, and b) “magazine-perfect” is a fiction anyway. The swanky people get zits and gain weight and drop napkins just like the rest of us; they just have a team of people who get paid to make sure nobody ever hears about it. And yep, the truly admirable folks are the ones who would go out of their way to make sure nobody felt awkward or out-of-place–I’m reminded of the scene from The Princess Diaries (yep, I totally watched that movie, and read all the books it was based on! lol) where the Princess-in-Training gets brain freeze at the big banquet and everybody there starts gobbling down their sherbet so she’s not alone in her awkward moment.

      I’m so glad you come hang out in this little part of the internet; you’re one of my favorite people from Back in the Day, so it’s an absolute treat that you’re part of my universe again. Love to you and your family!

      • Sopran00

        Can we figure out a way to have a dinner party or something? I don’t know how to make it work with me so far away and all but gosh it would be fun. At least you two are in the same region. (jealous)

      • Well, for what it’s worth, you are officially formally invited to dinner the next time you happen to be in Kansas, whenever that is (I just need a day’s warning or so, so I can at least make it look like I’m aware of the existence of dust cloths)! But you have to bring your kids, because they are adorable, and you have to bring some ranch dressing, because I will eat them all up. 😉

  3. Christine

    I hate hate hate that rock climbing commercial, no up highs for me, or people I love. I don’t like to see people on ladders, AT ALL. I’m not afraid they will die, more they will fall and disable themselves and I’ll be expected to care for them forever. I swear, no matter how fit I get, I will NOT want to climb a mountain. >fistbump<

    • THANK YOU! We can stay on the ground like sensible people, and maybe have a nice picnic with some merlot or something while the crazy people go climb a big giant rock for absolutely no good reason. (I mean, sure, if there’s a whole bunch of wildebeests careening through the canyon, then climbing the rock is a good idea…at least, assuming your treacherous brother, Scar, isn’t there at the top waiting to kill you. But otherwise? Nuh-uh. If the good lord wanted me up there, he’d’ve put me there.)

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