I can’t really call myself an authentic blogger if I don’t ever discuss the elephant in the room (no pun intended), now can I? This blogging journey started in my attempt to share about my wellness journey, but I never once mentioned my weight. Fat, old, sore and tired. It’s how I always feel, but it’s something I never really talk about.
I’ve never been one of those people that really made jokes about my weight, as some people do. I think it’s usually done as a defence so that you say it first before anyone else can. But I do reference it often. And in thinking about it, I usually do it to put others at ease, because I assume they’re thinking about it. Now why would I do that? Like why do I need to address my body shape or size OUT LOUD, to put someone else at ease? It’s so ridiculous. But that’s what I think I’ve always done.
My weight is always an issue. The silent issue that no one discusses out loud with me, but I know they’re thinking it. Although, I think I’ve been lucky. Because no one has ever really been really cruel to me about it, but my weight is usually another body in the room.
Is Stacey a contender for a job or a role in her career? – ‘no, she can’t do that because of the physical activity required’.
A lunch meeting in a restaurant and that awkward moment when the group realizes they’ve chosen a booth that may not provide me with a comfortable seat.
My biggest nightmare – flying with someone other than family and the moment I have to ask for a seat-belt extender and it attracts a lot of attention.
Or any activity that has a maximum weight limit and no one wants to say it. But we all know everyone is concerned that I’ll say I’m participating and then it will have to be pointed out. So I decline.
My weight has been an issue for as long as I can remember. Probably from the moment puberty started, or even from the moment that I left the toddler stage and started to grow up. Somewhere along the way, I heard, or felt the comparisons made between my sister and I. She was the skinny one. I was not. Looking back… holy shit. How was that size considered not skinny? I was just right the way I was in those years from 4-10.
But I started developing early.. As early as the 4th or 5th grade and as soon as boobs started appearing, it seems that everyone had the right to comment on my body. I remember stretching as a kid and having a babysitter tell me to watch myself, because I would make my boobs grow too big. As a little girl my grandfather would call me an elephant and said that he couldn’t tell if he was looking at my back or my front because I was so fat he didn’t know what he was looking at. I also remember my little sister nearly going out of her mind defending me to him. Ya – he was a real jerk sometimes.
I remember my mother being absolutely obsessive about her own weight loss and body image and how it spilled over to me. Those conversations never really seemed to happen with my sister Steph. But I knew there were “lessons” I was supposed to be learning to avoid being overweight like my mom saw herself as being. I don’t blame her because she only did what she knew and I think she was trying to help me.
When my breasts were already large enough to attract the attention of old skeezy men in the 5th and 6th grade, I think I learned the ultimate lesson. That if you didn’t want to feel the fear of men’s unwanted attention, you cover up in shame. Because I remember the shame associated with my breasts and the extra weight that I imagined I was carrying around with them. I had been an active kid – I was one of the only girls in a co-ed hardball/baseball league. Ringette was my sport and I got pretty competitive with it. I LOVED playing sports at recess with the boys and street hockey at home. Swimming, even basketball. I loved it all as a kid. But as soon as I was aware of my body and how other people looked at it, my love for activity and sport started to disappear.
A 7th grade gym teacher who had a very creepy interest in me in particular and how I was supposed to stretch before volleyball practices. He’d kneel on my back so that my chest pressed to the floor and my shirt fell down to expose myself. You know.. girls feel that unwanted attention very young. So young. I have a terrible memory but I remember those feelings so well. We had a lot of exposure to some creepy adult men in our life growing up thanks to my step-father’s “buddies” that would be around. Add some beer and booze and it didn’t matter that the body behind the boobs belonged to a child. They were leering and suggestive and I learned how to awkwardly giggle my way out of really uncomfortable and scary situations.
Bathing suit shopping was torture for me. I feel shaky just thinking about it. I remember being in the 7th grade and trying to find a suit that fit. There was nothing age appropriate for a girl whose boobs were so dis-proportionate with the rest of her body. I had to shop in the women’s section to find a suit that fit.
You can’t hide in a bathing suit and most of the women’s suits were suggestive and flirty. I have a memory of trying on a recent purchase at home. My mom told me to be careful because it looked a little slutty. I honestly don’t think she meant that *I* was slutty, but that’s what I was putting out there if I wore it. She also told me that it wasn’t the most flattering in the tummy area. What?! Now I also have a tummy to be worried about?! That was it. I don’t think I ever wanted to swim without a t-shirt again.
Going forward, pool parties were a huge NO. I would never go and if I did, I wouldn’t go in the water. By 9th grade, I was in a double D bra and was (un)fortunate enough to have a gym teacher that I would also have to have for the next 3 years and his passions were swimming and running. Two things I never wanted to do because of the breasts.
Put me in hockey equipment and I was thrilled. But please don’t make these girls flop around a track for all the world to see, or be on display in a swimsuit. Because kids are kids. Especially horny teens who were just going through puberty themselves. I heard the comments, some were said straight to my face to make me uncomfortable. I’d run my mile on that stupid track and hear the practising football team’s voices float to where I was, trying to figure out my bra size. Wishing I could disappear.
So I wore my shame in oversized shirts or hand-me-downs from my mom. The sports and physical activity disappeared and the shame persisted and started a cycle of an unhealthy relationship with food that never really had a healthy foundation to start with. We were never really in a very active family. Who walks after dinner? Who snacks on vegetables? Kraft dinner and grilled cheese were staples. My dad had a coffee truck and for those old enough to remember those.. It was like having a variety shop on wheels. Parked in the driveway. When I was staying with my dad, my sister and I would just help ourselves to an unlimited supply of chocolate bars, chips and pop. I was destined to be the weight I am now.
I knew early on that I would never be on trend with clothes. We never really had the money anyway and I knew I would never cutely be able to wear what all the other girls did. The boobs had me buying XL right out of the gate. Those two stupid letters told me I was fat. Especially when the Gap, Benetton or Le Chateau – all the places my girlfriends could shop – most of those places never even carried XL.
I’m not going to go too deep here today. But there were some moments in my life that I’d like to forget that tie to this theme. Where my body was not respected as mine and was only there for the pleasure of others and I blame it on those boobs.
There was one incident that I remember very well. I would have been in the 6th or 7th grade and our family was at a water park somewhere in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area). The park was starting to close and I was in the Lazy River with my younger step-brother. He was only 6 or 7 and we had been floating on the river on our inner-tubes. I was so happy and remember having so much fun that day.
We had gotten bottle-necked in a bend, with a group of at least 15 young guys (teens to 30s) who all seemed to be from the same family. I felt their stares and knew I was really being devoured by eyes. As the park was closing, attendants were announcing for people to get out of the water and to remove the tubes from the river. The inner tubes started flying, It quickly turned to chaos with all the guys laughing and rough-housing, my brother joining in the fun.
But as I got off my tube into the waist deep water, I felt a tube being slid down over my head that pinned my arms to my sides. Then another and another and before I knew it, I was trapped in the tubes and there were guys under the water, pulling my bathing suit down and hands all over me. It was terrifying and traumatic and something I don’t dig deep into, but I remember..
I think ‘closing park’ whistles were blown and the guys all scattered, laughing, my brother laughing too having no clue what had happened to me and I was just left there in the water by myself. Trying to figure out what had just happened to me and wondering if I had imagined it. I know I told my mom and step-father and I remember that the staff were notified and they tried to find the group of guys but everyone was leaving the park. And that was it. That was all that happened.
Those moments are pieces of the puzzle, I now realize. Dozens of those moments that were swept aside and really dismissed. I felt disposable because of those moments and by different people in my life. I attached myself to guys who were kind to me, because they were the opposite of the skeezy ones. But that doesn’t mean that those guys were the right guys for me. Another realization that has taken 40 years to figure out.
They all add together now when I try to understand why I’m me. Why am I this overweight, intelligent woman who loves so hard and loves so many, but doesn’t know how to love herself enough to care about her body? That puzzle piece and all the others tell me now that my defence for the last forty years has been to be unlovable. I don’t want anyone to love my body because I don’t want to be hurt like that again. So cover it up. Fill it up with shitty crap. Find comfort in that crappy food because it never lets me down. It does its job. Put others first, love my people more than myself and forget about what I need or deserve.
It’s not just an excuse.. it’s a truth that I can’t join a gym or go for walks because I don’t have a way to get the time away from my boys and the house. It’s the absolute truth that my health is really poor. My joints are always swollen. I always hurt. I grapple with auto-immune issues and fibromyalgia. Always feeling sore and tired. So those are valid excuses for why I can’t exercise to lose weight. But it’s a vicious cycle that I can’t get out of. If you hurt, how can you exercise to get healthy?
My whole adult life I’ve tried to get to the root of these issues. I have always known that these things that have happened to me are the why’s of today’s issues. But just because I’ve got all the pieces and have figured out how to put them together to form a clear picture, doesn’t mean I’ve figured out how to take that picture in one great big piece and smash out all the bad habits and feelings so that the puzzle can actually do some good.
The past year has posted big flashing signs that warn me that I can’t mess around with my health anymore. The consequences are too serious and I have kids with disabilities to take care of. Even that fear hasn’t scared me straight.
This past week was a jolt to the system. It has been years since I can say that we’ve had a real holiday. A holiday that was filled with yesses to doing some fun things that I normally can’t afford to do, or don’t have the people to help me do it. It was a memory-maker that I will never forget and neither will Owen or Will.
But when I say we never could have done with without Liza and Livi, I mean it literally. Like I have embarrassingly stated at the beginning, I felt fat, old, sore and tired. First, you couldn’t get me in my bathing suit to go into the water with the kids. Second, we went to the Scenic Caves and Nature Trails and I don’t have the cardio stamina or the knees to even attempt it. Even going down the steep staircase into the basement of our rental to do laundry was a near impossibility.
I LOVED this trip because of the happiness I saw in my boys’ faces. I haven’t seen them that happy in years. But if I’m being honest, I know they would have been even happier if I was in the physical shape to have done it with them. And I wasn’t. And I’m ashamed of that. That’s the honest truth.
This is a delicate conversation. I shouldn’t state a truth like that and shame myself further. I know I need to be kind to myself. But it’s a balance. Because I also need to be accountable to myself. And to my children. Because I need to get this figured out so that I can be the best for myself and for them. I am so damn tired of this merry-go-round that I can’t seem to get off of. Dissecting my history to understand the why’s, changing my habits, loving myself, making wellness a priority – it’s all so exhausting. But it’s necessary.
I could never understand how obese people could bravely post photos of themselves for accountability when starting journeys for weight loss. Don’t expect that from me. But I’m doing my own version by spilling my guts in this post. I need to start somewhere from a new place, because I’ve been here before – at least a hundred times, I’m sure. But I have never been this willing to be so open and vulnerable about it before so I hope this one sticks.
Please. I’m begging. If you are reading this and you can relate in any way. Even if you can only relate to wanting to change something small to set a new habit. Even if you can relate to some of the feelings or experiences and not the weight. Please speak up and let me know you can relate. Please let me know if you want to start a little journey with me. I’d love to build a little crew so I’m not in this alone. Share this to find more of us and drop me a comment to say you’re in. I need to turn things around in my health and so that I can finally live the life I want to. I don’t want to be fat, old, sore and tired anymore. Thank you for hearing me out. xo
I’m trying my best to pay it forward by dealing hope and sharing stories & tips on caregiving and how to survive hard things. I blog a lot about single parenting my adult twin sons who both have autism, and the challenges we face in surviving the everyday challenges and planning for a future full of unknowns.