I went to an off-site meeting yesterday morning, and walking back into my office building at lunch time, I ran smack into him. I knew he worked for the government, like me, and I had glimpsed him once or twice in the building in the first year I worked here (always managing to avoid him), but I hadn’t seen him in the past year or so, so I’d assumed he’d moved on. But yesterday I ran into him, the kind of running into where conversation becomes completely unavoidable. “How are you?!” he exclaimed, giving me a hug and kissing my cheek. “You are half of who you used to be!”
He was someone I went on one date with, about three years ago, but I rank that night as one of the stupidest of my life, in a summer that was filled with many, many stupid, irresponsible, and even dangerous nights. It was a summer where my self-esteem was spiralling downwards, my drinking was spiralling upwards. My body grew while my morals shrank. I felt lost that summer, and desperate, and hopeless, and as a result I was reckless, with food and with men. Miles from where I feel I am now.
(It was just a couple months later that I met Shaun, incidentally. Meeting him was like that moment in movies where time freezes except for the main character. I felt like I could stop and breathe, finally. I got a little peace with him, and I still feel that.)
Anyway, seeing that guy yesterday, it brought everything back. I found myself flustered, red in the face, overly conscious of my body. You know when people say they wanted to crawl into a hole? That was me, but I mean it very literally. I suddenly wanted to be in a dark, tight space, where I couldn’t see or be seen, feel or be felt. We chatted for a bit and I self-consciously threw Shaun’s name around, and he mentioned he and his girlfriend had just bought a house. Honestly, he was nothing but nice and on the surface the conversation was completely pleasant and not awkward. But on the inside, or at least on MY insides, I was a disaster, whipped back to where I was three years ago: fat, desperate, lonely, sad, scared. It was a truly horrible five minutes, and they resonated all day, echoing inside my head and chest: fat. desperate. lonely. sad. scared.
After bootcamp I approached the instructor to see if I could pick her brain a bit about what I should be eating. I struggle with Weight Watchers a lot since becoming more active, and I wanted to get her input on how many calories I should be aiming for. I told her that my points allowance is so low now that I get really hungry, especially on days I work out (truly hungry, not just bored hungry). One of her suggestions was to incorporate more fatty milk products, like using whole milk in my coffee, and switching my morning cottage cheese to 2%.
“Really?” I asked. “I understand about good fats and all that, like avocado, but I thought milk was the bad kind of fat?”
“Not really,” she said. “I’d recommend low fat milk products to someone who had a weight problem, but you don’t. The fat will help you feel fuller and …”
She went on, I think, but I was hooked like a fish on what she’d just said. You don’t have a weight problem. I felt like I was in some Twilight Zone episode. Has she seen me, I wondered?
But we kept chatting and she kept talking to me like this, like I was someone without a weight problem, someone who needed to eat to fuel my workouts, someone who didn’t eat enough instead of someone who ate too much. She talked to me like … wait for it … like I was normal.
So it was a strange day. I feel so weird sometimes, like I’m everywhere and nowhere at the same time. I’m still that fat and lonely girl, but I’m not. I don’t have a weight problem, but I do. It’s some kind of underland I’m stuck in, neither here nor there, or my body’s in one place and my mind’s in another. I feel like I’m an Alice who woke up in a place that was different than the one she fell asleep in. I’m not sure the way out (or the way in, for that matter), but I hope I’ll figure it out someday.