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How did this happen?
How did I let this happen?
These are the two thoughts that are circling my mind as I sit hunched on my couch the night of my high school reunion. I stare at the carpet, overwhelmed by the realisation that has blind-sided me this evening.
Which is this: I am fat.
Not just overweight. Not chubby, or nicely rounded, or Rubenesque.
Fat. Obese. Big.
Australia’s answer to Kirstie Alley fat. Oprah on a bad day obese. Pavarotti without his girdle big.
I know what you’re thinking. How can being fat come as such a shock to me? It’s not as though it’s an instant process. I had to work diligently at over-eating and lying around on the couch for years to get to this size. And it’s not as though there weren’t a few clues hanging around along the way, waiting to give the game away. Mirrors, for example, and the size 18 labels staring back at me from my clothing every time I got dressed.
So how can something so obvious sneak up on a person without them noticing?
I noticed. Of course I did. But I told myself everything was okay. That I was in control. That I was carrying a bit of winter coat, but it was nothing I couldn’t deal with. All that was required was some discipline and gym attendance when I finally decided to pull finger and get my shit together.
It’s amazing how long it can take a person to get their shit together. Years, apparently. Because as I stare at the carpet, I realise I have been selling myself the same lie for a long, long time, slipping it past my internal bullshit meter beneath lots of flowing black outfits cunningly designed to hide the fact that I have no waist. Or hips. Or ankles, for that matter.
But tonight, something happened to shake me out of my denial. A sort of cosmic wake-up-and-smell-the-coffee. Or, in my case, the dog shit.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. You don’t know about the dog shit yet. You don’t know anything about me, not even my name, and yet here I am offering up my most embarrassing, personal truth to you without so much as a pleased-to-meet-you.
Sorry. It’s just that right now, right this minute, I feel the need to cling to the things that are real and true in my life because I’m terrified that if I keep lying to myself and ignoring reality I’m going to keep getting bigger and bigger until I become The Human Pancake. Then I’ll have to buy a specially reinforced bed, and I won’t be able to roll over without the assistance of a team of burly male nurses, and the single career option left open to me will be to star in one of those freaks-of-the-week cautionary tale documentaries they show on the Discovery Channel, the kind that parents make their kids watch to try to scare them into eating more vegetables and less junk food.
I don’t want to be a cautionary tale.
I want to be happy. I want to like myself. And if tonight has taught me anything, it’s that I don’t like myself very much at all.
But maybe you should be the judge of that…
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