I bought new pants in, oh. January? February?
I can now remove one of those pairs without the previous ceremony of undoing them. Upon getting on the scales, the reason why is clear – I’m 10kg down.
I’m kind of pleased with that.
Yesterday had some ups and downs. Inexplicably woke up around 7, which is Too Early For Sunday. Then my laptop – faithful 2008-era macbook – died.
But, husband sourced me a replacement (techy friends are the best), I swapped out the hard drive for it’s original drive and will sell the carcass for parts, the drive is available for data restores onto my new to me machine.
Then the Zouk team from last year had a performance scheduled. We haven’t danced the routine together since Christmas. Unsurprisingly, rehearsal was less ‘rehearsal’ and more ‘oh crap no-one remembers the choreo’. Still, we rocked it, and there are some fabulous photos turning up on Facebook.
Then I went to the regular social Sunday dance. And realised that one of my regular touchpoints for “how’s my mental health” is “how willing am I to ask strange men to dance”. Brains, huh.
I got home around 11:30, exhausted, sweaty, and blissfully happy with my place in the world.
I’m struggling tonight.
I have a video of myself dancing. Practicing, at tonight’s performance zouk rehearsal. I’ve never seen myself dance before.
What I see? 200 pounds of blubber. Flapping about on the stage and it is not a pretty sight. If I continue with this it will be in spite of myself, not because I’m enjoying it, but because I’m not going to let myself be such a FUCKING IDIOT as to stop doing something I love just because I hate the way I look doing it.
It’s no-one’s fault but mine. If I lost weight… or if I wasn’t up on stage, I wouldn’t care.
What I see is not how I feel when I’m dancing, what I see has absolutely nothing to do with how I feel when I’m dancing. And there are bits of me that can see that watching the video of myself over again. I can see someone who, despite the fat… I can do the moves, I’m moving in time, I’m not heavy on my feet.. I’m flexible and I’m capable of doing what I’m asking my body to do. I’m in the right spots on the right time. Admittedly you can’t always see that I’m making all the right moves because the blubber’s hiding the muscle. But…
I don’t know. I’m proud of what I can do, I’m proud of the work I’ve put in, and I’ve put in BLOODY hard work. I have worked my ASS off. And other people must be able to see it, I KNOW they can because they say so! They ask me for help, and the girls ask me how to do things, and it’s not because I push my nose in although I suppose maybe I have and I’m just not aware of it? But they don’t have to keep coming back, they could just ask each other rather than asking me. So no, I’m not incapable.
And my teachers could have let me drop out when my partner pulled out. They didn’t have to keep me dancing. They had an easy out and they COULD have taken it and they DIDN’T. So that means that me being on stage is worth something. It’s not worth much but it’s worth something.
Just because I hate the way I look doesn’t mean other people do, it just means that I hate it. And come to think of it, one of the reasons I love watching my first ever zouk teacher dance is that she’s overweight. She’s … slimmer than me, and more muscular than me, and she has far more of a defined waist than I do because apparently I carry fat there, but you know what? She looks GORGEOUS when she dances, so why shouldn’t I?
I’m never going to be like her, but nothing stopping me being like me.
And I keep thinking, every time I’m out socially, that I’m… why should I be put off because I’m the second biggest girl in the room? No-one else seems to mind; I still get invites to dance, and by strange guys as well as friends. So it’s not like I’m repulsive to the male part of the human race. I need to get over myself, right?
Get out there and be proud of what I can do. Even if I can’t be proud of what I look like, I can be damn proud of the work I’ve put in.
So maybe that’s what I go out and do.
Maybe that’s the answer.
My paternal grandmother is unwell. Mum forwarded a text from my aunty – she’s scheduled for a gastroscopy and colonoscopy, as her blood count keeps dropping and they don’t know why.
It says something about familial relations that my first thought was “Why should I care?”
Then I felt guilty. Why do I feel guilty for reciprocating my family’s indifference with indifference? Why can’t I just get over, or at least get on with, the fact that they don’t care about me?
I wonder if I’d mind less if there was a reason that mattered to me. If it wasn’t because of religion, it it was because we actually had an argument, because someone behaved badly. If I’d hurt someone, rather than dropping the facade of faith in a God I don’t believe in.
My mother has never been judgmental of my choices. She knew that my leaving the faith was the right thing for me. Above all, she wants me to be happy. Further, she is a good Christian – she believes judge not, lest ye be judged.
My paternal grandmother, on the other hand, had a rant at my mother about a month ago, when my aunt and uncle went to visit my non-religious cousin (their son). He’s happily partnered up, with a little girl. My grandmother didn’t think it was appropriate that my aunt and uncle should be visiting him. Because he’s non-religious, and living in sin.
I always felt comfortable with my paternal family. I’m very much my father’s daughter – I’m his to the bone, where I never fit into my mother’s family as a child. I didn’t understand their humour – I was in my teens before I was able to appreciate my maternal uncle’s dry wit. But in my father’s family, I fit in. I have no siblings; but knocking around with my cousin, I got some taste of that relationship. We thought the same way, shared the same sense of humour, even the same quick fiery temper. I belonged.
Maybe that’s why their indifference hurts. It angers me that my aunt and uncle would rather put up in a hotel in my city, rather than stay in our home. It angers me that my paternal grandmother isn’t interested in my life. It angers me that such un-Christian behaviour is apparently considered acceptable to non-Christians. That’s not Christianity as I was taught it. I may not practice their faith any longer, but I know what it should look like. It angers me even more that I know they can’t see their own hypocrisy.
I haven’t seen my father’s family in over six years. I last spoke to my paternal grandmother two years ago – she wanted to know the date of my marriage and the birthdate and name of my husband, purely to add his name to the family tree. My own grandmother didn’t even know my husband’s full name. She knew the name he goes by, his nickname, but not his legal name. Once she got that information, she wished me well and hung up the phone.
At least she was polite, I suppose.
I have a wonderful husband, a good mother, a good grandmother (maternal), in-laws who welcome me wholeheartedly. I have an honorary big brother, and other good friends. It’s not that I’m unloved. I’m grateful for the relationships I do have, and I’m lucky to have them. But… I want to be accepted on my own terms, for my family to understand that my life is valuable, that the choices I’ve made were good ones. I want to belong.
Maybe that’s why their indifference hurts. And I wish it didn’t.
I try not to whinge. My life is pretty good, all things considered – I have a job, we have a home, we’re more or less physically well. I have my beloved Tobermory, I have good friends, I have cats who mob me in the mornings demanding cuddles.
But I seriously need to get my act together. There’s a group in my present dance class that know each other, certainly on a casual basis, mostly as a result of all going to the Sunday night social dances. The ones that I have an ongoing fear about going to, for fear of being left out.
Last night, a few of them went out for a drink after class. I was excluded from the invitation (and by the bye, I always thought it was bloody rude to ask everyone else in a circle of people and leave one person out). And I know why it is, it’s because I don’t go on the Sundays because I’m convinced I’ll be left out. And now I’m being left out and it makes me feel like shit. Which is stupid, because if I could just get over myself for ten minutes and actually GO on the Sundays, I might not be left out!
It’s a stupid recursive cycle, and it ends with me sobbing about being fat and ugly and worthless and lonely. And I know it’s stupid, which makes it worse, because then I hate myself more for being stupid. Brilliant!
I never learned how to make friends. I wasn’t allowed to socialise with my schoolmates, and I knew everyone in Mum’s congregation on account of having known them since birth. Well, not everyone, but certainly everyone my age. Plus, if your parents go “look this is Bob, Bob this is Mahal, great you are the same age and can be friends!!!” … well, the introduction bit is easy, and you make conversation with great amounts of eyerolling about your parents, but it is not actually an act of making-friends. It’s appeasing the parents.
I am not trying to go “wah wah it’s not my faaault”, or anything. Merely noting the circumstances that led to me being twenty seven years old and apparently incapable of convincing myself to stop being a fuckwit. Tobermory has a much better success rate of befriending people (although where I don’t know where to start talking, he has trouble knowing when to stop, which can be a problem in it’s own right).
I am shy. I have great difficulty convincing myself that I am likable, and even more difficulty convincing myself anyone would be willing to ask me to dance, despite empirical evidence (the Xmas party) to the contrary. (Whether they’d ask twice is an entirely different pool of stupid.) Not to mention that there are some things I’m struggling to learn right now, mostly because my fat gets in the way. And I’m not, you know, spherical in shape or anything. Last time I was weighed I was well under 90kg (200 pounds for those of you who speak American). I’m fat, but not obscenely so. Just enough to impinge on my confidence.
I picked up dance in the first place because I thought I would enjoy it, and because it’s a social activity. And I have been enjoying it. I’m learning something new, I’m not completely shit, it’s exercise. I know it’s me that has to put in the effort to try – no-one is going to try and befriend the woman who turns up for an hour a week and quietly slips out after class, and never turns up on the social occasions. They’ve no way of knowing that shy is the answer rather than uninterested. Presumably if I made an attempt, they would reciprocate with at least basic politeness, because they’re decent people. (Convincing myself of that likelihood is proving … difficult.)
I came home last night utterly miserable, and spent ten minutes sobbing on Tobermory’s shoulder about how I’m fat and ugly and unlikeable and how I hate myself. Something has to change.
Dance has done interesting things for my body image. I am far more conscious of my excess weight than I used to be – three hours a week in front of full-wall mirrors will do that for you, I suppose. With one or two exceptions, all of whom are older women (in their 40′s or 50′s, I’d judge) I am the largest woman. And whether it’s right to do it or not, women do compare themselves to each other; and compared to some of the beauties I hang around with for three hours a week, I am frankly a heffalump.
I know I should go to the social dance nights. It would be good for me as a dancer, and it would be a way to make acquaintances, or possibly even friends. There are some really nice people in my classes, and I know I’d have fun. Last lesson, my dance instructor practically demanded that I start turning up – when I confessed that I had been chickening out, he cracked up laughing, told me my dancing is perfectly good, and thus I should appear on Sundays forthwith. He should know, right?
(I was given a BGP ACTIVATED shirt for Christmas, as a nod to my tendency to require Big Girl Panties before I will get off my butt and do something like an ADULT.)
Chickening out is still easier, though. That way I don’t have to endure my brain going “haha, you are fat and unloved, no-one will ask you to dance because you are ugly”, etc. Yeah, I know it’s stupid and wrong – after all, I got asked to dance at the Christmas party, by different men, only one of which was a classmate, two of whom asked me to dance twice. And I am capable of assessing myself fairly academically, and I am not unattractive. But, the hindbrain is harder to control.
Washing my hands at work a few days ago, I saw myself in the mirror, and realised that my own face is unfamiliar to me. I know that’s an odd thing to say, as I look in the mirror on a regular basis. But it’s not my face I’m usually looking at – it’s my general body (outfit), or a specific feature (zits, plucking eyebrows). My hair is growing out again – I wanted longer hair for dancing, which has given me a bit of an odd in-between fluffiness around the shoulders. I mean, I’d be able to recognise pictures of myself, it’s not that I don’t know what I look like. But my image of myself isn’t what I look like in the mirror at the moment, and that realisation was a bit disturbing.
But I’m also kind of proud of myself. Sure, I might be overweight, and that’s not ideal. But I’ve learned something new in the last six months, and I’ve learned it well. I mean, I’m no expert dancer or anything, but I can do the beginner-level things that I do and do them properly. I have excellent timing, probably due largely to my existing musicianship. I have fun, I am regarded well by my classmates, I am getting fitter and stronger.
Those are achievements I can be proud of.