Over the River and Through the Woods

I keep having this weird, really strong memory of walking in my grandma’s front door.  I don’t know what the deal is, but I’ll be sitting at work or opening my own door and all of a sudden it hits me, in that way that memories can, like it’s almost real, that I am opening the front door to my Grandma’s house.

I can practically smell what she has cooking, most likely, for us, beef and noodles.

My cousin A. mentioned the other day how it would be nice to get the whole family together again, like we did at Grandma A.’s, and maybe that’s what’s got me thinking of it.

I probably should finish unpacking the boxes in the garage, so that I can get that beef and noodles recipe out of my Bible.

That is one thing I’d like to try to make now that I am an adult, her big fat, floury noodles, almost more like dumpling strings than what we think of as noodles.  And cooked in the juices of a simmering pot roast until it’s all a big beefy, peppery wonder.


Oh, Fat

I have struggled for a very long time with just being comfortable being fat. No matter what I tried, I didn’t lose weight and the weight (ha) of feeling like a failure with no self-control was so great that I just had to finally be like, “Okay, fuck it. I’m fat. Regardless of what I weigh, I need to make some fucking peace with my body.”

I’m not fat because of some personal failing. I’m just fat.

Well, you know, I reached that place because I spent so long hearing about what a personal failing it was that I was fat–that I wasn’t trying hard enough or that I was lying or that no man could ever love me if I didn’t get the weight off or that God wouldn’t let me have kids until I was thinner or… or… or… It’s always something. Being fat is a moral issue.  If you are fat, it is because you are just not trying hard enough, and if you are just not trying hard enough, you suck and it is fine for everyone around you to try to shame you into getting into line.

For my own sanity and self-preservation, I just had to learn to harden my heart to that nonsense.

I come from big fat people. I am a big fat person.

My gynecologist is not perfect, but she is the first doctor I ever had who looked at my body and said, “Hmm, something’s not right here.”  It has been hard, after years of trying to just experience my body as neutral, to hear that my body was evidence of a problem. That’s not her fault of course.  It’s on me to learn to separate “body behaving strangely” from “Betsy failing morally.”

But I’m having a little trouble navigating it–the distance between “your body indicates a problem, i.e. a moral failing” and “your body indicates a problem, i.e. a symptom of something not working right with you.”

Even yesterday this was a problem, because in the year I have been to see her, I have lost no weight. I haven’t been concerned about this because I feel so much better than I did a year ago. I can’t even begin to tell you how different it is, just to feel like my body works in a way that it never has before.  It’s not like I knew before last year that this was how it could feel to be in a body because I didn’t have anything to compare it to, you know?  I felt the way I felt and I assumed that it was pretty much how everyone felt.

So what if I’m not losing weight?  Right?  I didn’t go to her to lose weight. I went to her to stop bleeding like a stuck pig almost non-stop.  Problem solved, underlying condition diagnosed, treatment started, great improvements seen, appointments made and kept.

Ta da!

I’m fine.

Except she makes me go back out and get on the scale so she could see for herself.

“It’s fine,” I say. “I didn’t come here thinking that my problem was that I’m fat. You’ve solved my problem.”

“But you should not be on the amount of metformin I have you on and not have dropped some weight,” she said, “it’s not about whether you want to or not, it’s about how the medicine at this dose works in a body where there’s not something else going on. You could just be weird. It could be nothing. But I don’t want to be the doctor who saw something strange and let it pass.  Let’s just get an endocrinologist to run some tests and take a look.  Could be diabetes, could be thyroid, could be something else, could be nothing.”

I’m having really mixed feelings about this, I have to tell you.  I’m really struggling to reassess how I understand myself in my body.  I mean, all that work to be like “there’s nothing wrong with you” was good. I mean, shit, I probably wouldn’t have gone back to the gynecologist after the scary dude if I hadn’t acquired a good dose of fat acceptance along with my desperation to fix my problems. But there is something wrong with me, even if it’s only the PCOS.  And there may be something more wrong with me, and how I look is the symptom that gave the doctor the idea to even check for PCOS and now to send me to the endocrinologist.

I’m not sure how exactly to understand that for myself.

I feel a little like every doctor I’ve seen, in my entire life, has lectured me about trying to lose weight or, when they finally gave up and believed me that I was trying and it just wasn’t working, they just shrugged like, oh well, you’re just fat.  When, really, I had something wrong with me, that it would have been nice to be treated for.  So, I feel a little angry, even though I know it doesn’t really go anywhere.  It’s just like a grass fire that would burn itself out by the time you got the hose going and over to it.

I feel like I’m taking a little too much glee in reminding my male relatives, who assured me that I was too fat to be loved, that I have a condition. Ha, and how fucked up and stupid is that?  It also doesn’t do me any good, but it makes me feel self-righteous and sactimonious and it’s very hard for me to resist that, at least until my mom starts blaming herself for not doing something sooner.

But mostly, I feel kind of unsure about how to navigate this.  I want to feel good about myself no matter what and I don’t want to feel like my fat is visible proof that there’s something wrong with me, even if that is the case, I just am not sure that I do well at making the distinction between “something wrong with my body” and “something wrong with me as a person” very well.

But I feel like it’s also imperative for my health that I learn how to have an expectation of health–if a medicine is supposed to have the effect of making me lose weight and I don’t lose weight, it’s not “oh that’s fine because I’m fine with being fat.” It’s actually not fine, because it’s not working how it should. It’s actually not fine, because there may be something else wrong.

So, I want to feel good about myself, no matter what, and I want to learn to expect my medical treatments to perform how they should.

Ha, but doesn’t this take us right back to the whole “you’re just not trying hard enough.” thing?  When your doctor tells you to lose weight and you try to lose weight and you can’t, do you ever thing “Oh, the treatment this person recommended didn’t work–that might be an indication of something.”? No, after you think, “I have failed,” you think, “Oh, well, maybe I can’t expect the things my doctor recommends to work.”

So, I’m just saying, I don’t quite know how to strike this balance.