Friday, July 13, 2012

The Worth of a Normal Human Being

I've been away from this blog for awhile and I apologize to those whose comments languished for a little while in moderation. I've completed the third transition to a temporary domicile since returning to America. Each move requires adjustment, not to mention very practical considerations such as packing and unpacking. Settling into a new space always requires adjustment, especially since each time there is overlap with the owner.

In this case, we are staying in my father-in-law's house while he stays at the cabin we began our return in. We were there for 2 months. He plans to stay for 3 and we'll be in his place until we find our own and start paying rent again. While I'm not looking forward to the large bites that will be taken from our savings when that happens, I am looking forward to being autonomous again. Living in other people's spaces means living by their rules and in a space shaped to suit their individual desires.

This place is rather different than the others because it is familiar. I didn't spend a lot of time in this house before I went off to live in that Asian country, but I did visit all too frequently... far more so than I would have liked at the time. The seeds of the changes which lead to my regaining weight were fertilized here, though I imagine they were already planted none too shallowly in my psyche. I'm not sure if they can ever be dug out and removed, but I can continue to hope.

I used to be extremely bitter about how I was treated here by my in-laws and, at that time, felt it was an indication that I was worthless. Since I was raised and conditioned by experience to believe that others were entitled to assess my value, I embraced deeply the notion that I was inadequate. Now, I know that it had nothing to do with me. 

A lot of people say that sort of thing when they want to explain that others are mean to you because they are acting out on their own problems. That's true. However, that's not what I am talking about. In this case, these are people who are so self-involved and socially inept that they have no clue that they are behaving poorly and making others feel bad. Sitting at a dinner table with them, supposedly as their guest, and having people talk as if you weren't in the room would clearly be an epic act of rudeness to most people, but not these ones. They are most comfortable with each other and will focus on each other because they do not know any better. I'm not sure they even realized what they were doing on any level.

So, now when they act in a self-involved manner, and they do so less now than before because life has changed for them, too, I take it in stride. I see it for what it is, and it's not a reflection on me. I'm actually a little surprised at how I've completely let go of the bitterness and anger that I had about this for so many years. I think part of the reason for that is maturity and self-reflection. Part of it is also that my husband has become so much more clued in about the truth and has been supportive of my viewpoint (he has changed, too). Another is that I've lost weight again and that sense of worth that was lost because of the way I was treated due to my body has returned.

When I say things about my "sense of worth", I in no way mean that I'm the greatest thing on the planet. I mean that I no longer believe I'm a sub-human piece of garbage that deserves to be looked upon with disgust and disdain or treated as invisible. My "worth" in my estimation is that of a normal human. If you've never been super morbidly obese or if you did not grow up fat, you can't know what it is to walk around day after day feeling as though you are nothing and contemptible. You haven't been conditioned by thousands of external cues, both subtle and gross, that make certain that you know that you are a pariah in the eyes of the world.

A lot of people will say "get over it". A lot of people lack much depth of understanding and sensitivity. Those same people will cry and say how sad they are if they learn that a child was verbally abused and told he or she was stupid and worthless by an angry parent for years. They'll know that cripples that person's esteem in a way which the adult may never fully recover from. They can understand how the abused may seek abusers in relationships in the future because they associate love with abuse.

However, they fail to see that being fat and being mocked, derided, and belittled day in and day out for your entire life has exactly the same effect. They don't see it because their prejudice against fat people is too great for them to set aside and find compassion. It is a powerful and painful way to have grown up, and it is the ugly ground upon which all of the seeds of my psyche were sown.


Sandy Daigler said...

I was obese for most of my life too, so I completely get the feelings you're talking about. I always felt like I wasn't as good as other people and I doubted the value of anything I had to contribute, just because I was fat. I don't know if that ever goes away, but I think you can take care of yourself and find a way to be healthy even if those feelings persist.

screaming fatgirl said...

I think you can do a much better job if you feel you are worth taking care of and deal with your feelings rather than pretend that they don't need to be thought about. To each their own. I'm a lot better off for having processed my experiences concurrently with the mechanistic changes in lifestyle than I was not understanding them and following a lifestyle change in the past.

Understanding allowed me to make choices I was incapable of making before. We all know what we have to do, but somehow we often cannot do it. Finding my value by knowing myself allowed me to make choices. Perhaps others can do otherwise, but certainly not many, and not for long.