I went to an air show at the Redlands airport this past weekend with my best friend, and I had a great time. I felt an unfamiliar sense of being carefree and confident — and that was before I drank all the beer. (It was sponsored by the Hangar 24 Brewing Company.) I was striking up conversations with strangers, and they were striking up conversations with me. I didn’t shrink away from people, or avoid eye contact. I was present. It felt… amazing.
I asked my friend Dawn if she had noticed that people tend to treat me differently (see: better) now that I’ve lost a lot of weight. She wrinkled her nose at me and said, “No, Erin. YOU are different, not them. You no longer stand around with your arms folded across your chest and a scowl on your face. People want to approach you because you are now approachable. You are happy and people can see it, and they respond to it.”
Dawn was right. I’ve been grappling with this change since I’ve lost the bulk of my weight and really started to feel more comfortable and capable in my body. Initially, part of me was a little annoyed at the realization that people were so much more closed-off to me when I was a lot heavier. But, I now realize that I was the one putting distance between myself and the rest of the world. Who can blame me, though? I’ve spent the majority of my life living in a body that restricted me in every conceivable way. Being called fat, being mocked for it. Being told I wasn’t good enough, and believing it. Being unable to participate in sports, fitting into nice clothes, riding on rollercoasters, or being hugged with arms that reach all the way around me. It seemed natural to remove myself from most activities, as I expected I would be physically incapable of joining in, anyway. I’ve only been living half of a life. Maybe less.
Enough of the pity party, though. The world has shaped me, and I’ve shaped my world. Now, I’m a different shape, and I get another chance to shape the world I live in to fit me. I know, I know ..the size of our bodies should not dictate who we are or how good or bad life is. But, until you’ve lived an entire “life” as a morbidly obese person, you’ll never understand the limitations set upon you, or the limitations you set upon yourself.
I am really excited to live life in a way that permits me to participate fully.
No excuses allowed. No excuses needed.