I woke this morning from a dream where I was manhandling a doctor who had looked at my body and laughed when I told him I had had an eating disorder. Screaming in his thin, male face, I grabbed him by his collar and wanted to smash the back of his head against a wall…
And in that instant knew why I’ve been “off” recently. Why I haven’t been eating properly over the last few days, ignoring my body’s requests for nourishment and instead feeding it either too much or too little beige food. I knew why I’ve been avoiding feelings over the last few weeks, as documented in my last post.
It’s because the feeling I’ve been avoiding is the one I’ve always been the most afraid of: anger.
So where is it from? The white-hot fury I allowed myself to feel in that dream. The lump in my throat as I type. What has caused it?
There’s my recent diagnosis. I have fibromyalgia. I finally have to face the fact that I’m not going to get better. There’s no cure. My constant pain, fatigue and other weird and wonderful symptoms will be with me for the rest of my life. Now I finally know what has been wrong for the last four years, I get to go through the difficult process of grieving the permanent loss of old, healthy me. The me who didn’t know what they had till they lost it. The me who wasted all those years of physical good health punishing themselves and their body with an eating disorder.
It’s a lot to take in. And anger seems like a perfectly natural response. But there’s still that part of me who is terrified of the emotion. And I’m certainly scared to publish a post this raw after all those decades of eating down and hiding my darker side from everyone in my life.
Because let’s face it, we’re all taught that girls are “sugar and spice and all things nice”. The image of a chubby little girl screaming into the abyss with uncontrolled fear and rage is unacceptable in our society. So I didn’t. I buried this and every other feeling with food instead. Because I felt like I never really fit in, but maybe I’d be tolerated as long I acted nice and played by the rules.
But where did playing by the rules get me? Living a lie, hating myself, alone, in mental and then physical pain? Looking back, the trade-off wasn’t worth it.
I don’t want to play by the rules any more. The rules aren’t fair. They change depending on who you are, how many privileges you hold, what you LOOK LIKE! As if that has any bearing on whether you are a worthy person or not. Especially as I’m learning that the more privileges a person has, the more reluctant they appear to be to look inside themselves and acknowledge the harm they cause.
Oh yes! The recent Twitter storm between its fat and eating disorder communities has forced me to face a lot of things I have been hiding from my whole life. It was yet another place where I wasn’t always quite comfortable in the community I had found. Another place where I felt the need to play nice to fit in. To bite my tongue and ignore the occasional red flags.
And then, in a flash, my online world was being torn apart. People my size and bigger being accused of bullying, lies, and aggression for daring to challenge the status quo. Being gaslit when they spoke about their experiences. Thin people – medical professionals no less, insisting on perpetuating the myth that they were there for those very same fat people, while simultaneously practising and teaching “o*sity medicine”, which is specifically designed to wipe fat people from the face of the earth.
It’s been ugly and upsetting and it’s forced me to question everything I thought I knew. While those who hold all the power have refused point blank to listen, or change, because they can. Because change is not to their benefit.
So I’ve had enough. I’m playing by my own rules from now on. If I need to scream and shout and be angry, I intend to try to do this. I’m not going to take those emotions out on myself any more, because there are way too many people ready and waiting to do that to me. Telling me those feelings aren’t justified, that it’s all in my head.
I know there are people who will be upset by this, but I have no choice but to deal with the fallout if I am going to be my authentic self, if I am going to try to help make this world a safer place for fat people like me.
So accept me as I am, an angry fat person. A person with unpleasant thoughts and feelings. A person who’s not always going to play nice. Or don’t accept me at all. I’m going to have to find the confidence and self-belief to live with that as best I can.
Because this is too important. Fat people exist, we’re not going anywhere, and the status quo is hurting us. We deserve better. We deserve to live our lives in safety. We deserve the same access to all spheres of life, to our basic human rights, as straight size people. Weight stigma is a legal form of discrimination. It’s even government sanctioned, FFS! All so that some multi-privileged middle-aged men can get even richer than they are now.
So those people on Twitter hoping I’d just shut up and go away have failed. I’m not going anywhere.
If I have to live out the rest of my life fat and disabled, then I’m going to do the very best I can to make it count. And if that means unleashing my fury and not playing nice from time to time, so be it!