I experienced my bigness as what can only be called fat shame. It's like Adam and Eve's nakedness shame in the Garden of Eden, only about 80 lbs more of it. Honey, there ain't no fig leaves big enough to cover my fat shame.
So, at Chris' training, she boldly asked encouraged us to take up space. We made some big paintings. Colossal. But in my body, I felt ashamed. I may have painted a picture of a huge sheep in red boots and wearing a lipsticky smile, a sheep that was me, but I, 3 dimensional, living, breathing me, did not want to be a big, bold sheep. At all.
I was a little divided in myself. On the one hand I adorned my body in cool, artsy clothes with my intuitive painting sisters. But I hated every photograph of me during our sessions. And at home, my clothes are terrible, except for the ones I purchased when I wanted to feel beautiful. What a fleeting feeling, beautiful. I've abandoned clothes when they quickly failed to provide me with a self love fix.
In the last year--a damned hard year--my emotional eating got out of hand. I ate myself sick somedays, trying to fill the hole losing my son as I knew him before the accident left behind. I am not ungrateful that he survived. Words cannot express how deeply grateful I am, but my baby is changed. Totally. Sometimes he is very difficult, though always he is loved.
And now I have the fattest body I have ever possessed, and taking up space, or rather, giving myself permission to take up space, challenges me. With Chris I began the process of learning radical self-acceptance. Today, I'm experiencing this in a whole new way.
Through self-portraiture I see the fat. The roundness of my face. The double chin. And all my previous tricks, a turn of head, a tuck of chin, fail to keep what I hoped was my thirty pound secret. This is the year I stop avoiding the camera and get honest about what I look like. This is the year that once again I try to cast aside judgment and see myself with the soft eyes of grace.
I only liked pictures that made me look good and not so fat, but my daughter Abbie wanted a picture with me. She asked tentatively, like I was in the witness protection program, but I took a deep breath and leaned toward her for the shot. And you know what?
I don't just see how fat I am. Not much. I see and mother and daughter who love each other. I see some of my face in hers, though she never saw that she looked a little like me. I see that I looked good. Not gross or vile because I'm obese. The camera told the truth and it surprised me. And I began to notice that some sense that its okay to be here, alive on this small planet, even with my big body, this in protest against my deep seated shame of being too fat to deserve anything good was taking root. Grounding me. I can take up space.
I smiled at the camera, though smiling, though being in the picture!--I have so few at home--was an act of courage. It felt like I would be okay.
I will be okay, no matter what size I am.