This weekend a fellow low carber has come to my town on a business trip, and I have enjoyed his company immensely. In a conversation in which he successfully attempted to recondition my thinking about the seminal event I’ve written about which I will call “The Fat 5-Year-Old,” I blurted out, “But if I’m not fat, I wouldn’t know who I am anymore. Who am I if I’m not fat?”
It made me think, and it greatly concerned him. And so… I had to construct a new identity for myself – things I’ve always wanted to be but never truly had the faith that I could become. No faith in myself, no faith in my Creator, no faith in the rather nebulous and fuzzy picture in my head.
As y’all know, I felt that Delilah had put to rest the Fat Girl. But with my artless blurt, I see that though she has succeeded in putting her well-shod foot on the Fat Girl’s neck, the Fat Girl still struggles to get up and fight. Delilah is asking – no, begging -for my conscious help to vanquish the Fat Girl, because Delilah is tired of not getting what she wants. And what she wants is normal, healthy, and intuitive.
“Who am I if I’m not fat?” It was a passing concern to me at the time, something I felt I should probably work on. Once my friend pointed it out, it became a profound dilemma.
Now, who am I? I’m a lot of things. But is any one of them enough to replace my sole identity of “being fat”? Is this something I’m going to have to decide consciously, or is it enough for me to say, “I’ll just be everything I am without the ‘fat’ part?” I don’t have answers for these questions. I don’t know how to go about “switching over.”
And that’s why I’m writing this. Because thus far, my emotional housecleaning has always been with an objective, and I’ve been blessed to have had the clarification of epiphany on several occasions, as you know. This – well, this – is going to take some dedication and effort on my part, and I don’t even know where to begin. Maybe some stream-of-consciousness writing will help.
I think I should begin with the other ways I identify myself. Only two. “I’m a Mormon,” and “I’m a martial artist.” Those two identities are of extreme importance to me, as they, as much as the fatness, have shaped my world view. In preliminary discussions with Delilah, I believe that the “I’m a Mormon” part has its own little partition and therefore is not germane to the discussion at hand.
I’m pretty sure that the “I’m a martial artist” part is the key.
Last year I was brave and took some belly dancing classes. I loved them, and steadfastly refused to look in the mirrors. But I happened to look in a mirror once while I was dancing and was so shocked and disgusted with how I jiggled (even though I was a better dancer than anyone else in my class), I quit. Now I hear certain kinds of music and I am inexplicably drawn to dance. I didn’t take those classes very long, but the steps and the rhythm of the little finger cymbals are ingrained, the discipline of martial arts lending a hand to any endeavor I try that requires grace and coordination. One of my goals has long been to learn how to dance flamenco, but I have not yet had that opportunity. (Well, really, where would I find someone who could teach me this?)
Volleyball has long been one of my pet passions, but I don’t go to play anywhere (even though the local community center has leagues), for reasons I haven’t fully explored – laziness being one of them, I suppose. But I remember in college playing sand volleyball in the pit outside my dorm from the deepest hours of the night to the wee hours of the morning, never tired, never straggling, never needing more sleep to function fabulously the next day after having played volleyball all night long.
It’s amazing to me when I see women who are 100 pounds lighter than I who cannot walk without difficulty (though I understand) because I have always had a strong body that could do anything I asked it to no matter how much weight I was carrying. I thought, “I should not be able to do this physically.” But I can, and I always have. So why haven’t I?
I guess I’ll have to do some honest digging to find the answer to this question. It’s been a few months since I realized this, but “I am an athlete” is beginning to take root in my subconscious. With memories of being picked first or second for games involving teams in grammar school (and which age children are, as you know, ruthless about assessing athletic ability), this facet of my life has completely passed me by as the Fat Girl took root in my psyche and grew all powerful.
Hmmm…I think I’m getting somewhere here.
But if I’m not fat, who am I?
An athlete. Oh! But that requires work, doesn’t it? It requires effort and sweat and occasionally failing to get better. It involves injury and sore muscles and a certain level of discomfort. It requires faithfulness. Patience. Persistence. Tenacity. All of which have become lackadaisical under the Fat Girl’s tutelage. The Fat Girl pretty much doesn’t like doing anything that’s difficult or demanding.
But I remember the endorphin high, and I remember being able to dance all night after a particularly grueling two-hour blue-belt test at which I kicked ass.
I remember going to bed nek’kid and fresh, into crisp sheets, after I had hot-showered away the sweat, and waking up in four or five hours invigorated and ready to take on the world with boundless energy.
I remember being able to run full-tilt from my dorm up the hill to campus, all the way across campus, to turn in a paper on time.
Sprinting with a 30-pound pack on my back through Gatwick Airport to catch and hold a plane for my family – including two rather athletic teenage brothers – who couldn’t begin to catch up to me.
I remember those things now… those times when I exerted myself to the limits of my strength and endurance, surpassed what I thought I could do, and ended up feeling powerful and strong. Invincible. Sharp. Bright-eyed. Happy. Valuable.
And I was doing those things when I was between 220 and 240 somewhere. I wonder what it would be like at goal?
I’m gonna follow this awhile and see where it leads. I still have two sprained ankles to tend to, but I want to play again. I want to feel powerful and strong. Invincible. Sharp. Bright-eyed. Happy. Valuable.