Guy is not afraid I will leave him for Hugh Laurie. I don’t
think Hugh Laurie is afraid, either, though he might want to be. But my
boyfriend knows that Hugh Laurie is imaginary, as far as crushes go–even though
it is rather a hopelessly large crush because, my God, the man is talented and
also wildly hot–and also, because as soon as I get done mainlining the House
DVDs I’m renting, I will get over it.
What we have talked about, though–what he thought about, but
is not necessarily afraid of–is that losing weight will change me,
fundamentally. I say well, before, I had never run without being chased. That
is pretty darn fundamental. Oh! Also, I crave salad! That’s crazy.
No, he says. You have always had people hitting on
you, he says; the difference is, will you believe them now, when they tell you that you have
beautiful eyes and should run away with them? When they buy you drinks, will
you stop thinking they’re just polite? He is afraid, in short, that I will lose
weight, discover what he knew all along–that I am worth something–and then, I
will leave him.
I’m not sure that that is actually a function of weight
loss, to make me believe that people are telling the truth when they say kind
things about me. I don’t remember it
being in the list of pros on the surgeon’s slideshow–I would have been more
excited to see that than Resolution of Gastroesophageal Reflux: 99%. But it is
possible that’s the way it works–that when they pulled out a big hunk
of my stomach, what came along with it, clinging to the underside, was my
self-doubt, which I imagine is black and slimy and possibly has many rows of
poisonous teeth. I believe I was born with it, and that it was possibly one of
my fairy godmothers, this greasy lump of hate. It has certainly taken an
interest in me, and I am surprised, with it in tow, that I have ever let anyone
else be interested.
In high school, I did not have a boyfriend. In ninth grade, when David called me up–sweet David from homeroom who sat behind me
every day and told me I looked nice, and asked me if I was going to the dance,
and asked if I would like to go with him, maybe, please, his voice breaking and
trembling just a little bit–I did not assume he was gathering up all his
courage and he had just done one of the bravest things a high school boy could
do. What I assumed was that he was stupid, or maybe crazy. I imagined that
maybe he was being put up to it, and that I would wait in the living room all
night, wearing Bonne Belle lip gloss and an itchy new dress and feeling almost
pretty, and less pretty and less pretty and less pretty until I realized he was
never going to come, because he had been making fun of me and my capacity for
believing anyone would ever ask me out.
Christian worked on yearbook with me in 10th
grade. Christian put his arms around me and I tensed, afraid he would feel
something disgusting and lumpy, that he would realize all my clever stratagems
for hiding how fat I was–the oversized button-down shirts and the long skirts
that hid my legs, the way I wore all black less because I was a Goth and more
because it was supposed to be slimming, the way I would back out of the room so
no one would look at my ass–were all a lie, and that he’d spring away with a
cry of fear and loathing and wipe his hands on his jeans, horrified, and wonder
how I was ever able to live with myself.
Christian did not vomit in the corner after he touched me.
He wondered why I got so tense. He was sweet to me, and friendly, and we
talked, and I relaxed because he didn’t want anything from me that I couldn’t
give him, he wouldn’t expect anything and then have to be horribly
disappointed, and then one night after school he tried to kiss me and I cried,
because it was another joke, a terrible joke and I ran out of the classroom and
hid in the girl’s room until I thought he had stopped looking for me. I walked
to a gas station and begged my mother to pick me up, and he never understood
why I wouldn’t talk to him any more.
I got over it. I had to have gotten over it. It was a combination
of being an insane teenager who didn’t even realize she wasn’t that fat, and
starting to believe that maybe the world isn’t necessarily always a cruel place,
or at least I didn’t have to be cringing all the time, waiting for the blow to
land because I am smarter and braver than that. It was finding out I could shop in places other than Kmart (thanks, mom) and buy clothing that made me
look curvy instead of potatoey. It was so many things, and I came into my own,
which is a story of beautiful triumph and great perseverance, and you are all
inspired. I know I am.
The only problem is that it never quite goes away, the
feeling of having to work harder to be loved
because you are fat, to make up for being unsightly by being extra-excellent
and super accommodating. You can see yourself doing it, and you can try to stop
yourself, but it always seems to slip out. The self-deprecating comments are
always at the ready, because while I do not back out of the room any more,
because I know that people see exactly what I look like, I have to make sure they know that I know exactly what I look like, too.
That’s always driven Guy nuts–my knee-jerk fat jokes, the
way I will take a compliment, twist it like a balloon animal and ta da, you’ve
got yourself a hilarious and lovable crocodile of self-hate. It’s gotten
better; it was getting better before I started losing weight. I decided that I
was tired of apologizing for myself, and I worked at accepting compliments as
they were intended, and it was so hard.
It’s getting easier, and that drives me nuts. I am 106
pounds lighter, and it is easier to think that someone means it when they say I
have a nice ass, and that the man who missed his bus to run after me, this
morning, and ask for my phone number might really have been disappointed, and
not just to have missed his bus. Why couldn’t I have felt this way when I was
bigger? I am exactly the same goddamn person. I am worth exactly as much. I am
exactly as awesome, no matter the width of my ass. Someone is nice to me, and I
want to say fuck you. You wouldn’t have been nice to me a hundred pounds ago,
would you have been? Fuck you.
The problem is, I also want to bask it in. I want to be
wanted and needed and desired. Keep buying me drinks, keep telling me I’m
pretty. Tell me you want me, and I’m the most gorgeous thing you’ve ever seen.
I want everyone to love me. I’ve already got someone to love me, and I hate
myself for this.
Guy is afraid I will leave him. He cannot imagine how much
it has been to me, that we have been together over three years, that over those
three years my weight has fluctuated by almost a hundred pounds, all told, up
and down. That at every step of the way, he has called me gorgeous and he has
meant it, really meant it, and that I have believed it. Really believed it, the
way I have never believed anyone else. It would be impossible to not believe
him–it would wrong him, if I did not believe him.
What I’m afraid of, besides never meeting Hugh Laurie and
getting to go to prom with him, is that I will change when I lose weight. That
I have to change, and that I will change so much, and in ways that I have not
even anticipated, that he will be the one to walk away.