MY DOCTOR SAID I'M FAT AND I CRIED
Standing in front of the scale, Aracelli, a vision in green scrubs, says to me, “Time to weigh in!” I like her hair and I think it’s just long enough to choke her so that I don’t have to hear her sing song voice say that to me ever again.
The scale is like having HPV. Everyone has it but no one is happy about it. It serves no purpose but misery, followed by the How Could I Have Prevented This Blues, concluding with the realization that most, if not all, people fight the same battle. The scale lays itself wide in front of me, quiet and smug, as I wonder if I can manage to let out this last zzzzzrpt of gas out of the bottom of my bowels, will I be 20 lbs lighter? I step onto the scale.
Aracelli writes the number as I stare at the scale wishing that it would set itself on fire. This isn’t a moment of shock. I know that I haven’t been paying attention to my weight. I hate that I ever have to be paying attention to my weight. Most of all, I hate having weight. For a moment before stepping off the scale, I wish that I could look at that number and feel empowered, strong, body positive. Instead, I imagine my body naked in about 10 years - boobs to my waistline, silver pubic hair dripping midthigh, elbows loosely flapping over my arms - and let out a big sigh. I am tired.
In less than a year, I have traveled to Boston, Las Vegas, New York, San Francisco, Washington DC, and Nashville among others. I’ve performed in over 60 shows, increased my goals for writing, attempted to fix my financial woes by taking a part time job as a bartender on top of my regular 9-5. I’ve vacationed with my family, stayed up and encouraged my daughters to be the best they can be while trying to be their rock, I’ve fucked my husband on the regular, walked my dog, rode my bike, took care of my stupid house life, and managed to participate in several project groups - maybe I was not great at them, but I’m present. My friends have come to me to be their company at bars, restaurants, or on porches and I have leaned into them listening to their woes and squeezing the last bit of love I have for that day to give to them. And here, in these 3 seconds, all this is destroyed as I stand in the presence of the number 191.2.
“I know weight loss is hard, but you’re getting older and sadly, it doesn’t get easier as we get older,” my doctor shrugs her shoulders and I notice how long her hair is. She clicks some notes into her computer, pushes her chair back, and faces me, eye to eye, “Everyone lives in a range of about 30 lbs their whole lives. At your age, it’s unreasonable to…….”
EXCUSE ME? AT MY AGE? I’m a blossoming 14-year-old girl touching myself to Duran Duran, focused on John Taylor, because I was too young to be sex positive about a gang bang with the whole group! I am a 21-year-old woman getting stoned at 8 a.m. before walking to work at a vintage car garage where I’m contemplating an affair with my boss. I AM A 35-year-old mother of two divorced woman who has started a roller derby league in the Nation’s third largest city. I AM FIRE.
“At your age, it’s unreasonable to expect that you can get to the weight you were at when you were younger. As you get older, the weight will affect you. I recommend that you try to eat more lean proteins, veggies, and fruit. Try to stay off the carbs, sugar, and processed foods. Dairy only in moderation.”
I can feel the tears forming in pools at the bottom of my eyes. This is not the first time that I have heard this from my doctor. This is not the first time I’ve known it to be true. But, this is the first time that I am so tired of thinking about it. In my almost 45 years of living, this one topic has beaten me down again and again and again. I can’t win.
When I am thin, I am thinking about being thin. When I am heavy, I think about wanting to not be heavy. When I eat a cookie, I am wrought with guilt. When I deny myself, I am filled with a contradictory sense of unsatisfied pride. I won’t try on clothes at the store because I am convinced that my body is too disgusting to look at under fluorescent light. In my room I can curse my body out loud and cry privately. I hate my doctor and I hate myself.
“Elizabeth, I know that it’s hard for you.”
Isn’t it hard for everyone?
“I don’t want you to focus on ‘losing weight,’ I want you to think of small wins like changing your diet or losing a 1 lb a week.”
How do I lose a pound without losing weight!
“Keep up the biking. Change your diet. Your diet has a more significant impact on your overall health than exercise. Both are good, but you’ll see the biggest change once you address your diet.” Doc gives me the head tilt, the sad eyes that say that I’m going to be ok but she’s not fucking around either. She finishes up her assessment with her mantra - lean proteins, veggies, and fruits.
I wonder how it happened that I came to have a sharp pain in my ankle addressed and spent 20 minutes talking about my chubs. Part of me wanted to confront her and say, “So you think I’m so heavy that my petite ankles are not able to bear my enormous elephantine body?!” Instead, I take the printed piece of paper, an order for an xray, from her hand and thank her.
She escorts me halfway to reception and softly says, “You can do it.”