My Butt Does Not Define Me

I am fat. This is a fact. I have been fat my whole adult life. I aspired to be less fat at points and became less fat in college. I lost about 30lbs or more over the course of a year by eating a more balanced diet and working out about 3–5 times a week; doing cardio and weight lifting.

What I did like about losing weight was that it gave me the confidence to try new things like snowboarding (which I only tried once). I enjoyed have more variety in wardrobe and having more energy.

The challenging thing about losing weight is that it didn’t necessarily make me a happier person. It didn’t change the way I perceived myself. People started treating me differently, but it didn’t change the core person that I was and it didn’t change my personality.

It took a year to lose that weight and I was spent emotionally. When I went back to Texas for the summer, all I wanted to do was sleep. Depression crept upon like a demon. I cried a lot and felt isolated. My family and the people around me just didn’t understand and just wanted me to “get over it.” How do you do that? I didn’t know at the time.

In the summer and fall, I was deciding whether or not to return to California for school. My mother blamed the environment for me being depressed and thought the school was too expensive. Then she was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer. I was 21 at the time and not ready for this news. I sobbed for two weeks straight with the thought of losing my mother. She was and is my everything.

I stayed in Texas and in the fall started at the University of Houston. I was the sole caretaker of my mother during this time. My step-father took a job abroad during this time and my sister was emotionally not able to handle the stress of our mother being sick. Predominately taking her to doctor’s appointments at M.D. Anderson, cleaning her pic line and cooking for her when she was able to actually eat.

It was too much at the time and I really didn’t know how to talk about it. I’ve never felt so angry as I did when my mom got sick. I felt angry at the people that just wanted to gossip about her being sick and calling our house. I felt angry at my father who I just got re-acquainted with in the fall who was NEVER in my life. I felt ENRAGED at the doctors who saw my mother as an opportunity to experiment with dangerous cancer treatments at my mother’s expense. I felt heartbroken because I left behind so many friends in California.

I really got into school at the time and set a goal to study hard and graduate from college so my mother could see me march. It was too much for me at the time. As my mother lost weight from her inability to eat from chemo, I couldn’t stop eating. There was just too much to deal with so I ended up just filling my pain with food. I could eat a whole large pizza without feeling full. I could just eat and eat and never stop. So the weight that I fought so hard to lose came back and then some.

A lot of time has passed since that moment in time. My father passed away in 2006 and my dear mother survived cancer. Not only did she just survive cancer, she kicked its ass. Despite that the anger I felt stayed as did the weight.

As I’ve gotten older, I have struggled to capture that motivation to lose weight and keep it off as I had when I was in college. What I know is that I can’t eat like other people. I can’t eat like my husband or friends and I can’t be sedentary. I also can’t make the argument that I am healthy at this size because I would be lying to myself.

In my 20s, I felt like an idiot — too young to have life experience that I felt was relevant. In my 30s, I’ve barely started feeling like an adult but starting pushing back against other’s expectations of how I should be living. As I’m approaching 40, I want to believe that I have a better perspective on life and maybe I care less about others perceptions of who I am and what they want me to be and more about being authentic.

Authenticity means embracing the fact that I’m a weirdo. I’m still defining what weirdo is to me but it means…that’s the journey I suppose. It’s taken a good look at where I’m at with a good therapist to examine my shit. I’ve got a lot of shit to work through too. I’m a sensitive person and society generally doesn’t hold space for sensitive people.

This is where my weirdness and self-care come in to play. I unapologetically LOVE music. Music has been my pain-reliever throughout my whole life. I love listening, playing and dancing to music. And it’s my greatest passion to be able to work in this field that I love. What makes it a little weird, is that I have three children and it’s a fairly male-dominated industry with folks that like to party.

Also, despite being married with children, I’ve learned to do things by myself. Like travelling and going to concerts. I’ve learned to visit a city and explore it on my own terms and sometimes getting blistered, soaked and lost. But fuck it, I live and die by my own rules. I’d like to believe I’m setting an example for my kids to be true to themselves too.

Pursuing what I love has also given me insight into pursuing other things that are important to me. I keep asking myself who do I want to be? What does that look like? How do I achieve this goal?

I’ve had to address my health issues and depression. This has not been pleasant. generally speaking, I don’t like the healthcare system simply because it’s not focussed on patient care. Finding the right people and right meds have been a key to unlocking a door to better well-being. Because really if I can’t get out of bed because I’m crying, I’m not really living.

This past Spring, I’ve taken steps to improve my life. I starting with water-aerobics but hated it. Then I started going to a barre class. I love barre. Now, I’m walking with the goal of running in the Fall. I starting examining the food I eat. Now, I’m taking at look at why I eat and what hunger really is for me. Food being pleasure and a way to satiate my feelings.

I realize that my extra weight has also been kinda punk. A fuck you to all the beauty standards out there and a way to keep people at arm’s length. And it’s a bit a of a revelation.

There is a lot of bullshit about losing weight out there, and I know it now more clearly. I was at my highest weight this spring. I’ve lost at least 30 lbs. I look and feel a little different. Although, I would love to be a size 2 and look like Salma Hayek or any person that’s consider conventionally beautiful that’s not gonna happen. It’s the inner-beauty that I’m seeking. I want to be recognized for being a good, loving person and strive for that. I want to fight a good fight against bullshit and hate and depression that whispers that I’m worthless.

Despite my appearance and weight I have to say this, my butt does not define me. This has been my mantra for the past three years when at times when I’ve felt less than human. I repeat in in defiance of what society expects me to be as a woman. Your butt does not define you either.

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