A large amount of my complaining over the last sixty-three years has just been rendered moot.
When I started high school, I stood 5-2-1/2 (oh, that awful extra half-inch that kept me from being “five foot two, eyes of blue). I weighed about seventy pounds at age thirteen. I stayed that slim until my second year of college, when a Missouri brown recluse savagely bit me. I fell gravely ill and nearly died. Doctors pumped me full of Prednizone. I ballooned practically overnight.
For the next few years, I yo-yoed. One year — twenty pounds overweight; the next, ten under. Each zig met an even greater zag. I plummeted below a hundred during my third year of law school. My mother threatened commitment. I rolled my eyes and sipped my grapefruit juice.
Through my thirties and forties, I struggled but stayed fairly slim. Somewhere south of my second marriage, the numbers marched in a steady uphill journey to double my body weight. My artificial knee cracked. I limped to the doctor.
The elderly surgeon who inserted my old-fashioned replacement joint had retired. A handsome “sports doctor” chided me for becoming obese. “That joint is weight-rated, ma’am, and when we gave you that knee, you weighed 70 lbs less than you do now.” I didn’t point out that no gifting had been involved. I just slunk on home and put myself on an austerity diet.
Over the next two years, I would lose all of that girth and more. In early 2011, I walked down the aisle for the third time in a size zero, weighing 103 lbs and standing 5-3-1/2 (I’m not sure how I gained an inch over the years; probably from standing straight).
But life happened, and again, I started that old depression eating. Faced with emotional trauma, I either succumb to a bleeding ulcer or consume nothing but potatoes and doughnuts.
The relevance, counselor?
Through all of this, I have loudly, long, often, and annoyingly complained about myself.
I’m too fat.
I’m too thin.
I’m incapable of exercising to lose weight because of multiple health issues.
I could exercise but I don’t.
I can’t sustain a diverse diet so I have to eat whatever stays in me. (This part is actually true but I don’t talk about it in a constructive way.)
I’ve recently started watching YouTube videos with body-positive messages, such as Carrie Dayton. While I’m not particularly concerned about fashion and thus don’t like all of the videos from these ladies, I can relate to the tears, the frustrations, and the determination of a generation half my age and even younger. I experienced all of what they recount in their extraordinarily forthright stories about body-shaming, eating disorders, and their journeys to body acceptance.
Then something really strange happened. I bought a dress from a thrift store that I stuck away in my twenty-one inches of hanging space and promptly forgot. I got it out this weekend and considered wearing it. Fearing that it might not fit, I glanced at the tag. Medium. Oh, that should work. Then I looked again. Petite medium. Ohhhhhh. Am I a “petite medium”? I don’t feel petite. I don’t even feel medium.
And yet, it fits as though it were tailor made for me. NO tautness, no scrunching, no tugging, no pulling. And suddenly, I find myself thinking, Well, well, well, little missy. After all that bitching about yourself, here you are. Sixty-three, and a petite medium.
And who cares, after all? Who really cares? Am I a healthy weight? Yes. Can my disabled legs carry the weight? Not quite, and I’m not as strong as I need to be. So, I’ll work on that. But am I less valuable as a human being with a few extra pounds? Certainly not.
I took six decades to figure this out but I’m damned proud of myself anyway. Better late than never.
It’s the seventeenth day of the sixty-sixth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.