When I wrote my very first Trust Your Gut, on February 2, 2017, it started with an intro like this:
Trust Your Gut is a series of stories about real people with weight issues, and complications arising from those issues. It will explain what the person is facing, what their options are, what they have decided to do to take action, and why they chose the path they are on. Each person’s story will be based on truth, so it won’t all be happy, but it will be real. The goal of this series is to get people talking about options that are available for people that have weight issues, on either end of the scale. If you would like to contribute to this series, there is a contact form linked on my Home page for this blog. I know there are people out there that want to help people like them, as I do.
The names here may or may not reflect the person’s real name. If someone wants to remain unknown, we will choose a different name for that person’s story. The goal is to help people, and anonymity is a valid personal choice for contributors. I will use a person’s name only if they give permission to do so.
Since then, I have written numerous entries into this category. Most of them have been about my own story and struggles. There have been a few guest entries, and I am still open to more in the future.
Somewhere along the way, I lost the urge to blog. I took a break, When it became a long break, I just focused on other parts of my life for a while. Then I moved my website. While I am finally getting back to work with my blogs, I wanted to revisit the original post that started them all, and drop that link above for anyone who wants to check out the very first one. I encourage you to read them all, of course, but I think a reflection on where I started to where I am now is a nice place to start.
In May, 2020, I experienced something that I have not had to deal with personally in a long time.
I was the target of a Backyard Bully.
It was a nice sunny day, and I was not yet working at my part-time day job. It was a Saturday, and I was wearing a pair of leggings and a t-shirt. I had no plans to go anywhere when I picked out my outfit, that day.
I remember Roy, my husband, saying he wanted to go run an errand. I decided I would like to go with him, but thought I should change. He assured me that I looked fine, and that we should just go as we were. So we ran the errand.
When we got home, I decided it would be nice to go out into our yard to take pictures of the different little flowers that had delighted me when they grew in the spring. They are wildflowers. Some are commonly referred to as weeds, but after being cooped up all winter, and trying to find things to do while being home, it seemed like a reasonable option to me. So, I got my camera, and out I went into the yard. It was so sunny and warm that I didn’t even need a jacket.
I started in the front yard. I found a patch of forget me nots, and some dandelions.
As I played with my camera, and wandered to the backyard, I noticed bags of garbage beside my neighbour’s shed. I don’t go out into the backyard very often, and I thought to myself that I hoped it didn’t always look like that. I shrugged my shoulders and found more flowers with my camera lens.
As I focused through the lens of my camera, I heard my neighbours in their shed. I was relieved to realize that they were doing spring cleaning in their own yard, and glad there was a reason for the garbage bags behind me. As I continued walking through my yard, taking pictures of the little flowers, I heard my neighbour make this comment to his wife, “Will you look at that.”
I didn’t hear her reply, and for a moment, I just thought he was commenting about the neighbour wandering around in her own backyard with a big fancy camera, taking pictures of weeds. Then, it dawned on me what he was really commenting about.
I was wearing my leggings and t-shirt out in public. It wasn’t a longer t-shirt, but it matched my leggings nicely.
He was referring to his own disgust at seeing a woman weighing over three hundred pounds in leggings and a t-shirt.
It took a few moments for me to regain my composure. I had my back to them. I took a deep breath, and took one last photo.
I felt about as small as that flower in the picture, the one all by itself.
The words of the backyard bully stung an old wound, one I have fought against ever since I encountered bullies for the first time as a child.
I may not have lost a lot of weight since I have started writing in this blog category, but I have spent a lot of time working on me.
Previously, I would have let those words into my heart, to pierce it like so many mean things people have said to and about me before. Just as I had let my self talk reveal the ugly nature of the backyard bully’s words in my mind, I had to talk myself out of letting them have power over me.
I told my husband and some friends what had happened. I was angry, but I was not sobbing quietly to myself from the sting of the words. I was angry.
Had those words been about someone else that I was with, the person I am now would have stood up for the other person. In those few minutes while I finished taking pictures, I talked myself out of running away to cry. I finished what I was doing, then walked to the front of my house and went back inside.
The joy of my afternoon was lost.
I still have the pictures, and shared them on my social media, without the ugliness of the hurtful words. I can still smile when I see them, but I also remember what tainted a beautiful afternoon.
One friend said that people who are that mean need extra kindness in their lives.
I still disagree. I see no need to reward a jackass for being an asshole.
Which is how I feel about what happened.
As difficult as it was for me to remain calm and quiet while I finished taking the pictures that afternoon, I realized in the midst of dealing with it that I was not reacting like I used to. My self talk had averted what would have previously been a meltdown.
I decided that I would not give the backyard bully the satisfaction of making me feel miserable about my body image. It is not the body of an athlete, but it is a body that uses layers of fat as a cushion against the harshness of the world around it. Becoming angry or upset and lashing out would not have ended well. I know that from my other experiences with bullies. Being quiet and walking away was difficult. But I did it, and I can be proud of how I handled myself and my feelings in that situation.
I have grown up.
Bullies still exist, and sadly, they probably always will. How I react to them is not in their control, not anymore. It is me who decides how to react to bullies. Although the occurrences are less in my adult life, they still happen. The difference is that I am in control of how I react to the situation and that I can choose to not hold the words in my heart where they will do the worst damage. I do not forget, but I do not let the words of bullies have power over me anymore.
A new year is approaching and I look forward to it with hope, as I have every year. I am also working on making better choices again. I decided to start now, instead of waiting for the new year to start fresh. By implementing small changes now, I will develop better habits to be already established by the time the new year begins. It seems different, this time, and I truly hope that I can see the results of my hard work as I create a new habit on a weekly basis to add up to a healthier version of me.