For as long as I can remember I have been fat. Before I could remember I was born a preemie at 4 pounds, 7 ounces. Then one summer, as the story goes, I went to stay with my grandparents in Texas. I left a skinny kid and came back fat. I was 5.
Throughout my adolescence - that amazing time of growing - my peers began to have input into my life as much as family. My first recollection of a comment about how I looked was from a boy in 2nd Grade, "You are fat." I told my teacher, she blew me off. I was 6.
Fast forward to 6th grade. I had been to a handful of schools by then, plenty of input from family and classmates and others about how I looked. How I was "fat." But at least by then I would also get, "beautiful eyes" once in awhile.
I learned very early on that being fat was neither popular or positive. Funny thing though - I didn't eat all day and never move. I ate normal and was plenty active. My behaviors did not lean toward "fat." I participated in every activity I could get a ride to in high school: tennis, volleyball, marching band, dance team, drama, academic team, and probably a few other things I've forgotten.
Looking back through my early days pictures NOW...I was certainly not fat. Not SKINNY, but not FAT either. But the label of "fat" is what stuck. Even when I worked a summer job as a clerk in a law firm, a teenage girl from the country in the "big city" wearing a DRESS...and the Sr. Partner looked at me one day and said, "You'd be pretty if you weren't so fat." Yes. Said that to me. I was 16.
My relationships with men was influenced by having this fat. I adopted a belief that any man that really loved me would love ME regardless of the fat. So any man that said I was fat was dismissed, and the ones that swore to me that I was beautiful regardless of my size were the ones I gave myself to. And each one was a learning lesson to put it nicely. My "first" left me, my ex-husband was abusive, and so on. That belief that I could be beautiful regardless of my size was replaced with "I can be beautiful, fat, and useful." Useful to men one way, and the rest of the world through the work I can accomplish.
I poured myself into doing good work, providing value to the world, discovering and developing myself. Through it all, I have kept my fat. I have done some really cool things: traveled to other countries doing mission work, spoke with high-ranking government officials about changing the world, and had dinner with Fortune 500 CEOs. My fat came with me. I have been to the proverbial hell and back with relationships of all kinds, and my fat came with me.
Why do I say fat is my comfort zone? It's always been the buffer between the vulnerable me and what I can be for the world that needs what I can do in it. It's been my protective force field to ward off negative. My body literally goes into protective mode. I can eat healthy, exercise, and watch what I do, and yet...the fat is still there.
My fat is my comfort zone because it's all I've ever known. I don't know how NOT to be fat.
My word for 2017 is"Beyond." I now have to decide if I'm ready to go beyond that. To take the mental and emotional steps necessary to live like I'm "fit" not "fat." What will that look like? Not sure, but I'm ready to design a new label for myself.