Monday, July 12, 2010

The Cart, the Book and the Football Player

I remember in high school (when I weighed about 150 pounds) walking out of the cafeteria behind a cheerleader and her boyfriend. The cheerleader was a petite blond with large breasts and a small round butt. Her boyfriend was a football player who often picked her up in the lunchroom and threw her over his shoulders. I was behind the boyfriend who was behind the cheerleader when the boyfriend said loudly, “I’m making a sign for your ass that says, ‘Wide load.’” Then he beeped like he was backing up a truck and laughed. The cheerleader turned around and playfully hit his arm, but I was horrified for her. Then I was horrified for me. If he thought his girlfriend’s ass was fat, there was no hope for mine.

Fast forward to Saturday. I went grocery shopping at Wal-Mart for the first time since my surgery. Not that it was ever a goal or dream, but I was excited to use a motorized scooter. It looked like fun. After a few instructions I took off, my husband walking along side.

It was fun at first, albeit a bit jarring as I got used to starting and stopping without causing whiplash. Then I backed up and the cart beeped and a familiar feeling washed over me, the same thing I felt in the cafeteria that day in high school.

I read “Women, Food and God” this weekend. Some of what Geneen Roth wrote pertained to me and some of it didn’t, mostly because I am, for the most part, on the other side of experience than the person for whom the book was written. But what I did take from the book was that we all have former selves and former selves and former selves.

Throughout out lives we say goodbye to one way of looking at something and adopt a new view. Doesn’t mean every new perspective is healthy. (God knows I still cling to beliefs that don’t elevate me to any higher understanding). But learning to recognize our primal reactions – those formed long ago through repetitive or one-time experiences we might not even remember – we can break habitual patterns of thinking and doing. For me, the vivid memory of that moment in high school was the result of belief I accepted years ago that I’m not good enough, worthy enough or whole apart from other people’s approval.

The roots of this belief system are deep. But while I can’t erase my past, I can choose how I react to stimuli that act to cut me down. For awhile I felt a little sad riding on that cart – a little exposed, vulnerable, and subject to mercy from those around me who could walk and reach and not hear beeping noises when they backed up their carts. But that stinkin’ thinkin’ didn’t last long. I acknowledged my former self and even paid her a little homage, then acted in a way that no longer gave power what Roth calls “The Voice.”

Now, then, 150 pounds, 300 pounds, 130 pounds, I AM worthy and good enough and whole without the thoughts and opinions of others, namely the opinions of my inner critic. I happily finished my little ride around Wal-Mart, and sent up good energy to that football player, who I can only hope grew up.

8 comments:

  1. I'm a little behind on your blog, but when I saw you on a motorized cart, I had to check out the post.

    So sorry about your leg, but happy to hear you're doing better.

    I'm reading about Geneen Roth's new book on everyone's blog, and today even Oprah is going to talk about it. Guess I'll have to check it out. Sounds like you got something out of it.

    About the wide load comment, reminds me of when I was 20 and weighed 140 pounds (5'6" so that was a tiny bit overweight). I was walking down a street in my hometown of Fairbanks, Alaska. An old pickup truck drove by me and there were a couple guys in the back, sitting in the bed of the truck. One of them yelled out at me, "Hey, you've got a big BUTT!". Then they laughed hysterically.

    Here I am, 35 years later and I remember how much that hurt. So stupid to care what a couple of rednecks thought, but I've never forgotten it. If only I could. :)

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  2. Those carts are fun. Sorry about your leg and I hope it is better. I had a bad experience in one of those carts in Kroger. Have a good day..

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  3. I love that picture of you smiling in the cart. So cute, Lynn! You are such an inspiration to us all with regard to your weight and with regard to a body that has had limitations. (I know, I know, I have said it before, but I want to reiterate it!)

    Ali

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  4. There's something about Walmart that gets us to the point of life. I've been inspired to write quite a few posts after a Walmart visitation.

    When I saw your photo of you riding in the cart, I thought about how at my heaviest at 345 lbs I would sometimes walk in to a store and look at those carts parked in the entry way. I looked at them half wanting to use one right then and also terrified I would have no choice but to use one eventually because of my obesity. So much is different between the 345 lb me and the 223 lb me though even I'm just starting to get that. Thanks for this post. It's a keeper for me.

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  5. I saw a just a bit of Roth on Oprah yesterday, and they were saying that when it comes to overeating, "it's never about the food." I'm not sure about that. I think for some of us it is about the food (wanting it) sometimes--and sometimes it's not. Roth's book has some very good points, but I think for most of us who struggle with significant weight issues, Roth's own weight loss methods (basically to stop dieting) would be a challenge. But then--you never know--if I could just break the eating habits I have developed over decades of dieting and gaining--if I could just develop a new self-image of who I really am--perhaps weight loss could become a reality. Right now, my self-image is that of a fat woman. That old paradigm takes me back to the food every time the going gets tough. I too, was the brunt of negative weight comments in junior high. As long ago as that was, those comments have been internalized and are part of who I am. But...I think I'll re-read Geneen Roth's new book.

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  6. Jane, I agree about the whole "it's not about food" thing. We were just "talking" about this the other day on FB that sometimes you just want to eat something because it tastes good and not out of some unmet need or want. I'm sure psychologists would poke holes in that theory, though, and say there actually WAS some kind of emotional baggage going on that caused me to eat something just because I wanted it, but I get what you're saying. Having been overweight and obese much of my life, food is PART of the problem, not the entire problem.

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  7. I'm catching up, too. It's funny about noises, music and smells--they take me by hyperdrive back 10,20,30 years. I'll bet that cheerleader remembers his remark, too. Hope she's doing okay, as well. It's wonderful to be able to look back from a new, mature, and healthy perspective.

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