Tonight's class should have left me high. I did spear, bird's nest on the bar, and arrow. I hopped on the bar in a new way. I still can't do hip hang but I got a little closer, and while I didn't do our new move, I felt confident that I could do it next class. I got to big swing in Catcher's Hang which was as amazing as I'd imagined. I left actually feeling pretty good. I no longer beat myself up over what I can't do because I've learned that I'll get them eventually. And it's not a race. Not a competition.
I had this post planned on in my head all week. I almost wrote it a few days ago but made myself wait. Now I find myself both pleased I wait and also miserable. I wanted to write about how trapeze has transformed how I see my body and my efforts at being healthy. This is not going to be that Fat Girl post. It is partly about that experience but it's also about easily a frame can shift. Part of me wants to not write it knowing the pain it's going to cause me. But I want this to be an honest experience. As a true a telling as I can make it. And that means the hard shit is hard.
When I do trapeze, I don't forget I have a body. For a long time that is how I hid from feeling fat. I just pretended I didn't have a body. I did things that didn't remind me of my body. But over the years, I've tried to push that instinct. Trapeze really shoved me out of this comfort zone. I'm acutely aware of my body all the time. If you're anything less than fully in touch with how your body moves you're going to get hurt. At first, this level of awareness proved uncomfortable. I used (and still do at times) a lot of humor in those moments. Jumping to the punch line about my fat before anyone else can beat me to the punch. It's an old defense mechanism I learned in Jr. High. No matter that no one there is going to make fun of me.
But after a few classes, I stopped thinking of my body as being cumbersome, huge, or fat. I mean, of course part of me knew that I was fat. It's impossible to not be aware when you're hauling that much body fat up a rope. I can't deny that I'm big because things are harder because of this weight. But I made myself imagine myself as totally badass up there. I told myself everyday that I was one strong ass bitch, and after some time I started to see myself as that badass bitch on that bar.
Thus inspired by the fat women who do yoga, run, etc and take pictures of themselves I decided that I'd push myself a little more and take pictures of me on the bar. I'd been working hard for the last eight weeks not just at trapeze but at eating healthier and exercising everyday. I felt so fucking strong and awesome. When I saw myself in the glass front of store windows, I didn't wince away because I saw in those reflections someone who could hang upside down from bars, who could twist her body into interesting shapes, who could spend hours on the evil elliptical. Doing trapeze totally changed how I saw getting in shape. It no longer revolved around getting thin; it revolved around getting better at trapeze.
Yes I know the pictures. I had my daughter come in and take them. She loved watching me learn the tricks she knew and after the class she said "You were great Mama!" Those words meant so much more than any other compliment I've ever gotten. And then she handed me the Ipad. A brief glance left a tiny hollow in my stomach. "Think about how strong you are," I told myself. "You are that big and you are doing that stuff." It worked through the big swings where I discovered the joy of hanging upside down and flying through the air. It worked while I broke my blisters to swing by my hands high into the air. It worked until I got into the van and started to look at the photos.
Body dysmorphia is a funny thing. I remember when I was super fit before I got pregnant with R. I was pretty thin for me, muscular. I thought I was fat. All I saw were the fat rolls when I wore anything slightly tight. I still had those scary gross fantasies where I imagined shaving fat off my body. Now of course I look at those pictures and wonder what the hell I was thinking. But then all I could see were the fat rolls and the acne scars. Now that I'm actually fat, I sort of feel justified in seeing my body as enormous. Who is going to say "Now Ginger,you're not as big as you think you are."? No one because I AM huge. And that makes seeing photos of myself often very painful.
When I looked closely at the photos, my daughter took, I wanted to cry. In front of me was this short, obese woman with cottage cheese arms and back fat hanging out of her tank top. There I seemed to lumber next a group of thin woman who all made the moves look graceful. I had seen them struggle but none of that showed in the pictures Piper took. With me, I think it looks like every struggle is apparent. Never once do I see the bad ass graceful person I imagined in my head. Instead, I see how my legs are not as straight. How my body is not positioned correctly. And sometimes I can't even see what move we were doing. I can't help but it think "It's the fat. It's so encompassing it covers everything."
Part of this journey for me has to be about how I see my body. And right now I just feel so disgusted and repulsed by myself. I wonder how anyone who watches me do this can not help but feel disgust. And yes part of me wonders if I even deserve or belong out there. Part of being really fat is a sense that you should just hide yourself away until you can make the fat go away. It's one reason why I kept saying "I'll do trapeze after I lose some weight." We live in a society that mocks fat people, looks at them with scorn, takes pictures when they're exercising, etc. Everyday I'm reminded of how fucking gross other people find bodies like mine. I read the comments on fat model's pages, and am stunned by the anger that a fat woman dare show flesh, dare be happy, dare do yoga, or run or do anything but sit in self loathing really. And I want so much to be stronger than this hate. I wanted to smash it and say "Fuck you world, I am not going to hide my body away." But sometimes my own inner mean girl comes out and reminds me that if I can't even love my body who the hell else is going to?
I hope I can get back to that bad ass strong bitch mentality I had going. I'm not going to quit because I am acutely aware of this would effect my daughters especially the one who witnessed me working hard and having a great time. And I wish I could unsee the photos. I wish I could have realized before that I just wasn't ready to push myself this far. But mostly I hope that I don't retreat to my room, hide under a blanket, and wish myself into a thin non existence.