A few months back I received an invitation from an old friend from high school. He and another old friend of ours were organizing a high school reunion. This would not be the whole high school, just our friends. I was conflicted. On one hand I was extremely complimented to be included, and yet the only thing that is the same is the colour of my eyes.
Back in high school I was at least half the size I am now. I looked like the picture above. That was the last image many of them had of me. Like I say, the only thing that looks the same is the colour of my eyes. Having said that self derogatory remark, I wouldn't trade being thin and pretty for my life now. Back then I had horrible self-esteem, and practiced self hatred on a very regular schedule. I felt that my worth was in my looks. During my public school years I was picked on a lot, and I honed the skill of invisibility. If you asked any of my former teachers about me, they would not remember having me in their class. I always picked a seat to the side near the back, but not at the back. This practice continued into high school. Come high school I was no longer picked on, but I still needed that invisibility. I did not join clubs, or anything that I could fail at or draw attention to myself. I did nothing that might make me stand out.
I say all of this and yet my high school friends may be wondering who I'm talking about, that is not the me they saw. I adapted to my surroundings. I come from a long line of big mouths, it's what our family does for protection, our legacy if you will. You know how when you see a bear, you are supposed to make yourself appear bigger than them, to scare them off, well the big mouth thing functions the same way. If I acted like I was tough, and nothing bothered me, maybe people would believe it.
Time and love do a funny thing sometimes, they repair wounds. Although I am roughly twice the size of that girl in the photo, I like me now. I like who I am now. I like my life. I have a husband who adores me, and five beautiful children. I have good friends. I have a nice life. It's as if I traded in my vanity for happiness. When I stopped practicing the self hatred (I was bulimic among other things) I began to like me. Turns out I'm funny and kind and over all a pretty good person who happens to be overweight, oh and I still have a big mouth. In my everyday life I don't really think about being over weight. Everyone in my life just loves me for who I am, not what I look like.
So back to the high school reunion invitation. My first instinct was to say I wouldn't / couldn't go. That would solve everything, except for the fact that I really liked most of those people. They were my friends, they were the reason that my high school experience was great. We shared our quirkiness. It was nice to have comfort, safety in numbers if you will. If I didn't go, wouldn't I be punishing myself for getting fat? Wasn't that what I had worked so hard all of these years to over come, the self hatred?
I said I would come. Then they threw a wrench into things.
One of the people who were invited was an old boyfriend. Not a casual few month boyfriend. We dated for over a year. He was this really nice, funny guy that I outgrew in university. When I got to university, no one knew me, I could re-invent who I was. I was outgoing and a party girl at university. I hung out with the university football team. I was cool. Cool was something that I was never and would never be again. I needed to own that experience. Honestly I still feel badly about the way I broke it off. He was a nice guy and I hurt him. I wasn't sure if I could face him again. Plus, and this is the big plus... if I was him, it would give me great pleasure to see that the person who hurt me got fat. Man, I was back to the "maybe I shouldn't go" again. In the end I pulled up my big girl pants and remembered that I have a beautiful life. I have a husband who adores me, and five beautiful kids (are you sensing a mantra here?). I could face that old boyfriend, I owed him that much.
Next obstacle, the person that I hate the most in the world would be there! Ordinarily I am not one to hold onto past grievances, or for that matter hate anyone. It takes too much energy and I need that extra energy for my busy life. The girl who gave me the scar that adorns my face, I forgave her years ago. She was a really angry girl, and with good reason, I was just in her way. Years later we even became friends (after she had worked on her anger issues). I really don't like to hold a grudge, except in this case.
Back then this individual dated a good friend of mine. He spoke to her horribly. Everyone else seemed to be o.k. with it. The one day, the day that I could take no more, she was eating french fries. This girl was 5 foot 3 and if she had quarters in her pockets weighed 100 pounds. He told her to stop eating because she was already fat enough. I have never been able to abide a bully, never have and never will, even if it means putting my neck on the line, which on this day it did. So "I told him that he could not speak to her that way, it was unacceptable, who did he think he was?" He did not care for this comment and asked if I would like to go out to the hall. "Are you asking me to go and fight you?" I asked, my face still angry, the insides beginning to get worried. "YES, that's what I'm saying" he replied. "If you want to fight a girl, then sure, lets go out to the hall". By this point I'm pooping my pants on the inside, but being bigger than the bear on the outside. We walk out into the hall. As I sit here writing this I'm not sure why no one thought to say anything about this, why they all thought it was alright that this idiot challenged a girl to a fight. So out I walked to get hit in the face. So I have my back against the wall, and he has his fist balled up, like he's ready to strike. In a moment of genius a calm comes over me. "If you're going to hit me, you should make sure that you hit me really hard, and really make it count because if you take a look down at where my knee is, you will see that you will be coughing those things up for a few years to come". Ok I may have said it a bit more crudely than that. He did indeed look down and in the end must have valued his deep voice and ability to father children in the future. Disgustedly he dramatically threw down his threatening arm "You're not worth it anyway." I believe, but am not sure, but I think I said something like "yeah I'm not worth it, it takes a really BIG man to hit a girl!" When he had walked away I calmly walked to the girls bathroom and proceeded to throw up, and then cry.
That event has stuck with me all those years. He never hit me, and yet I hate him. From that day forward I tried to make his life as miserable as I could. I'm not sure what the logic behind that was, maybe I really did want punched in the face. I heard that he was wanting to go to York and try out for the football team, so I told my friends who were on the football team about him, hoping they would all beat him up. I hated him and he was going to the reunion.
Once again I wondered if I should go. What would I do? I then remembered that I had a husband who adored me and was 6 foot 4 (see that mantra again). If that individual did anything remotely rude or threatening my husband would clean his clock, and that is only if my kids didn't get to him first. Why was I worrying about this. I have never really been a helpless damsel in distress, why was I acting like it now? In the end the chance to see old friends won out over all the reason's why not to go.
To be continued......