Growing up I was referred to by my family as our “Poky Little Puppy“. Perhaps some of it was in affection. Mostly though it was because if we ever went on a hike or a walk or bike ride or just went off somewhere; I lagged behind. Some of this was because I was usually lost in my own little happy world and not paying attention. The rest is because I didn’t keep up. Maybe if I spent more time outside riding my banana seated bike or running around instead of (or in addition to?) reading so many books to escape the pressures of constant fat teasing I might have found myself at a higher level of fitness and able to keep up. As it was, on any such excursion I found myself again the subject of teasing ridicule. (which, let me tell you, is never as “Lovingly Fond” as friends or family would rather the subjects of such teasing believe. It gets wearing and downright annoying, thanks.) The worst was being behind and actively struggling to keep up. Why the worst? Because on those rare occasions when the folks ahead would stop; chatting and resting while I caught up; I would NEVER get the chance to join in an rest WITH them. Always as soon as I got to the mini-rest; “we” moved on. So I never did enjoy such trips really. It is pretty sucky to be left behind and then punished with no rests for daring to lag behind.
Yet all of these memories were brushed away into my distant youth as I began reading about FA, learning to understand that it may possibly be okay to love myself As Is, and finding activities I actually enjoyed doing. I found belly dance. And swimming laps. Both of which allowed me to set my OWN pace! How exhilarating was it to find myself not having to keep up with someone else? Extremely! To swim or dance at my own pace and enjoy every moment has been amazing.
But something recently dig bring up all those memories of angst and frustration. My brother. With a simple comment on a Facebook post of mine excitedly proclaiming my recent 1/2 mile swimming ventures. From someone silent on so much, hearing a nasty little jab like “I don’t believe it. I want video proof” was like a punch in the (not small) gut. All those days of struggling to prove I could do it came rushing back. In an instant I was 7 years old again, watching my family laughing and chatting in the distance ahead of me; knowing I could never catch back up and that if they ever did stop so as to not leave me miles behind, I’d never get to relax with them in that cozy group. All those same feelings of inadequacy came right back. And it pissed me off.
Here’s my brother, smoker, drinker, party-er, thin, active, etc; telling his older sister that he doesn’t believe her physical accomplishments without “video proof”. I can’t believe, as my mother would have me do, that this was “Oh just a joke, calm down! It was supposed to be funny like when your Aunt said she saw a bear and I said I wanted video proof!” No. This isn’t at all the same. This isn’t a case of “Wow, that sounds awesome! I want video of it!!” This was a lifelong belief in the inability of my own physical prowess written down in chat-speak-y text by my brother. I tried to reply with a comment of my own meant to diffuse the anger I felt by assuring him that his older sister is indeed capable of so much but not to worry because I wasn’t fast yet.
In retrospect I should have done more though because speaking with my mother on the phone has convinced me that my brother DID know that I was extremely peeved and yet “oh well”. Why is it that families think it is a joke or no big deal when you get upset at their mockery of your accomplishments or lack of interest in their views of your own body and life?
Well you know what, I may be the same, slightly chubbier even, puppy that I was in my youth. I have a few more curves, a bit more girth but a lot more smiles lately. Because I will not be pulled for long back into those mires of self-hatred from before. The power held in such denials of my abilities will not hold me down for a lifetime (only a few days here in fact this time). And you know what, I’m NOT such a poky little puppy anymore. Especially considering that yesterday I upped my laps to 19* and did it in 45 minutes. **
So to my brother and mother and everyone else who loves me but thinks disparaging of the veracity of my claims of an active life? Suck it. I’m not the Poky Little Puppy anymore; and your threatened fears that this might be the case will not weigh me down.
*Yay! That means I’m up to the letter “S” in my alphabetical lap-tracking method. I think I may have been okay pulling out another lap or two but ended up having to share the lane with another woman who obviously didn’t watch my awkward meandering backstroke and I ended up hitting her while swimming in lap 19 and thought I’d call it quits before I did it again!!
**I knew I was doing 1/2 a mile in less than an hour but didn’t keep as solid a track of time before last night.