So here’s the thing. I have a follow-up appointment next Monday with my Gastroenterologist. For the past couple of weeks, and certainly since the reminder call yesterday, I’ve been doing that oh-so-fun thing in my mind where I try to walk through all the possible scenarios which could come up during the usually stressful time with a doctor (or nurse practitioner in this case); as though doing this has ever really prepared me to do more than freeze like a deer in headlights anyways when the actual discussions occur. And I can FEEL myself getting stressed. I envision scenarios of everything from tense discussions, polite chats, dramatic sessions of wailing and gnashing teeth… everything possible.
Mostly I remain filled with trepidation because this doctor (again, NP), with whom I had previously had the best of visits and consults, showed a very skewed understanding of nutrition the last time I visited when I asked her about my having (not really) gained 50 pounds over a year. I have since called her office, as suggested in comments to my previous post, to let them know (and to update my charts) that I did NOT gain such weight. In fact I am wearing today clothing which I was wearing MORE than a year ago. I know the medications she has me on does list “nightmares” as a side-effect. Thus far all I’ve gotten have been utterly bizarre dreams, no nightmares, but I can perhaps chalk up that “I’ve gained 50 pounds!” thought to such mind-muddling effects.
Where am I going with this ramble? Basically I’ve also been having conversations in my head and rationalizing, discussing, batting back opposition, etc, all regarding what I anticipate or rather, what I worriedly fear, will be the discussion at hand when I arrive for this follow-up appointment:
Nurse Practitioner Who Thinks Half an English Muffin is a Large Breakfast: Well I see you’ve Not Lost/Gained More weight since our last visit. Why do you think this is?
Me: Buh… well I’m actually fitting into all of my clothing since before last year so I feel, especially considering the vast improvements in my digestion-ary health since I’ve started this regime of medication and increased fiber, that I am doing very well.
NP: You have Not Lost/Gained More weight. What are you eating? Are you exercising enough?
Annnd this is where my mind spirals off into the various ways to respond; the strongest of which being something like:
Me: Why is it necessarily something I’ve “Done Wrong”? I swim for an hour on Tues/Thurs, and do an hour plus of bellydancing on Fridays! I’m a “Good Fatty”! Well, I mean I’ve missed a month of swimming with Spring finals and these Homebuyer Education classes the hubby and I have been taking the last two weeks. But I’ve “Been Good”…. though not that you’ll believe me anyways so what’s the point in trying….
And yet every time my mind tries to foster this defensive diatribe to the NP of my inner-monologuing discussions; I get to this point in my rant and find myself thinking, “Wait, what the hell? I’ve been blogging about Fat Acceptance for like 2 years now. I’ve been finding peace with my body and my habits, knowing that a huge part of Health is MENTAL health and yet I STILL find myself falling into these trope-filled mental traps of trying to excuse away my “condition of fatness” as emphatically NOT a result of poor habits, but simply a happenstance.” What the hell April D? What has happened to all these months (even years) of working on accepting that size is NOT a reflection of Morality? Where did all of your “I don’t have to apologize or justify my body to ANYONE” fervor go?
After reading the most recent set of very thoughtful and empowering posts lately regarding the downfalls of such Good/Bad Fatty dichotomies, I am even more ashamed at the way my mind keeps turning over “justifications” for my body. Fuck that. As I’ve written before, there is no set of Health Behaviors that ANY person should have to stumble through in order to earn the right to live in this world. From my own posting “mouth”:
Because no matter how hard you may push yourself to prove you’re not One of THOSE Fatties; you’ll be told you’re a liar or, at best, be seen as Still a Work in Progress.
Even more importantly though is this thought: No one has to prove they are Doing Everything Right Yet Failing in order to deserve the exact same respect as others who Do follow proscribed dictates of Healthy Living (whether you take that to mean Diets to Lose Weight or HAES or anything in between).
I think my huge fear is that I am going to be judged based on perceptions of what common knowledge dictates to be the Results of Behaviors. I don’t need to lie to my dentist to make her think I’m somehow flossing every day in order to somehow improve her opinion of me because she already Knows by Looking that I’ve been neglecting the habit. I didn’t need to inflate the hours I spent practicing trumpet to my music teacher, he Knew by Listening that I had been neglecting the habit. Yet, when it comes to the doctors and having that same sort of scenario play out I can feel the injustice of it all; knowing that even though I DO maintain those habits; I will still be Known by Looking; that I will be judged as a Result, and not trusted to know and thereby describe my actual habits.
Because of this thought and fear, I’ve been trying to fit in more swimming these past two weeks, trying to squeeze 30 minutes in between working and then racing home to grab Adam D and head off to those Tues/Thurs home buyer classes. It feels frantic. And it feels somehow obligatory. Which makes it feel like work and no longer fun. And that is totally NOT what I wanted when I first started and fell in love with the swimming and dancing activities. They aren’t supposed to be drudgery taken on like mandatory gerbil-wheel hours at the gym; done for the sake of Being Healthy. They are supposed to be my Fun Times, which make me feel good. Yet at the same time, as Monday approaches, I still find myself anticipating that cold judgment of “well obviously you’re not Doing Enough to maintain Health (and by Health we mean Thinness)” and I’m getting this twitchy need to Defend Myself against such imagined accusations*. But so freaking what?? I shouldn’t be HAVING these thoughts that I must INCREASE my swimming, do more, burn more, sweat more, make my body less than it is, in order to… what exactly? Impress my doctor that I’m Doing Things Right?? She isn’t going to believe me anyways since I’m very Obviously Fat and therefore a Liar.
This is the rambling place my jumbled mind has been lately. Sifting through my thoughts regarding the un-merits of trying to even FIT myself into a Good/Bad paradigm which only serves to perpetuate the idea that Fat needs to be justified and is only Acceptable if it is fought against constantly. Trying NOT to fear that this NP who really, aside from responding to concerns that I myself brought up last time, hasn’t BEEN derogatory towards me in any way. I’m trying to fit all of these ideas into my belief that even if I never took a swim, never could afford or find the desire to belly dance, ate nothing but those stereotypical “naughty realm” foodstuffs it STILL isn’t anyone’s business but my own. I need to re-affirm that when someone is considering making comments on or judging a body they need to ask one simple question: “Hmm, is it MY body?” If the answer is “No, it is not.” then you do NOT get to comment or judge. Simple, right? No one owns anyone else actions done simply to Impress Them Much.
Basically, I need to wrap my brain one more around the knowledge that I am not on this Earth to Impress You. I am my own person, and I will be whoever I damn well please, in whatever damn sized body I have, with whatever level of Healthy Habits I choose to have or not have, without a need to justify my life or habits to anyone, so deal with it. I am about Body Acceptance. And I think it is time I took a moment here again to remember that this starts first and foremost with my own; and then moves on to everyone else’s; no matter the habits maintained or not. By mentally whipping myself into such a panic over the amount of swimming I am or am not getting in anticipation of having to defend my health’s honor in front of my NP on Monday, I am doing all bodies a disservice because I am implying that somehow I can only deserve this body if I’ve taken all the prerequisite steps laid out before me to change it. And that, my friends, is the very bullshit that I started this blog to pry apart and scatter to the four winds.
As Snarky’s Machine very recently posted:
Marginalized groups must work to resist the tendency to devalue or bristle over any member whose actions might be viewed as “making the rest of us look bad”. The work to end all forms of oppression does not involve policing group members to ensure they are “on message”.
I do no one any favors if I go in Monday and try to illuminate all the ways that I don’t make fatties look bad. I do not need to somehow prove or impress upon my NP that I am “on message” or “fighting the good fight”. After all, that’s not what I’ve been about for over 2 years and there is certainly no reason for me to fall back into those traps at this point. Thanks for the chance to… suss that out via a very long-winded blog post!
*I wonder if they would even take place if I refused being weighed at all. I mean very obviously they didn’t NEED my weight since they hadn’t measured it at my very first visit. Is it difficult to raise a stink and not be weighed??