When did I go from this:
21 years old
51 years old
A dear friend of mine once said this about aging, "It was like I woke up one day and someone had put a 'fat suit' on me while I slept."
It didn't happen like that with me though, it was a gradual thing, starting in my forties, just about the time I quit running and gunning on patrol and went to a more sedate job as a crime scene investigator. I also went from being an unhappy person to a very happy person. Unfortunately, the happier I got, and the more comfortable I became with who I was, the wider I got. And now for health reasons, I'm not at all happy with the weight itself, but I wouldn't trade the happiness and the wisdom I gained along the years that came with the weight.
When I was skinny, back when I thought I was fat, I was unsure of myself, afraid of confrontation, desperate to prove I was of worth to those in the world around me. Now, now don't piss this fat woman off. Instead of turning away from confrontation, I'm happy to take the fight to them if necessary. Crazy has a name, and that name is a confident woman with nothing to prove.
I stumbled over that concept yesterday after the The Perfect Storm. Other Half is in Arizona this week. I'm juggling a full-time job, eight dogs, and a farm. Not long ago my big truck broke down and I had to pay big bucks to get it on the road again. Then it broke down again, leaving me stranded not once, but twice. The second time the fault was with something the mechanic's shop failed to do properly so they fixed it with no charge. They apologized and sent the truck home and promised I would be happy. I had to sell my beloved old Toyota 4Runner with 300,600 miles on it to pay the mechanic bill for the big truck. That did not make me happy, but at least I had the big truck working. So yesterday I loaded three dogs in that truck and bounced down the road to the grocery store, but halfway there a "check gauge" light came on.
I considered turning around and going back home. Then the puppy peed in the back seat. I sat at red light, mad, trying not to cry in frustration. I phoned Other Half. He was still in class and didn't answer. Screw it. I drove to the grocery store.
Thirty minutes later I climbed back in the truck and guess what? The 'check gauge' light was on again. And the puppy peed in the back seat again. WTF! Thankfully I had a thick comforter to catch the urine, but it did not improve my mood. I was angry at the whole situation, angry enough to drive that truck right back to the shop, peeing puppy and all.
Now a mechanic's shop is like a police shooting range, a fortress of testosterone which intimidates women. I don't understand mechanical things. If the problem is not a flat tire or a dead battery, I can't fathom it. But guess what, folks. I'm not going to let that stop me from dealing with mechanics. I could have waited. I could have driven the truck home and let my husband deal with it when he got back into town. After all, isn't that what husbands are for?
Normally, being busy, I might have avoided the issue but on this day, I refused to be intimidated by something I didn't understand. I don't understand trucks. So what? The mechanic doesn't understand the stages of decomposition of the human body. He has never reached into a bathtub of decomp goo to pick up a loaded gun filled with maggots. I have. Score one for me. So I wasn't going to let my ignorance of a subject intimidate me and keep me from stalking into that mechanic's shop and saying,
Now here's the funny thing. My husband has no social skills, even on a good day. He has no filter on his mouth. If he thinks it, he says it, and he doesn't care who he offends. The last time my truck was in that shop, my husband made it clear to the mechanic that they needed to make me happy because "I" was the crazy one. If they thought he was bad, they really didn't want to meet me.
So as the mechanic was mulling over in his head who I was, I simply said my husband's name. Everything suddenly clicked into place. I saw in his eyes the moment he realized the crazier woman married to the crazy man was standing in front of him. He was most gracious and happy to help me deal with my currrent problem which turned out to be simple and completely unrelated to the earlier issue.
Guess what, folks. Confident women are called crazy bitches by men, but the reality is that we aren't crazy, we just really don't care anymore. I don't know anything about diesel engines, but I refuse to let that intimidate me so much that I won't stand up for myself. And it felt good. I did not walk into that shop, hesitant and meek. I paid good money to fix that damned truck and I wanted it fixed properly. I wasn't rude, I was simply honest, and I wasn't concerned with what he thought of me. My self-esteem is not wrapped up in what some strange man thinks.
He was very nice, solved the issue, and I was back on the road in minutes, with a renewed self-confidence. I could have waited, but if I had waited for my husband to fix the problem, I would have been angry about it all week, and I would have cheated myself out of the opportunity to add another layer to my self-confidence.
I refuse to see myself as a helpless, aging, overweight woman who waits for someone to solve my dilemmas, for each problem I tackle myself gives me more strength to attack the next one.
By now I've been there, done that, got the t-shirt, and have the scars. I have gone places, and seen and done things that most grown men won't do, thus, I have no intention of allowing a few pounds to bring down my self-esteem. I look around at other women who starve themselves, purge themselves, and sweat themselves, caught in a desperate battle against aging. They are confident that skinny equals beautiful. Skinny equals young. Skinny equals happy. Skinny equals love. Skinny equals acceptence.
Guess what? If those are the reasons you're trying to get skinny, you will be sadly mistaken. Skinny doesn't equal anything but skinny. Skinny won't bring you any of those things. Neither will money. Neither will the right make-up. Neither will the right man. If you are not happy with who you are as a person, getting skinny will only make you a smaller, unhappy person.
Happiness comes from confidence, and true beauty comes from happiness.
Ladies, if like me, you're carrying more pounds than you want, start eating better and exercise for your health only, not for some insane quest to be skinny. I'd love to be in the same shape I was in when I left the police academy, but unless I have drill instructors standing over me forcing me to run and do push-ups, it's not probable. It is more likely that I will learn to eat less convenience foods, and take more time to walk and jog with the dogs.
The important thing is that we not let our outward appearance define who we are as a person. Be confident in who you are, that is where real beauty lies.