“Soon you’ll be a small person.” Someone said that to me recently. I knew what they meant; soon I’d have a smaller body. But that’s not exactly how I heard it. There’s a difference between having a smaller body, and being a small person. I don’t want to be a small person. I was small for so many years, taking whatever scraps of praise or affection that were offered. Scraps feed the Inner Fat Girl, who doesn’t think she deserves more.
I remember an interview Roseanne Barr gave many years ago when she first became really famous. She said that when she was young and thin, she felt invisible. Now that she was fat and loud, she was visible. She finally felt like she couldn’t be overlooked.
A few weeks ago, I got into an online argument with my friend C. I posted something on Facebook, she made some comments I didn’t like, so I said so, and she responded that she didn’t like my response to her. Probably not the finest hour for either of us, but I assumed we had each had our say, agreed to disagree, and it was over.
Then came the private message. C listed an extensive list of my personality faults, the dozens (or hundreds) of people who hate me, and pretty much tore out my heart and stomped it into oblivion. The nicest thing she said was that I’m bitter and jaded. Call me impatient with stupidity, and I’ll cop to it. Intolerant of lying and meanness? Yes. Bitter and jaded? Nope, not even close. I knew it wasn’t true, but I still cried for three days.
I kept reading the message, trying to decide if I was delusional and didn’t realize I was the most evil, hated person I know. Then I reread the rest of the message, in which C talked about herself and how she felt bullied and was no longer willing to let people bully her. I hadn’t bullied her; we had just disagreed and both said so. But I understood what she was saying; she had felt bullied. She was asserting herself as a large person. I respect that entirely. I just wish she hadn’t used a sledgehammer on me to make a point about herself.
The funny thing is, never once have I seen C as a small person, or suspected that she felt like a small person. She’s smart, funny, and outgoing, with a laugh that can be heard for miles. She’s also made huge life changes in recent years. Those changes have to have been difficult, but she stuck to her plan, and her life is better and more exciting because of it. And now she’s also stopped seeing herself as a small person.
I’m not a small person anymore either. Sometimes when we make big changes in our lives, we don’t know how to assert our new self. Friends and family want the old us back, and it can be difficult to make them see and accept the new us. Some won’t ever accept it. They’ll keep telling the old myths about who you are. They may not be part of your life anymore, by your choice or theirs. Go easy on them; put down the sledgehammer. But be who you are.
Be a large person.