Weight ain’t nothin but a number.
This past Saturday, I attended a charity event at the Seaport Hotel. It was a fantastic Western-themed event filled with charitable gambling (fake money, of course). My boyfriend, Tim, and I had a fantastic time as we made our way to two empty spots at a black jack table. Here, there were two other couples who were utterly pleasant, as was the dealer. Small talk and some friendly gaming ensued.
At one point, one of the women asked the dealer to, “be kind to my husband. He ran 16 miles today.” Naturally, my ears perked up. I tend to get really excited at any mention of a long run because it means that person is probably going through marathon training. And anyone who knows a marathoner, we really love talking about it! So, I asked the gentleman if he was training for Boston to which he replied, “Yes!” enthusiastically- and somewhat self-congratulatory.
The conversation continued:
Me: “Oh boy, I understand your pain! I am training, too!”
Man: [eyes wide] “Oh yeah? How far did you run today?
Me: “We were scheduled to do 13 this week but we’re doing 19 next week. Gonna be tough!”
Man: “Oh, well I am used to it. This is my second.”
Me: “Oh, good for you! This one’s my third. But it never gets any easier!”
Man: “You didn’t run in that 90-degree heat, did you? I did.”
Me: “Yes, actually, I did! It was tough!”
Man: “Oh…yeah… so, uh… how long did it take you?”
And there it was. I now understood what was going on here. This man was looking across the black jack table at a heavy girl who has run 1 more marathon than he has. He was feeling really insecure about himself and therefore felt the need to one-up the girl in order to make himself feel better. It’s what we call Napoleon Complex, and there is no known cure.
Of course I told him it took me 6 and a half hours. I have no shame in telling people it took me 6+ hours to finish. Those of you who know me and who read this blog know that those were the proudest and most difficult 6 hours of my life.
It was his self-satisfied nod that really put the finally jab into my heart, as if to pat himself on the back and say, “Phew! I AM better.”
I have to admit, I try not to let people like this man get to me. It’s like I said in my last blog entry, it’s not my fault he feels this way. It’s his. It’s difficult to remain strong, however, when you continuously find yourself on the receiving end of judgment. And why? Because of my weight?
I have felt inferior my whole life because of my weight. I didn’t own a pair of jeans until I was in college because I was always too heavy to wear them. I was never the lead in the school play- I was cast as the “bag lady” in my 8th-grade production because I fit the role. My college entrance essay was about my mom taking me to buy my first girdle as a pre-teen because I was embarrassed to wear a dance unitard in the Christmas show.
These insecurities carried me from childhood through college, until I moved back home in 2008 at my heaviest and decided to finally make a change.
And here I am today, running. Not just running. Running MARATHONS. Something I never thought I would be able to do in my life because I was too heavy to sustain the action in the past.
Now, I don’t want to beat a dead horse. This topic obviously comes up quite a bit in my blog- it is entitled “From 220lbs to Marathon Monday” after all! But it is important for me to communicate to you, my friends and strangers, that past insecurities can fuel us to be better people.
Tim reminded me after we left that blackjack table that instead of being sad, I should be proud that this man should feel the need to one-up me- that I have achieved so much that he would even feel the least bit threatened by it at all. And he is so right.
It wasn’t until I began training for my first Boston Marathon that I finally realized my self-worth, that I finally believed that I could achieve something great. And it helped me believe this in all areas of my life: in finding a job I deserve, in my singing, in my relationships with others, in my relationship with MYSELF.
I am smiling today. Because I am a size 12. I own 2 Boston Marathon finisher’s medals. I am proud. And I am happy. For the first time in a really long time.