During my road trip last week I was reminded of how lucky/fortunate I am to have access to such a luxury. While a road trip seems far from luxurious to some, to me it was fabulous! Not only that though, to not have to worry about my size being an issue while traveling was, well, how it should be, right?! My first concern was the rental car. Have you been in a car as a driver or passenger where the seatbelt wouldn’t fit around your fat body? I have. It sucks. It makes you feel like a freak of nature, even when you know you’re not. As a driver, to have the steering wheel push into your belly is a scary feeling. Will you be able to drive? Is the steering wheel adjustable? Will adjusting the seat help?
I was faced with this situation immediately as my boyfriend had driven us to the rental place and I was to drive the rental back to his to load up and head out. I attempted to adjust the wheel, but it was as high as it would go already. Crap! I breathed out and then in and told myself not to panic. Then I adjusted the seat. I’d hoped I could lower the height of the seat, but I couldn’t. It was a Chevy Malibu and that wasn’t an option. So I went with adjusting the seat by sliding it back a bit and then adjusting the back of it to accommodate my bodacious belly. Luckily, this worked out for me. But had I been a larger or differently proportioned fatty, it may have been bad news. Especially since we were told that this was the last car they had.
Driving was fun, it’d been ages since I drove a new car (never owned one myself). I love driving the highways of northern California, through the woods. The air is cleaner and sweet and the trees seem endlessly high and vast as they encapsulate your view in every direction. I love that. Nothing makes me feel more in love with the Earth than Redwood Trees. Not to mention having my gorgeous and witty boyfriend as my co-pilot. 😉 The car itself was comfortable and modern. The satellite radio made such a huge difference and I am considering getting one for myself when things pick up for me financially*. Anyway, after that initial moment of near-panic with the rental car, everything else just fell into place.
My favorite stop on our way to Portland was the “Trees of Mystery” and I was dying to ride the air tram through the trees. It seriously did not occur to me to be concerned about my size until I got onto the tram and sat down and then realized I wanted to face the other way and so I hopped over to the other side to sit next to my Special Geek. At that moment it was like “OH DUH! I’M GINOURMOUSLY FAT!!!” as the whole bucket/tram/thing swayed with the sudden shift in weight. My bf did not bat an eyelash. While we haven’t had many talks on accessibility or size discrimination, we have had some and I know he understands and will support me no matter what. This is so important! In the end all was well and we had a lovely time whizzing through the tops of those gorgeous trees.
The trail through the trees before you get to the tram was easy going for the most part. I was a bit over excited and hyper and tried to walk a steeper section at a faster than normal speed. This lead to some huffing and puffing from me, but hey, I did alright. My guy is used to waiting for me (I’m the slowest eater in the world, apparently. Ha!) and it only took me a moment or three to catch my breath. I will say that there is an accessible shuttle service to the tram if one would like to go but cannot manage the trail; it’s also dog friendly. The whole thing was just so beautiful and I felt very connected and reminded of my childhood love of redwood forests.
Our meals were mostly in restaurants and mostly in Denny’s or similar types of places (what can I say? He loves Denny’s). We sit in booths and thus far I have not had to request to be moved or seated at a table. This hasn’t always been the case, but perhaps booths are slightly more fat friendly than they used to be? I dunno. I know that I’m not fearful of pushing a table away from my belly if it’s squishing me and if the situation arises I will be sure to ask to be moved. I don’t yet know how my guy would react to that, but I’m confident he’d have my back. Often I have been offered a table first, perhaps due to my size but I can’t know for sure, usually we like the implied privacy a booth provides.
I used to fear elevators. Not in the “hey fatty take the stairs” sort of way, but you know that dreadful moment when it’s semi full and everyone starts eyeballing the weight limit? THAT! I have been in elevators when the doors wouldn’t close because too many people were on it. I have been the one to step out and as soon as those doors close I burst into tears. Never again! I don’t like being squished inside an elevator with strangers, I am both claustrophobic and socially anxious, but it beats the hell out of the pain in my knee when I take on too many stairs in a day. Sharp-shooting pain is nobody’s friend. I take the elevator most often and no longer hold any shame in it. It’s been ages since those doors haven’t closed, but when it does happen again I won’t be the first to jump out.
All in all I had no issues with my size or accessibility on our road trip. More of just being mindful of how much space I need and being okay with taking up that space. No one gave me any guff and I would be taking none anyway. 😉 It’s a strange but lovely moment in my body acceptance journey. I’m starting to forget how much larger my body is compared to others. I no longer compare, period. I don’t even think about it until someone else says or does something that highlights it. When I am in retail environments I insist, “They don’t want my money!” when there are no plus sizes. Their loss, not mine! After our trip to Minneapolis for my birthday, I no longer fear flying in regards to my size, either. It may come up, who knows?! I’m not going to worry about it until it does.
Now this all could have gone horribly awry. What if I ended up not fitting in that rental car? Or the air tram? Or any number of other things that could have come up. It would have sucked, but I would have found a solution of some nature, I’m sure. I don’t know how I would have managed, emotionally, but I’m okay with me most of the time. My guy is shy and often I take the lead in odd or awkward situations, so I know he will do what he can to see that my needs are met and back me up when I have to advocate for myself. Traveling used to send me right over the edge with worry over fitting into seats and things. It could be maturity (Ha-ha!) it could be experience or it could just be that I’ve stopped caring about other people’s thoughts of me or my fat body and have chosen to enjoy my life as best I can no matter what…let’s go with that last one, shall we? 😉
My point in sharing these experiences here with you is not to brag, but to give perspective and to show that my 325 lbs of fatness has not hindered my enjoyment or quality of life in any way. Some things may require additional consideration, but usually I do just fine. My hips are 63″ around and I have two very pronounced belly rolls. I am brightly coloured (red hair on top of whatever outfit I’m wearing) and always stand out in a crowd. It’s funny, because I often forget how visible I am, I mean, I’m just me. I am 5’4″ and can sometimes be short enough for folks not to notice me, but that’s rare. My self acceptance journey has been incredible. It’s never been easy, but it is lovely and surprising to me that I have come as far as I have in what feels like a short time.
If you’ve ever held yourself back from doing and seeing things because of your fat body, please stop. Please extend the kindness and courtesy you would give your best friend to your fat (or not fat) body. I have flown to Paris without issue or concern due to my size and would do it again in a heartbeat (had I the moolah). I once paid for two tickets so that I could fly in a helicopter over Maui…Worth it!!! It was a moving and beautiful experience.
Once I stopped lying to myself and others, stopped caring what others thought of me, let go of the past and it’s hold on me, and started being mindful of what I needed in any given moment, moment to moment, only then have I come to know, love and understand this incredible gift that is my fat body. It does more for me than I ever thought it possibly could. The better I treat it and love it the better I feel over all. I am no longer a floating head with a vague idea of a body beneath it. I am now connected completely and lovingly to my body. It moves me and I move it and there is a harmony that takes place when the right balance has been found. I’m there now and it’s fantastic.
I do recognize the fact that I am unbelievably fortunate (and grateful) to have good health and access to the beauty and wonders of the area that I live in. These are privileges that I do my best to never take for granted. I feel that I am in the healthiest and happiest relationship of my life because I know myself better now than ever. I have learned, the hard way always, to take care of me first and attend to others next. I am of no use to anyone if I’m a mess for letting self-care fall by the wayside. I can be a better friend, partner and human because of this. This does not mean that it gets easier or that I have reached a destination. I am on a journey and it is only that, there is no destination.
Love and compassion for oneself is not easy to find or to keep providing for yourself. Our childhoods shape us in ways we cannot know until we realize how it has influenced us later in life. Such an eye opener! Ha-ha! This life stuff takes work and an immense amount of love and support from ourselves and those we care about, too. When you are more connected to yourself, when you know yourself and are more confident, you will attract better people into your life. We cannot keep ourselves from the lives we want to live because other people have been fooled by marketing bullshit. Our bodies are not wrong! Our bodies are perfect just the way they are right now! Love you, love life and just love!
*I just found out that my current job will be ending on December 20th. No reason was given, as is the nature and reputation of secrecy of this company. I’m relieved and excited for the new year! I know I will find something even better. While it will inevitably induce huge amounts of stress and anxiety due to financial worry and uncertainty, for now I’m not even an ounce of sad. I’m revamping my resume and LinkedIN profile and ready to rock and roll once again! Look out job market, I’m back! 😉