…not that I remember ever asking anyone, “What would make me great?”
And yet my mind is also filled with anecdotes and events in which I am being told, point blank, “You’d be great if you lost _______# of pounds.”
I heard this from Miss Peterson, in Junior High School when I tried out for the Booster Squad. My jumps were perfect, my splits dead on; and my voice? Booming, loud, projecting without mechanical amplification. I had spirit, I had physical flexibility, I had fat.
I was riding a horse. Galloping around the corral, red hair flying, merged with the horse…you get the picture. Pick a cliché, any cliché you can think of that includes a happy freckled faced, red-headed tom boy and insert that image here. I was free, I was flying, no really, suddenly I was flying through the air…I was flat…on my back.
I went to the doctor and was told that I was healthy and after some time my back would be fine because I was strong, but… “You’d be great if you lost…” “And the horse would appreciate it also.” I was stunned, hurt and never rode a horse again out of guilt that I might be too oppressive a presence on the saddle.
Sexual Content Warning
But the worst examples of being offered the unsolicited key to greatness, the ones that cut me to my core and made me feel not just not great, but hideous and repulsive, happened after what I felt were mutually enjoyable sexual experiences. I was happy, full of life and confidence.
I had spirit, I had physical flexibility, I had “skills”…
“You’d be great if you lost…”
I had been had.
Funny it wasn’t a problem a few minutes earlier when I was being grabbed in the throes of released passion. But that was then, this was now, and now for some reason was, “You‘d be great if you lost…”
It’s difficult for me to remember being the person unable to reply to the lover, “It didn’t seem to be a problem five minutes ago.” Or to the doctor, “My weight has nothing to do with the reason I am here.”
It has taken time, work, attention, laughter, and support to arrive at the place where I am now. The process resulted in: co-authoring the book, Leftovers To Go, designed to help others make the transition, no longer apologizing for who I am or colluding with others’ judgments.
I can confidently say that if I was the person then that I am now I would have looked at Miss Peterson straight in the eye and said, “The only reason you don’t want me on this squad is because you don’t like the way I look in the uniform, it has nothing to do with my ability to execute the moves.”
Or looked at the lover and said, “You’d be great if you’d shut the f*&# up.”
Well, maybe nothing quite that confrontational. I really avoid conflicts and prefer peaceful interactions. More realistically I see myself being able to say a simple reply of, “Who asked you?”
It is without a doubt a change for the great.