Yesterday, I had another round of what-if self-doubt. I was stuck in the car with Hopkins for longer than usual thanks to road construction, and the resulting conversation left me a little bruised.
I'm moving through prequalification for weight loss surgery revision, and he informed me that his doctor had mentioned it to him. Then, in typical "I don't know when to shut up" fashion, he added, "It just seems like cheating." No sooner did he say it than he realized what he'd said and out of the corner of my eye (I was driving) I saw him flinch. I said, "I know that you think I'm going to rip your head off. I'm not. The decision to have surgery is very, very personal, and you came late to this dance. You were never fat growing up, and moreover, women are judged more harshly than men for their weight- in fact, there are many research studies in multiple disciplines that prove it. I have tried everything except drugs. You are entitled to your feelings on the subject, but this is my choice. You have no idea what I've been through or why I'm doing this and I'm too taken aback right now to explain it."
The subject changed and we were soon caught in the horrific traffic jam that is I-65 North on the weekends...for two...freaking...hours.
Then something kind of strange happened later at the improv show- I excused myself during the intermission and as I passed some men on my way to the ladies' room, I heard my friend Paul say, "That's her, right there," and when I came back out, one of them stopped me. "I just wanted you to know that you have the greatest laugh. I kept hearing it and I finally figured out where it was coming from. You just...it's a great laugh."
I hate my laugh. I cackle and I'm very self-conscious about it. I said so.
"No, NO, you have a wonderful laugh! Keep doing it!"
When we sat down, Paul told me (he knows this guy), "He was paying you a compliment. You need to accept it!"
I'm so unaccustomed to positive attention that it took me completely off-guard, but something pinged in my mind: where there's one, there are more. Maybe I'm not so bad, after all, and I need stop worrying about the kind of people who look at me and decide I'm less human because I'm not a skimpily-clad cosplayer, an anime character, or a porn star...or simply the same average size as everyone else around me. There are people who think I'm worth knowing and all I have to do is be myself.
The psychologist with whom I spoke at the bariatric clinic last week sat back and told me, "You can handle the surgery, but it's what comes after that's a problem. You have to stop worrying about everybody else and care about yourself for once. You have to believe that you are worth the effort." I have heard that all my life, but I don't know what it will take to accept it. If I can't accept a simple compliment, how can I deal with that?