May 19, 2010
I hate to do this to you, but last night I had a weird dream. I was in an elevator with my headphones on when I overheard a man making fun of my body. While this is not an every day occurence, or even something that happens often, it has happened. Most notably at the Gang of Four reunion concert when two middle-aged men with pronounced beer guts started talking about why someone as thin as Dan would date someone who looked like me. In this dream I reacted much the same way I did at that concert – I went berserk. I started screaming and clawing at the man. This has been my reaction when men (and it has always been men) have commented on my body or fat bodies in general. Once I passed a man wearing a “No Fat Chicks” t-shirt as I crossed the street by the Main Art Theatre on my bike. I remember jumping off my bike and throwing it at him. This was several years ago. Unlike these days where my bike is made of aluminium and relatively light then I rode a heavy clunky metal cruiser complete with fenders and a basket. The man in the t-shirt was too stunned to say anything, too surprised to even call me a “crazy bitch.” He just ran away and left me to pick my bike off the cross walk and carry on to the theatre. A year ago, I exited the red line at Belmont to be confronted by a man wearing a shirt that said, “Fat girls are ok, as long as your friends don’t know.” This man, like the man in the other t-shirt, was not thin, svelte, “fit,” or “athletic.” I remember waiting for the last-minute before the train pulled away to shove him. I remember the tension of all my energy in my muscles before this shove, I can feel it right now typing this. The platform was crowded and the people around seemed aghast, especially those who the man fell against. I ran down the stairs and into the street. I was gasping for breath and almost in tears.
Reacting with violence is not healthy and is as disrespectful as the behavior and attitudes I was reacting to. Waking up from this dream I did not feel empowered. I know this dream comes from somewhere, a fear I have about myself, fears I have about society. Maybe this dream was brought on by too many exotic drinks at the Hala Kahki Tiki Bar. After one strong fruity drink served in a ceramic coconut, Mike and I made the “Bad Decision.” This is what Mike proposed the drink should be renamed. Served in a sombrero shaped planter festooned with dancing hula girls the Bad Decision features a shot of 121 set on fire in the middle. After he extinguished the flame, Mike took a drink of this liquid using his extra long, drink-for-two straw. The face he made was priceless and I understood after I followed his lead. From then on out the drink tasted like burning tires through my sullied straw. To make matters worse, Alex and I ended the night in hot dog heaven. I came home with hair reeking of onions and relish. A wild night like this can lead to nightmares of many different varieties.
Regardless of its origin or what brought it on the dream worries me. I am not perfect, far from it. I have done and continue to do fucked up things born from fear, insecurity, unhappiness. I find that instead of reacting with anger toward others (and myself) I need to embrace the idea of forgiveness. Shit hurts, people do crappy things, friendships and relationships fall apart or never get off the ground. It is not cool to comment on people’s bodies, but I have done it, too. It is not cool for a man to wear a shirt saying fatphobic things, but mostly that says something about him, not about me. I need to focus on being more actively forgiving and empathetic, and less time being reactively angry – at the world, at myself.
It was really awesome talking to Mike about having AD(H)D. I try to speak candidly about this issue with my close friends, but often it feels like I am making excuses for my behavior. Talking to someone else who lives with AD(H)D helped me know that I am not that strange. This is something I would like to write and think about more in time.
It is helpful to have someone validate my experiences with medication and say “that is some serious stuff” when talking about having to take anti-anxiety medicine to combat the side effects of the medication I took to help me focus when I was finishing my undergrad degree. I have not taken medication during my first year of grad school. I was certain I would need to, but so far have not. I got my grades yesterday and they were so good I thought they might have been a mistake.
Another thing, stop underestimating yourself. You, yeah, you. Me, too.