I’m talking to you, Avenue clothing stores. You’re outta here.
I spent years on the big side of a size 32 (meaning I could squeeze into them but I’d be covered in red welts by the time I waddled my way home from work). When you’re on the plus side of plus size, your choice in clothing stores in limited. Lane Bryant only carries up to size 26/28. And Catherine’s? Well…I probably could have found some things that fit me, but their styles are not for me. I prefer to wear clothes that are somewhat understated and conservative…and Catherine’s seems to want me to look like a giant tropical flower bedecked in sequins and glitter. Not my thing. So I was stuck with the Avenue.
Going by baseball rules, they should have been out after three strikes but since my choices were limited I had to stick with them until I figured my shit out. Now I have…and I’ve dropped five sizes. Last weekend, I dared to step into another clothing store and was treated to something I haven’t seen in a very long time: customer service.
But let’s go back to the Avenue for a minute. Let’s talk about the three biggest strikes they have against them in my book.
Strike 1: impersonal staff.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked into one of these stores and heard someone lethargically yell “Welcome to the Avenue!” from the back with about as much enthusiasm as I have going to the gyno. (Oh God….do I really have to do this? Can’t they just xray my vag and tell me I’m okay? GROSS!)
I try not to be a rude bitch on a daily basis, so I always yell back “Thanks!” to the disembodied voice in the back of the store. No one actually steps forward to say hello or ask if I need help.
There’s usually only one person on the floor at a time. If there are two, they’re usually back there together…talking about how they’re going to put the merchandise on the floor or about the customer who stayed in the store until 9:02 pm last night. I once stood next to two employees, one who was working in the store where I was shopping and the other who was visiting from another store, as they had a conversation about an irate customer. My arms were loaded with clothing I wanted to try on. Both of them ignored me completely while they went on and on about this irate customer. I’m too big to be invisible, folks. I was standing right there within four feet of them…obviously waiting to be helped…and, nope, nothing. I finally interrupted them and asked for a fitting room.
Strike 2: Lame-ass failures
Tired of sewing my workout pants back together for the umpteenth time, I went over to the Avenue to buy a new pair. I walked around looking for some but couldn’t find any. The closest thing they had was a pair of bright blue velour lounging pants. Velour. As I neared the back of the store, an employee approached and asked if she could help me find something. (It has been known to happen, I’ve just learned not to rely on it).
“Yes, thanks,” I said. “I’m looking for some workout pants. You know…like the nylon or polyester blend ones we had to wear in gym class in high school?”
“Ohhhhh, no,” laments the Avenue chick. “We don’t have anything like that, I’m sorry.”
“Why not?” I asked incredulously.
“Well, we only carry workout stuff in January,” she offers back. “You know…because of resolutions.”
This was one of those times for me when I could feel myself wanting to open up and vent and my filter was frantically trying to get me to stop. Think. Don’t say something rude, HMP!!! Don’t do it!!!
I shook my head, rolled my eyes, and replied “Oh riiiiight. Because the fatties only work out after New Years, I’d forgotten. How silly of me…it’s June. We’ve all failed by now, right?”
Poor Avenue chick. She didn’t know what to say. To her credit, she tried to be helpful by pointing out the velour lounging pants.
“We do have these…”
Now I’m pissed at the ridiculousness of the situation.
“Well, those are made of velour. If I workout in those the thigh friction alone would have the inside legs bald in no time. The gym floor would look like someone murdered the Cookie Monster.”
“Well, I guess you’re right. I’ll have to quit working out and wait for next January. Thanks for your help.”
I skulked off to Catherine’s, thinking I couldn’t get more pissed off. I was wrong. They didn’t have any workout gear either. But they had chocolate for sale by the register.
Strike 3: Bad fashion advice
I walked into the Avenue last week, eager to see if I could fit into a size 24. An employee was straightening a table near the entrance. And, by the way, this reminds me…why are some customers such dillholes? Do they really not realize that someone just set up that beautiful display of tshirts? I’ll never understand people who unfold something to look at it and then toss it on the table. Rude.
Sorry…I digress. I said “I’m looking for dress pants.”
The girl nodded and, quite seriously, pointed out a rack of black dress pants. Then she offered “You’re lucky. This is all we have.”
“Ohhh…yeah,” I answered. “Because they’re black and it’s summertime, right?”
She shook her head negatively. “No.”
I guess I wasn’t going to get an explanation and, as much as I knew I would regret it, I had to ask why. So I did.
“Because people just aren’t wearing pants anymore.”
You can’t say shit like that to me, okay? My mind goes from innocent to dirty in 3 seconds.
“My God, why not?”
“Everyone’s wearing shorts and capris now. Or dresses.”
Oh, I see. Everyone is. Then I looked down. “You’re wearing pants…”
Maybe she thought I wouldn’t notice?
Just as a bonus, let me add this little tidbit: I went to buy new bras at the Avenue but I couldn’t see the size on the tag anymore. I asked the girl to measure me. She’s worked there a while and I always recognize her.
“Oh! You’re at least an H cup and we don’t carry anything that big.”
Um…no. I explained to the girl that I’d purchased the bra I was wearing less than a year before. It’s a DDD.
“No, you’re at least an H. Where did you go to buy it? They measured you wrong.”
Without missing a beat, I replied that I’d purchased the bra at…the Avenue.
“Oh, which store?”
“Well, the person who measured you must have done it wrong. I’m sorry.”
“You measured me.”
You’re outta here!
There have been countless other failures that I won’t list out entirely. I think I’ve made my point. Out of habit, I’ve just kept going back there…even though I’ve dropped from a tight size 32 to a 22 now. Until last week when I walked into a Torrid store.
As soon as I walked in, I was greeted by Rachel. I know her name is Rachel because she (shocker) told me her name. With a smile on her face. Right before she asked me if she could help me with anything.
Yes, perhaps you could help me up off the floor because I’m not used to being greeted with such courtesy.
Rachel asked my name and explained the sales they were having. My favorite was the yellow tag sale. Buy something with a yellow tag and get another yellow tag item for $1. Then there was the red tag sale. And the jeans for $19. And the rest of the store was on sale as well. Buy one item, get 50% off another.
Most of their stuff is casual, which is okay…but I’m always running short on clothes for work, which have to be professional. I asked Rachel, who was a whirlwind as she moved around the floor greeting and helping customers, but always seemed to have time for each of us. She pointed out their dress slacks, which looked absolutely perfect for work. I was relieved.
Rachel also pointed out that they had suit jackets to match those dress slacks. $54 for the jacket. I think it was slightly more for the pants, but with the “buy one, get 1/2 off the next” sale, I was quite pleased.
She set up a fitting room for me. As I moved around the floor, other employees would occasionally check on me. They all knew my name. They all used my name. I have to say…it was quite refreshing.
I was on a budget, so I couldn’t spend much. I ended up walking out of there with a $43 denim jacket that would have been $60 at the Avenue. Because it was a yellow tag item, I got a khaki military style jacket for $1.
As it so happens, there’s a Lane Bryant next door to the Torrid in my area. I had to go in. I haven’t been in a Lane Bryant in years and I wanted to see what they had going on.
Marble floors. Some pretty clothes. Not a soul in sight. I walked over to a suit jacket that caught my eye. $99. For a suit jacket. Buh-bye. I left…and never saw one employee anywhere in the store.
Now I need to go shopping again. The bras that the H-cup chick at the Avenue sold me are too small. Guess where I’m headed?
(And no, I haven’t been financially compensated for this post in any way…they’re just that awesome.)
Lately, every day is like an out of body experience. I look down at my hands as I type and…I smile. My chubby, swollen fingers are gone. Don’t get me wrong – my fingers are still puffy, but they don’t look like overstuffed sausages anymore. My arms taper into wrists that are actually visible. When I sit on the couch, my legs are starting to look like legs instead of huge, thick blobs. Every time I check my reflection in the mirror I do a double take because I’m surprised at how much less junk there is in my trunk. My back has lost its roundness. My perky posture is back. I don’t look slumped over anymore. My body is getting its angles back.
This may sound horrible to some of you, but I’m beginning to feel like a human being again for the first time in a very long time.
Somewhere on the road between eating full bags of potato chips and making 5 trips to the vending machine on a stressful work day, I stopped feeling like a person. I did it to myself. I have an amazing family and a wonderful group of friends and co-workers. None of this came from them. I heaped a world of hate on myself because that is what I learned from a few hateful people when I was a child. That is what I thought I deserved…so I spent the majority of my life visiting that hell upon myself. Because I believed that was acceptable.
I felt like a thing. A blobby, out of control, depressed creature that was unworthy of love. Even the love of my family and friends did nothing to stop the negative crap in my head. A continuous loop of hateful thoughts and feelings ran 24/7 in my brain. It’s a mental trap that many obese people get into and it’s hard as hell to get out. Thank God my defining traits include a ruthless stubborn streak and a thirst for sniffing out the truth or I never would have found the doorway out of that hell hole.
The truth is…I’m not unworthy. I never was. The heartless, ignorant, horrible excuses for human beings who tortured me as a child are the ones who are unworthy. The problems I’ve been carrying around for the last 20+ years are their problems, not mine. It’s incredibly freeing to shrug that shit off and start out on my own path.
As of this morning, I’ve lost 90 pounds and 5 sizes. I’ve lost a startling 12 inches off my waist. I’ve reveled in countless NSV’s (Non Scale Victories). All of this success is merely a side effect of shrugging off the judgment and lies from a handful of assholes that had a hold on me as a child. I’m finally shoving it all aside and grasping for a life filled with wonder and love and happiness.
My dance teacher and a handful of other adults broke my spirit as a child. It wasn’t an accident. It wasn’t a mistake. They meant to do it. They sought me out. They got a sick thrill from damaging me. It’s never okay for anyone to hurt a child – and I truly believe in my heart that these people will be hit square in the ass with the karma train at some point in their lives. They may have been hit already, I don’t know. None of them have been in my life for a very long time, nor will they ever be. They don’t deserve to be.
As much as I’m aware that none of that was my fault, though, it took me years and years to get away from the lessons they taught me. I wasted years of my life trying to be good enough. Skinny enough. Pretty enough. It was all for nothing…because I’m already enough just as I am. I always was.
If you can relate to anything I’ve said here, then do me a favor and stop your day for just a second. Look at yourself in the mirror. Feel in your heart that there is beauty and grace and love in you that a thousand assholes cannot take away. Those people do not matter. Those people are trash.
YOU are priceless.
And if you can’t feel that yet, then think about what lessons you’ve learned from the toxic people in your life and get rid of them. What is the truth? Where are the lies? Sniff it all out because you deserve to be free of the bullshit. You deserve to walk in the light. And you’re the only one who can figure that out. You’re worth the trouble. Do it.
I was born awesome…and so were you. So let this be your Independence Day. Let go of all the bullshit heaped on you by others and just be you.
It’s enough. It’s really enough. It’s never okay for someone to steal your joy and dull your sparkle. Don’t let them.
It’s 8 pm Texas time on this Tuesday night and I find myself (finally) home alone…in front of a keyboard calling my name.
Writing time is scarce nowadays and I don’t like that. Hot Mess Hubby works a weird schedule and now we have Hot Mess Niece staying with us. I find it increasingly difficult to write when either one of them is home because I’m constantly distracted by “Babe! Come look how cute he (Dyson the dog) is…” For the 100th time. It’s true, he is 130 pounds of adorable muppet dog – but c’mon. I wonder what HMH would have been like had we been lucky enough to have human children.
“Babe! Come look!! The baby just puked on the carpet and it looks like Jesus…I think it’s a sign!!!”
Perhaps it’s best that we’re parents to furry kids instead.
My office at home does have a door on it, but with Kirby the dog still using the room as her primary residence during recovery from knee surgery almost 3 months ago I’m unable to shut it. She wouldn’t hear of it. In fact, she’s been fond of reminding us lately that she’s not really fooled by the $10 baby gate we use to barricade her in the office. She stays in here because she knows that’s what we want and she’d rather die than disappoint us.
She has 2 more weeks to go before she regains her freedom and can roam the house as she used to. She’s getting stronger every day – and even though I don’t see her roughhousing with Dyson anytime soon, she does have her moments. We’ve been letting her out into the living room on weekends but, just to show her who’s boss, we put her on the leash and tie the other end to our giant coffee table. Dr’s orders, really. She’s not to be allowed to move around a lot. She’s to rest. Unless Hot Mess Niece comes home with a bag of food…and then she won’t hesitate to drag the entire giant-ass coffee table clear across the living room in order to get to that bag of burgers.
Knee surgery? What knee surgery?
Our girl is ready to get back to business and that’s a very good thing.
There is so much going on right now. I’ve recently been promoted at work. HMH is training for a bike race that will take him from one end of the Lone Star state to the other. I finally hit 299 pounds…that was an awesome effing day. I haven’t even had time to write about it. It seems like the more weight I lose the busier I get. Why? More energy. More flexibility. More everything.
A couple of weeks ago I decided that I was tired of staring at our ugly hallway (it’s been three different colors for about three years now) and I grabbed the ladder and started painting. Because I’m no longer too heavy to get on a ladder. Because I’m a badass.
I need to find a rhyme and reason for my projects, though. Right now I just sort of drift in and out of “OMG I’m gonna do this!” and “OMG I have no time for anything!” And then there’s the needlework project I’ve been working on/procrastinating over for well over ten years. The State Fair of Texas opens this fall and I’m determined to have it finished and entered in the needlework competition. Where will I find the time?
And then there’s the not-so-fun things…like the bizarre pain attacks I’ve had lately. The first one hit last Saturday and felt like the fart from hell, although there was no fart. It started out as a gas pain, or so I thought, but it just kept building and building until I was gasping for air and struggling to get to the bedroom so that I could collapse on the bed. I was home alone and quite freaked out.
The second one happened five days later…at work. Boy, was that fun. Thank God I have a calm and collected co-worker who didn’t freak out when I said “Hey, don’t panic or anything but I’m going to get on the floor for a few minutes…” Another co-worker who was passing through wasn’t so lucky. She caught a glimpse of my head on the floor and gasped “Oh my God!!!” I was okay within 5 minutes, but it was enough to get me to email my nutritionist with a “Hey, WTF is this crap?” email.
My gallbladder is the #1 suspect. Gallbladder problems are common in weight loss surgery patients. So I called my doctor and got an appointment for the next day. They took some blood, which I found out today is just fine. Nothing weird about it. This morning I had a complete abdominal ultrasound. Now I wait some more. Whatever it is, I’ll deal with it. I just have this perpetual fear of ending up in an episode of House. You know…like I end up with some rare condition caused by a chemical reaction between the top I’m wearing and the tube of Chapstick I just bought. And the only way to cure me is to run a tube up my butt and out my left ear.
So yeah…I have a lot going on right now – including a new project called “50 feats before 50″ that I’ll talk more about soon. Until then, I continue to drive the Facebook fans nuts with nonsensical status updates. If you’re one of those folks who doesn’t want to broadcast their whole life on Facebook but you’re feeling left out, do what my crazy ass buddy does: create a profile that’s complete and utter crap. Let me give you a few fake names to get the creative ball rolling…
Seymour Butts (okay, maybe that one’s a bit obvious)
Tiffany Von Flugerflickle
Well…you get the idea. Enjoy creating a complete crap profile and then come hang out with us on my Facebook fan page. It’s awesome.
And now it’s time for me to hit the hay. Brain recharging time, kids. I promise to come around more often. This whole blog post was really about me bitch’in and moan’in about meaningless crap. Next time I promise to tell you about 299 day.
If you’ve been reading my blog lately, you know that I recently got my butt back on a bicycle for the first time in years.
To be honest, I never thought I’d be ready to ride a bike at this weight. I still weigh 304 pounds. That’s a lot of weight to sit on a bike seat, but it seems the 79 pounds I’ve lost was enough to make a difference. That and…something else.
The first time I rode the bike, I just rode around the corner and back. It probably took less than a minute, but that’s all it took. By the time I pulled up to the curb in front of the house I had a big, stupid smile on my face. Then Hot Mess Hubby challenged me to ride to the stop sign and back.
That moment when you realize…you’re having fun.
There’s a simple peace that comes with riding a bike. As children, riding our bikes was our first taste of freedom, wasn’t it? It was for me. And even though my mother had specifically mapped out the borders in our neighborhood that I had to stay within, I still felt like the world was my oyster. There was nothing like navigating the sidewalks of my neighborhood on my purple bike with the banana seat and sparkly handlebar streamers. Nothing.
It was freedom.
So when I pushed back out onto the street and pedaled toward that stop sign, I was free once more. Free from the miserable prison of the obese body I’ve kept myself in for the last 20 years.
The sound of the tires gripping the road, the feeling of the neighborhood whizzing past…it brought back a happier a time for me. A time before I was made to think I was fat and before that “not good enough” feeling had taken over my entire life. A time long before the limitations of obesity started to chip away at my spirit.
For days afterwards, I couldn’t get the smile off my face…because I’d finally had a taste of something I haven’t felt in a very long time: normal.
Being able to ride a bike is a perfectly mundane, ordinary thing that millions of people around the world do every day. It’s a very normal thing. But normal isn’t the world I’ve been living in for the past 20 years.
I’ve been living in the “World of No”. At a big event at work? No plastic folding chairs…they may not hold me. Out to lunch? No booth…I can’t fit in there. Walking through the mall? Don’t even look at the pretty clothes in the windows. No, they won’t fit me. Rollercoasters? No. Walking at a flea market? No. Too much foot pain. And sitting my giant butt on a bike seat? No. After a while, a part of you starts to give up and the walls start closing in on your life.
Imagine my surprise when I started peddling on that bike and my body responded with a big YES.
That moment when you realize your world is opening up again. Being able to do this simple thing that had long been denied to me was such a gift that it brought tears to my eyes.
Hello, normal. It’s nice to see you again.
So with my new kid-like motivation, I put on my bike helmet and struck out on my own the other day. HMH was working and I’d been thinking about riding my bike all day long. I couldn’t wait to get out there and see how far I could go this time.
Now, really, in the immortal scheme of things my bike riding accomplishments are quite unremarkable. At this point, I couldn’t even ride a mile yet…but every time I went out, I went further than before. And that was my goal on this day: ride a little farther, pedal a little faster.
I didn’t have to pedal far to run into some kids playing in their driveway. Mom and Dad were sitting in the shade, diligently watching. In true Texas fashion, I waved and smiled as I passed. They waved as well, but their smiles were…odd. It seemed to me they were quite surprised to see such a big fat person on a bike. They kind of stared. Whatever, right? I was living life, peeps! Who cares about their strange looks. Jerks!
Not too much longer after that, I passed a woman sitting in a car on the wrong side of the street. She looked up at me as I whizzed by, so I smiled and waved. She nodded her head but, again, no smile. Just kind of this weird stare on her face like she’d never seen something like this before. Gimme a break, people! You should be high fiving me and cheering me on! Why so judgy?
I jutted my chin out and kept on pedaling. To hell with them. I’m having fun. So what if I’m fat? How judgy of them!
I pedaled around another corner and came up alongside the 12 mile bike path that runs behind our neighborhood. What a great place to stop for a picture. I planned to post it on my Facebook fan page since I knew many of you would cheer me on for getting back out there again. So I took a quick selfie by the woods…and that’s when I caught a glimpse of what my neighbors had been staring at.
Yeah. That shit happened.
Here I was thinking my neighbors were judgy bitches and I’d been riding around with my eff’in helmet on backwards. I wondered why it felt different, honestly, but I was so excited I didn’t think anything of it. This picture doesn’t do it justice, really. It looked much more ridiculous than this.
I immediately put my helmet on correctly…and then I deleted the pictures. Lucky for you, I had taken a couple selfies in the driveway before I got started. I reluctantly saved those to share my helmet shame with you. You’re welcome.
I haven’t let my helmet shame slow me down. I keep going out. When I first started a week ago, I was out of breath just heading to the stop sign and back. Now I’m doing over 2 miles in one ride. Every day I get stronger. Every day I get better.
It’s an unexpected gift to be able to add this little piece of normal back into my life. The World of No has gotten a little smaller. The World of Normal is ahead…and it looks like so much more fun. Let’s ride.
I just had the most amazing ten minutes of my life…and no, I’m not talking about the time I lost my virginity to a total turd who didn’t deserve me. (I’ll bet I can get an AMEN! from a few of you on that one, right?) But that was more like five minutes, not ten.
Actually, perhaps I should say that I just had the most amazing ten minutes of 2014. Because, really, if HMH reads this he might wonder why our wedding day didn’t make my most amazing list. Oops.
Back to my amazing ten minutes – which actually, now that I think about it, included quite a bit of discomfort in the hoo-hah area…not unlike the aforementioned first time. Okay, I’m off track again.
I just rode a bike for the first time in…five years? I think that’s about right. And even that time lasted exactly 15 minutes and never happened again. At that time in my life I still ate tons of processed “diet” foods and gallons of diet soda and it was much harder to push my much heavier body down the road, that’s for sure.
HMH has a passion for trail bike riding, so we have two bikes already – and many more to follow, I’m sure. Even better, he actually understands the ergonomics of bike riding…so when I got on the bike the first time, he could see clearly that the seat needed to be raised in order for me to pedal. I thought he was insane. I actually argued with him. Then I was afraid to push off and go because I thought I would fall. Seriously, when I put my full weight on the bike it felt like the seat was in my throat. 304 pounds is a lot to ride on a bike seat.
After a few minutes of whining, I pushed off…and my amazing ten minutes began. OMG! I was riding a bike.
Riding a bike. Me.
I rode just around the corner and turned around and came back. It was effing awesome. I stopped in front of the house for a minute and then I took off again. HMH was urging me to try going around the block, so I went for it. Then he jumped on his bike and came after me.
We rode around our block together. At the end of the block, my legs started to fight back. I’m sure if they could speak, I would have heard something like “What the hell is this exercise shit? You never make us do this!” But I didn’t care. I couldn’t get the stupid smile off my face. I was having fun.
I really had to work to get myself the rest of the way home. My legs were like jello and my lady cave was seriously pissed. I will admit, though, that the bike seat wasn’t as painful as I expected.
I had fun today. I didn’t expect it. I really thought it was too soon to ride a bike, so when I took off and was actually doing it…I was elated. Overjoyed! Feeling the breeze in my hair and propelling myself through the neighborhood was absolutely fantastic. Riding a bike is a totally unremarkable, every day thing that millions of people do every day – but for this fat girl it was an unexpected victory.
I’m so happy that I had the courage to try this today. I was certain I would fail. Certain it would be too much too soon. I’m so happy to prove myself wrong. In fact, now that I’m done writing this blog post…I think I’ll go again.
Once more around the block, peeps!!!