Saturday, January 27, 2018

Reflecting and projecting

January 26, 1985 is when I was married.

Fifteen years later, January 26, 2000 my life was in ruins in so many ways.  I was fat, 265 lbs.  I was fifteen years older.  Three of my children had died.  Physically I was a mess as well.

How bad?  Well, when I began the long slow road to physical health and started at a gym, I could move between 20 and 40 pounds on the machines, generally whatever the lowest setting was on the weight machines.  Walking even a mile was difficult for me.

It has been thirty-three years since January 26, 1985.  Fifteen years to disaster.  An interregnum.  And then rehabilitation. 

Now I weigh a good deal less.  I can walk fifteen or more miles, with a full backpack over the Appalachian Trail's ups and downs.  In so many ways things are so much better.

It came to mind as I read a story on Facebook that wrapped in someone who was looking at a shipwreck in many ways.  They were getting divorced, they were older and they had gained a lot of weight.

I reflected on that because I identified with them.  I tried to express that, but did so poorly.  Got told I was disgusting and fat shaming.  The people I was trying to talk to didn't get it.  I wasn't shaming the other person -- I had been in their shoes -- and I wasn't claiming sympathy as an excuse to deride them.  I had been that person whose world had crashed apart.

But, things are better now.  I was lucky enough not to face divorce (though burying three children in the space of five years was terribly hard and the death of so many dreams).  I lost the academic career I had been building towards with publications and seminar presentations.  If you've been 5'5" and 265 pounds with no muscle tone at all you know I was a mess.

It is a terrible place to be.  Yet. 


Yet yesterday, January 26, 2018 I was glad to be alive.  Today, January 27, 2018 I am glad to be alive.  There is so much joy possible.  The person I was commenting on seems to see that, I hope that they mean what they wrote.

But it was good for me to look back and see myself in their shoes as well.