Open Spaces

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I took a long walk today. I haven’t done that in far too long. There’s a nice little park near my house that has a paved loop to walk on. It’s lovely and lots of people walk their dogs there so I get to people and puppy watch. Double threat. I don’t take advantage of it as much as I would like to, but today it was calling to me. So, when I woke up, I hopped out of bed, ate some breakfast, strapped on my sneakers, threw my hair in a ponytail and I was out the door. The weather was perfectly agreeable for an outdoor walk – nice and mild, cloudy and not overly hot. I was really excited.

I started walking the loop and felt an inner calm wash over me again and again. I smiled at the people I saw. I smiled at the babies in strollers. I even got a little manhandled by a passing husky. He was about 120 pounds and had muddy paws. I got a pawprint stamped across my left breast as he jumped up to lick my chin. No bother, I just laughed, wished his owner a lovely day and walked on.

When I take walks outside I always feel free. I feel like my breathe comes easier and my mind feels more clear. My entire body knows there is actually room to breathe and responds in kind by releasing endorphins. I feel good when I’m out like that. I don’t get out enough. I don’t put myself out there enough. And today, I realized what that reason is….fear. Plain old stupid FEAR.

I’m scared to be out in public sometimes. I assume and believe that other people judge or hate me because I am overweight – or as my 17 year old self would say, because I am FAT, disgusting and worthless. I hesitate to participate in my own life because when I step outside my comfort zone I leave myself vulnerable to judgment. What I forget is most people are wrapped up in their own agendas, worries and fears. Why would perfect strangers take time out of their own thoughts and plans to silently and hatefully judge the overweight woman in her 30s who is walking along, minding her own business? And even if they do, their judgment or distaste has nothing to do with me and everything to do with them. Why do I think they even care what they think? Could it be that I’m a little narcissistic, yes? Or, it could be that I’m hyper aware of my body shape and I’m overly ashamed of it. I think I deserve others’ judgment somehow. I deserve to be hated because I am disgusting. I am FAT.

Well, so fucking what? Lots of people weigh more than they want to. Lots of people aren’t perfect physical specimens. I’m not alone in this. I’m not the only one who is tragically unhappy with her body. I’m not the lone FAT girl in a sea of skinny ladies with perfect, undimpled, unstretched skin. I put so much of my value into the minds of other people. My confidence lives in the supposed judgment of strangers. It’s ludicrous. It’s a completely insane thought pattern that keeps me prisoner.

But I had a freeing moment on my walk today….

I usually wear baggy tops or hoodies when I walk or workout. I can’t stand the thought of someone else seeing how out of shape my body is, so I hide it. Hoodies are the best because they are meant to cover. Unfortunately, it’s summer (my least favorite season because the weather requires me to wear less clothing….) so a hoodie is out of the question. I had to wear a t-shirt today. It would have been too hot otherwise.

So, I’m walking along and a breeze starts blowing in my face, cooling the sweat. Lovely. The breeze also pushes my t-shirt against my entire front, putting my misshapen, roll-filled body on display. Unacceptable. I normally lift my hands up and pretend I’m adjusting my top to cover myself and avoid prying eyes seeing anything I can’t bear them to see. But today, for maybe the first time ever, I thought, ‘why am I making myself do this every single time? This is silly. I deserve to walk comfortably. Who gives a fuck what this passing person thinks of my body?’ And I kept my arms by my sides and walked along. Head high, looking at the trees and smiling.

I felt free of my own destructive Inner Dialogue for the first time in years. And it didn’t matter what the passersby thought because I was gone from their view in seconds. And I felt good. I felt confident. I felt at home within myself.

Please, please let this mean I’m finally waking up.

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