There are always a handful of moments in life that you will never forget... even if you'd rather that you could. One of those such moments happened for me on July 1st, 2000.
Anytime I think of that day, I stumble into the open hole of a wound that, somehow, hasn't healed entirely. Even in 10 years time, it amazes me that there is still a fresh bloom of blood to be found... sometimes just a trickle... other times, a full gush.
How can words, spoken not in hate or anger but simply in ignorance, be so damaging?
I've actually spoken about this day with very few people over the years. It's always been on a need-to-know basis... as in, "you want to know why I'm so scarred? flawed? insecure? easily-hurt? Okay, here..." Of course, it’s just a piece of the story.... my story.... and the thing is, it's not a tragic story nor is this the biggest chapter. I wasn't physically harmed. I wasn't even maliciously accosted. Some may read this and not understand the big deal... but... I'm not writing for those people. I guess I’m not writing this for anyone really.... but maybe someone needs to hear it.
(or read it, as it were.)
((or maybe I just need to write it.))
July 1, 2000 was the day I realized that I wouldn't be able to remain married to my first husband. I knew it with 100% certainty. We had only been married a little over a year earlier. We married young. We loved each other, but something wasn't right - we were both deeply unhappy... and neither of us knew why.
We were in our bedroom and packing to go to New York for the wedding of a friend of his from high school. As I was gathering clothes and such together, I was relating a story about one of my high school friends, to whom I had just spoken the previous night.
The story was centered around his experiences in online dating - a rather novel concept at that time. He had met a girl online and had spoken to her on a daily basis over a few weeks - emails, phone calls, etc. He had gotten to know her well, really liked her, and the feeling was mutual; they decided to meet.
However, when he met her, he said knew immediately that he couldn't date her: she was overweight. Not cut-you-from-your-bedroom-and-remove-you-via-forklift big.... just, overweight. Maybe kinda big. He liked skinny girls, waif-ish even, he explained. And he was really disappointed because he really liked her.
(um, as a sidebar, I just feel it necessary to point out that he was not waif-ish himself.)
I was baffled by this. I didn't understand why he would throw away a potential relationship, when there was such a good personal connection, simply based on a physical first impression. I was disappointed for him, but also kind of disappointed in him. I wouldn't have thought this friend to be shallow like that... or judgmental.
My husband, not at all understanding what he was about to do, interjected, "Well, I mean, I can understand that. If I saw you just walking down the street, I probably wouldn't even notice you. I wouldn't be attracted to you."
(yes, I remember it verbatim.)
I also remember, quite clearly, that I walked over to my closet - my back to him - trying to process what he had just said to me.
This, from the man that had, four years earlier, sought out my number from a mutual friend after seeing me walk through a grocery store, just once.
(I was smaller then.)
This, from the man who had promised to love me above all others, for better or for worse.
(how was the “worse” a simple matter of weight??)
I don't remember much else in the moments immediately following that comment.
I remember crying - tears silently streaming - as I "searched" for something in the closet - until he left the room.
I remember sitting right down in that closet and crying a little more until I could get myself together.
I remember a very very silent car ride to NY.
I remember a very long and not at all enjoyable weekend.
I remember wondering how many of these strangers at this wedding were looking at me…. and if any of them were actually seeing me…. or if I was simply invisible.
(I remember "Hope Floats" being on HBO as we were getting ready to leave the hotel the next morning and having a crying, physical breakdown like nothing I had ever experienced before.)
((yeah, "Hope Floats"...))
I did talk to him about it.... eventually. My trying to explain to him why the comment hurt me was the hardest.... because I didn't really understand why it cut me so deeply. I knew I had gained weight since he and I met. I had health problems and I was trying to lose weight - working my ass off, actually - but it was slow in coming, as it always is. But I wasn't going to, in the meantime, let myself go to hell. I always did my hair, always wore make-up, always dressed nicely.... but it seemed he didn't see me anymore.
I think, looking back on it now - and having 10 years to still wonder why this hurts me to this day - he hit upon an insecurity that I didn't even know I had.... and given the ones that I was aware of, I didn't expect that there would be more hiding like that.
I want people to see me.... to see the real me.... and I sometimes worry that no one does. I think that's part of the reason I put myself out there so bluntly. "Here I am world! Take me or leave me!"
(but really? I want them to take me.)
((don't we all?))
I thought, given that he married me, that he did see me.... and therefore, even in less than perfect times, I saw myself in him.... even if I didn't love me, he loved me.
And who was I if he didn't see me anymore?
And, to be fair, he didn't make the comment to say that he didn't love me.... he meant that he loved me despite how I looked.... which I guess was a good and honest thing to say.... but not what I was needing to hear. And not how I heard it.
Some days, I’m still waiting for this to scar over.
Other days, I am really am okay if the world just wants to leave me.
"You used to be so audacious. People would stop to watch you come down the street. You think you've lost that. I can still see it."