The day before Thanksgiving, for the first time in almost 20 years, I weighed under 350 lbs.
This is usually where I would crack a joke about how big I am but I won’t.
Over what I have deemed “the worst summer ever” (more about that some other time, maybe) I watched a Netflix stand up comedy special, “Hannah Gadsby: Nanette”. I was struck by something that Ms. Gadsby said something about self-deprecation:
“I have built a career out of self-deprecating humor and I don’t want to do that anymore. Do you understand what self-deprecation means when it come from somebody who already exists in the margins? It’s not humility, it’s humiliation. I put myself down in order to speak, in order to seek permission to speak, and I simply will not do that anymore, not to myself or anybody who identifies with me.”
Wow. That’s deep (so is Nanette, check it out when you have the chance, trust me).
The self-deprecation joke had been my go-to since high school. I wanted people to see that I was more than my weight, that I was alright and I felt that the best way of doing that was to make fun of the fat guy, me.
I assumed that everyone saw the same thing that I saw when I looked in the mirror and since I did such a good job at tearing myself down, I could flip the hurt into humor and defuse the elephant in the room, literally (See? Bad habits are hard to break) before they could go there. I was humiliating myself to make others feel good about my body. Back then, my favorite thing was that I’d like to think that I was doing some kind of self-therapy but the truth was that I was ashamed, in denial and lived in constant fear that people would crush my soul with their looks of disgust.
So, I had jokes. Jokes were my shield, my justification, my self-hate.
That was then.
Back then, I would have been mortified to discuss my weight in specifics like numbers. I didn’t even discuss numbers with the doctor, stepping on the “special” scale (for the people over the weight limit of the “normal” scale) told me all that I needed to know.
Now, telling you about “then” is way more painful than telling you that I’m lighter now that I have been in at any point in the 21st Century and I’m tremendously happy about that.
In the past, I would keep any attempts that would make to lose weight to myself, hidden away for when I failed, I didn’t have to admit to anyone but myself.
Nor do I feel the need to crack any slick commentary about being “caloric challenged”, thank you, Nanette.
I’m no longer looking at how much farther that I have to go with sadness, regret, anger.
The Best Is Yet To Come and I’m looking forward to every step of the journey.
That’s no joke. Neither am I.