Hello, Belly? You there?
Yes, of course you are. You’ve been there since deflating in a most inglorious, surgical manner almost two years ago. I’m as familiar with you now as I am with the baby that expanded you in the first place. Problem is, as that beloved baby grew bigger, you did not grow smaller.
You’re a persistent little bastard – yes, bastard – unwanted, unclaimed and something I really do not want to admit patronage of. And yet there you waddle, sad and flabby, restrained only slightly by thick waistbands and hideously unsexy underpants.
I have tried to tame you; saw glimpses of a shrinking hope during my year of chasing babies at home; my year of pushing 60 lbs worth of stroller through the snow and eating carrot sticks for snacks when and if I had a free hand, a free moment. I saw glimpses of my former self; legs toned, hips narrow, clothes fitting,
And then I went back to work and you laughed a rueful, cruel laugh, knowing that you once again had the opportunity to merrily burst forth from the top of my pants; knew I was little more than powerless to sit, hour after hour and watch as every stagnating day; every tiny indulgence literally fed you; made you stronger, made me feel weaker in my powers to defeat you.
I try not to let you crush me. I try not to look in the mirror and loathe what I see. I try not to feel defeat as I remember that, the flat, size zero stomach I used to carry belonged to the body of a girl; that this rounded, supple, hard-working body belongs to a woman. I try to want to be a woman, even as the girl I see in the mirror laughs at me, a fat fool entering her mid-30s with as much grace as a lame hippo. I try not to see my own mother, see her constant battles to lose weight as much my reality as it has been hers. I try to feel happy with who I am now while still maintaining a goal of who I could be. I try not to think of who I was.
But you, you soft, fleshy, mutant of a belly, hanging off of my body like a deflated balloon, you mock me daily, rejecting more and more of the clothes that you previously wore comfortably, cutely. You ingest all my good intentions like so much bacon grease, impervious to my attempts at exercise, ignoring the many healthy food choices in favour of responding to the one suspect morsel.
You mock me; remain big enough that I am able to detest and fear you, to barely recognize myself; to be aware that anybody that looks at me now knows that I have put on weight, that I have fallen from the thrown of svelteness that I sat atop for 32 years. And yet, I remain just petite enough to make complaining about you cue head-shaking or eye-rolling in others that have known this battle for years.
I sit, glaring at the rolls that greet me when I cast eyes downward, and wait for the epiphany. You know, the one that holds the answer to weight loss, esteem gain and serenity. I implore you to make me fat and happy or to just go away. How can I make you acknowledge the efforts I am making – I am running for chirissake, running! – the snacks I am skipping; the comfort I am not seeking.
How can this be how you repay me after years of service? After getting through high school without majorly abusing you? After loving and sharing and appreciating you? After growing and birthing and feeding two beautiful, healthy girls? How can this be my repayment? How can this be my present, and how can I ensure that this is not my future?
C’mon, jellybelly, what gives, besides the elastic waistbands of my future? Is it humility you want me to learn? Self-control? Bovine empathy? Because I’m fresh out of food for thought. Of course, I do know where I can scare up a muffin-top.