Fat. So?
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Fat. So?

Digging deep

It’s funny how we think that things that happened to us many years ago — the “distant” past — have become, by virtue of our having processed or dealt with them, trivial to our current lives. I mean, it makes sense, right? Something that happened 25 years ago, however traumatic it might have been, is surely well dissected and understood today. Even if it was repressed in that moment, I’ve definitely unpacked it and discussed it openly and I even talk about it casually now. So, it’s like, healed, right?

Apparently not.

When I was in college, I effectively lost all my friends over the course of a week towards the end of second year. It is all ancient history, and the whys and wherefores are really not important, but essentially someone I considered a best friend turned on me, which split our group of friends. Only, because I was the more gregarious one, they tacitly assumed I had other friends and she didn’t so they effectively stopped being my group of friends. Many wonderful things came out of this — by things I mean friendships of course, with people I would never have spent the time getting to know as my time in college was coming to a close.

Twenty years later, two of those women are once again a regular part of my life, and we’re in a group, where a chance discussion of graduation dinner led to me pointing out that they had effectively ditched me, but I understood why, even at that time, and anyway we were all just trying to do what we thought was best given what we knew. But one of them held on to it and told me that even if it was ancient history she still wanted to apologise, and that they should have fought for me.

Now, notice, we are friends today. The other girl has vanished from everyone’s lives. I’m not hurt, or jealous, or resentful. I am very happy with the way my life turned out and I’m glad to have these old friends in my life. I love them. I don’t hold any of this against them.

But my goodness, when I read that text, my eyes just filled and I felt some kind of release, letting go of something I had no idea I was carrying! All these years and that time in my life has been talked about, cried over, raged about, dissected, analysed in therapy, and finally put to bed — so I thought.

But somewhere in there I was still carrying the weight of that heartbroken 19-year-old girl who was so bereft, abandoned by her tribe, who never let herself say the word because she was trying so hard to be strong, self-contained and rise above it all. She was trying — as I still do too much — to see the other person’s perspective, to be fair and reasonable, and use that to fence in her hurt, as if it were some kind of antidote. But what it actually is, as it turns out, is a carpet, under which I swept all that pain, and then stood there balancing on the unstable foundation, telling myself I was fine and wondering why it was so hard to stand steady.

Similarly, something happened to me in high school, once again my so-called best friends did something thoughtless and cruel, and I was SHOOK. But I dealt with it, and I took steps to show them I didn’t care about them and I moved on. I talked about it; I analysed it; I learned about myself from it. You’d think, since it was all so neatly packaged up, that it would take some time to find that pain, and to unpack it, and that when I did, it would be muted, felt through the fog of time.

Only, when I, at Judy’s insistence, did an active imagination exercise about that incident, I was shocked by how fast that pain showed up, and how intense it was. I don’t think I let myself feel that pain that much even in that moment, and yet, here I was sat 25 years later, rocking and wailing in grief for the unfairness of it all.

I didn’t even know till that moment when I felt those feelings physically in my body that those very feelings were the root of my despair and helplessness when it hits. It is that icy belly, those gasping lungs, that crushing weight that descends when I try to imagine my future and I find I wordlessly, hopelessly, cannot. It is exactly those things that I feel when I am lost and I don’t know where it’s coming from.

And to think I thought it was all sorted out. *shaking my head*

This is all from 2 incidents of trauma. Can you imagine how much weight we carry as fat people who have been shamed, abused and stigmatised all our lives? Imagine what it would be like to let it all go — it must be like flying.

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This is the blog for the Fat. So? Podcast, where Pallavi and Ameya talk about the joys and sorrows of being fat women in India.

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Ameya Nagarajan

Ameya Nagarajan

Fat activist, cat lady, cook, amateur anthropologist, podcaster, collector of people

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