Thursday, March 13, 2008

THE JOURNEY: Part 3 of 6 - The Realization

There are only two advantages to being obese. You don't have to worry about being blown away in a strong wind and you have extra insulation in the dead of winter.

I'd never been comfortable in my own skin. I hated my appearance. I've been stared at and made fun of my whole life. I felt like a freak of nature.

When I lost my sight, one of the things I thought was that at least I don't have to look at me anymore.

Being obese was not fun. My body ached and screamed with every movement. Climbing even two steps on or off the bus was exhausting. Lifting my legs over the edge of the tub to get in the shower was excruciating. Bending to tie shoes or boots was something that I dreaded. I knew I couldn't keep going the way I was, but finding the will to care enough to do something about it was a challenge.

I had a couple of deeply personal "Aha" moments - the type that make you really stop and examine your entire life.

One was humiliating. I slipped on some ice and landed on my back while wearing my backpack. I was like a turtle on its back. I couldn't move. Two women came and helped me roll over and remove my backpack so I could get up.

The second was an exhilarating experience. I was using Handi-Transit (local door to door service for the disabled) and crossed paths with a man who exuded chivalry - the art of being a gentleman. He introduced himself (a rarity among the drivers), opened doors for me and offered me his hand to lay my hand on for balance as I stepped down out of the van. Our brief conversations were genuine and sincere. He treated me with such a strong and sincere level of respect that I couldn't help but start to care about myself. For the first time in my life, I actually felt like a lady.

I know this sounds really corny or that he was probably just acting but he wasn't. I talked to his employer and found out he'd been named "driver of the year" a year earlier and that this was the way he treated everyone. He was raised to show manners and respect to everyone regardless of the circumstances. I only had him as a driver 5 times, but I will never forget him or his gentlemanly qualities.

Don't get me wrong, I have had good experiences before. Not everyone treated me badly. Others had opened doors, guided me etc. - but this was different. He treated me like a lady because he believed that is the way to treat a woman. Most men treat a woman as a lady because they want something or because they feel they have to, not necessarily that they want to. Would I want all men to treat me the way he did? No. I don't want someone to pretend to be someone they aren't. Be yourself, but a little sincere respect goes a long way.

I've never seen him again, but that brief encounter lit a spark within me. I actually felt like I was worthy of respect. Maybe there was hope for me yet.

After a lot of soul searching and reflection, I realized that it was time to take control of my life, and that meant making some major changes. It wouldn't be easy and it wouldn't be quick. It had taken me years to get into this mess and it would take a long time to get out of it. This was the beginning of a new journey...


Tomorrow; "Getting Started"

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