Thursday, July 26, 2018

Cried, and I'm not sure why

Today, as I drove to work, I listened to this podcast, Medium's Playback, "What Fullness Is" by Roxane Gay. I thought it was so interesting! As she said, Roxane Gay "wrote a book, Hunger, about [her] body.[She] wrote about being fat." I knew I had heard her name but didn't realize until now when I googled her that I have read Roxane Gay's essay collection, Bad Feminist. Very good.

Anyway, this podcast essay was about Roxanne's story of deciding to, living through, and recovering from bariatric surgery. There were so many factors to this story. Gay's writing is all about fatness -- about the way that she (and others who are fat) navigate through the world. She has to think and plan before any outing how she will fit into the space -- and even IF she will fit at all. She knows she will hear unkind remarks any time she's in public. One of the last straws before she had the surgery was when "a young man yelled at me to move my fat black ass while I was crossing a grocery store parking lot to my car." She went to her car, "drove home and went to bed, and hoped [she] might not wake up," How sad is that.

Gay also talked a lot about her depressive tendencies, not solved by losing weight. She wrote:

I had to face the extent of my unhappiness and how much of that unhappiness was connected to my body. I had to accept that I could change my fat body faster than this culture will change how it views, treats, and accommodates fat bodies. And I had to do so while recognizing that losing weight wasn’t actually going to make me happier — which may have been the bitterest part of all.

It reminded me of the books by Geneen Roth. She wrote, too, about how we often think that if we could just lose weight -- or whatever that most important thing might be -- all our problems would be solved, we would be happy, our life would be wonderful. But it doesn't work that way. I remember once my mom told me about going to a beautiful spot by a bay where my dad wondered if they could build a house, and my mom said, "You know, Lou, wherever you go, there you are." Right?! After losing the weight, after gaining that one important thing, there you still are.

As I listened to Roxane Gay read her essay and then her interview after, I thought of loved ones in my own life who are overweight, who tend toward depression, who have that "yawning cavern inside of [them]" that they try to fill with food or with money or with success or with pleasing others. Myself, too. We all have the desire to be happy.

After the podcast ended, I was close to work but not there yet. I was in heavy traffic and didn't want to futz around with my phone for another podcast, so I turned on an oldies radio station to listen to music for a while. The chorus came on:

And sometimes when we touch
The honesty's too much
And I have to close my eyes
And hide
I want to hold you till I die
Till we both break down and cry
I want to hold you till the fear in me subsides.

I know the words to this song (Sometimes When We Touch, by Dan Hill). It was popular when I was young. I sang along. But this song was never significant to me. I didn't even know its name. It had no emotional pull on me. I have no memories that it evokes. Yet, as I sang along I suddenly started bawling my eyes out. Even now, writing about it, I'm tearing up.

What is going on?? Honestly, I'm not sure. Maybe it was the association of the words of the song with the essay and interview along with my thoughts. I guess it must have been. It was pretty strange, though, crying like that and truly not knowing why or where this sadness came from.

When I think about my life, the people in my life, all of it, I don't feel sad. I feel happy that God has filled my heart so much recently, that I am able, with God's presence in me, to feel a deep contentment, to know that God loves me and he's got it, I can rest in his arms, let it go, know it's not up to me, God will do the work. I don't understand that welling of sadness that came over me, but I am grateful for the happiness in my heart.

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