I've been reading and thinking and occasionally blogging about body acceptance and fat rights for a while now. I had a bit of a breakthrough yesterday.
I went to the Waynesburg Sheep and Fiber Festival. I went by myself, which was fine. The event was just my speed, not huge but plenty to see, not thronged with people but a fair amount of traffic. (More on the event in a subsequent post.) I made it through all the walking and steps and a pretty long drive (though mostly highway so not so bad with the clutch) both ways without major cramping or pain. Later, Bob and I went out to dinner and I was seriously angry at how much pain I was in. I ranted and raved on the way home about how much it pisses me off that I can't have a normal leg and walk like normal people and not get all swelled up and numb and hurty after what to most able people would be a very insignificant amount of exercise. I was really mad that I can't go out and walk on a regular basis, that my ambulation is not and never will be normal, that there's precious little I can do on the exercise end to decrease my blood sugar because of this goddam stupid messed up leg and that if it's still this bad after over a year, it's probably never going to be much better than this.
I'd just read this outstanding piece on the nocebo effect and was wondering if being upset that my leg wasn't normal was making it less normal, that maybe I just ought to ignore the fact that my foot goes totally dead and my knee doesn't bend very far and the massive cramps I get on a regular basis in that leg because what if I'm nocebo-ing myself into my leg actually being worse? But all those things are real. So what is the solution? What do I do? HOW CAN I CHANGE IT?
Then it hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks.
This is not body acceptance. This is no different than saying "I hate being fat and I wish I could change it". I am absolutely nowhere on the FA/size acceptance scale where my own body is concerned, because I cannot accept my body as it is. I cannot accept my bad leg and all the ramifications of it. I hate it, and I'm mad at it, and I want it to change so badly I'd do almost anything. All things I'd said in the past about being fat. All things I'd done drastic things to try to change, over and over through my lifetime, from amphetamines to exercise bulimia to Richard Simmons' various plans to food diaries to obsessive walking to weightlifting to dieting and dieting and dieting until I screwed up my metabolism so much that I eat much less than most people, even thin people, and I am way off the "death fat" end of the BMI scale.
My left leg has been the enemy for over a year. No more. It's part of my body, and I'm going to treat it kindly. Instead of being frustrated, I'm going to love and embrace it as part of a whole me, flawed perhaps but still me. I'm going to try to figure out what it likes and do that, and in the meantime, I'm going to accept and deal with it instead of treating it like I wish it'd just fall off and leave me alone already.
Much to think about. Much to do. For now, in conclusion, puppies.