Seatbelts and Other Surprises


If you’re a very large person you understand the anxiety of getting into any kind of seat that requires carefully calculated space. Anything from restaurant booths to roller coasters can be a very tricky experience – especially since they’re typically public venues that require you to actually move if you can’t fit.

Getting walked off of a roller coaster is a particular humiliation.

Planes fit into this group, and I’ve always preferred to fly the more spacial-friendly skies of Southwest Airlines. They have a fat clause like most airlines but generally they’ve always been super nice and super discreet about the fact I’ve needed a seat belt extender in most flights I’ve taken since 1998. I’ve only been asked to move once, since you can’t sit in the exit aisle if you require one of these extenders in order to buckle your seatbelt.

It’s pretty rare that I fly at all because I never want to have the humiliation Kevin Smith incurred in early 2010, when he was deemed “too fat to fly” and asked to deplane my beloved Southwest airlines. Given that he is fairly well known even makes me more panicked … especially since I think I weigh more than he does.

The whole thing strikes terror in my heart.

But each time I’m faced with the idea of flying, two things go through my head.

One, I feel I need to lose weight because I’m really not *that* much wider than the seatbelt. It’s usually by no more than two or three inches at the most.

Two, I feel like I need to bring a “safe person” with me because I don’t want to inconvenience a stranger by sitting next to him or her. Apparently, fliers are the most vocal bigots against size because they feel we fat people take up more of their space and make them uncomfortable.

How dare we?

The results of this have traditionally been if I couldn’t lose the inches to wear the seatbelt, I’ve just very discreetly asked for the belt extender and tried not to look any nearby passengers in the eye for my direct failure in not being able to wear a normal one. If I had to sit by a stranger, I would literally fold up into as tight a ball as possible – no matter how long the flight – so that I didn’t hit them with any part of my grotesque body if at all possible within my power to control.

So needless to say… flying – even aside from the crash/dying aspect of it – is a very stressful experience that I tend to avoid if at all possible.

Knowing that we had to fly to Vegas for Steven’s birthday celebration, especially since I hadn’t been in any physical shape to exercise, I wasn’t really looking forward to the process of getting there. I kept thinking to myself that we could figure out a way to drive there, even though our time was so limited. I’m no stranger to driving all night, straight through across the country.

But it just wasn’t feasible financially, since we already had the tickets available to us it was silly to allow my phobias to wreck the vacation.

Imagine my surprise when I sit on the plane and manage to fasten the seatbelt… no extenders needed! Sure, the buckle was slid as far down the belt as possible… but it still fit. AND I could even tighten it about an inch or so. I was so happy I nearly cried. I figured the next hurdle to overcome was the tray, but I came to learn that I’m only about two or three inches from that sitting completely level in my lap.

I’m on my way to being normal!

I’m still going to see the look of terror in the eyes of the other passengers as I squeeze down the aisle trying to find a seat because generally no one wants to sit next to the fat lady… but it’s a step in the right direction. And it makes me that much more determined to make this next year one where I get the rest of it under control.

Because I’m tired of the excuses.

I haven’t been living life because I’ve been afraid of facing these humiliations. I don’t ride a whole lot of roller coasters because I’m afraid of not being able to fit. I don’t fly much because of the above mentioned stress factors. Even going out to eat can be stressful… from where I sit to what I order.

Being “normal” is so much more fun.

And it dawned on me that the work I did this year changing the way I ate changed my body whether the scale moved a whole lot or not.

It encourages me to go back to the vegan or vegan-esque type of eating where I eat lots more vegetables and a lot less animal fat.

I can make these changes and the body will ultimately catch up.

I really like that idea.

The second surprise came when I was handed a gift the first night Steven’s family came to meet us in Las Vegas. I wasn’t expecting any gifts for me because this was Steven’s birthday surprise.. I figured the biggest gift was that I got to partake in the family celebration (and Steven’s mom went all out to make it a very special experience for him.)

I opened the package and nothing could have prepared me for the contents. She got me Final Draft, which – if you’re a writer you are quite familiar – is THE premium software for scriptwriting.

To write screenplays you require certain formatting, and I haven’t written anything new since my old computer bit the dust taking my old scriptwriting software with it.

And since Final Draft is expensive, I have never purchased it since. It was on my list of things to do as we got our finances in order (with a certain portion of my income each month going to my writing career,) but it wasn’t anything I ever expected anyone to buy for me.

I knew my mom or Jeff or even Steven would have if they had the money to spare, but I pretty much concluded that it was something I’d have to invest in myself… which is perfectly okay.

BUT….

It gave me lots of wiggle room for excuses to put off what needs to be done by the time I get to California next year.

That present was a lot more than just software. It was a package full of NO EXCUSES for the coming year and all my goals.

The third surprise was how good it felt to put my life back in the proper order. I’ve been out of sorts for a long time. My priorities have been skewed and I’ve taken a pretty emotional toll for it. It felt good to be there with my husband and his family, doing what “normal” folk do. It felt good to be completely wanted and appreciated, without feeling like I had to alter my behavior in any way to gain the approval of someone whose life exists in another galaxy than my own.

I could just be Ginger, and that was okay.

I could be with Steven, in our town – the town where we married and spent a lot of romantic time together – and feel completely bonded with my husband on a deep, emotional level.

There was no one to impress, everyone present already has accepted me for the long haul in a life long commitment that is so much more than just a passing acquaintance. I mean something to them and they aren’t afraid to let me know that.

I’m not a dog sitting under the table begging for scraps, much like I’ve felt I have been my whole entire life.

I don’t have to chase after love and acceptance.

I have it right here. And I’ve neglected that beautiful bounty for far too long. Instead of feeling bad about myself that this person or that person doesn’t love me/accept me or treat me the way I want to be treated… I can feel embraced and accepted as is by the people who know me best of all.

This lesson was imperative for the move back to California. IMPERATIVE.

It’s amazing what you learn when you pay attention. Lessons are EVERYWHERE… you don’t even have to look very hard for them.

So onward and even upward… the sky really is the limit when you consider what you can achieve with some minor changes and the luck of having generous people in your life, who are just as determined to see you succeed as you are.

I probably should have named this year NO EXCUSES… but we’ll keep it at Unstoppable for now.

With a minor subheading thrown in for good measure.

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3 thoughts on “Seatbelts and Other Surprises

  1. Congratulations on all of that, but I’m especially proud of you! You’re inspiring me to get my act together and be unstoppable myself. I’m tired of being well, tired, depressed, unmotivated, etc. I’ll make this year unstoppable, too.

  2. It’s especially hard when dealing with chemical depression. Next month I’m going to find some affordable therapy to help get me over some of the humps while I prepare for the next step. That and a healthier diet to keep balance should help keep the blues at bay. It’s all about natural stuff this coming year.

  3. That’s one of my plans, too. I need to find affordable talk therapy to supplement the meds because what I am right now is just not working.

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