Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Drive By Hate

This post by knottyboy and this post by Pua both have me thinking about hate. About how much we hate ourselves and how some people need to turn that hate on others.

So I mentioned a few days ago, that I had gained a lot of weight this summer. I couldn't hate myself any more right now if I tried.

I'd like to think that the extra weight is only the tip of the iceberg for me. But I really don't think that is true. Not for me. It probably is true for a lot of people. Extra weight is only a symptom of something else going on within themselves. Overeating is just like drinking too much and being addicted to drugs. It causes a lot of problems, but it isn't the root of the problem.

In my case, food is just something that I turn to when I'm lonely. My family has only ever expressed their love through food, and it is comforting to eat in times of stress, strife, and loneliness.

But I'm not lonely anymore. I miss Patrick a lot, but I'm back with my family and I couldn't be happier. Except that my self-esteem is totally shot.

On one of the last nights that I was on the Cape, Patrick and I were walking down Main Street in Hyannis. We hadn't realized it, but Main Street is the place for teenagers to cruise up and down in their cars, looking for girls/boys, or sex, or fun, or whatever the hell it is kids look for these days.

An SUV of teenage boys drove by and one yelled out the window, "Lose weight you fat cow!"

Now, I may have gained weight, but I'm still not anywhere near the kind of fat that makes teenage boys yell out of their car windows. But in my mind, at that moment, I was the fattest woman on the planet and I deserved to be publicly humiliated.

I sort of mumbled, "Oh, nice. That's just what I need."

Patrick had ignored them until I said that. Then he got all butch. "They weren't talking to you. Were they?" I swear he got five inches taller. They had stopped in traffic a few car lengths ahead, and he was going after them.

But I suddenly noticed a woman sitting at a cafe table to our right. I would guess that she weighed about four-hundred pounds. The look on her face...I can't describe it. But I understood it.

I grabbed Patrick by the back of his shirt. "Sweetie, no." He was ready to fight me, but I used my hand in the small of his back to make him notice the woman. "It wasn't me," I whispered to him. He was ready to stand up for her anyway, but I knew, I just knew in my heart, that was the last thing that woman wanted. She just wanted to melt into the ground and make the whole situation go away. The boys' SUV had moved on by then.

Patrick and I talked about it later. He likened it to having people yell fag at him from moving cars. He said that he always fights back. And I can understand that. But I think this was different. Patrick and I disagreed.

But either way, I can't understand the mentality of a person who does something like that. Drive by hate. It's like leaving anonymous comments on a blog or spraying graffiti. It takes no courage on the haters part. What exactly do they think they're accomplishing? Any real man will tell you that you don't kick someone when they're down.

The more I've thought about it, the more simple it seems to be. We all hate ourselves. For one reason or another. Even the most well-adjusted of us has one thing we'd like to change. And don't even get me started on the impossible appearance standards of gay culture.

But I think that some people who hate themselves a lot, feel the need to strike out first. Maybe it will distract everyone else from their own shortcomings. Like knottyboy says, the guys yelling faggot probably have issues of their own. And the boys yelling fatty are probably just scared that someone will look too closely at them.

And I agree with Patrick that we need to fight back. And we each need to fight back in a way that works for us. He might throw whatever is in his hand at the passing car of homophobes. But that's just not me. He might blog about his hate mail, and that works for him, but I'd rather not give the cowards that kind of attention.

I fight back by making the conscience decision not to let my own self-hatred stop me from enjoying life. I go to the looks-obsessed Provincetown and have a blast. I remind myself that most people really don't care how much I weigh. They only care what a good friend I am and how much fun we have. I follow Patrick into the middle of a crowded dance floor at the A-House and dance my heart out surrounded by hot, sweaty, half-naked men.

I don't always succeed. Ask me how many times I went to the beach this year. But I succeed enough.

I also fight back by doing my best to make sure my kids don't have the same issues when they grow up. They're doing awesome, by the way. We never use the words "fat" or "weight". We only ever talk about eating healthy so that we have energy. And exercising so that we can be fit and strong. Giving it all a positive spin has really got them on board. Even if they don't lose a pound, the new attitude they have about food and exercise is healthy for them.

Now I need to take my cue from them. Losing weight won't make my self-hatred go away. But doing good things for myself so that I can be a strong member of this family will go a long way toward boosting my self-esteem.

And I'm going to keep sucking up every little ounce of love that comes my way. I'm going to hold every compliment to my heart. I'm fun. I'm sweet. I'm beautiful. I'm a great friend. My kids love me. They tell me I'm the best mom ever. My husband loves me. He tells me and shows me how beautiful and sexy I am every day.

Now I just have to get healthy so that I'm around to give and get love for a long, long time.

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