The Obese Woman
A WOMAN WEIGHING THREE HUNDRED POUNDS PLUS WALKS SLOWLY TO THE CENTER OF THE STAGE AND STANDS BEHIND A FOLDING METAL CHAIR. SLOWLY SHE LOOKS OUT OVER THE AUDIENCE AS IF SURVEYING THE CROWD TO SEE IF THERE ARE ANY FRIENDLY FACES THERE. HER FACE IS VERY SAD, HER EYES HAVE TEARS FLOWING FROM THEM DOWN HER CHUBBY CHEEKS. AS IF IN A DREAM SHE BEGINS TO SPEAK.
Did you expect to see a fat woman on stage? Probably not. It isn't stylish or politically correct to be "morbidly obese."
SHE MAKES THE QUOTE SIGN WITH HER FINGERS.
What was your first impression of me? Did you think of me as a smelly disgusting figure: Were you glad you didn't look this way? Did you feel both ways? Be honest, there is nothing to hide. I stopped hiding a long time ago from those awful prejudiced thoughts.
THE WOMAN MOTIONS TO THE CHAIR SEAT.
May I sit down?
HESITATING FOR A FEW MOMENTS SHE WALKS SLOWLY TO THE FRONT OF THE CHAIR AND SITS. SHE MAINTAINS THE LOOK OF SADNESS ON HER FACE. THE TEARS CEASE.
I haven't always been like this. Once I was normal weight. I never did fit in this world though. I don't understand bigotry, hate, war, and violence. Somehow I am missing the software in my brain that tells me it is something I should feel. Take the prejudice against people who choose Homo instead of Hetero in sexual orientation. I have someone very close to my heart who is gay. I love him very much but he hides from me because he thinks I won't except his lifestyle. If he is jumping bed to bed of course I don't agree just as I wouldn't if he did the same with women. That doesn't change how much I love him. I haven't heard from him for over a decade. I know he still lives because his immediate family hasn't received any bad news. I'm afraid he thinks I think I am better than he is.
THE WOMAN PAUSES AND STARES AHEAD AS IF LOST IN THOUGHT FOR A MOMENT.
I just never fit. Maybe if fate had been kinder I would have looked like everybody else, but that's an age old excuse. One some folk find offensive. I suffer with major depression and you probably think I can pull myself out of it if I "really want to"
AGAIN SHE MAKES THE QUOTE SIGNS WITH HER FINGERS.
My grandpa, the root cause of my problems, is dead now. But many years ago when I was learning how to feel he betrayed my innocent trust in horrible ways.
THE WOMAN LOWERS HER HEAD INTO HER HANDS AS IF TERRIBLY EMBARRASSED.
I know it is not a subject talked about among the masses, perhaps that is why I feel such shame bringing it up here and now. Child sexual abuse!
SHE YELLS, THEN SHE SIGHS LOUDLY
There I've said it!
THE WOMAN LOOKS ACCUSINGLY UP FROM HER HANDS AT THE AUDIENCE.
Don't stare, you KNOW what I am talking about! Many of you are either victims or perps! You know don't you! Enough of the secrets and psychobabble of this crime against humanity. My God, do you have any idea what you have lived through or done? How much pain we have inside ourselves that holds us down as though we were weighted down and thrown into the ocean? All any of us wanted was to be free! To feel peace that passes all understanding. Sometimes I get a glimpse of it when I concentrate on Jesus, but I always end up with me.
THE WOMAN STANDS AND SWIFTLY COVERS HER FACE WITH HER HANDS AGAIN VISIBLY SHAKING SHE STRAINS TO MAINTAIN CONTROL.
My soul is bleeding! Oh God, I loved him so much, why did he do those things! How could he use me then discard me like yesterdays garbage. Had he treated me better I would have taken care of him, he wouldn't have died alone.
THE WOMAN WEEPS BITTERLY FOR A FEW SECONDS, THEN LOWERS HER HANDS AND SITS BACK DOWN.
When I was nine years old I stopped going out to play. At first the kids I had played with came to the door to see if I would come out but after I had turned them away so many times they gave up. I had become clinically depressed. It was the early seventies and nobody discussed incest. It simply was not talked about, period. I began to gain weight. I was in the fifth grade. Children can be like sharks in a feeding frenzy. First one or two children say a cruel thing that makes their victim cry. Then the other children smell the grief and begin to feed on her, soon nothing remains of her soul but emptiness. Yes kids are cruel. I would be so ashamed if I knew or even suspected a child of mine was behaving that way toward another human toward another human being!
At nine you aren't ready to carry the load that this ugly world tosses at you. A grandpa that uses you as his mistress or worse, at times sells you to his friends for beer. Grandpa is brutal in his use of your body so you space completely out as a means of coping, learning to be there but not be there. That is what attracts the other kids. The smell of pain in your soul. It must smell like blood does to a shark.
THE WOMAN SITS FORWARD IN THE CHAIR WITH HER ELBOWS ON HER KNEES
I never had any boyfriends in junior high or high school. I graduated with over four hundred other students and there are only a handful I care to ever see again.
THE WOMAN SOUNDS BITTER AS SHE SPEAKS
No dances. No parties. No dirty talk. None of the things normal teens do. My mom says that when she had me she lay awake at night and thought about the boyfriends I would have and the beautiful gown I would wear to my senior prom. They never came to be. I never even paid attention to when the prom was. I could have gone stag, as they call it, but I knew I would be humiliated. I must be a very great disappointment to my mom. Oh she would never admit it, but I must be. I know I am to me.
THE WOMAN SITS BACK IN THE CHAIR AND FOLDS HER HANDS NEATLY IN HER LAP, SIGHS
Look at me. No, really look at me. Am I only what you see on the outside? Can you see past my physical camouflage and see me in here? I don't really live in my body. I live in my head. Anybody who has ever been beaten, raped, starved, etc, will understand. My body is just what everybody sees. I don't recognize it unless it hurts or is tired. I'm trapped in here!
TAPPING HEAD WITH RIGHT HAND
I rarely look into a mirror, just to brush my hair. My image of me is very different than the truth. Inside my hiding place in my mind I am tall, thin, beautiful. I am truly happy and at peace with my world.
SIGHING AS SHE SPEAKS
Maybe in Heaven.
THE WOMAN SHIFTS HER WEIGHT AS IF UNCOMFORTABLE
Have you ever said anything cruel to someone? Think about it because everyone has at sometime or other. I know I have to my brothers when we were growing up. I'd get frustrated with them and attack them where it hurt.
THE WOMAN LOOKS DOWN HER FOLDED HANDS AND BEGINS TO RUB HER RING FINGER ON THE LEFT HAND
I was married once. The man I married was the first person to see past my camouflage. Unfortunately it didn't work out. We caused a great deal of pain for one another. I wish I could change that. Marriage isn't an easy contract to maintain. Sure you have love, at least at the first. You must also have trust, consideration, and a host of other core emotions to share. We lost the trust we once had in one another. Divorce is a very sad scarring experience.
THE WOMAN LOOKS UP INTO THE AUDIENCE AGAIN
I think it is wishful thinking to hope that the people who called me names and made me so miserable over my years in grade school and beyond feel true remorse for what they did. They probably don't even remember doing the things they did. I was fat, I was dirty. I had dirty hair. I had pimples really bad. I wouldn't look up when I traveled down the halls between classes. I ate alone or with other misfits at lunch. I gave them plenty of reasons to make fun but still...
THE WOMAN AGAIN CRIES, THIS TIME QUIETLY WITH HER HEAD UP LOOKING INTO THE AUDIENCE.
How did I survive this long? I 'd like to believe there is a God upstairs watching over me. Not the God of the classical churches but a God I can understand. I have heard all the religiousbabble I care to hear. I have been told God will not lay on me more than I can handle. That he is testing me. That would make him very cruel indeed! I was even told by one over zealous pastor that I am demon possessed! There are as many opinions on God as there are people to interpret him.
I prefer to think of God the way he is thought of by most self help groups, a kind loving force who only wants good things for us. He allows us to choose our own streets to travel down full of mistakes and victories. We have free will. If God did any different he would have pets instead of beings who choose to worship and bring him glory. God is a creative force. He does not destroy unless he can do nothing else. Look around on a warm spring day in May at the beauty all around you or at the starts on a dark winters night and you can't miss hearing his words "Let there be light!" echoing through the universe.
My abusers of the past were exercising their free will and unfortunately I got in the way.
Now it is my turn to choose.
It is also your turn to choose. The very existence of man depends on our choices. We can choose to love each other as human beings not judging each other by our differences. The very fact that we are all a mere flash in the cosmos on this little blue planet and that we are given by God the air we breath and the richness of our country should make us sit up and notice. The good book says two things fulfill the entire message brought by the Messiah, love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.
THE WOMAN STANDS AND GOES BEHIND THE CHAIR
Is your opinion of me the same as it was when you first saw me? No? Then there is hope for us yet.
God bless you!
Shirley Davis 1-29-02
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Wow. Great story. Very touching. Kept my atttention at midnight. Keep up the great writing.
Thank you. Those are hard things to write about, and I appreciate it.
Hi Shirley: I just happened upon your story, and I can only say, like Steve, that your story is written with strong emotion and is excellent, as well as very sad. I loved the way you presented this very painful subject. If this story is true, I hope you reach out to this woman and love her, as she is awesome! God bless you, Ellen
Wow! This story is a real eye opener. Splendidly writen and packed with emotion. Superbly done.