Sticks and stones can break my bones, but frankly; words hurt most of all.
Since I was a little girl, I’ve struggled with body image issues. My family was very appearance-conscious, and discussed weight on a frequent basis. In high school, my challenges with body image took on a whole new form. While my family never sought a diagnosis, but it’s fairly safe to say I had an eating disorder. I withheld food and nourishment, and became incredibly thin. I was depressed and felt worthless. It is the time in my life I look back on with the greatest sense of regret.
When Chris and I got married, I was able to heal much of these thoughts and feelings through counseling. I’ve come an incredibly long way in my journey with how I view my body, and my sense of appreciation for it.
Today, I had to remember how far I’ve come. I had to hold onto it with every ounce of my being, as I drove home from work clutching the steering wheel, tears streaming freely down my face.
At work today, I greeted a gentleman I ran into in the hallway. I haven’t seen him in a couple of months. After the typical, “hi’s” and “how are you’s” he took a long, hard look at my belly, and said, “Are you expecting a baby?”
It felt like someone knocked the wind out of me.
I managed to force out a, “No.”
“Not yet, hmm?” he replied.
I turned and walked to the ladies room. As I held tight to the sink, absolutely floored by how idiotic people can be, I tried to pull it together. I stood tall, and scrutinized myself in the bathroom mirror. “Okay, Heather, so you’ve gained a little weight,” I thought, “not the end of the world.”
I was keeping it together until I saw my favorite coworker. I told her what had happened, and completely fell apart. It was the kind of cry where you can’t breathe and your body starts doing that lovely convulsing thing. Not cute at all. She held me tight and told me how stupid men are, and told me I’m beautiful.
Thankfully, it was the end of the day, and I was able to go home.
Given my history, and our current status battling infertility through IVF, this was probably the most insensitive comment a casual acquaintance could have made. I keep telling myself he had no way of knowing what we’re going through, but it really feels like the universe is trying to kick me when I’m feeling down.
At home, I got some attention from my empathic fur-ball. The second I walked in the door, Chloe started showering me with affection. We have a close bond and she can tell when I’m hurting. It is amazing what a little love and a furry best friend can do for the soul.