Have You Been Here The Whole Time? – Question #4

Today’s question is from my friend Lisa B.  She asks:

Do you feel uncomfortable with the positive attention you are getting as a result of your weight loss, especially from men? Do you have a strategy for combating any suspicious feelings you have towards people to whom you are suddenly visible?  

invisible3

She also added a sub-question:

 Another question would be do you have any misgivings about the dating world now that you feel freer to enter it (if you do)? 

More awesome questions!

OK, I will start by answering the first question…

Am I uncomfortable with the positive attention I am getting, especially from men?  

The answer to this is complex.

Am I uncomfortable with the over all positive attention I get from people in general?  No, not entirely.  In fact, part of me relishes it.  Friends and family, and sometimes strangers, tell me all the time how much better I look, that I’m smaller, that my face looks so much more open, etc.  And I know all of this is true.  I look at pictures of me before and pictures of me now, and I can see it, especially visible in pictures where I am with other people.  So when my friends (and here I mean specifically female friends or family in general) come up to me and say, “Wow, you look great!  You are so small!”  I sometimes respond with, “I know! I feel great!”

On a certain level, I truly love the attention losing 110 pounds brings.  Sometimes when I go out, I spend a little extra time getting ready to make sure I look good.  I will pick out a cute outfit, curl or straighten my hair, etc just to make sure I look nice.  I do this because I know I am no longer totally invisible and I want people to see me at my best.  I know, it sounds selfish and self-absorbed, and really it kind of is, but it’s the truth.

Attention from men?  This is where things get a little complicated.

I have written several times before about how attention from men makes me a little uncomfortable.  Not that I dislike attention from men.  Don’t get me wrong, I love it.  But it is unnerving and I know that I do not always respond well, especially if I might be a little bit attracted to or interested in the guy in question.

Mostly, if the guy is just a friend, gay, a family member, etc.  I’m OK with it.  If I’m a little bit attracted to him, or if he is overly effusive in his praise, I really do not handle it very well, I’m afraid.

I have caught several men, some I know, most I do not, looking at me in a way that made me feel unsettled.  When I was on a business trip recently, a random guy at a hotel very obviously checked me out.  I have witnessed this in other men in various situations.  I have seen more than one man on the metro during my commute look me up and down, or just simply stare at my chest.  (I have to admit, I’m kind of used to men staring at my chest.  When I was younger and thinner, I had a pretty big chest and men stared at it all of the time.  So, that’s not new.)  I was introduced to someone recently who when he shook my hand obviously checked me out from head to toe before meeting my eyes.  And recently, I was at a coffee shop with a male friend.  He got up from the table to get a refill on his drink.  He turned to me and rolled his eyes because the barista was taking forever to fix his drink.  I smiled and turned my head slightly to the right to see another man leering at me as he removed his jacket.  Then he smiled at me, nodded, and said, “Hello.”

My first reaction when something like this happens is always to think, “Seriously?  You’re looking at me?   Dude if you saw me six months ago, you wouldn’t even give me a second thought if you even noticed me at all.”  My second reaction is, “OMG! He just checked me out!  Woo hoo!!”  Still, it makes me a little nervous.  It doesn’t even matter if I would give the guy the time of day, the fact that the guy checked me out is enough to leave me feeling completely undone.

I have had a couple of my guy friends tell me that I am simply going to have to get used to the attention.  I am trying.  I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to the attention from you guys entirely.  And I may not always respond well.  In fact, I can assure you that I probably will not.  It’s not that I do not like it, because let’s face it, I kind of do.  And it’s not that I may not be interested, because I might be.  It’s just that I am not used to it and I’m out of practice.

Combating suspicious feelings I have towards people to whom I am suddenly visible?

I generally do not have suspicious feelings about people in general.  That said, there are a couple of people of whom I am suspicious, or at least wary.  That is mostly because now that I have lost a lot of weight, they are uncomfortable with the new me and are somewhat resentful.  This came as a shock to me, frankly.

I am thinking of one person in particular.  She is rather large herself and has a whole host of her own health problems.  I feel badly for her because I know exactly where she is health-wise and emotionally.  She always comments on the clothes I wear, my shoes, my hair, the food I eat with a bit of disdain and jealousy.  She makes it sound like she’s complimenting me, but in a backhanded way that is couched inside of an insult.  This is definitely a departure from her previous behavior towards me.

I think maybe she always saw me as someone with whom she could commiserate.  Or at least have a partner in crime for bad food behavior.  Now that part of me is gone.  I think she’s a bit resentful and maybe jealous because I changed and she is still in the same place.  I know that sounds conceited, but I think it is also true.  I do not like this change in our relationship and I wish things could go back the way they were, but I see that they cannot.  I won’t go back to being the person I was before.  I just won’t do it.  Not for anyone.

There are a couple of other people who have acted this way towards me, but not many.  Most of the responses I have received after losing 110 pounds has been overwhelmingly positive.  I am generally a glass-half-full kind of person, so I take most people at face value.  I see no reason to be suspicious unless they prove themselves to be suspect.

 Another question would be do you have any misgivings about the dating world now that you feel freer to enter it (if you do)? 

The answer to this questions is yes, I have plenty of misgivings about entering the dating word.  And no, I do not feel much freer to enter it.  I would like to enter the dating world.  Go out on some dates.  See who I might be interested in.  Find a long-term committed relationship that may or may not include marriage, eventually.  But there are many reasons why dating may be problematic.

First thing, my options are much more limited than they were when I was younger.  Let’s face it, by mid-late 40s and beyond most men are married, gay, in a relationship, not looking for a relationship, recently divorced and not looking for a commitment, or otherwise unavailable in some way.

The other thing that concerns me is this.  My body is not in the greatest of shape.  After 20 some years of being morbidly obese, I am horribly out of shape.  I may look good in my clothes, but that’s partly because of the weight loss, and partly because I’m being held together by Spanx.  So in addition to being 40+, single, and willing, the guy has to be super understanding of my age and general physique.  So, yeah I’m a bit nervous about the whole dating thing.  Doesn’t mean I won’t try dating, it just means my expectations may have to be moderated by a huge dose of reality.

So, do I have misgivings?  Sure.  You bet I do.  Will I let those misgivings stop me from trying?  Nope.  The only way to get what I want is to put myself out there no matter how scary.  The only sure way to end up alone, lonely, and disappointed is to stay home and do nothing.  I’ve had quite enough of that in my life, thank you very much.

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4 responses to “Have You Been Here The Whole Time? – Question #4

  1. bodyimageprojectblog

    Love your blog. Would love to Interview you for The Body Image Project. Read the New Blog Entry about: Survival, Patience and Legacy. Please Share Your Thoughts on such an important topic : )
    http://bodyimageprojectblog.wordpress.com/2013/06/05/survival-patience-and-legacy/

  2. Your descriptions of men’s attention is so… how shall I put it… creepy? The way you’ve described it makes me think all men are just wolves prowling about. Are they really being that creepy?

    Best line of the night: “I’m being held together by Spanx.”

    I’m totally stealing that from you!

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