Do I fit?

White jeans and measuring tape on wooden background

“Honey, I need you to come down to the basement real quick,” my husband was building a safe spot under the basement stairs in case of tornadoes or high winds from hurricanes, both of which aren’t uncommon where we live.

“Now, see if you can fit.” He pointed to the 2” by 4” stud framing, directing me to squeeze between them to fit in the space under the stairs.

I didn’t move. “Can you fit?” He prompted.

My husband asked if I would fit. I failed at masking my horror.

He backed up a few steps, and said, “Well, you have to turn sideways and kind of shimmy in. I mean, at least I do, and you have a bigger chest and well…we just need to make sure you fit.”

What I heard was, “Honey, you are big.” That’s not what he said, but all of the triggers associated with having been obese were there — shame, fear, unworthiness, too big to fit literally and figuratively.

I said, “You’re not worried about my chest not fitting, you’re thinking about my big behind, aren’t you?” I was laughing, and he laughed, but my eyes watered.

I panicked. What if I didn’t fit?

“How far apart are the studs?”

“12 inches,” he responded.

“Do you fit?” I asked.

“Yes.” He nodded.

“And you think I won’t?” I asked.

Sensing danger, he said, “Well, you’ll have to turn sideways, and I only want to make sure you’re safe. I don’t know whether your hips are bigger than mine or what. Just go over there and see if you fit.”

All my brain heard was that he thinks I’m bigger than he is. 12 inches? I can slide through that, right? Right? Doubt flooded my thoughts.

The negative self-talk began,“You’re gonna die because you’re too big to fit in the safe space. You’re putting your family at risk because you’re so fat.” The storm inside of me was worse than any storm we’ve yet encountered.

David went back upstairs to call the kids as I stood there assessing the space between the studs, trying to quiet the negative self-talk. Twelve inches looks pretty big until you have to squeeze through it.

My body dysmorphia fed the fear. “Can I fit? My hips are so big.” A quieter voice in my head spoke softly, “You can fit. If he fits, you fit. You are not obese. You can fit. Just do it. Show yourself.”

I turned to the side, shuffled my right leg through and then my arm, shoulder, hips, until my entire body had slipped through. I fit!

I slipped back through to the outside and then did it again. Four times I passed through the studs and four times I fit. All four times.

David met me at the top of the stairs.”I fit,” I said. “My chest, my hips, and all 10,000 body parts fit!”

He was relieved. “Thanks for doing that. I never wanted anything besides to make sure we could all be safe.”

My feelings were hurt, but it wasn’t his fault. There is still a defective part of me who worries that I’ll always be “too big.”

The girl who didn’t fit in elementary school, was too fat in high school, and lost and gained and gained and lost weight throughout her life, still worries that she doesn’t fit, even though over 100 pounds are now gone from my body.

Every failure is still stuffed in each of my fat cells. It will not purge or shrink, but fitting, just as I fit under the stairs, helps.

Each time I fit, I recognize it and celebrate. Each smaller size of clothing, each photo of me that I see and can think, “Well, I don’t look HUGE” is a small success.

I still marvel at the extra room between me and the tabletop in a restaurant booth just as I value the extra length of seatbelt on an airplane with no extender required. In fact, I can walk facing forward down an airplane aisle without my hips touching the seats on either side.

And when the tornado warning sounds next time, I can huddle in safety with my family, grateful that we all fit. That doesn’t mean that I won’t pause as I turn sideways to scoot into our safe space, but I will pause with gratitude.

Do you also know the struggle of trying to fit? You can join me for 5 Weeks of Keto with Kristie. In our 5 Weeks together, you’ll learn the basics of following keto, but we’ll also talk about keto as a lifestyle and making keto “fit” into your days.

Another great place to fit is in our Diet Doctor Facebook group only for members, which is growing every day with members from all over the globe. Over 21K members share their journey, cheering each other along the way.

/ Kristie Sullivan, PhD

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