My iPod dropped on the floor of the airplane, just in front of my feet. I sat there. I just sat there. Too upset, too embarrassed to cry. I twisted the polyester belt around my fingers for the next 2 hours. My face was red and hot and my mind was racing. I was having a full on anxiety attack.
The seatbelt didn’t fit. For the first time I had to ask for an extender. I was convinced that I must have been the largest woman to ever ride on an airplane. I almost threw up. I could not breathe. My thighs felt like they were oozing into the aisle and onto the young man next to me. Oh how I wanted to apologize to the young man sitting next to me. I heard the taunting of the neighborhood kids as clear as could be. I was trapped in my seat and trapped in my fat. I just stared at the back of the seat in front of me and twisted the excess polyester around my finger, over and over and over again.
That was over three years ago.
I still have an anxiety attack when getting ready to board a flight. I had one this morning. Danne tried to talk me out of it. I tried to talk myself out of it. “That was three years ago, I have lost weight. The belt fit at Christmas. The pants I am wearing today were tight at Christmas and I can take them off without unbuttoning or unzipping them. But what if the belt doesn’t fit today? What if I am so large that they ask me to buy a second seat? I don’t have money for a second seat. What if there is no second seat and I have to take a whole different fight and explain to everyone I am so fat that I couldn’t take the plane. I shouldn’t have eaten so much this week. I should have worked out more. What if the belt doesn’t fit.”
I can tell you I know it’s not rational. I can try to talk myself out of it. But my heart starts racing and I feel like everyone I pass walking down the aisle must be watching me hoping that the fat woman doesn’t sit next to them. I get terrified that the belt won’t fit.
But it does. And I know it does. Sadly, I still see myself at my largest.