Friday, May 31, 2013

The Trials and Tribulations of Travel

It isn't easy to live a life of Health at Every Size in our world.  Loving your body as it is and appreciating all that it does for you is a never-ending process made harder by the constant barrage of messages from the outside that you're not good enough, that you're less of a human being because you have more body than others.  It is made harder when you face life events that would be enjoyable to most people but turn out to be filled with stress and apprehension.

We are hoping to go to Disney World this Fall.  My parents live in the area and both work for The Mouse.  Friends of ours are going, and have been wanting us to join them on one of their trips for the past three or four years.  Normally we wouldn't think of planning something like this due to my lack of employment for the past 15 months, but my parents have offered to assist because they want to see us too.  So we're figuring out PTO for the Husbeast and so on. 

All of this should be filled with joyful anticipation, right?  We're going to see my parents!  We're going to the Happiest Place on Earth with good friends who are major Disneyphiles, just like we are!  These are good things!

And then it comes time to start planning flights.


When you're fat there are a lot of added stressors when you're figuring out trips that involve flying.

  • Will we be able to get seats that are on the side of the aisle that only has two seats instead of three so that we don't end up squishing someone else?  Because my hips are big and the Husbeast has very wide shoulders.
  • If not, should we go ahead and just buy that 3rd seat?  Yeah, that gets expensive and will add to the costs of the trip, but at least we won't spend the entire trip feeling guilty that we're accidently in someone else's space.
  • Is buying that 3rd seat less expensive than just upgrading to Business / First Class?
  • WHY is Business / First Class so freaking expensive?  They don't get there any sooner than the rest of us!!!
 I find myself looking at other options. 
  • Can we drive?  No, that takes much too long and puts too much wear and tear on things like the car and our relationship (believe me, we've driven long trips before and the two of us crammed into the car for three days without breaks other than sleeping is a BAD idea!).  
  • Can we take a train?  Again, that takes nearly as much time as driving, and it costs as much as flying Business / First Class.  I wish that it were an option, because I would dearly love to travel by train just for the experience of it, but so far it isn't economically feasible.  Then there's the fact that in order to get from Dallas to Orlando we have to take a train to Chicago, then another train to Washington DC and THEN a train to Orlando.
  • Can we take a bus?  You would be surprised at just how much bus tickets cost, and yet again it takes more time than the Husbeast can spare from work.
This is all for a relatively short trip within the borders of our own country.  If we think about traveling outside of the United States, then even MORE issues come into play, like how long we'll be sitting in one place and how comfortable the seats are for an 8+ hour flight.  I can manage to live with the bruises on my hips from a two or three hour flight, but if I had to try and squeeze into a Coach-class seat for eight or more hours, I would be in severe pain and probably not be able to walk very well once we landed.

It is at moments like these when I am at my weakest.  I find myself struggling to maintain my love of my body, and TLV (The Little Voice) inside my head starts whispering all of those negative things about being fat. 

"If you weren't fat, then you could travel wherever and whenever you liked without worrying about these kinds of things."

"If you weren't fat, then you wouldn't see people get that panicked look on their face when you board a plane and they realize there's an empty seat next to them, nor the relieved looks when you sit down somewhere away from them."

"If you weren't fat, you could travel more.  You've always dreamed of traveling more, to places like Australia and Great Britain and Japan.  But even if you flew there without dying from being squished into those little airplane seats, most of those countries don't have furniture that accomodates people as fat as you."

And then it morphs into things like:

"You should just stay at home and hide in your house.  No one wants to put up with your Fatty McFatness anyway." and other thoughts that society has thrown at me for my entire life.  All of which can spin me deep into a downward spiral that it takes days to fight my way back out of and into a healthy state of mind again.

I find myself thinking about trying to lose weight, knowing how unsuccessful I've been at it in the past, knowing how the statistics show that it is about as likely for me to lose weight and keep it off as it is for me to be elected President of the United States.  But still, TLV whispers that maybe the statistics are wrong in MY case, and maybe I'll be the exception, and don't I owe it to myself to try again?

In the end it comes down to the fact that in order to go and enjoy the company of our friends and family in a place that we love to visit, I'm going to have to book those airplane seats, and deal with the horrid anxiety that goes along with airplane travel.  I'll have to deal with the looks, and the comments, and the potential semi-hidden sneers when I ask for a seat-belt extender.  It will temporarily take away from the joy of my trip.  I know this because I've lived through it many times before.  All that I can do is get through those moments and make sure to enjoy the positive things that much more, and to do so while trying to shut down the tapes in my head that repeat society's messages to my fat self.

I have to admit, though, it would be nice to take a trip for once and just enjoy it all of the way from planning to the return home.  It makes me sad that I will never experience that carefree kind of travel, and that others will never have that either.  It makes me sad that this particular blog won't have my usual happy, positive ending.  I wish that it would, but right now I can't find it.

Why?  Because we're fat and traveling while fat is almost a crime.  We aren't allowed to have lives, to have fun, to enjoy life.  We should be hiding in our homes until we're slender enough for public acceptance.

I guess I'll start looking at flights now.  There's no time like the present to ratchet up the battle against self-hatred.

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