Hovering around 270-320 lbs for the majority of your life causes certain ostracizations.
Now being 28, that means I was the fatty in school. I’m not chiseled out of marble mind you, but I’ve come a long way from walking the mile during gym class while everyone lapped me. Harsh realities are inflicted upon the overweight. Enjoy the friendzone, because that’s where every girl will put you. You’ll get so bored of the unrelenting and unoriginal cruelty from bullies that you wish they would use slurs that you at least haven’t heard before. You develop in a vacuum- social interaction with other human beings is on the whole negative, so there are certain defense mechanism that get put in place as your body and mind fight with the urge to keep living, and the delightful release of suicide. Enough time passes, you start to feel empty when a bully was absent from school and not there to verbally abuse you. All of these I knew, and more.
I hate sports. Sports. Not exertion, sports. Baseball is boring. Basketball is repetitive. Footballs are impossible to catch. Volleyballs fly off because I use too much strength, and I’m not coordinated enough to do it the right way. Not fast enough for tennis. Too heavy for track and field. Soccer spells a heart attack. Golf is just…terrible. Hate all the wrestlers on the wrestling team. Weightlifting can never be done properly. So I existed in this limbo where I found no sports entertaining to watch, or do. There was no exercise. And I just kept getting fatter.
Diets, starvation, a flirt with bulimia (that never blossomed) and anorexia, exercise. At my lowest I was 220lbs. At my highest, I was 315. Everything I tried to do to manage weight all had one thing in common that never made it work: self loathing. Every day, I would shoot to consume 1200 calories or less, sometimes not eating at all (please note that I am a 6’4” male At 220lbs I was happy, but I looked like death would soon pay a visit). Restaurants were a source of anxiety rather than pleasure- there is TREMENDOUS pressure on you to eat, so off to the bathroom to puke up a pound of pasta and a side salad. And then there’s the irrational feeling of, “they all know what I did” when you reemerge from the bathroom with watery eyes, a red face, and a wounded soul. And don’t forget the first time you cram your finger(s) down your throat and enjoy seeing blood for the first time in the toilet after a particularly difficult purging session!
I’ve always loved martial arts. Combat, fighting, discipline, training, sweat, blood, pain, tears. I’ve always thought that I was too fat for them. But that’s because I approached it with the mentality of self depreciation opposed to self improvement. Being too much of a pussy to go through with actually joining an academy, my wife got me a Christmas present that would change my life- a free month’s classes to a local academy that practiced my favorite combat system- Muay Thai.
My first class was terrifying. The staff there were more than helpful. Kind, patient, supportive. I was finally doing it, learning a real martial art from a master. I was hooked. It turns out that the only sport I’ve ever been any good at, is a combat sport. Who fuckin’ knew?
That was two years ago. And rather than bore you anymore with my bullshit, I want to describe what it’s like for me to finally be good at something physical (compared to other sports I’ve tried. I’ve only been doing it for 2 years. I’m no master, but I don’t curl into a fetal position at the end of every class). Pain is a big part of it, which is why I like it. Smashing my shins and fists into pads, bags, other people, you name it brings a part of myself that I’ve always had to hide for fear of ridicule. Now? I’m surrounded with people that have the same mindset, and I’m actually starting to feel like part of a team.
Every class I push myself to the point of almost keeling over. I’ve come close to puking and shitting myself, but it’s all part of it. The stink of foul sweat, the hollow and metallic flavor of your own blood, and the punishment of your own mortality. Blood, guts, piss, shit, sweat, tears, all of it. All of the negative bullshit that piles up during the week gets expelled with every breath I take, every punch I land, and every lap I complete. Even when I’m getting clobbered by people who are much better than me, I feel accomplishment at the end no matter how bad I’m bleeding, no matter how many bruises.
Muay Thai is something that I can tell anyone about, but share with very few people. Being physically fit is merely a product of the training- the people that can do this sport for years are different. They are relentless, humble, and as willing to learn as they are to teach. After being abused for over a third of my life by people who should have been my friends, I’ve come to a realization.
I don’t know if my bullies were jealous of something I had, or could do. I don’t know if they just hated fat people. I don’t know what their motives were, and I wish I could say I didn’t care anymore. But now, instead of forgetting, I’ve found something else to latch onto that I could only learn from Muay Thai.
Relentlessness. I am relentless. No matter what the obstacle, I will overcome it whether I completely conquer it, or just survive, I will not yield, I will not surrender. I will fight this life with every fucking ounce of fury in my body; with all the pain and rage I have inside, I will hit life back twice as hard when it tries to destroy me. Not giving up simply isn’t enough. Being relentless means that you must keep going even when it doesn’t matter to anyone anymore- anyone but YOU.
Get the fuck out there and brand your mark on this rock.
Dang – I didn’t expect a post like this. I think bullies often target people who have the capability of this kind of self-awareness, introspection, and honesty. They rather others stay on their level and submit to their idea of what should be important in life. Except their version of what’s important isn’t and adhering to it does little to prepare them for life. Very cool about finding a sport you feel strongly about!