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Monday, December 19, 2011

Sorry, Gut ... I Should Have Listened!

Recently, I went through a situation that made me very sad. It also re-emphasized to me just how important it is to listen to our gut feelings. It’s kind of a long story … but you have time, right?

A few months ago, I met a woman who emailed me about my blog. She invited me out to a rural property where she and her family lived alongside her beloved horses. She is sort of a life coach, and she wants to teach people about the law of attraction using her horses as examples of this principle. She sent me a link to her blog, which I checked out, and the first thing I noticed was that she is a very thin woman. My immediate reaction was: Uh oh. I must be honest … as a large woman, I am always wary of thin people. (Not you, thin friends I know and love, but thin strangers.) Like all large people, I have been subjected to a lot of criticism and judgement from thin people, so I can’t help but be suspicious of them. It’s wired into me. However, I’m always willing to give people a chance to prove my wariness unnecessary—to give them the benefit of the doubt—because I realize this is a habitual reaction of mine.

This woman seemed different. Her blog was very positive and uplifting, and we had a lot of the same opinions: a belief in the necessity of positive thinking; a belief that what you think about determines what will (or will not) happen in your life. It intrigued me that she wanted to meet me and talk to me about body image. So I decided to go meet her and we had an amazing time. We really connected. She was warm, friendly, and extremely down-to-earth. We had a great talk about body image and self-esteem and how we both wanted to help women feel empowered and good about themselves. We got along so well that we began discussing doing a workshop together. She explained how she wanted to use her horses to teach women about the energy they are emitting and the reactions they get from the outside world (vis a vis the horses). This made perfect sense to me. She was speaking my language. I left that day feeling ecstatic, uplifted, hopeful, and energized. I was so impressed with her that I wrote a glowing recommendation about her on this blog (which has since been removed).

We became Facebook friends … and then I noticed the first thing that really disturbed me. It was my first clue. You probably know that if you’re someone’s Facebook friend, you can see all the comments they make to other people. One day, not too long after that initial euphoric meeting, I saw an interaction she had with a friend. They were joking about some guy, and she said, He’s probably a fat, ugly, old pervert! I saw that and thought … WTF? Why is she using the word fat in such a negative way? I realized this was the total opposite of how she had represented herself to me, and she certainly hadn’t seemed like a fat hater when I met her … so I pushed it away. I just sloughed it off as, Well, she was just joking. Everybody jokes around at times. It probably didn’t mean anything.

A month or so later, she moved and invited me to her housewarming party. That’s where things really started to get screwy. I actually wrote about it in my post here. Basically, I felt like an outcast there. A few of her long-time friends showed up, and most of them were clustered together socializing and simply ignoring me. I did my best to make conversation with them and be friendly, but they took zero interest in me. A couple of them came over and said hi, hello, how are you ... but that was it. I even had a couple of fucked up interactions, which didn’t help matters. The woman herself was busy with her other guests and didn’t speak to me much. It bothered me, but I tried not to make too much of it. These were her longtime friends and I couldn’t expect her to spend all of her time with me. So I brushed it off and just filed it away in my memory bank.

The interactions I had at the party stuck with me and were bugging me, so—as I said above—I blogged about it. She read it and wrote me a kind of surprised email, asking: Was this at my place? I said yes, and she just made a dismissive comment about her friends having a tendency to put their foot in their mouths—which seemed kind of weird to me, because it wasn’t an apology. I thought to myself: If I had a party and one of my friends told me they’d had a couple of weird experiences, I probably would have said something like: Shit, sorry about that. And then I would have asked the friend involved what happened and chided them for being rude. But she didn’t seem the least bit concerned. It was just kind of a funny thing to her. Again … it felt weird, but I brushed it off. I still really wanted to do this workshop.

A couple of months passed and the workshop was going nowhere. She kept saying we had to work on it, yet she wasn’t making much of an effort to discuss the content (aside from her law of attraction philosophy). We managed to set up another meeting at her place … and this is where things imploded.

I had a premonition before I went. The morning of the meeting, I really didn’t want to go. My stomach felt all jittery and nervous, and I just had a bad feeling. I had started to have really serious doubts about this woman’s sincerity, but again … I wanted to do this workshop so badly—not only to help women like me, but in order to do something for a living that I truly love and that has meaning to me. I didn’t want to let go of that dream. So I went.

From the moment I walked in, I could feel it wasn’t going to go well. We talked, but there was an edge to her voice and her demeanor. She was frenetic, hyper, aggressive … talking loudly and talking only about her own philosophies and the horses. This had been my major concern with her. All she wanted to talk about was her horses. She never asked me even ONCE what I was going to contribute to the workshop … I always had to keep prodding her in that direction. I realized, after sitting and listening to her for awhile, that this thing was definitely going to be HER show and I had been relegated to a much lesser, minor role.

Not bloody likely. That was not what I had signed up for, and I had no intention of letting that happen.

Thankfully, we went outside to work with the horses. I have to say I do love her horses and the beautiful property she lives on. She has definitely set up her own little nirvana out there, and I really enjoyed getting a taste of rural, country life. But as we were working with her horse, something REALLY bizarre happened. She was demonstrating a concept to me about the law of attraction—about getting from Point A to Point B, but continuing to be stuck at Point A. She was walking back and forth really fast, frantically almost, and told me to signal her when I understood her point. I signalled her shortly after she started—but she continued to keep walking and talking, going on and on with this theatrical demonstration—and when she finally did stop, she looked at me and laughed in my face. “I wasn’t even paying attention to you, I was totally ignoring you!” she said happily. Then she continued laughing for about a minute or so. I was so shocked I almost felt like I was going to puke. For a moment I felt like I was back in school being pointed at and laughed at by a bunch of bullies. She mumbled a quick “I’m sorry”, but I could tell she didn’t mean it—and even if she had, I don’t think it would have made much of a difference. That was what did it for me. I wanted nothing more to do with this woman. All I wanted to do was get the hell away from there. I said nothing, though. I acted like everything was cool. Confronting it felt impossible right then. I’ve never been the kind of person who reacts to something right away. I have to retreat, think about it, and THEN I react.

I left shortly afterward, and on the drive home, I thought about what happened, and all the subtle, weird little things that had been going on since I’d met her. I knew it wasn’t good … I knew I wasn’t crazy about her anymore … but I still kind of thought: Maybe this can work. Maybe I can just ignore her and do my thing, let her do hers, and we can make it work. You don’t necessarily have to like someone you’re in business with, right? It certainly helps, but … it’s not necessary. I kept telling myself this shit.

The next day, after thinking about it some more, I knew I couldn’t let it go a moment longer. I had to talk to her about these things if we were going to work together. I kept thinking back to that first meeting and hoped that she would react as the person I’d met that day—warm, reasonable, rational, willing and even eager to hear my point of view. So I emailed her and told her I wanted to talk to her … that I had some concerns that needed to be addressed if we were going to work together. Surprisingly, she said that she “could feel something was up” and that she looked forward to talking with me! (Her exclamation point, not mine.) I told her we could probably do it in January as the holidays are upon us.

The next day, she deleted my blog from her website. That’s what really unleashed my anger. I was fucking furious. I emailed her to ask why and she didn’t answer me for a day. Then she got back to me with a very sanctimonious, prissy, moral-high-ground email about how she objected to my Mariah Carey post (which you can see here) and that she didn’t feel it was in “vibrational alignment” with her. Oh my God … I love new age philosophy and thinking … and it’s one thing to see terms like this in a book …. but when you actually talk to someone using jargon like this it is so goddam pretentious. Vibrational fucking alignment. Just say what you fucking MEAN! I didn’t buy that as the reason anyway. To top it all off, she attached a hypocritical, condescending bible quote: As you sow, so shall you reap.

It always amazes me how the people who fling bible quotes at others are usually the ones who can benefit from them the most … like some reverend who’s lecturing about morality and fucking underage parishioners at the same time. The only explanation I can think of for their tunnel vision is a huge ego. These people literally think they are “above” everyone else and are incapable of doing wrong. Anyway, I hope she meditates on that very quote and thinks about how she can apply it for her own benefit.

That was the last straw, as they say. I sent her an email back sparing her nothing, telling her exactly what I thought, that I didn’t believe she gave a shit about helping fat women, and that a workshop is not going to happen between us.

So it’s over.

Now I’m looking back on the whole experience, thinking … WTF happened? Why did this woman get in touch with me in the first place? What was really going on? And most importantly … why didn’t I pay more attention to my gut, which was telling me exactly where things were going?

I don’t know … but I do know that I’m sad. At first I was just furious at feeling like I had been duped, but now … I am sad, because it had started out so positively and it could have been something really amazing.

This blog post is not about animosity or getting even (which is why I made sure not to mention her by name and remove any identifying comments from other posts). It's about me looking back at the situation and learning from it.

I don't have any hard feelings toward this woman. Our partnership didn't work out ... it happens. I don't wish her ill or feel that she is a bad or evil person ... but I do believe that she misled me about her opinions on fat ... or maybe she misled herself. Maybe she wasn't even aware that she might have prejudices. Maybe she never thought about them much ... she wouldn't have had much reason to, since she is a very thin woman and has never had to deal with size prejudice. Maybe she had never met a fat woman who was proud of herself before, and maybe it stirred up all kinds of conflict in her that she didn't even realize was there. And maybe she was a totally conscious phony who sought me out for a reason known only to herself. Maybe, maybe, maybe. Who knows ... and who cares, really? It is what it is.

This story illustrates how important is to pay attention to our instincts. When I look back on it, the writing was on the wall all the way back when I saw her Facebook comment: fat, ugly, old pervert. I knew then that it would never work, because she was displaying typical, stereotypical, negative attitudes toward fat ... and how can anyone who has typical, stereotypical, negative attitudes toward fat possibly help someone who IS fat? Makes perfect sense, right? But I didn't want to believe it. I was in denial big time.

I guess this blog has been my therapist’s couch today … but I had to get the whole story out of me so that it doesn’t poison my mind or heart for the next person who comes along with a legitimate partnership proposition. I would LOVE to meet a like-minded, sincere person who wants to join me in what I believe is an extremely important contribution to humanity: Helping large women feel great about themselves, and telling them that they don’t need to be thin to be happy.

If you’re out there, please get in touch. J


  1. Wow. Now that I hear the whole thing in context the 'bible quoting' seems even more bizarre. But I have great hope that you will find the ideal person to do this with, and the message will help others. I remember how revolutionary it was for me when I heard it, and how empowering.

  2. I hope so too ... it has been a dream of mine for a long time. I'm sure it will happen when the time was right. This was just a dress rehearsal gone bad! :)

  3. Gabriela,
    I found your blog a few months ago, and have been tremendously inspired by you. Even without another person in your campaign, your message is reaching out to many like myself, and for that I am truly grateful. Every day it gets a little easier. Just wanted to say thank you, and keep fighting the good fight, General Gabby!!! ((HUGS))

  4. Thank you, Jeanie! I so appreciate your saying this. Sometimes I feel like I'm just shouting out into space ... and then I get a comment like this and I know unequivocally that what I do matters. Much love to you and all my readers! You are so worth fighting for.