Ok, I’m going to get personal. Like I said in the previous blog – you bring your personal baggage. I knew that. I just had no idea how easily it can be triggered even after you thought you were over some things in the past.
Cohousing can be tricky because it is your home and you want to relax. So, one day I was taking a walk and the kids rode up on their bikes. They started saying things about my body. I asked them to stop but they continued. So, I sent an email to the parents. Soon I got a knock on my door and an apology from one family, but not the other of the two other siblings involved. I just wondered if they felt comfortable enough to tease an adult, what do they do to each other?
Another day, one of the two siblings said another comment about my body. He asked, “why is your stomach so big?” The mother was right there. No attempt to address this with her son. So I replied something stupid like “because I eat rude children.” I wondered why the mother didn’t say anything? My parents were of the generation where you tell your children not to say things about people out loud. Jeez, even the children’s book Martha Speaks, they have to teach their dog when to use discretion when she learns to talk.
So, I got paranoid. Does this family speak about me behind my back? I mean, I know they are perfect with exercise and nutrition so maybe I”m a topic at their dinner table. This was two times that their children said something.
The last straw was silly but it triggered me and I think it was also the added stress of covid and already realizing that sometimes living in a group isn’t all fun and games. I was by the porch of those same siblings when one of them interrupted me talking to his father. I answered, “yes” thinking it would be some cute question. Instead it was, “you look stupid.” At least this time it had no reference to my shape and could be for any reason but it got to me. Three times? For sure they must talk about me. I just walked away and cried – for three days!
What the hell was wrong with me I wondered. Why didn’t the parents notice I was gone those three days? Did anyone care? Was I the brunt of some jokes around this community?
I called my doctor because obviously I was losing my mind. Now I know that it was from added stress of everything and when I did reach out, the parents started to listen to me and try to teach their children about differences – racial, body types, etc. But the whole thing was really a glimpse into bigger issues which would later explode. It’s like a bad relationship – you see the red flags looking backwards, the ones you ignored.
I mentioned to another neighbor how I didn’t like how that family always called their baby girl fat. She claimed that that is a compliment. Could be since babies’ cheeks are famously cute, however, the older siblings were hearing this, women’s body types are always public property and judged, and I expressed that it bothered me. She shrugged me off. A few days later, her next door neighbor seemed to point out how fat babies are so cute. Again, paranoid, were they talking about this and about me behind my back?
Now looking back I know a few things. 1) those parents never teach their children anything so it was not personal. 2) the way neighbors ignored my feelings was a sign of how they’d treat any difference of opinion. 3) I will from now on choose not to live in fear and shame of what others’ think of me and my body but walk away if I feel they don’t see me as a human being.