I woke up. I stepped gingerly out of the bedroom. I found my husband. I had to ask. I didn’t watch the results coming in because, well because American politics is stressful and anger-inducing. American politics, with its anger and fear-mongering can make you want to curl up with a picture of Justin Trudeau and fall asleep wrapped in a Maple Leaf decorated duvet while listening to The Tragically Hip.
“Who is their President?” I asked. I didn’t expect I would be surprised. Surely, common sense prevailed. Surely, I would get to tell my girls that history had been made and there would be a Madame President to discuss over breakfast.
“The Bad Man.” My husband said.
“No, you’re just saying that.” I laugh. He wanted to see the look on my face. He wanted to have a laugh, right?
“I’m not kidding.” He said.
It’s one of those things you know. You’ll always remember where you were and how you found out. Like the day Princess Diana died, or September 11th or when you read your first Harry Potter novel.
This won’t be measured prose, or even well-thought out, for that matter. This is a completely reactive and emotional response to one of the scariest things I’ve ever had to witness.
You knew I’d write about it, right? I feel I’m at a safe distance, up here in Canada, to see your American Election results for what they are. A complete and utter abomination of all things good and fair. A terrifying testament to what a large portion of your country is thinking. A confirmation of the racism, misogyny, and general hate in the hearts and minds of enough of your population to elect a fucking MadMan.
He’s a bad man, an evil man, and he didn’t even have to hide it from you to garner your support. You elected a boogeyman and now you have to live with it.
Many of you voted for Hillary. Many of you see the monster for what he is. You fear for minorities, people with disabilities, women and children, LGBTQ and those seeking asylum from dictators and wars and other such atrocities.
You’re shocked. You’ve no choice but to watch the next four years unfold like some fucking slow-motion nightmare from which you can’t wake up.
I’m so sorry. Come up here. We have civil rights and freedoms for everyon. We can protect you from him.
I guess, it’s true, anyone can grow up to be President of the United States.
It’s brutal, to be honest, to watch Kate become confused. Though I’ve little experience with Alzheimer’s patients, it occurs to me that there might be a strong similarity, at times. Surely, there is some research in this area. I’ll have to check, at another time. Tonight, I sit instead, and try to imagine myself in Kate’s world.
Sure, she’s painfully literal, and rarely gets our references, but those things are often the things that television writer’s use to ensure a giggle and to let us know the character has autism of some kind. It’s surface stuff. Those are the things that we can usually find the funny in. Thankfully, because the funny is so very important.
However, Kate’s confusion is not funny. It’s not a one-liner on a sitcom or the fact that you must be careful not to ask her to ‘hold her horses, or keep an eye on something. It’s more than that. It can be absolutely devastating.
It’s about the lens through which she sees the world. A lens which changes the most basic of social interactions into bizarre rituals that intimidate and mystify.
It’s about the connections she cannot make, though she tries because she would love to have a best friend to play with even if she doesn’t always understand the game.
It’s about her desperate attempt to understand the concept of time and her anger that her birthday doesn’t come back to her soon enough.
It’s about the confusion that scares her when she works herself into a meltdown over things that just don’t make sense.
And I hope, so much, that we are helping Kate navigate all these things in all the ways that she needs.
I don’t have a thyroid problem (I had that checked) or any other medical reason for weight gain. In fact, I don’t have any legitimate excuse to be fat, at all. I’ve suffered no serious emotional setbacks in recent years (though I act like I have, at times; but I tend towards the dramatic on a good day). I simply must have decided, at some point, that I would no longer limit myself in the areas I could control. Food, obviously, being one of those areas. I guess I decided I wouldn’t like it restricted in any way. I likely would have allowed myself some unlimited spending as well if I didn’t think they might restrict my food in jail. I feel like I’ve taken on the attitude of those fat cats that I so admire. You know, the ones that say, “I want it all and I want it delivered”. Those cats, those self-serving little assholes have kinda been my heroes lately, and maybe that’s not for the best.
By the way, this isn’t going to be some declaration that my attitude changes today, or worse, an invite to follow me on my weight-loss journey because I’m still working on those things and I don’t really want to share it with you or anyone. Part of my problem, you say? Perhaps, but that’s not for you to worry about, is it?
This is, however, a journal, of sorts, of some of the things gaining the weight has caused me to lose.
With each pound I’ve gained, I’ve lost a little more confidence. I do boast the fiery temperament and the strong liver my Irish heritage affords me, so it might surprise you to know, that I have serious confidence issues. Maybe you relate? Maybe, if you know me, you’re thinking, ‘she wasn’t lacking confidence Saturday night when she argued loudly that a Barrister was a person who served gourmet coffees.’ But I do feel inadequate in many ways, with my weight at the top of the list. Sometimes, I think what appears to be confidence might, in fact, be just the opposite. We fat girls have to compensate somehow, I guess.
With each pound I’ve gained, I’ve lost the energy to do the things I used to love. This is the worst of it, I think. I do want to set a good example for my girls. I do want to be healthy and strong, and really, really rich (well, I do). I remember how it feels to have the energy and strength to play with my kids and to ski with my husband. I am rudely reminded with every new ache and pain that this weight is going to stop me from doing those things, or at least stop me from doing them without fear of a major injury.
With each pound I’ve gained, I’ve lost the ability to shop in a regular store. Do you know how purely shitty it is to love clothes and fashion and basically be shunned from it because of your weight? Sure, I did this to myself, but can this fat girl not even get a sweater without that fucking keyhole cut-out at the neck that reminds everyone that fat people dare only show that tiny triangle of skin. How I despise having one store to choose from for all my clothing needs. How I hate when I see every other fat woman wearing the same Fall wardrobe and we exchange a glance that says: ‘I hate these fucking fat girl clothes and I know you do, too.”
With each pound I’ve gained, I’ve lost the respect of strangers. If I’m not crazy, there is a difference in the way I am treated in public. Strangers are less kind and less helpful. I lack an authority that comes with being thin and put together. Maybe I’m assumed lazy, or unpleasant. Maybe I make those same assumptions about other fat people and feel shitty about it. I wish I didn’t have to wear it day in and day out. But, if wishes were fishes right…
Anyway, you know me. If I’m over-sharing embarrassing personal thoughts to ten thousand people who’d really rather chat about autism, it must be Thursday.
Happy Mail to:
27 Wellington Row
Saint John, NB
Grace and Kate's mom. (Shanell)