Yesterday I was sitting with a group of people, eating my lunch, and talking shop. I had a big plate of food, and as embarrassed as I am to admit this, I ate every single last bite of it. (I was so hungry, I hadn't had a chance to eat since breakfast about seven hours prior to that, so I did devour it...)
The girl beside me had the same lunch as I did (it was the daily cafeteria special) and she ate about half of hers. By comparrison, I did look like a pig... I was just so hungry.
A few minutes after I finished eating, the elderly man sitting across from me made a comment about my appetite and my weight. He said something along the lines of how I can always be counted on to eat a big plate of food like that.
"...And it shows, it really shows," he said.
The people around the table laughed. (To be fair, it could have been because they were uncomfortable, as one of them later admitted to me in a tearful apology.) I was mortified. I started to get really hot and it seemed like time started to slow down. I could feel the lump forming in my throat but I just kept telling myself not to start crying in front of these people. I needed to escape.
"Don't let them see you cry. Don't let them see you cry..."
I said a few choice words to this man, but he was just smirking at his attempt at humour. I got up and stormed away, my pride was crushed into a lump in the back of my throat. It was only a matter of time before I would cry.
I took refuge in the empty first aid room, and just like a tsunami of emotion, my tears began to fall fiercely. I could feel my lunch, like an unsettled rock, in the pit of my stomach. I felt like I was going to be sick. I called my sister, who probably couldn't even understand me because I was sobbing hysterically.
"He called me fat, and everybody laughed. They laughed," I said.
Like any big sister would she demanded to know who said that. (Sisters are wonderful, because no matter what, if someone hurts you, they've got your back.)
After I told her the entire story she told me to leave. She offered her family to hang out with me (she was in Churchill, otherwise she probably would've come and got me). When I declined, she made sure to call and message me every half and hour to make sure I was ok.
I've been called fat directly and indirectly all my life, most of the time when it happens I laugh it off. But for some reason this entire scenario cut like a knife, and I couldn't stop crying. It felt like one of those traumatic moments out of a movie when the nerdy kid does something, like drop her lunch in the cafeteria, and everybody stops to point and laugh.
It was certainly humbling.
Perhaps this was lady karma serving me up a slice of humble pie for my less than stellar attitude towards others (at times...) I dunno, but it got me thinking that no matter how old we are, and no matter where we are in life, bullying still exists and it hurts. Perhaps the elderly man was just trying to be funny, I don't know, but he hit a nerve.
I guess this is a good reminder for me, and anyone who reads my blog to be mindful of how we treat others.