Tuesday, June 13, 2006

65. Lonely

Yes, I am descending into typical blogger angst. I have no idea what has brought this on, but I have been in a funk for a couple of weeks and have only recently diagnosed myself as lonely.

I know that I am in a foreign country, and some of this is to be expected, but honestly, I haven't felt like this for years... and I've done a fair amount of living in foreign countries in that time. I get along awesomely with my coworkers (drinking nights notwithstanding), and have become particularly close with the girl who moved in next door, which is awesome.

But I'm lonely.

Part of it is my own fault. She is my main friend here, and because of that, I'm so careful not to 'cling'. I've done a bit of sucking people dry in the past (when I was in my depression) and I am so leery of doing it again that I know I've built some walls to stop that from happening. Plus I happen to know that even since then there have been times I've been perceived as clingy -- well, it only happened once, and it was a result of a series of misunderstandings, but still... it's a sensitive issue for me, so I have probably become even more reserved since then.

But there are other things going on. There's something that's been bothering me, and I can't really talk to her about it because... well, it's something I hate to talk about. Like, I really hate to talk about it. But here it is, because I need to express this. I've mentioned a few times here that I am overweight. This is a sensitive issue for me even back in Canada (in part because it is the first thing both of my parents think about when they think of me... lovely)... but it is even more sensitive here in Korea, where I am surrounded by Asians who are typically quite petite. The children commenting on it doesn't bother me because they can say both "you're fat, teacher" and "you're beautiful, teacher" in the same sentence and mean them both equally. There is no judgment in their statements. But the adults are another story. I get pointed and stared at in the street all the time, and my boss... oy, he's just plain rude. At first I chalked it up to a cultural thing, but I've noticed that he doesn't say the things he says to me when we're alone when anyone else is around... so he knows that they're inappropriate comments. What this is doing to me internally is that I am getting way more self-conscious than I am normally (and I'm normally quite self-conscious). What happens is that when I'm in a group of people, I suddenly become aware that they can see me and I become incredibly nervous and want to hide. I've had conversations where I realize that it probably seems like I'm lying because I can't make eye contact (or my eyes become really 'shifty'), but the reason I'm not making eye contact is because I've suddenly become afraid and am trying to hide it. It's frightening because I remember that feeling from when I was at my lowest, and I really don't want to be back there again.

Part of the reason I can't talk to my neighbour about this is because I hate talking about this, but the other reason is that she is a health nut. Like, she gets up at 5:30 every morning and runs for at least an hour. She knows the caloric content of pretty much everything that goes in her mouth. You name a sport, and she's played it, on a team... she probably has trophies. I just can't imagine discussing body image issues with someone like that.

Now, I'm big... that is a fact, but I'm not unhealthy... I went for a battery of tests before I came here (at my mother's behest) and all my tests came back saying that I am in excellent health. My cholesterol is actually better than most people, my blood sugar is well within the norm, by blood pressure is also within the norm... the only health concern I actually have is that I'm anemic (which seems kind of funny to me because I picture anemic people as kind of reedy and wan... the opposite of me). In Canada I'm more active than I am now... I go for long walks, I like to swim, to bike; I even go to the gym occasionally. Here, I do none of those things because doing any of them gets me stared at. My neighbour takes Tai Kwon Do here, and I've been invited to join, and I would love to... it would be a fun cultural experience I think, but I can't imagine doing it and not being terrified... like to the point of tears. People pointing, laughing, whispering... giggling. It's horrifying to me, the stuff of nightmares.

Heh, so I guess there's more going on than simple loneliness, but that is a part of it. I want to hang out with people and not feel judged. Not judged for my appearance, not judged for my beliefs, not judged for my sexuality, not judged for my sexual history (or more to the point, my lack of a sexual history)... not judged at all. And I don't feel that here. With the exception of my boss, no one has actually said anything overtly judgmental towards me, but I feel it anyway. And it makes me lonely.


Peterson Toscano said...

wow that is a lot, and I can see how writing about the loneliness helps to unearth the other things burdening you.

I recently interviewed an African-American lesbian about her experiences in the world. I basically let her talk without much prompting from me. She got onto the topic of her body and how she was always bigger than all the thin white girls in her class.

She told me that American slave women were often breed for size and breeding (ugh, so awful how white Americans treated Blacks like animals) so as a result, many black women in North America are just bigger today and can't do a lot about it, even if they were to lose a bunch of weight. Bone density, hips, etc, were bred to the extreme.

That was all eye opening to me. Being around fellow white people (and white gay males), I get all sorts of messages all the time about my body. I struggle with liking myself when I am not thin. So much gunk gets heaped on us from our society trying to make us conform to the patterns of this crazy world.

I hear that you are lonely and not feeling great about yourself right now and feeling like you don't even have someone to talk to about it. I appreciate your honesty in putting it out there for yourself (and those of us who follow your blog). I wish I had the magic words to make it better.

In the words of Earthel Foster, one of my characters when she sees a very skinny gay friend of hers, "Are you still on one of those crazy diets?!? I told you, boy, you don't have to be skinny for someone to love ya."

JJ said...

You know, I remember from when I was little (like in grade school), before I was bigger than everyone, always being embarassed to be weighed. For some reason they weighed us at schoool, and I always weighed significantly more than my classmates, like 20 pounds more... the nurse would gasp and call people over, every year... it was embarassing. And at that point I didn't even look big. That density thing must be true, at least when it comes to me. I'm bigger now (both up and out), but doctors still gasp in surprise when they weigh me because I weigh more than I look like I do. It's frustrating.

Anyway, thanks for listening (or rather, for reading)... it's nice to know that people are out there who actually do care (and don't judge). Thanks.

Willie Hewes said...

*zen hugs the big lonely girl*

Eh, I'm a skinny white girl, but I know what loneliness feels like. Hope you'll feel better soon.

E said...

I've been in that lonely place too - under somewhat different circumstances, of course, but I know how that feels.

Also, and this may not mean quite as much coming from a guy (and a gay one at that), but you are beautiful, and anyone who doesn't see that hasn't really looked.

Bruce said...

You should see what they are saying about gay christians here:

Angel said...

I'm a big girl. As in, when I take my son to Mom & Me swim class tomorrow, I can almost guarantee I'll be the biggest person in the pool.

Don't let fear or other people's insensitive ignorance stop you from living. If you don't exercise, who are you benefitting?

Despite my size (and I'm quite overweight) I've had to learn to keep my head high, smile, and make eyecontact--even when I'm terrified. It works--I get smiles and even compliments back.

I was terrified to join a gym--esp. when my trainer was a tall willowy woman with not an ounce of fat on her. But she was SO kind to me, understanding of my health limitations, and got me started in such a positive way, I actually enjoy going to the gym now.

Like I tell my daughter, people will find things to criticize about you, but you just have to keep going.

Hang in there JJ, I'm sorry you're feeling so bad (((hugs)))