Edmond

Fat Boy

I don’t want to write this post, but last night, I promised a friend that I would.

One of my biggest complaints about New Warriors is that now when I make a promise, I fully expect to keep it. It’s that damn emphasis on integrity.

The word integrity means little in mainstream culture; free usage for anyone who sells financial services, car insurance, outdoor grills, and cheese in a bottle. Get the right marketing person and they can make your company sound like you invented the damn word. Hell, the second word in Enron’s mission statement is integrity, so, really, who gives a fuck anymore?

In New Warriors, the word gets scrubbed up, polished, and inside me I let it shimmer, even if I don’t always shine. Focusing on integrity does not make any New Warrior perfect. We screw up. Or rather, *I* screw up. (For me, integrity now includes owning my experiences as uniquely my own.)

But when a new warrior friend says, “I’ll be there,” I trust him. If he’s not there, he knows the next time we meet (even if it’s months later), I will look him in the eye and say, “We made an agreement and you bailed. Tell me the unflattering truth about who you were when you chose to blow me off.”

And then, he does.

Last night I attended a staff meeting, where 30+ men focused on the concept of integrity, preparation for our upcoming New Warrior Training Adventure. During one activity, we stood facing each other in pairs. Every man was challenged to talk about a part of himself he resists, to name a part of his own personality he finds completely unacceptable. Let that guy out.

Our facilitator said, “Give that quality a name. First word that bubbles up, name it that.”

Despite no scarcity of shortcomings, nothing specifically came to mind. I generally like myself and have inventoried the parts I don’t, so there aren’t many surprises. (Though at times, I still struggle with those shortcomings’ ferocity.)

I decided that last night wasn’t going to be that big a deal, minimal intensity experience. In a warrior activity like this one, contemplating unwelcome parts of myself often feels like standing in the grocery store cereal aisle, waiting to see which one feels right in the moment: Golden Grahams or Frosted Cheerios?

Only a few seconds later, presto, the name appeared: Fat Boy.

Despite saying I rarely get surprised, well, ow. Surprise!

I remember the exact moment from childhood, each hairy second: while playing Four square in the street with three male friends, a pickup zoomed toward us, forcing a temporary break in our game. I held the red rubber ball as we watched two men drive past, slowing enough for one of them to yell out the passenger window, “Watch what you do with that ball, Fat Boy.”

My friends howled with laughter.

And it was true: I was the fat kid. For years, those childhood then teenage friends would chuckle occasionally and say, “Watch what you do with that ball, Fat Boy.”

I’ve always been overweight, however you want to describe it: chunky, stocky, husky, meaty, plump, thickset, big-boned, or my personal favorite:  football-player build. No, I didn’t eat a whole box of Thin Mint cookies last night, I just play for the Green Bay Packers.

And yes, it troubles me.

I recently recommitted to weightlifting, healthy eating, and exercise. Despite years of struggle, I remain weirdly optimistic. I might actually love myself enough these days to transcend this ancient pattern.

Last night, I stood eye to eye with a warrior man I do not know well, named Kevin. But I love him more already because while I told my Four Square story, his eyes grew wet with my grief. The facilitator guided Kevin (and half the room), question by question, through a conversation with that unloveable part. (Later, we switched so that everyone had a chance to tell their unloveable truth.)

I used to think of integrity as an medieval knight clanking around in cumbersome, gleaming armor. Sometimes that feels true: clunky, hilarious, and majestic. I like that feeling, loving the world enough to want to protect it. Yesterday, Kevin was a knight for me.

But sometimes integrity feels like an old grump sitting next to a fire, nodding to the space next to him. Come. Sit down. Shut the fuck up as we slurp down soup. Be here with me and be glorious or be broken, either one, just don’t try to bullshit a bullshitter. Reveal yourself during soup.

Kevin invited me, Edmond, to listen to Fat Boy’s deepest complaint.

Speaking for Fat Boy, I said, “Who helped you ignore anger? Who made sure you didn’t fall asleep lonely, just indigestion from two dozen Oreos? Me. I kept you invisible during awkward teenage years. In a world where male beauty is either Team Edward or the other guy who’s a wolf, I kept you safe and under the radar. I met daily adulthood challenges with daily rewards, often involving melted cheese. After a lifetime together, you now want to murder me on an elliptical machine.”

And it’s true: I have tried to kill Fat Boy.

I’m ready to lose the weight.

I’m in my 40′s and I’d like to continue through life heart-attack free. But last night, I touched it again, a deeper truth, expressed in how I act: I treat my inner Fat Boy as my greatest enemy instead of recognizing how this defense mechanism protected me. You know, in his own fucked up way.

The men who I respect these days own it: I am broken. I think dark, sad thoughts. I fear mundane things, which is rather silly because I am a man who kills spiders without flinching and I walk on the roof of my house. If I share my weaknesses, you would howl with laughter at my stupid vulnerability, while some slick cynic takes potshots from his pickup.

Of course, these same men own another truth, which on the truth scale, is more true: I am glorious. I have wisdom. My very presence is a gift to this world, a necessary light in dark, scary times. When I radiate my love, you dickwads in pickup trucks better watch the fuck out, because I will love the shit out of you. I will find the fat boy inside you, and I will hold his hand. Bring it.

To keep believing in love, I sometimes am forced to befriend my broken parts and say, “I do not need you as I once did, but I see you. You’re okay.”

My new pal, Kevin, leaned in closer. He looked into my eyes and said, “What can Edmond do for you? What do you want, Fat Boy?”

“Gratitude,” I said, and the word surprised me but I kept talking. “Even if you feel completely naked sharing this with the whole world, I want you to write about me on your blog, on the Gratitude page. Show everyone you’re actually glad that inside of you lives a scared, fat kid who sometimes goes home and cries when people are mean.”

Okay, Fat Boy.

I promise.

 

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7 Responses to “Fat Boy”

  1. Tony Says:

    Wow. I mean WOW!!! Thank-you for sharing this amazing gift. I trembled reading it. I think I know how Kevin felt.

    And FB, you’re also the source of all the amazing creativity, sparkling friendship gifts and courageous love. I’m priviledged beyond words to see you revealed and to know you.

    I salute you with gratitude.

  2. Ann Says:

    I love you, my dear friend. I am so happy you have arrived at this place of gratitude for a part of you that has been working so hard on your behalf for all of these years.

    “When you love something you wish it goodness; when you hate something, you wish to annihilate it. Change happens not by hatred but by love. Change happens when you understand what you want to change so deeply that there is no reason to do anything but act in your own best interest.” (Women, Food, and God)

    Let’s celebrate Fat Boy, thank him for his service, and let him know that he no longer has to protect you. You will protect him now.

  3. Jeffrey Fillion Says:

    Edmond,

    As I’ve said before… I enjoy your writing. This is no exception. Thank you for sharing.

    Jeffrey

  4. L.C. Chase Says:

    That was truly beautiful, Edmond. My eyes are suspiciously blurry at the moment.

    My Mom has been telling me for years, to keep a Gratitude Diary and make an entry every day. I’m not very good with the every day part – but some days more than others we need to check ourselves, eh. This though, is so wonderful of you to share your gratitude. And inspiring. I just might take your lead. ;-)

    {hugs}

  5. Edmond Says:

    THANK YOU to all who left comments here. I have read them all over and over and over again, but I guess I felt shy about posting something in response.

    But after the fourth lovely comment, I decided I was being a dick by not just saying, “thank you.” Me and Fat Boy both appreciate someone seeing him/me and not looking away.

    I feel blessed.

    And L.C….writing a Gratitude blog makes me happier than I can say. Even on the days when I don’t write (and they are plenty), I am constantly thinking, “I wonder if I should write about this on the Gratitude page…” As a result, I feel a lot of gratitude for life.

  6. Elizabeth Smith Says:

    I am always happy wen I come across your posting, beautiful Edmond. And this website has too many treasures in it for me to grasp all at once.

    Right now I just wanted to say–from this “fat girl” to you–and through tears–

    I will always love you, my friend.

  7. Scott Krabler Says:

    The link to New Warrior Training Adventure is not valid. Here’s a better link for the Central Plains Area

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