Monday, September 3, 2007


The other night, I hosted a dinner at my condo. The guests of honor were Genora, Rick, & Marsha, aka my dog's Godparents. They are the rescue group of people from whom I adopt my dogs.
We talked about many things including the social issues that my dogs had when they came to live with me. The problem with Cosmos, as I explained, was that he was a 3 1/2 year old dog, but he had never emotionally grown up from puppyhood..

A full-fledged puppy in an adult sized dog is not attractive. Cosmos would swarm me and climb up me like a puppy in a 60+ pound body. He would lick me at a furious puppy rate of speed. He would clamor for me and follow me and react like a being who was holding on to a lifeline for dear life. And I put up with it, hoping that he would settle down over time.

He did. It took a couple of years, but he became a dog. A weird and eccentric dog who is attached to me to a degree that I've seen out of few canines. My Momma's Boy. But a whole lot easier to deal with and love than teeth and claws scrambling all over you.

Rick commented about Cozie from before I knew him that has been both thought-provoking and disturbing all at the same time. Apparently, he thought that my puppy-theory made sense because Cosmos had been very disconnected from all the other dogs at the rescue. For whatever reason, he did not travel in their circles, and did not emulate their ways. And as he stalled out socially and emotionally, he became part of the unwanted, even within the canine social order.

Rick and Genora were curious about why I adopt the dogs that I do. I ask for the most abused, unhealthy animals. The ones that nobody wants, "who need me the most." Why do I do that? And I just muttered that it's something that I've always done. But that answer was certainly evasive. Because the truth is I do it because I know exactly how it is to be the unwanted one. Unworthy of anyone or any thing. Defective. Different. Inept.

There is a different psychology to those of us who have topped the 300 pound mark. That there's a similar disconnection to society that Cosmos experienced. I know it to be true in at least my case, and I've seen it in people who I am close to who also lost similar amounts of weight. We all seem to be experiencing the same type difficulties relating to our peers now that we're in a "normal" weight range.

For me, I knew that I was not of a normal cast quite early. Probably by 1st grade. Issues of family and health set me apart; so did my interests when I was brave enough to express them. But that was actually a rare event, as I was already ostracized and teased mercilessly by both family and social peers and desperately and unsuccessfully tried to hide my nature to fit in. And because I didn't know that the lies were transparent, the problem became worse. To the point that the only beings I could befriend and depend on were furry ones. They would accept me no matter how I was. And as my peers were maturing and changing and growing up, I was left behind and even more isolated than ever.

I started a cycle of hurting myself with food and in other ways that I won't discuss here. Psychologists would probably interpret it as a cry for help, but I don't believe that. I simply felt that unworthy of living, and needed to punish myself for my existance. And then was punished and ostrasized more by family for the actions (I had no friends at all by this point) and the cycle escalated. I won't repeat the names that I was called, or some of the physical action that was taken against me. But it can bring me to tears even now.

I tried to fix things in my mid 20's. I lost a lot of weight on Optifast, and peers reacted to me in a very positive way. But I didn't believe them; I didn't know how I was supposed to act or behave. And as health issues became prevalent in my life and discomfort with new social situations that I should have been experienced and dealt with as a teenager started coming up, I felt even more terrible about myself. I eventually re-isolated, and let my manifest destiny take over. I became completely alone - again - and gained massive amounts of weight.
Fast forward to four-and-a-half years ago. I was a morbidly obese woman well on the path to becoming a shut in. I had been in therapy for years (I must have been incredibly frustrating to my Psychologist) and suddenly found myself amongst the disciples of Richard Simmons. It was a logical next-step to a journey that I started when I entered therapy, and although I was not receptive to the idea or reality of weight loss when I began, I suppose that on some level I must have been, because the message was received and I lost quite a bit of weight. And learned how to do the "hot chick" routine with my appearance (hair and make-up), and the social order under which I believed the world functioned shattered.

You would think that everything was a "Happily Ever After" at this point, but of course, reality dictated that it was not. I missed quite a bit of the social education that every Junior High School girl gets. I accept that some of my differences are, in fact, desirable qualities. And that my new-and-improved appearance does count and makes a difference; that the world as a whole treats me better. But it's still tough to be "eccentric" And I continue to struggle along.

I'm suddenly feeling very isolated from the world again, and in a way that's hard to quantify. It's difficult to express my thoughts and feelings and desires; and my friends don't get that things are not quite right. I suppose that's because I've gotten the "fitting in" act down better than when I was a child, or maybe it seems that I always embrace my actions and activities that are different, but then again, maybe not. Because a lot of the people that I would most like to associate with don't seem to have the time of day for me anymore. And I don't know if it's because they are having a hard time with my new look, or more likely, they're feeling how uncomfortable I am in my own skin, and are responding in kind.

And I don't know if my discomfort is because of my ineptitude and insecurity, or if the external pressures that I'm currently facing are coloring the world.

I wonder if Cosmos ever feels this way? At those moments when he's extra clingy and driving me crazy, is it because he knows that he's different too, and he needs the kind of elusive reassurance that neither of us seem to find? Does he feel inadequate? Are dogs capable of feeling that way? I don't know, but I think I'm going to go hug him now.

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