*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.
This is hard to write.
I dated a man for more than a decade. Yet I met none of his friends. Why? The answer is simple. He was ashamed of me because I'm fat.
When we first met, I was already in a relationship with someone else. We became friends, and when my relationship ended for unrelated reasons, it seemed natural that our friendship should evolve into something more.
We began dating, and I was happy. My happiness was short-lived. Within weeks of us beginning to date, my new beau told me he was uncomfortable with my figure. "Your weight is a stumbling block," he said.
A stumbling block?
The sad thing is that I had been feeling pretty cute. Besides, it wasn't like he had any better, or skinnier, prospects.
With those six words, "Your weight is a stumbling block," he ruined my self-esteem forever. Our relationship may have ended, but my feelings of inadequacy remain.
I have never recovered.
When I broke up with him more than a decade later, I cited his words as one of the contributing factors. His comment at the beginning of our relationship festered for the entire duration of our relationship.
I wish I had broken up with him sooner.
Over the years, I've learned that plenty of men will date a woman who is overweight, but most of those men will never let her forget she is overweight. That has been my unfortunate experience, and it's happened more than once.
My weight is not the problem.
As far as the man who called my weight a stumbling block, there were other signs that I was not the woman for him. He wouldn't introduce me to any of his friends, for example.
I didn't mind that he never arranged for me to meet his friends, but it was more than that. If we were in public when he spotted one of his friends, he made me hide until they left. Seeing someone he knew in the grocery store meant he expected me to scatter and make myself scarce until the coast was clear.
That's a very bad sign.
I always complied because his attitude toward being seen with me in public made me doubt myself. His rejection made me want to be unseen.
He treated me like I was unworthy, and I allowed him to make me believe it. His treatment made me wish I was invisible. Hiding was the next best thing to invisibility.
Years later, I realize it was a form of emotional abuse.
If he didn't find me attractive or even acceptable, then he should never have become romantically involved with me. I realize that now, and I wish I had broken up with him sooner. As they say, better late than never. At least I broke up with him eventually. That's all that matters.
I see him around town occasionally, but I never acknowledge him. He's invisible to me now, or, at least, I pretend he is invisible. That's close enough.