One of my favourite things to do is to get home from work, sit down, and do nothing for awhile. This is a pretty normal thing to do for a lot of people, but when I weighed almost 500 pounds, I couldn’t just sit down everywhere I wished. Not every chair was sturdy enough to hold me. It’s not something that you would ever consider if it’s not an issue that you personally deal with.
Think this through for a minute. How do you sit?
I bet you see the chair you want, and then sit down.
That’s not what my experience was at all.
Literally everywhere I went, I had to go through this process:
1. Study chair as I walk towards it. If there’s a group of chairs, I need to identify the best one and claim it instantly.
2. Check building materials. If it’s plastic, there’s a 70% chance that I’m going to make any excuse not to sit down.
3. Check support structure. Is it straight legged wood? That’s definitely the safest. Is it a folding chair? Does it have thin legs? Is it built with a brace of any kind? The thin flimsy plastic deck chairs were the most terrifying to sit in. You never knew when a leg would bend and break.
4. What kind of seat does it have? Fabric? Metal? Thin plastic? It has to be able to support my body, and if it’s a loose fabric seat similar to a hammock, chances are slim it would do the job.
5. How high is it? If the chair was too low to the ground, with a really soft seat, I might not be able to get up out of it when I need to leave. This can be incredibly embarrassing.
6. When I finally did find a chair that looked appropriate, or I couldn’t avoid sitting anymore, I would sit down incredibly slow, easing my weight onto the chair. I paid close attention to the legs and made sure they seemed sturdy. Even if they did, I would often have to keep pressure on my legs, pushing off the ground slightly, lifting at least some of my weight off of the chair, ready to jump up in case the chair started to give out.
I have definitely broken a few chairs in my lifetime, and had a number of embarrassing moments that caused me to develop this system over time. I’ve even broken a picnic table, which was probably one of the most embarrassing situations, especially since I was the only person sitting on that side.
Speaking of embarrassing, there’s one moment that always sticks in my mind when I think about this. During the summer, I had gone over to a friend’s house. Their entire family came over for dinner, and everyone was sitting around outside on the lawn in patio furniture that I knew would not hold me. I couldn’t sit on the ground and so I just stood there awkwardly for hours, unwilling to sit, even when my friend asked if I’d like to. I noticed his mom talking to him in the house, looking at me and I knew they were talking about me. My suspicions were confirmed when I was offered a slightly different chair, but at this point I just wanted to spare my dignity and I declined, saying I was tired of sitting around earlier in the day and would prefer to stand and move around.
I would make any excuse possible not to sit down and embarrass myself even further, and I am so happy that those days are long gone. I haven’t even thought about this problem in over a year. It seems so long ago already, and that really shows how all-consuming it can be. I had to go through that process I described literally every single time that I sat down, and it was horrible.
I hope I never look at a chair the same way ever again.