This evening, before the show, we had our vocal warm-up and our director addressed us as he does before every performance. He passed out discs with the promised pictures that had been taken by the photographer on our final dress rehearsal evening.
Most of the pictures were great. The colors were brilliant, and there were often moments of such clarity that they jumped right off the screen. I could hear the songs, bursting from the actors' mouths. I could see the quick dance steps, and feel the hot stage lights on my skin.
I, however, was in none of those shots. Almost every picture of me is terrible. Now, I am my own worst critic -- and I'll be the first to tell you that. I often don't like pictures of myself. I find it an exhausting and demoralizing experience, this taking of pictures. The light is harsh and unforgiving, the artificiality of all the props and backdrops make the whole thing seem pointless and juvenile.
But this -- this was something else entirely. I know I'm fat. I know it in the way that I know I'm female, or that I know I breathe air. I know it the way I know the curve of my daughter's cheek, or the feel of my husband's warm palm nestled within mine. But, there is a big difference in knowing it, and truly grasping it. I grasped it tonight. I was appalled at how bad I look. I am huge.
God, how it hurts to say that. To know that. To see, with my own eyes how much larger I am than everyone else out there. To see the rolls of fat even under my costume, even at a distance. To know that, while under those hot stage lights that are so unforgiving. My multitude of sins there on stage with the rest of us. Taking up so much room; the silent participant.
I lay in bed tonight, tears rolling down my face as I remember the pictures that I saw earlier. Is that how other people see me? Is that really the way I look to them? How I burn with shame to know why people look at me the way they do. To finally, irrevocably, get it. How shameful it is to feel so bad, to look so bad.
I had this mental image of me, and what I feel like inside my own mind does not match up with what I see on the screen. Have I been lying to myself all this time? Has it all been one long self-delusion of massive proportions? How could I let this happen? How can anyone love this?