Today proved that I will do just about ANYTHING to help cats whether it be go broke or wear an ill-fitting, too tight promotional shirt on television just so my rescue group name gets seen by the viewers. I had to ignore my vanity and fear of being fat on TV and just go for it. It's all about the cats, not me, right?
The show is called Better Connecticut and it's hosted by Scot Haney, the sunny, yet madcap weatherman and his co-host, Emmy-award winning journalist, Kara Sundlund. It's an hour long program that covers a wide range of topics. Our segment was devoted to talking about the need all rescues have for foster homes. To help illustrate the point, Enid, from The Queenie Foundation and I brought cats. Enid chose Munchy, a cute year old black and white cat and I brought Belly Holiday and Hello Dahlia.
I arrived to the set at 9am; about an hour before taping and 30 minutes before the audience arrived. The stage manager, Bob, showed me to the Green Room (which is not painted green) where I was able to transfer the kittens from their carrier into a small pink crate and give them time to relax.
I took a moment to reflect. Was it a good idea to feed the girls this morning? I fed them at 7AM and they had until 8AM to use the litter pan. Maybe they would get sick on the Host's nice suit? I feared they would poop in their cage while we were filming, but I didn't want their blood sugar to dive so they had to have something to eat. I offered them a portable litter pan and one of them used it, then dumped half of the litter onto the sofa. I cleaned it up as best I could, then looked around and tried to figure out what to do with my nervous energy.
Diane, who arranged for me to be on the show arrived and started talking up a storm. My brain started to swirl. I felt like I couldn't remember what I needed to say. It only got worse once Enid arrived and they jumped into a heated discussion about Lennox, the Pit Bull, who was unfairly and despicably euthanized in Belfast the day before—simply for being a Pittie. As much as I am angered, furious and heartbroken about this, I didn't want to forget the talking points I'd been practicing. We could talk about Lennox after we were done shooting. We shared 4 minutes and 45 seconds of air time. That's it. Make the point that ALL the rescues and shelters in Connecticut are in DIRE need of foster homes and give the viewers information on how to find rescues in their area where they could volunteer.
I kept thinking about Lennox until they quickly changed the subject to something else. I wanted to talk about our segment and go over the points. Since that wasn't happening, I tried to hide. I looked out the door of the Green Room and hoped for clarity of mind. The past month has wiped me out and getting up at 6AM after another night of not sleeping well didn't help the situation.
At 10: 20 AM it was our time to go. The crew set up my huge Kitten Associates banner on the set. It looked GREAT! Scot sat on a sofa and Enid and I sat at an odd angle on another sofa facing him. They placed the pink crate with the kittens inside it onto the floor. I suggested they put it onto a table so I could stand in the hopes that my rolls of gut fat would slide to my ankles and I'd look less like the Michelin Man. They said it was fine on the floor. I sat on the sofa, a mix of adrenaline, fear and determination buzzed around in my gut. What were we talking about again? What was my name? Un oh. Brain melt.
Harlin, the sweet guy in a headset who seemed to be in charge, must have got some direction from the control room. He had Enid count to 10 into her microphone, then asked me to do the same. In the blink of an eye he told us to get to our places and Scot introduced us, then began a blur of questions. I felt like I was in a batting cage with balls flying at my face, swinging a child-sized bat in my hands.
During the segment, Scot decided to open the crate and take one of the kittens out. He murmured so the audience couldn't hear that it was okay to let them out. LET THEM OUT? Black kittens in a BLACK WALLED STUDIO with nooks and crannies where they could disappear forever? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
And then it was over, almost as if it never started, the time passed so quickly. In my mind, I thought I did well, answered the questions on point and did a pretty good job not saying too much. Of course, as soon as we were done, I started to realize how very tired I was. There was another 45 minutes to go before the taping was finished up, so I restlessly traveled between the Green Room and the audience. I'd check on the kittens and watch them taping the show. I was amused at how different the set looked compared to how the show appears on television. I had a good time and thought that I'd like to do it again if I ever got the chance.
That is, until the segment aired.
We all have an image of how we think we look to the world. We may look in the mirror for hours on end, admiring our firm physique or we may, as I do, not spend much time looking because we're too scared at what we might see. It's very difficult for me to talk about being fat. I was never a skinny kid and I've struggled to try to keep myself from getting truly huge. Not to blame, but to explain, my father killed himself and my mother probably did, too, but I will never be able to prove that. I think maybe I am too stressed and depressed to do what it takes. I don't drink much or smoke. I guess my comfort comes from food, but I don't even do nutty things like eat a tub of ice cream or a bag of chips. I just don't exercise and like most people, I could do better with what I do eat and when (we eat dinner late at night here which is bad, I know).
As I watched myself on TV, I heard my voice, but I saw it coming out of this disgusting mountain of flesh. I wanted to pay attention to what I said, but I kept getting distracted by what I looked like. The angle they shot me at was probably the worst they could have chosen. I tried to sit up straight, but I was sitting at an awkward angle. Could that really be ME? Was I "that" fat? I was so horrified I wanted to turn off the TV and run for it (which I suppose would have been good since I'd get some exercise).
Sam was very nice and said I did well and agreed I didn't look that great, but that I didn't look as bad in real life. Of course he would say that. I'd say that to him, too. But I just sat there hating myself more than ever. Struggling to accept that I must do something about this is very tough for me, cats or no cats, but what can I do?
I know how to lose weight. I know about exercising. I don't need tips for what to do or how to do it. It's my journey and I have to at least try to help myself. I can put myself out there “for the cats” but I can't keep looking at my own reflection and feel shame and self-loathing. I wish that it wasn't an issue and that our culture didn't care. You are what you are, peace to everyone. Everyone is beautiful…but in our culture if you're fat, you're not all that. Maybe if I want to help cats, then in the end, maybe I have to help myself, too? Right now I'd like to hide under a rock for awhile.
It takes a lot for me to share this link with you, but it's part of my journey, warts and all. Here's our segment. I hope you enjoy it.WFSB Channel 3