Almost a year after getting started at Fairfield County Bariatrics, going to appointment after appointment and working with a nutritionist for 6 months to then going in for surgery last April, I am now down a grand total of 91 lbs from my highest weight EVER… of 371. I am now at 280 lbs.
Do I still have a long way to my goal? Heck yes– but there’s a comfort knowing (or a confidence rather, not a guarantee) that each time I step on the scale it won’t be bad news. There’s no fear or shame. Just an incandescent happiness.There are sacrifices, but none of them really feel like much of a sacrifice.
Going through this rapid weight-loss has been the most surreal experience of my life. I’m going to talk about some things I haven’t really touched on since the early blogging days, mostly because it’s not easy to drudge it up. I’ve been very open about this surgery– some ask why, others ask for more details, and some have the opinion that this surgery was a mistake. That the operation I chose was the easy way out and/or unnatural. So, I want to talk about that a little.
I’m open about the surgery because mostly it simply doesn’t embarrass me. That is the reason we selectively share details about ourselves, right? Because we’re embarrassed or ashamed? But, the main reason is I just don’t feel it would be honest to not acknowledge this weight-loss for what it was. What would that say to other people struggling with their weight? I would be lying and essentially saying, “I am winning this battle on my own,” when in fact I’m not. The last thing I want is to downplay the reason and method in which I’m able to get to a healthy lifestyle, because I believe this option is a true life-saver and the best option for people struggling with severe obesity.
I doubt there are many of those I’m acquainted with who have battled extreme obesity since childhood, but I can imagine there are those who would understand the state of mind that is cultivated and how it can take a hold of you when faced with adversity and cruelty, especially when you’re a kid. It shapes who you are as a person, how you operate, how you think, how you feel and respond to other people. I’m not just talking about the deep-rooted self-esteem issues that I know is popularly showcased when talking about obese women, but it’s more than that. It wasn’t just about how I regarded myself during my upbringing and most of my life really, but how I held other people higher than myself. I saw others’ needs and wants as more important and valid than my own; as if their intrinsic value was greater than mine because they fit this ideal of what was normal and acceptable for a girl/woman to be and look like.
It was an early age when I felt that many of the things in life that one would expect to have just wouldn’t be in the cards for me. That certain things in life were just off-limits. I felt like I had to accept it and alter my expectations; a coping mechanism? Perhaps. I didn’t want to be depressed all the time about something I never felt I could change– my body image, which to me said a lot about who I was as a person. When I would try to make a change and fail– that failure only made it that much harder to respect myself. I felt weak. It doesn’t help that you have peers from a young-start echoing those sentiments on the daily. For me it started in the 4th grade and lasted until the last day of high school. That’s a long time of emotional abuse. Bullying is a very sensitive subject and I could share countless stories, as I know many can, of break-you-down moments. It was a long and slow mental torture (in the mind of an adolescent). I wasn’t in a confident and strong enough place that young to say, “I don’t give a sh*t,” or “‘F’ You!” I felt powerless to stop the constant humiliation that only grew with each year. I knew of others that were also bullied, each for some stupid reason– someone was a little different or unique in some way, but it didn’t really mean much at that time. There was no bonding or camaraderie among those that were bullied. I wish there had been. Sometimes it felt we all just stayed away from each other in an attempt to not make it worse. Of course, where there was dark there was also light. There were good people too, worth remembering and those with even the smallest act of compassion and kindness that made an impact. Those moments are the ones I choose to focus on.
Though some of it really sucked, my youth helped shape who I am now. For better and for worse. I still have issues– with trust mostly, but also confidence, intimacy (just getting close to someone period is very difficult), anxiety, etc. I’m acutely aware of many of my flaws and constantly over-analyze everything. I have a lot I’ve had to work through over the years, and I know it’s not the same for everyone who struggled with weight from a young age, but it was for me. I did go through some intense (it felt that way at least) cases of bullying when I was a kid and it went on for a long time. On the flip side of all the issues, there’s also good stuff I’m thankful for. For instance, I’m kind of a softie; I have compassion, empathy and I feel as though I have a somewhat easier time understanding other perspectives and reasoning (not always, and doesn’t mean I’m less argumentative often times– because I am also very stubborn, but that’s another post). I have an easier time seeing past one’s tough-exterior/wall/front because I’m all-too familiar with those. I’m also pretty well tuned-into body language; a blessing and sometimes a curse. The curse part, I tend to pick up on negative energy easily (like, hypersensitive to it) and I’m quick to assume the possibility that someone is talking smack about me (or even someone else), even if I can’t think of any logical reason they would be doing so. You might say a little paranoid or even self-involved, but I can’t always help it. Of course, if someone (say, across the room or whatnot) was indeed talking smack– there’s nothing I can do about it anyway. So, sometimes over-reading people can make me uneasy and untrusting. On the other hand, it’s also been quite useful and I’m not sure I’d turn that off if I could. Though, I have had to work some of that negative stuff out and it’s not near as bad now-a-days, but that took years of work and introspection post-high school. Mostly, I realized it didn’t matter. I had to tell myself even if that was the case– who cares?! I had to learn to let go and understand I can’t control what people will say or do or even how they perceive me. It’s a hard habit to break– preparing and protecting myself by assuming the worst sometimes. This may be a result of falling for ruses created by my peers in school, designed to humiliate and expose vulnerability. This is something that has taken me many years in my adulthood to overcome.
By the time I was in college a lot of this was second-nature. I never felt like I belonged anywhere. Making friends wasn’t always hard, but anxiety and trust was an issue. It was easy to conceal most of the time, but it’s a constant battle that’s been with me at every interval and every transition I’ve gone through in life. It’s a nagging instinct that seems almost as much a part of me as my DNA. I can’t overwrite the years of molding that has made me think and operate the way I do. But, I can counter each negative with a positive. I can be in-tune with my own perspective and recognize the part of me that creates self-doubt, and self-deprecates and distrusts and make an adjustment— adjust my attitude, my perspective, and/or my approach.
In my later college years I joined the rugby team at my school and I met the most amazing women I’ve had the privilege of knowing who were the most exemplary example of strength and confidence. Women who know who they are and make no apologies. I loved that about them. They were so comfortable with themselves. You can understand I’m sure why this was like some foreign concept to me. I was captivated and inspired by these women. Not only for who they were and how they held themselves, but for how open and welcoming they were to have me on the team. Before rugby, I never even wore shorts– I mean there was plenty I never did before rugby. I wasn’t open. I was very closed off to people. It took me a while to open up and share and even when I did at first- it was forced. I had to push myself outside my comfort zone. I pushed a lot because at some point I realized that I had to make more of an effort to loosen up because I wouldn’t truly make friends, real-friends, if I didn’t trust anyone enough to share anything about myself. I’m so glad I did. It was the most liberating experience and I can say that that time in my life was a big turning point for me and one that’s had an extremely positive ripple effect in my life. I worked harder to stop caring so much about being liked, or accepted (somewhat), and about what people thought of me (again, somewhat.. it’s a working effort). I just felt free for the first time to just be me – the no apologies motto (though I’m a notorious over-apologizer to this day… so, I don’t know lol). But you get what I’m saying– I work hard to adopt a motto and a method to live my life by. It’s a formula that I sometimes drift away from, but I always have it in mind and I try every day.
It takes so much more energy to stay closed-off and private than to share and be open. I just don’t care who knows stuff about me anymore. I have no reason to be ashamed of this choice I made for surgery, or for any of it– anything about myself. Does that mean I’m not still unhappy with things or embarrassed or even ashamed of things about myself? No, of course not. I’m human. But, I try to swim upstream and turn away from my instinct that has me on an auto-closing door– I pry it open as much as possible. I push, because that’s how I want to live my life. Proud and loud! I share because I feel liberated exposing my imperfections, my struggles, my flaws, my human-moments– because something I know now that I didn’t when I was a kid is that those things that we don’t like about ourselves, that we would rather keep hidden from the world– that’s the good stuff. It’s how we connect. It’s what’s real. We aren’t so isolated in our experience as we may think– but how do you know if you don’t share? If there’s no risk, there’s no reward. When I started opening up I was relieved to find others that had similar experiences and could relate. I even learned some things about myself and it helped me understand why I am the way that I am. I could finally start to heal somewhat and seek out some closure on the past. I realized that there was nothing wrong with me, nothing that was too scary to admit or share– nothing that made me weird or strange or sad even. It’s a part of me that I can’t nor would change. I like who I am now– so why not accept everything that is and was?
I recently ran into someone I knew in high-school at the gym. I’m not sure if he saw me or not, but I saw him. He was one of those people that wasn’t my biggest fan in school-days. I got a lot of crap from this person actually. He’s about my weight now, maybe a little heavier and I felt for him. I harbored no ill-feelings or resentment. None whatsoever. And it’s funny, because I always thought if I ever ran into certain people that I would hate them and that I would be justified for hating them. But there is no reason or justification for hate. Though I didn’t say hello, I forgave him silently. All the crap I held on to just washed away. Not just because he was battling weight now too, but I don’t know. It just did. Maybe I projected my own desperate need for change onto him and felt sympathetic– and when you’re that heavy and at a place like the gym, it’s a very humbling and somewhat unnerving experience (especially running into people you know). I genuinely can’t stand seeing people struggle. Even him– because he may not be anymore who he was in high school than I am. We grow up. We get better.
That aside, generally I feel that if there’s something we can do to make it better for someone else, even if just in some small way– then we have to do it. We’re all connected and we should do what we can for others– without a reason or for an outcome. Without expectations or agenda. Just do, because you can. We all know pain and certain varying hardships and how it feels when things get just a little bit better, a little easier. When you’re exposed to kindness and compassion it’s contagious and don’t we need more of that in the world? Sometimes it’s just a smile in the hall from a complete stranger that is enough to give you a lift through a bad day. It’s the light in the dark. The good in people. Those are the moments we want to remind ourselves that there’s always good, even if you’re in a spot where all you can see is the bad. To have faith. To be strong. To know that it gets better. It.will.get.better. It just takes time and the will to make it through and muster up the fight in you to not give up. I’ve wanted to so many times, but I’m so glad that I didn’t. I’m so glad that I didn’t just settle for being unhappy. That I fought to find a way to fix those conditions in my life I couldn’t live with anymore– my weight, my health… and not for anyone but me. I did it just for me and that’s the best part. You have to do it for yourself. No one can push you to make a change like that, one that you’re not ready for. It has to come from you and only you– for you.
It’s not easy, but I do believe truly that “happy” is a choice you make. It may take months, or even years for some to get through something in life– a loss, an event, even depression, a divorce…you name it. Everyone has their struggles and obstacles to overcome, but the one thing you can decide for yourself is that it’s worth it. To go on. To get to the better-part somehow. That the bad sh*t we go through in our lifetime is nothing compared to all the good. Be determined to work hard on yourself and do whatever is necessary to get to that place you want to be at in your life, while staying true to who you are. That’s all you can do, right? Go your own way. (Yea, that was a Steve Nicks reference. Love her.)
That’s what I tell myself, anyway. That’s how I make it from one day to the next. That’s how I found my happy.
Love for any and all who were able to power through this astronomically LONG post.
Thank you to my friends and family for all the love and support that has poured out during this past year and the life-change and just in general. I feel very grateful to have such amazing people in my life. The best.
Have a great week!
Lots of love for all,
“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.” – Nelson Mandela
“Whatever you are, be a good one.” – Abe Lincoln