I’m getting ready for bed and I’m standing in the bathroom brushing my teeth, looking at myself in the mirror and thinking, “wow, I really truly like the way I look”. Sure, I can find a million flaws and things that I’d like to change or improve, but for the most part I like the person I see.
I start poking and pulling at the squishy, wrinkled skin that is literally hanging off of my thighs and belly. For a moment I think about how unfortunate it is that I allowed myself to gain 100+ pounds and now I’m left with this mess. How dismal it feels to know that I am completely powerless against my new body. No amount of hard work or money (plastic surgery) on my own part is ever going to restore this body to what it could have been.
“What it could have been.” If only I could go back and do things differently.
I can see my strong muscles and petite frame underneath the messy shell that it my reality. It’s the body that I’ve always dreamed of and it’s my hard work and determination that created it. And yet it’s shrouded in all this skin.
In the same thought I know that the journey I traveled to get here…the one where I gained 100 pounds, is the same one that gave me the tools and mindset I would need to get through it. For most of my first 13 years of life I had a verbally, emotionally, and physically abusive stepfather – the only one I’d known to that point. For years (probably the most formative of life) he would cut me down, belittle me, and control my every move. The funny thing is that when he would call me names or push me around, it hurt me but I never really believed it. Even as a child my spirit was too strong to be broken.
For the next 20 years I took my anger and pain and I poured it into everything I felt strongly about. I loved fiercely – especially my now husband who I met at 16. I spoke my mind about any and everything I could. Nobody was going to take my voice or my power away.
“You can’t stop me. You can’t control me. I’ll do what I want, I’ll say what I want, and I’ll be who I want.”
I was young and free. I moved out of the house and in with my boyfriend (now husband) at 17 and I never looked back. I’m sure I believed that I had it all figured out and that I had beaten the system. That’s exactly when I began gaining weight, 100+ pounds to be exact. It turns out that I hadn’t come out of my childhood unscathed. I just didn’t figure that out for many more years.
So here I stand in the bathroom, 33 years old, inspecting a body that has withstood so much. My husband and two children are asleep and for whatever reason, I stayed up tonight. Just 1 week ago I hit a goal I set nearly 5 years ago to lose 100 pounds. It’s fresh in my mind and I’m realizing only now has brought a lot of buried feelings to the surface.
I’ve been on a life- altering and magnificent journey of not only losing the weight, but also finding myself. I think I hid my pain, sadness, and injured spirit in my fat. I believe I wore my fat like a warm hug. A hug of love and security that I so desperately needed and didn’t even know I was missing until I had come full circle. I look in the mirror tonight and I really truly like what I see. I see one of the strongest people I know. In the same thought I see someone who was more broken than they ever realized and still has a lot of work to do.
I’ve tried to be very candid about my journey and I’ve tried to share my experiences in an honest way in an attempt to help others reach their own goals. Because I understand how desperate one can be in seeking something better for their life. People are constantly asking me how I did it and what my best advice is. I’m usually replying with things like “start with something small”, or “you have to change the way you see yourself”. While I totally believe those things to be true, I realize now that it’s sort of like trying to describe the color blue to a blind person. I want so badly to be able to find a way to connect to people and help them figure out how to do what I’ve done. It’s only now, standing in the bathroom poking my squishy thigh skin and having an epiphany that I realize it starts by helping myself first.