At my support group this evening, after I got my first high five for my weight loss (thank you ladies!), some of the group whipped out their "before" pictures, and it was amazing. I don't know that I would have recognized them from before. They each lost over 100 lbs. And I wonder if I will be that way 50-60-or 80 lbs from now. Will anyone else recognize me? Will I recognize me?
I wonder because I can't not see myself fat. Back in 3rd grade, when I got my first comment about how I should "watch my weight" from my dad. Back in high school, when I thought I was huge and whale-like, although I look just on the chubby side of normal when I see the pictures. Back in college, when I just knew that none of the guys would even look at me twice--except for the fact that I am wildly funny and entertaining. Back in grad school, when my anorexic/bulimic roommate would sneer at me behind my back. (Bitch. Like I didn't know.) Back at my first job, when I didn't think I was pretty enough to work in recruiting (a very attractive sub-set of the HR Guru).
And during all this time I variated from 148 lbs (which I weighed at for about 10 minutes after 6 months of starving myself combined with a wicked bout of the stomach flu) to my top-out at 353. I MORE THAN DOUBLED MY WEIGHT, and yet my brain never changed. I was always too fat in my head.
There were benefits to this. It screened people as friends and significant others. After all, if they liked me, I knew that they were good enough people to see past the surface and therefore were worthy. And if they didn't like me, I could just blame it on their prejudice against me because of my fat. It couldn't possibly be that I'm sometimes bossy, and talkative, and not altogether grounded in what others call "reality", right? It was a litmus test. And if you failed, you weren't worthy. Wow. That's a set-up if I've ever seen one.
I also got to use fat as my excuse for not jumping in to life. For not trying to date--they won't like me anyway because of my weight, remember? For not taking a risk, like going white-water rafting or wearing one of those gawd-awful midriff-baring tops so damn popular in the late 90's. I can't (or don't have to) try that--I'm too fat.
And if you just assume that you are fat, you become resigned to it. I can just eat whatever I want because I'm already fat. I can stay in and eat food till I'm sick and avoid life because that's what people expect of a fat girl.
And all of that avoiding life, and resentment, and despair was not only caused but also made worse by being fat. So despite all the negatives of having a large body, I'm starting to see that there were positives. And I'm now trying to find new positives, and new benefits to losing weight, or I worry that I will fall back on what I know.
Honestly, I wonder how much I will have to lose before my brain starts to get thin. Before I can stop wearing my fat like my "scarlett letter" or "red badge of courage" (yes, I'm revisiting my 8th grade English class). And I wonder what life will be like. Will I resent the men who (hopefully) will ask me out, for not doing so when I was fat? Will I trust my judgement anymore, without the fat doing the personality screening for me? Will I ever feel deserving of love, instead of wondering if I just stumbled into it?
I guess I'm realizing that I want my whole life to be a "before and after", not just my photo. In support group today I saw a glimmer of who I might be becoming. And I leaned over to the new me and high-fived myself.