Sometimes the people that love us, that know us, that picture us a certain way have a really hard time being objective about us.
When I was down about 100 pounds—but still morbidly obese by whatever method you want to use—my aunt Geri came to me and told me that she hoped I was done losing weight, that I was far too thin and everyone was worried about me.
Loved this woman like crazy and smiled and told her I was going to lose about 70 more pounds.
You’ll blow away. You are skin and bones now! Please stop. This is not good for you. I pray you’ll stop.
Ironically, that very same morning, before my husband and I made our (at least) weekly drive to see her after church, I had been running in my small town and stopped at a corner for the light and a woman who was quite large rolled her window down and hollered to me that it was nice to see a big girl out there doing her thing.
YOU GO GIRL, show ‘em what us big girls can do!
So this stranger, a large woman herself, saw me as kin to her, and yet my aunt saw me as this underfed waif in danger of blowing away.
I started listening to the love, but not the words, when such things were shared with me.
I could have gotten argumentative and defended what I was doing. But why and to what end?
I could have given up and said I was at a good weight. But how long would that have been satisfactory?
How could I let the view of someone who couldn’t see me in any other way than how I’d imprinted on their mind, determine what my goals were?
She wasn’t alone. Neighbors, friends, co-workers…all would say similar things to me and perhaps they wanted to celebrate in a way that seemed positive with accolades not realizing how disingenuous it sounded to the woman in the size 16 pants to be told she was going to blow away. I was less fat, sure, but I WAS still fat. No two ways about it. Strangers saw it. BMI and insurance charts saw it. Heck, even the description of clothing was for the ‘full figured’ woman in a 16. I didn’t work this hard, this long, to stay in the W department I’d been shopping in since 6th grade.
I started paying attention to people who DID NOT know me at my heaviest and the comments they made. I started doing experiments on my own with salespeople and service providers. What did they really think? So I went into a boutique and asked if they had anything that might fit me.
A few of our less fitted pieces might work, let me put them in a dressing room for you.
That told me the world did not see ‘blowing away’ as a potential problem.
When I was moving along in my journey and had hit that most wonderful place on the scale of 199 lbs (when the first number was a one in the display, I cried out with joy!) I started looking at plastic surgeons. I visited one and was told flatly, without emotion or condemnation, that he did sculpting and not weight loss and while I was still obese, I was not a candidate for surgery in his practice—but I was welcome to return if I hit 170 and maintained that for a minimum of 6 months.
It was one of the best things I could have heard.
Because at this weight I was getting a LOT of feedback from those around me how I looked sick, frail, too thin…you name it. Those I met for the first time didn’t have those same pieces of feedback. But many very close to me did. And in a way it hurt. I realized however, that I was changing so much of me that they felt I wasn’t going to be the same me.
I had to set that aside and surround myself with people who only knew the under-200 pound version of me and encouraged me to ‘slim down’.
Those did not know my earlier journey and I was so happy for that. It was like I was on vacation in a way. A surreal experience. One I treasure and am thankful for, because those women saw me needing to lose 40 or fewer pounds. And they were all too happy to have me join in on their running and swap healthy recipes or tell me about secret menu items at various places. Many of those same women became aware, later, of how much of my journey I’d completed before joining them on the trail of a healthy life. I recalled one asking to see a photo of ‘before’ and when I showed her, by handing over my phone to ‘that’ photo, she looked at it and slid the picture first once to the right and then once to the left.
I can’t find it, I must have hit a button. She started to hand the phone back to me.
I glanced over. Nope. That’s me. In the red sweater. Here eyes narrowed and then flew open wide. Back and forth between the 161 in front of her and the 333 in the picture. NOOOOOOOOOOOO. I’d never know that was you.
Was me. Past tense.
WAS me. PAST TENSE.
I realized it *was* me and I felt myself truly break free from feeling like the fat girl in every room for the first time in my life. I did not recall a time when I wasn’t among, if not THE largest woman or person in the room.
That is not the me of today and tomorrow. The rest of my life will be the healthy me version.
It was magical. The propulsion of self-esteem was amazing. You have to celebrate yourself. And I celebrated the goodness sakes out of the revelation.
Go on and celebrate YOU!
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