Thursday, January 20, 2011

I am learning so many things nowadays, that sometimes it's hard to articulate them and get them written down. I am learning:

~You can't appreciate your successes until you have rejoiced in your failures

~Nothing worth having ever came easy, and sometimes the hardest things produce the biggest rewards

~You can't fully accept your joy until you have fully embraced your sorrows.

Before having gastric bypass, I thought losing the weight would be the hardest thing I ever did. When I was 300 pounds (there, I have said it outloud) I never imagined I would ever get back to a healthy weight. The prospect of having to lose SO much was just too daunting. I thought the weight, and the number would be my nemesis, but I was wrong. Losing the weight was the easy part of the process. Gaining back who I am meant to be has been the hardest part. I had to let go of all of my vices, let down all the walls I spent so many years building, and learn how to love myself again.

For so long I relied on my self deprecating humor, the fat jokes I would tell to avoid hearing them from someone else, and being the "fat girl with a pretty face" as my defense against the world. No one could hurt me worse then I was hurting myself. By building a wall of armor around myself in the form of fat and humor, no one could see into my soul and see just how much I was hurting. No one could get past the jokes and the smiles and the personality to see the person I saw when I looked in the mirror.

To look at me you would never know the failure I felt as a mother who couldn't always give their kids the love and attention I knew they deserved, both because I was broken physically and emotionally. No one could look at me and ever imagine the disappointment in my heart at not being able to be the kind of woman that made my husband want to love me the way I loved him. No one could look into my soul and see the fear I felt battling cancer, and wondering if I would be around to see my kids grow up, and then dealing with the fact that I may have self inflicted that illness upon myself by allowing myself to become so morbidly obese. Instead, people looked at me and thought I was strong for leaving a bad marriage, giving my kids a better life and fighting and beating the odds with those cancers. But what they saw was a mirage. None of it was real.

The real has come out in my very private world and I feel like the only way to recover from all those old demons and addictions is to say the words out loud. Put all the thoughts and feelings I have been storing out into the universe so I can be freed from them, so I never have to wage this war again.

I think my biggest hinderance is never feeling good enough. Not when I was fat, and not now that I am not. I hold this unattainable standard for myself as if to allow myself to fail. It's like I set goals I know I will never achieve so I can beat myself up for not achieving them and that is something I need to let go of. When this journey began, all I wanted was to lose 100 pounds. I thought if I could just do that nothing else would matter. Then I lost 110. Then 120. Then 130. And now, 140 and instead of rejoicing in that victory, I find myself wondering why I can't just lose another 30. Instead of allowing myself to be proud of what I have achieved, I still pound myself into the ground over what I haven't done.

I look at myself in the mirror and still feel disgust and disappointment at the image that glares back at me. Instead of seeing the muscle and the smaller waist and all the hard work that has gone into going from a size 26 to a size 12, I see stretch marks and loose skin and smaller breasts and all the scars and imperfections that are the result of so many years of letting myself go.

One of the most prolific phrases I have heard to date is one I posted on my Facebook page yesterday:

"....Dreaming of the person you want to be is wasting the person you already are"

And, in that moment I realize I am wasting so much time beating myself up over the things I have done to myself in the past that I lose sight of the person I am becoming for my future. I have to let go of old ghosts. I have to relieve myself of all the voices in my head that say I'm not good enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough, not worthy enough. How do I do that? That is the puzzle piece still missing. It's that pesky corner piece hiding under the sofa cushions just waiting to be found.

I've gone from this:

To this:

in 10 months and yet I still won't allow myself to love myself. I put on the clothes hoping that will change what I see, and nothing. I put on a mask of confidence and security hoping that if I wear it long enough it will become a part of who I am.

You can never emotionally prepare yourself for what the physical change will do to you when your physical being defined who you were for so very long. When you used that physical shell to protect your emotional being, and then that protection is gone, you feel very exposed and vulnerable and that is a feeling I was not equipped to handle.

So, while I may look unscathed from the outside, on the inside I am covered with scars and burns that will take much more than losing 140+ pounds to heal from. While you might look at me and think I have nothing to complain about, and wondering how I can still have insecurities, remember that I am human and that your outsides don't always match your insides. When I smile, remember that I have also cried. When I project joy, remember that I have also lived through immense sorrow.

Losing the weight was the easy past. Finding yourself is the real journey.