Sometimes you grow in spite of yourself

Nov 14, 2010

So I took a hiatus after my breakup with Mike -- not just from here but from a lot of things.  I think I realized at some point that the break from him, while devastating and nearly as life altering as the rest of my transformation that (interestingly enough) all started right around Autumn of 2004, was also transformational.

I think I thought I was someone else inside and if I could just shed my shell and lose the gravity of my outside, I could be whoever was inside me being suppressed, who was obviously more worthy of love than I was.. cause it was a mistake, right?  The person I truly was didn't deserve happiness, she didn't deserve a good relationship, she didn't deserve to have her dreams come true, right?  Wasn't that true?  It must be or I wouldn't have imprisoned myself so resolutely.

So I embarked, wholeheartedly and optimistically, believing that this was my big chance -- and having Mike in my life made it possible for me to try on those new shoes at the same time.  So while I changed physically, I also changed emotionally; my personality changed; the woman I was changed -- all to conform to what I thought he wanted.  To conform to what I thought was the kind of woman worth loving.

So this other transformation commenced in May of 09 and I was broken down to a hollow shell; not knowing who I really was or how to stand in the big wide world without being who I thought I was supposed to be... that other woman I manufactured to fulfill a role I mistakenly thought I was destined for.  I stopped sleeping.  I stopped eating.  I dropped a whole bunch more weight (and secretly rejoiced but consciously realized the way it disappeared was unhealthy and unlikely to be sustained). I entered therapy. I took anti-depressants.  I lost my job of eight years.  When I looked in the mirror I looked gaunt and drawn and incredibly unwell.  Depression bubbled grotesquely to the surface and lingered like the smell of cat urine soaked into the carpet pad of a hoarder's apartment.

Eventually, I moved on and I tried again.  I tried to be that woman in another relationship and discovered, as that relationship crashed and burned that no matter how I tried to conform to this ideal I had in my head, I was. not. that. woman.  There was a tiny light in this tunnel, however.. and I'm still not sure the light was at the end of the tunnel or the beginning of it but there was a light and as small as it was, it seemed because of it, I could finally start to see what was around me.  It's kind of like the way, when you're sitting in a dark room and you can only see the outline of your hand when the light comes through the crack under the door, my eyes seemed to adjust and I could make out shapes of things.

What I started to "see" around me in this tunnel were pieces of myself and my history.  I started to get reacquainted with this cool girl who was at the core of the woman I was supposed to be.  Music I loved, hobbies I'd abandoned, friends I'd stopped talking to -- all these things I had turned out of my life in a vain attempt to be lovable in the eyes of men who weren't right for me and people who probably didn't deserve me were in the tunnel right alongside me.

Thankfully, that support system my surgeon and psychologist told me I needed to have in the very beginning seemed to reinvent itself through this whole journey.  The system in place at the beginning had crumbled but a new and wholly unexpected one had materialized in its place.  I'm a firm believer in accepting aid from wherever it's offered and so I was tremendously grateful as the vacancies created by people who'd departed were filled by people who had re-entered my life after many years and who probably belonged there all along.

Among those people who re-joined my "foundation" was a wise man who told me, "I know you forgot who you were but don't worry.  That person is still there, we've kept her safe for you when you were ready to rediscover her."  I began to write again -- the majority of that was a journal of chastising letters I wrote to myself for not seeing things and not listening to red flags that cropped up along the way.

Through all of that, people who loved me came closer and while they knew I was weak and collapsing, they never let my knees quite reach the ground.

I spent this past weekend with a man I've known since high school.  For the very first time in my life, I spent purposeful, meaningful time with a man for whom I definitely have feelings and who has shared his mutual affection for me, as me.  I resisted the urge to hide the things that, with other men in the past, I may have felt would be "deal-breakers."  I let him be attentive without being smothering.  I felt comfortable doing the same and never once felt anything manufactured or "expected."  In truth, every thing about this weekend was like opening a gift.  It was like standing in a stuffy, hot, dusty old house and feeling a great, cooling wind suddenly blast open all the doors and windows and clear out all the dust and mustiness.  I marvelled at how surprised I was to discover that, while I know we've made a choice to "see where this goes" after all this time apart, we both admitted this doesn't feel new.  In fact, it feels very much as if it's always been just exactly this way between us -- like putting on a pair of comfortable jeans that you've worn into the shape of your body. 

All of a sudden, here's this man in my life who behaves towards me in ways that both surprise and validate me and by doing so, he unknowingly reassures me that I am lovable.  Not just lovable but lovable as the woman I truly am -- and you know that woman.. we all have that woman.. this is the woman who makes mistakes with hair dye and doesn't always make great food decisions, she will wear pajamas all day on saturday if she can arrange it and she sometimes leaves dishes in the sink for longer than a day. 

What does all this have to do with my surgery?  Well, nothing... and everything.  I suppose it just illustrates the point that cutting your stomach doesn't cut the pain out of you.  It doesn't cut out the feelings of worthlessness or self-loathing and it SURELY doesn't heal the cuts to your soul that have been inflicted and re-injured year after year, bully after bully and insensitive stare after insensitive stare.  YOU are the only one who can fix those things inside you.  Don't pass up the opportunity to examine your inner self -- be honest with yourself, ask tough questions and ANSWER them truthfully.  You're the missing link in that chain.. not your doctor, not your vitamins, not your dog, not your kids, not your spouse, not your boss or your job; YOU.

I know I'm not "fixed."  Honestly.. I don't want to be "fixed" -- because to be "fixed" means one is latched down or glued or affixed somehow and I always want to be able to adjust as the winds blow me from place to place.  I want wings instead and I think maybe I've had them all along -- I just didn't know how to use them, or that I could.

i don't even know who reads this anymore

May 09, 2009

so maybe anonymity will make this hurt less.

After nearly five years, the man of my dreams.. the love of my life.. ended our relationship last night.  He wasn't particularly careful about it.  He wasn't even very gentle.  in fact, he was even a little cruel.

you see it appears that i have made a lot of mistakes in our relationship.  in trying to be sensitive to his needs and be attentive to him, he has grown dissatisfied with me and our relationship in general.  Over time, he became less and less committed to us.  He never mentioned it, he just let it all fester. 

i'm not without fault, of course.  But i don't deserve this.  i don't deserve infidelity and then to be told, with a shrug, "gosh i feel bad about hurting you, but i don't even want to try to repair what we had." 

i vascillate between anger, remorse, self-loathing and outright sorrow. 

he found someone on the internet and over the course of a few weeks, claims he's in love with her and isn't willing to end it to give us a chance. he doesn't want to.  he knows its wrong but he just doesn't want to.  he can live with being the kind of man who does this to someone -- even after he had it done to him and he knows exactly what it feels like.  this is precisely what his ex-wife did to him.  down to the details. 

he said to me that he didn't love me enough to want to stop it when it started.  he claims he was looking for a reason to get out of the relationship for a few years leading up to it.  and despite the fact that, within the past month, we've been intimate more often than we have in the last five months, he doesn't feel an emotional connection to me -- even though he admits there can be no intimacy with him without it.  i find it hard to believe that i'm getting the whole truth.

what i am getting, however, is the brush off.  thanks for everything but could you get the hell out of here so i can call my new girlfriend and have phone sex, now?  sorry abouit giving you false hope over the past week but.. you know.. this just is how i feel and there it is.

i never loved anyone as deeply as i love mike.  i still love him.  if he said to me tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, "I made a mistake, i was wrong, please take me back" i'd do it without hesitation.  i feel like my whole insides have been melted and run through a shredder and poured back inside me all discomfort and malady.

i feel worthless.  less than that.  i feel unlovable.  if mike, in all his depth of love, couldn't love me, well who could possibly ever?  and how could i ever trust anyone enough to give myself over to a relationship again with my whole heart.  will i hold back as he did because of the damage that's been done to me?  am i destined to go down this same path again?  and how do i approach having some semblance of a normal life again?

maybe this is karma. 

god help me.

Dark Side of the Moon

Jan 28, 2009

So, it's taken me some time to get my thoughts together on this blog.  It's a hard blog to write and what I have to admit is painful to me.  I don't think anyone I know who's also been through this surgery/transformation that I've talked to has said anything about this so I have fear that I'm the only one it's happening to.

*deep breath*  Okay here goes.

I think I'm intolerant.  I think I've become one of those people I hated before I had surgery.  I think I've become impatient and unsympathetic to extremely obese people who I come in contact with. 

I always want to run up to people I see and tell them, "look, there's hope!  There's a way out!  I did it, you can do it, too!"  But then I see the choices they make and I smell the smells that come from not being able to take care of your own body by bathing and I feel my eyebrows push together and my mouth fall open and I hear my inside voice saying, "how can you let yourself get like that?"

and the horrifying truth is, five years ago THAT WAS ME!   Not a lifetime ago, not when I was little.. FIVE YEARS AGO.  I hate this about myself.  I hate that I get angry at people I don't even know because of how they have succumbed to their disease.  I hate that it infuriates me to see entire families at walmart and either mom or dad is in a scooter and all the kids are fat and carrying some sugary drink or candy waddling along behind.  I hate knowing the life those kids are facing.  I hate knowing the hopelessness that they must feel.  I get so mad I want to shake the parents and scream that they're chipping years off their kids' lives by being lazy and not insisting that they go outside and play each day.

I know I can't make choices for other people but sometimes I wish I could. 

I have an employee right now who is in very bad shape.  He must weigh 400 to 450.  He's a smart kid and I think he can be very driven but I can see the different ways he hates himself.  He rarely bathes and smells like sour apple juice all the time.  His hair is longish and stringy/greasy.  he does his best to clean up but I know it must be hard.  He spends hours and hours playing computer games with his buddies.  he can't even get his driver's license because I think he can't fit into the seat of his truck to take the test.  He constantly wheezes.  customers complain about him in various ways -- he smells, he doesn't know what he's talking about, he's slow..  all the things the intolerant people (of which it appears I've become one) love to proclaim about fat people.  smelly.  stupid.  not good enough.  it hurts me personally to hear it but it hurts me even more to have to APOLOGIZE to these people for it -- real or imagined, i have to say, "I'm sorry my employee was ____" and then offer them some sort of compensation for their "trouble."

And you'd think I'd understand it.. I DO understand it.. but I fail more and more frequently to tolerate it.  I'm tired of having "the talk" about body odor with him.  I'm tired of apologizing for whatever real or imagined failings he's displaying to customers because of their real or imagined prejudice.

How do I justify this in my head, though?

I've been there.  I have literally been there. Those realities are clear and vivid in my mind.  I remember the pain of my struggles tangibly. I know how hard it is to change.  I know what it took to become what I am today -- and this is where "normal" becomes a bad word to me -- I'm closer to normal now than I have ever been in my entire life. 

I still struggle.  I am still fat inside and I battle every day to not fall back into my old ways.  I feel like I'm an alcoholic some days.. but my "alcohol" is necessary to continue living.  But being NORMAL also sometimes gives me a feeling of entitlement, i think.  Like, hey, I worked hard and I earned this transformation.  I've been on the dark side of the moon and I've been on light side so I know it can be done.  Stop being lazy and do something about it.  Something!  Anything!  Trade your Hawaiian Punch for a bottled water!  I know it doesn't taste as good -- change is hard sometimes and that's a small price to pay.  Trade your Snickers bar for an apple or a handful of unsalted peanuts!  Park your car 6 stalls further and walk into the store rather than drive around 15 extra minutes waiting for that front spot to free up.  Walk your cart back to the corral, instead of leaving it next to your car.  You don't have to make the extreme drastic change I did but you can do SOMETHING.  Don't just GIVE UP!!  Small change can lead to big change.  Don't think you have to take it all on at once but you can't ever justify to me not taking ANY change on.  Take responsibility and take action.

See?  Can you read the anger in my words?  I can.  I found at the end of that paragraph that I was writing in anger.  There's a ball of anger in my chest right now.  I don't understand this at all.  Maybe THIS is the "dark side" of the moon, instead?

I don't know if there's a resolution to this.. I hate admitting the way I feel now -- I feel like I'm betraying "my people" by feeling this way.  I wish I didn't have to apologize for how I feel but I still get emails from people who read my journey and look to me for guidance and support and I feel like if I don't expose this part of my journey to the harsh light of truth then I'm somehow short-changing everybody. 

I'm afraid my friends are now thinking, "wow, does she look at me that way?  Does she think about me like that?"  The God's Honest Truth is, not all the time and not all my friends.. but sometimes and some of you, yes!  Horrible!!  Hate me as much as I do, PLEASE!  I ache to see some of the choices even my friends make.. Maybe this is some sort of perversion of compassion?  I don't know.  I can't justify it.  I can't excuse it.  I can't seem to corral it, either.  it's been eating me alive.

Maybe I'm the only one who's gone through it?  Maybe not.  I halfway hope people who read this by chance will respond to me and say, "I've felt that way too.."  it's like the dirty family secret nobody talks about.  Ugh!

Four Years

Nov 12, 2008

So last night I was helping Mike with the dishes and it occurred to me..  "honey," I said, "do you know what tomorrow is?"

"your surgiversary?"  He said.. 

"Yeah!  it's been four years tomorrow!"

"that long? it doesn't feel like it's been that long.."

you know.. he's right.  I don't come online very much anymore because my real life especially just takes over and I think I lose track but it feels like it was just yesterday I was waking up to my new life with Mike and my brother at my bedside and I was wondering what on earth I'd done to myself.

Now I know what I've done.

Nobody knows I was ever like I was.  I mean, I still have friends from pre-op.. but they've stopped saying, "wow.. you've changed so much.." I'm just normal.  OMG.. NORMAL!  I don't get referred to as "the big girl" anymore.  People who've met me since surgery get wide eyed when I tell them I used to weigh over 400#.

It's not all puppydogs and rosebushes, though.  There has been some unexpected side effects.  I'll post about it soon because I think it's important and I feel a little weird about it.  I want to think a little more on it before I post, though.  More to come.

So anyway. happy surgiversary to me.  Four years ago today I was miserable and dying.  Four years since then, I'm neither.  Back then, I was waiting for life to start.  Today I'm different.  I'm living.

The hits keep coming!

Apr 24, 2008

So here I am, 3 1/2 years post op.  I've watched some of my friends put weight back on, I've watched some of my friends become frustrated with themselves, their tool, their support system crumbling around them.  In the beginning, I was feeling that frustration.  I wasn't a super-achiever.  I am still not at my goal weight.  I didn't even come close.  I felt like I hadn't quite succeeded and it really bothered me.

Then I made a bunch of big changes in my life.  I moved up to wisconsin.  I changed my job.  I bought a house. I basically turned my life upside-down to put my relationship with Mike in top priority position.  Terrified?  Oh yes.  But I wasn't thinking about my weight for probably the first time in my life.

So I move into my house and now I have responsibilities like clearing snow off the sidewalk in front of my house -- which also means I might as well clear the approach and the driveway.  Raking the leaves out to the terrace so the city can come by and suck them up.  Moving furniture, unpacking boxes, gardening, hanging laundry on the line.. plus I'm working retail now so I'm moving large, heavy boxes, lifting, climbing, loading and unloading trucks.  I don't have a lot of time to do things I like (such as lying on the couch watching TV).. at the end of this first four months, though, I've dropped another 20 pounds.  Yes.  Twenty Pounds.

I didn't even notice it.  I was getting ready to go out with Mike last Friday and couldn't find a pair of clean jeans (because you know, I also don't have time for things like regular laundry days).. then I remembered the pair of jeans Melissa gave me about a year ago.  They were marked as 18M but had 16 written over on the tag.  When I first started fitting into 18Ms, they didn't fit so they were probably 16s.  I saw them hanging in the closet and I thought, well, let me try them.  They might be tight but at least I can see how close I am to wearing them.

Right leg.

Left leg.






oh my god, my skinny jeans fit!!! 

Holy crap.

I felt so skinny when we went out to the bar and I was just floating on air.  

Mike suggested we go over to a place in town called Theo's -- it's a restaurant-slash-piano-bar where you can occasionally go to find some good jazz and nice wine. 

We got so lucky!  There was a woman playing there that night named Helen Exner.  She played a mixture of standards and her own music and it was so enjoyable.  I was a little tipsy so I was singing along -- she made a comment that I was either a teacher or a performer and I said I hadn't performed this kind of music in a long time but that I was the latter.  Mike wanted to hear Someone to Watch Over Me so we requested it and Helen brought over her Gershwin book and laid it out in front of me, encouraging me to sing it.

At the end of the night, we bought her CD and she handed me her business card and invited me to guest vocalist for her at a concert on Saturday night in Oshkosh.  I was so thrilled.  What a wonderful opportunity!

Unfortunately, it didn't work out that we made it to the concert that night because of some previous commitments we had.  I called her up to apologize for flaking out and tell her how much we enjoyed the CD.  Helen called me back and we started talking about some ideas she had and ultimately, she asked me if I'd be interested in participating in an all female jazz showcase at a local performing arts center.

Um, let me think about that - HELL YEAH.

But it didn't stop there.  We kept talking and she was telling me how she's getting ready to release her second CD and she's up for this award down in Milwaukee called a Wammy.. and it's all so exciting because I really like her music.  THEN she tells me how she likes to set up her CD release concerts and asks me if I'd like to OPEN for her at her CD release party.


Did I really have to move from Chicago to Fond du Lac to have this kind of thing happen to me?

Needless to say, it's further proof that if you follow your heart, the path you're on will lead you where you should be.

House Pictures!

Mar 17, 2008

Okay everybody, the pictures of the new house are up.  Once painting and organization is complete, I'll add interior pics, too.

It's Official, Now!

Mar 14, 2008

I'm a homeowner.

I closed on my house yesterday.

Sometime today I'll post some pics of the outside of the house.

I'll talk more about it later but I'm really happy!

No denying it now, I'm a full-fledged grown-up!

The List of Most Stressful Life Situations

Dec 17, 2007

Okay.. somewhere out there, there's a list of the most stressful situations you will experience in your lifetime.

The things on that list include:

Planning your Wedding
Death of a Family Member
Buying a Home
Starting a New Job

I'm sure there's more on the list but those are the ones I can remember.

TWO of those things are not in my immediate future.  And by "immediate" I mean prior to the middle of January.

Hint #1:  I am not getting married.

Hint #2:  No one has died.

Hint #3:  I am not packed.  Not even close.

Cripes if I can live through this.. I can live through anything..

wow moments don't stop after three years

Nov 29, 2007

Such a strange phenomenon..  I think I'm getting to the point where I'm "normal" -- and by that I mean I sometimes get comfortable enough in the body I now have to think that pretty much everybody who sees or meets me is either seeing me for the first time or I've been this way in their lives long enough that they're just accustomed to me now.. and they don't really have anything to compare me to from 'before' -- so I think I'm getting to the point where I'm "normal" and then something happens to punch my humble button again.

A word was used to describe me today that absolutely floored me.  It came from a person whom I consider a friend -- though not especially a CLOSE friend -- but who has no ulterior motive (why do I feel lately like I have to categorize or value compliments by whether or not someone may have an ulterior motive?.. hmm.. perhaps a blog for another day?)..  so anyway.. yeah.  Today.

My cell phone rang this afternoon from Bill, who owns and runs the Victorian Caroling group I sing with every Christmas for the past few years.  I was expecting his call since it's high season and we're only booked through the second week of December right now .  We usually book pretty heavily right up to Christmas Eve when it all comes to an abrupt (and welcome, by that point) end.  He first asked me if I was available for Christmas Eve and I am so hooray, I'm booked for Lawry's on Christmas Eve!  (I LOVE singing at Lawry's).. but then we got to chatting and lovely Bill (lovely, gay-as-a-three-dollar-Bill) says to me, "you know, I have to tell you.. SO many people have said to me this past couple of weeks how absolutely stunning you are."



That word ranks right up there with "graceful" and "breathtaking" and "lovely" -- words EVERY WOMAN loves to hear used to describe how she looks (whether it's one night or regularly -- don't let her fool you into thinking she doesn't want to hear it, boys.. SHE DOES, I assure you).

Now, I realize that this group is filled with theater types.. and that most if not all the men in the group are gay on some level.. but truthfully, I almost started tearing up when he said that to me.

And here's the thing that gets me.. the thing that gets me right over the head with a bag of oranges.. 

Most of these people never knew me before.  A few of them may have remembered me from my first season with the group.. but I took the season after my surgery off.. so by the time they saw me again, I'd lost well over 100# and looked entirely different.

Slowly the realization hits me that people who know THIS me as "normal" look at me objectively and consider me "stunning."

I wish I could convey my incredulousness over it even now.. typing this all out.  Maybe people reading this think I'm self-absorbed and conceited but please believe me when I say I have never once in my life looked in the mirror and said, "that woman is beautiful."  Never.  The mere thought of saying or thinking it makes my insides shrink up in embarrassment and disbelief.  I still can't conceive of it.  That ONE person may consider me "beautiful" is hard enough to believe but that there is any sort of concensus is positively beyond my comprehension.

I think this is part of the transformation .. and maybe this is the last phase of it (or maybe it never stops at all) .. but transforming the outside was the easy part.. 

transforming the girl on the inside to a girl who CAN look in the mirror and find beauty takes longer.. and lots of repeat lessons.  I have to keep my eyes open and my heart open and be willing to BELIEVE it when people say it to me or about me.  I have to keep my doubts at bay and prevent that expectation of "motive" on the part of the compliment giver from creeping in.  I have to just be gracious and say thank you with a genuine smile of gratitude because that's what I want to feel most of all.

It's not feeding my ego.. but it IS nourishing the neglected girl inside me who just can't find the strength to believe it about herself.

Right about now..

Nov 12, 2007

Right about now, three fateful, wonderful, excitement and change-filled years ago, I was hearing the voices of the ICU nurses shouting my name to get me to wake up.

I knew where I was.  

I was feeling nauseous (as expected) and my torso felt like I'd been punched over and over from the inside.  All I wanted to do was sleep (and not throw up).  

I hated the smell of the oxygen tube under my nose.  

I felt as heavy as lead and something in the back of my mind jumped for joy with the realization that I'd survived the surgery.

The further away from it I get, the less connected I feel to the woman I was before.  I don't want to let go of the compassion I earned from being super morbidly obese for as long as I was.  

I DO want to let go of the pain and uncertainty I learned as that other woman.

I DO want to be healthy and enjoy the world that God has provided for me.

I AM the woman I am today because of the woman I was then and, more importantly, because of the terrifying choice I made almost four years ago.

I am thankful.  

I am happy.

I am thriving.

The world is full of limitless possibilities for me now.

If I had my life to live over and life brought me back to that place, I would do it again.  

I would do it again and do it SOONER.

About Me
Chicago, IL
Surgery Date
Sep 03, 2004
Member Since

Friends 31

Latest Blog 162
Four Years
The hits keep coming!
House Pictures!
It's Official, Now!
The List of Most Stressful Life Situations
wow moments don't stop after three years
Right about now..