Saturday, May 09, 2015

I'm Still Just Me, Even After 'After'.

Recently an acquaintance gestured toward me and said to someone I was with: "Look at him, he's so fit! I hate him!" and we all laughed.
...but it made me think, and ponder. And then my courageous friend Darcy put this blog post on Facebook. It is a wonderful snapshot into the life of a young woman whose weight loss experience has brought her to a new perspective. I can totally relate.
I used to think "I hate myself, because I'm fat." but then somewhere along the way I realized I had it backwards. I was overweight because I used food as a comfort...because somewhere deep inside I was unhappy with who I was as a person; considered myself of no value to the people or world around me; of no significance. (cue pity party theme music and clips of George Bailey stumbling through town.)
And once I realized that I really could like myself, even love myself -- not just in spite of my flaws, but BECAUSE of my flaws (the strongest reasons for needing to experience love and acceptance from others and from myself!), then the weight began to come off, and I began to exercise and even discovered I liked that too, for various reasons.
And today, being at a healthy weight is sometimes a really scary thing for me, since my identity as a "fat guy" and even a "guy who used to be fat but who is now losing weight" took up so much of my life that to be "the guy who is not overweight" is frighteningly new sometimes and I don't know HOW to be 'that guy'. That guy who is " fit!" that someone else says (there's often a little truth in every jest) "I hate him!"
Yeah, me too, sometimes.
Because while it is true that as I lost weight and have kept it off, the use of food as a comfort and a run-from-the-internal-pain-of-the-moment tactic has sometimes been easier to avoid, sometimes it has been monstrously difficult.
Some days I experience freedom and I can just sit. And just. Be. With myself. And I look in the mirror and see past weight and height and body image stuff, and I can look directly into my own eyes without shame or judgment or guilt or condemnation. I see the work I've done to get free, while also acknowledging the inadequacy to have done it on my own. Creator and those placed around me have upheld me in this and so much more. And I feel connected and alive and vibrant and strong.
Other days I look in the mirror and I see the fat guy inside the thin guy. I may not have as much excess skin as the courageous Matt Diaz but I have enough 'sharpei skin' to make taking my shirt off in public an embarrassing thing still, sometimes. So that extra stuff is what I see. The stuff that will never come off; the 'hard lard'. And in that place of guilt and shame and condemnation and self-judgment, I sometimes experience a return to the slavery from which I was set free, and I eat without thinking and without really being present, and then I feel shame and guilt so I want to eat more, and then I feel worse, and so then I... Well, you know.
Vicious cycle.
These days instead of running away from myself I most often run into myself, and I do the work of digging deep and praying and asking hard questions of God and Cathy and close friends and even paying a professional counselor from time to time. And I do the even harder work of actually receiving their love for me. I allow them to love me when I can't love me, and in that space I allow them to teach me how to love myself in healthy ways. Because here's a little nugget for you to chew on:
Healthy self-love is sometimes just as elusive at a healthy weight as it is at a morbidly obese weight -- harder even, since there are no outward signs that I or anyone else can point to (like a big gut, or a number on a scale) and say "See!?!?!? UN-LOVABLE!!!! ...because of THAT!"
And I'm learning to move past the fears and the doubts and I can see so much love and hope. And I love to eat good food, especially when I am really present to the sensory experience and enjoyment of it at each bite. And with each bite I try to remember how it used to be, and be grateful for who I am today. Who I *AM*, not how I look, or what I weigh. I may be grateful for those too, but that is ironicaly immaterial.
Today I weigh 170 and my goal weight is 158. But whether I'm 158 or 170 or 258 or 370, I am still me, and I am still worth loving, and I'm the only me I can be -- so I am me, unapologetically, flaws and all. In process, yes; always. But I don't think I'll ever reach "After".
As the blogger in the linked article so eloquently says:
"There’s no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow of weight loss because the rainbow has no end.
There is today. There is now. There is during. There is life."
Today, I'm living life.
~ Keith