After losing nearly 100 lbs ive developed the opposite of what people may think would happen. Insecurity and body dismorphic issues. Which is at times overwhelming and drowns out rational thinking. I was looking through photos last night and found a face picture that for the first time really let me see how far ive come. Because, you see, I dont see the current day me. I see the old me. The one who I have been for the better part of my adulthood. This was the face that was with me when I became a mother, when I was at my lowest, my highest, when I got my first grown up job, bought my first house became fiercely independent. I made soul mate friends with this face. This was the face in front of the heart that said “You’re beautiful. Size does not define you” I drank up all the body positive kool aid and celebrated my curves. I was wearing a two piece at the pool at 294 lbs and dared anyone to have an issue with it. I didn’t care about fat arms or cellulite. Didn’t care about scars. I ran races, I did mud runs. I offered no apologies for my space in this world and I was there to back up my bad assness if need be. I would slap on bright red lipstick and had no issue bringing attention to myself. No one was ever terribly unkind.
And then I made the decision to have my surgery. Mainly because it was hard to breathe going up the stairs. I was knocking at the door of 300 with no slowing down in sight. I was out of control, had a heightened sense of self worth and was literally headed towards health issues at 120 mph. I was embarrassed that I needed to get surgery but decided ultimately it had to be done.
And the pounds started to come off slowly. 1 pound a week on average. Which doesn’t sound like much, but it adds up eventually. People would comment on me losing weight and I would roll my eyes, thinking “guys 10 lbs isn’t going to make that much of a physical impact when I have 150 to lose total”. What no one prepared me for was the paranoia that I would feel thinking people were watching me, judging what I put in my mouth, wondering why I was losing so slowly. So I became concious of every bite. I felt shameful when I would eat. I thought that people would think that I was going to fail and that silently they were judging me. I had never had those thoughts before.
As the pounds eventually added up to a significant amount – around 50 lbs people started to be very vocal about my body. Positively but very vocal. They congratulated me and encouraged me. But with every positive word I became even more insecure. At around 75 lbs loss, I went to my reunion, one that I helped organize with love and was really excited for. I tried on dress after dress, nothing was right. Suddenly I realized that I had excess skin on my arms that would have to be removed surgically. And that my breasts weren’t as full or my stomach. And I remember standing in the mirror changing my dress and feeling like a failure. I went down to the reunion and people were just amazing and we all looked great and people mentioned my confidence and congratulated me on the loss. With every compliment came the toothy pageant smile and thank you. On the outside I was gracious and appreciative on the inside I felt like it was overwhelming.
Then came 100 lbs. This I was excited for. I had finally arrived at a major milestone. I fit into smaller clothes. This was where i felt the most proud. It was bitter sweet, the fat had melted off, I decided that I only needed to lose another 27 lbs not 50 and for the most part looked great under clothing. I knew I would have to save up for skin removal surgery eventually. But that was ok, because I could just tell people “but I lost 100 lbs!” And they would be understanding and I wouldn’t have to apologize for the batwings. Which is insane, because I never felt like I needed to explain myself before. But now I felt like I had an asterisk by my name that gave you an explanation as to why I was where i was. And the truth is no one really cares. People aren’t that awful in real life. This was a battle I was fighting within myself.
The 100 lbs was short lived, as you all know I got really sick and had to have the band removed because of slippage. I was admitted into the ER for emergency surgery as my body began to shut down. I made the decision to not have it fixed because the whole ordeal had been so traumatic that I was scared for my life. Besides I only had 27 lbs to go to goal, I could surely do that without the band.
That was 2 months ago. Since then I have gained 25 lbs. I hadn’t eaten in 10 days when I was in the hospital because of complications, so I knew when I started eating again that I would gain some back. That my body would hold on to it because it was starved for almost 2 weeks.
My new pants and dress that I was so proud of fitting into, doesn’t fit anymore. But that’s ok, I would change the way i eat and work out. Eventually I will find my way back right?
No one really noticed the 25 lbs. People still compliment me but I started to feel really insecure. I started to feel like a failure. Again, I felt like I needed to explain that ive lost 100, but gained 25 because of surgery and that I was working on it. I felt that asterisk by my name come back except this time I added an apology for failing.
I have become incredibly insecure in the past few months. Depression has set in. I’m back in the same cycle I fought so hard to get out of. I joined weight watchers, I’m taking pills, I joined the gym. But I can’t make it to the gym because I’m overwhelmed and insecure and those people there don’t know that I had lost so much, they just see me know and I have so much work to do.
I’m wearing long sleeves. I’m sad about summer coming (my favorite season) because of the excess skin and I can’t afford to have it fixed because I’m still paying for the original surgery, plus the emergency surgery (my insurance didn’t cover any of it) and I feel like if I step out in this body and people see the excess skin, that they will think “I’d rather stay fat than have that skin”
I’ve started to walk with my head down in the grocery store ive lost motivation to do things. I don’t want to meet new people because I don’t want to have to apologize for my existence. When I look in the mirror I see the before picture not the real one. My best friends talked me into getting a haircut recently and I kept saying how I didn’t want to go short because I had a really round face. They tried to show me that it wasn’t the case. I sat in the stylists chair and explained that I wanted it short but I was insecure about my big cheeks and she lovingly pointed out my face shape and cheekbones and tried to explain to me that what I saw wasn’t what she saw. So I chopped it off. And I felt great and I felt powerful and I sashayed out of that salon like a powerful goddess.
The next morning I woke up, as I was getting ready for work I became overwhelmed. I was trying to style my hair and realized people would be looking at me because it was so dramatic. My hair was past my shoulder blades and now it was in a cute lob right at my jawline. And so I started to think about the attention it would bring and suddenly my clothes weren’t right. So I changed. And that wasn’t right. So I changed again. I changed so many times that there was a giant pile of clothes all over my bedroom. I was late for work, I had to get my kid to school and I was having an epic teenage level threat con alpha meltdown that all my clothes didn’t fit right, they looked old, I looked old, and my skin looks like it’s melting and fuck, nothing in my life is ever going to be right again. Eventually I pulled myself together and made it to work. I mentioned to my friends my fit and they were supportive and said we would go buy new clothes. I’ll tell you as a side note, if you don’t have supportive girlfriends, please go get some they are literally my lifeblood and the reason I function day to day.
I came home later and sat on the couch. There’s alot going on in my life right now. Parenting has been tough, the house has been tough, financially its been tough. I’m sad all the time. And because of these issues I can’t really do anything about it. I feel frozen and stuck. My friends have mentioned that I need to get out more, that I need to date. My son says the same. But I feel paralyzed. The thoughts that have made me feel so insecure are so loud that all I have done lately is sit on my couch and it makes me sad. But I can’t muster up the mental strength to go out and apologize or explain my existence.
There is enough rationality left in my brain that ive recognized that I am most likely in a state of depression and I have a doctor’s appointment in a week to see if it’s hormonal or mental or both. But I know I can’t keep up. And I know that this is no way to live. And I know that what I “see” as far as physical doesn’t match up to reality. Even as I stare at this side by side, I dont see the “new” me I see the girl who I was. The one who wasn’t afraid. The new me is weak. I don’t even know what she likes. But so far she really sucks and sits at home all the time and cries and then puts on a fake face to go outside. I wore red lipstick the other day and couldn’t wait to take it off because it called too much attention to my face. “Fat Denise” was fearless, a walking goddess who deserved love and took what she needed. A motivator. I would flirt with the cutest guy in the room because who could resist this? Lol I was cocky and brave and funny because I had to be. This new Denise is a hot mess. I feel like I’m trapped inside a melted suit. Like my body is some sort of hand me down that doesn’t quite fit.
No one prepared me for that. I don’t have the luxury of a supportive partner who loved me then and loves me now and who’s seen all the scars and marks. I’m out here trying to sell a beat up clunker of a car while competing with this year’s newest model with all the features bell’s and whistles. If you don’t know what I mean, go take a look at these dating apps and see what you’re up against. These women are beautiful and young and their skin is tight and I’m supposed to stand out how? Suddenly being 38 a single mom and my body looking like it does is more of a “ooh I found this can of dented soup in the discount bin– do you think its safe to eat?” And then it gets put back because for 20 cents more you can buy a can that isn’t dented and avoid potential botulism.
I told y’all it was dark in this brain of mine. And I don’t know when it will get better. If I ever save up enough for skin removal, will the insecurity of the skin move switch to scars? Will I then have to apologize for looking like Frankenstein?
And these are the thoughts that now keep me confined to the house because I don’t have the energy to explain. And I know that I have to try to heal my brain and heart and thoughts one day at a time. And I have to figure out a way to drown out the mean thoughts about myself. I have to try to remind myself that this is just a shell and that internally I’m still the same woman I admire. Even if i can’t find her when I look in the mirror she’s still there and she needs me to get my shit together. I don’t know if anyone really could have prepared me for this.
If you got this far, thank you for reading.