Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Glass of Milk

About a month ago, I was standing in my kitchen talking to Mom on the phone.  I told her I'd been working with a hospital wellness program for almost a year, aiming to lose weight through frequent consultation with my doctor, a nutritionist, and a therapist.  They were recommending me for weight loss surgery so that in the event of insurance approval, I will have that option.


I was having a bad day, and I needed to cut through the small talk bullshit and tell my mom how I felt.  Even after everything I've said here about her issues and toxicity, she does have a mother's heart and can listen to me with sober ears when I tell her I'm hurting.  She may not always give the best advice, but she does empathize and share her love.


I might be approved for surgery, and it freaks me out.  A year and a half ago, my self-esteem was in such a bad place that I would have jumped at the opportunity; honestly, even the slight possibilities of malnourishment and death would have been better than the life I was not living.  But now there are so many factors that come into play.


  • Is it fiscally responsible?  Our economy is in the toilet, and I want to have surgery to quickly fix what a lifestyle change can improve over time?  Corporate insurance plans are higher than ever, and this procedure would put another burden on my own organization.  I love my job, and I don't want to negatively impact this group.  My doctor told me that the complications from obesity would do more damage to insurance rates – and my body – over time.  That's true, but…
  • I don't plan on being obese forever.  Not only is my weight on a downward slope, but I eat wholesome foods and exercise.  I got fat over the last 4 years because I ate right, but I just ate too much of it.  I have good blood pressure, no signs of diabetes, a strong heart.  I'm healthy, just fat.  It's the latter that needs to change. 
  • Would I be happy with myself if I lost weight this way?  Right now I am thrilled by my successes, however small, because they are proof of the good choices I make.  Success from weight loss surgery doesn't come from the choices made every day, but from the necessity of consuming small bits of food so that I don't rupture.  Plus, I must eat all day to meet protein and nutrient requirements that aren't met with supplements.  I can't fathom eating all day, and I can't see how I can work that into a normal social life.  It's the gastronomic equivalent of having an iPhone – both useful tools that become mindless habits, keeping you from full participation in a meaningful life full of other people.
  • After a few months of rapid weight loss, even with regular exercise, I will have excess skin.  I've come to see that as an inevitability, seeing as how my elasticity is shot from so many years of yo-yo dieting.  Hell, my thighs didn't have elasticity to begin with; they were always curdled with fat.  The point is will I just be trading one body issue for another?  I'm afraid it's just going to start an endless cycle of body dysmorphia, and that's how the cat lady got started.  If you give a mouse a bypass, she's going to want a brachioplasty. 


I started the conversation by telling Mom I was, as usual, upset with my body and myself for gaining back all of the weight I worked so hard to lose in the first place.  I told her I was ashamed of myself for falling off track after moving to Chicago.  Then I told her about the possibility of surgery and the above reasons for not doing it.


I said I've never been happy with myself, my body, and I don't think surgery is going to cure that.  But then again, is that too much to expect, to be happy with myself?  Is anybody really ever happy with themselves?
Mom said she wasn't.  She admitted she made a lot of mistakes in the way she dealt with certain things, with her role as a mother.  I thought I would appreciate hearing that, but I just felt sorry for her.  Yeah, she fucked up on some major things, but she always loved us.  We were always hugged and kissed and told we were loved.  She didn't think twice to report school bullies to the principal.  She made up some pretty awesome traditions for someone who wasn't raised with much herself.  For a teenage mother who didn't have the best examples of motherhood in her past, she kicked ass. 
For her to say she wasn't happy with herself broke my heart.  I don't think she'd ever said anything like that before.  Mom doesn't really have a friend; she doesn't let anybody close enough to her.  She's never really admitted she was wrong to any of us, so she has some guilt and negative feelings that really eat at her.  It drives her to drink, to depression, to isolation, to more erratic behavior.  As mad as I get at her, as hurt as I feel about the things she does, there are moments like this that make me realize how much she's suffering.  She can't open herself up to anyone because she's too bully, too proud, too scared.  It's easy to say that it's a monster of her own making, but I think there's a lot more to it.  If I have my bad Mom memories, and my sister has more of her own, imagine what Mom is holding on to.  To whom do you admit your most shameful failures as a parent?
It was one of the best conversations I've ever had with her.  I got to talk about weight on my terms, and she got to open up to another person.
I don't know what will happen if I'm approved for surgery.  My current successes are girding me against the decision, but I know full well the feelings and the history that drove me to research surgery in the first place.  Can I deal with another regain?  Can I manage my future?  More importantly, can I be happy with myself? 
If you give a mouse her dream, she's going to want another.
So there's that,



manda said...

Laura, you definitely have a tough choice and it's good that you are thoroughly thinking through all of the options. That will help you make the right decision that's best for you.

As far as mom, you know, she had someone to confide her parental failures in--dad. They were a team, and his insight could have proved helpful to her. She just wasn't willing to put it out there or work as a team for their relationship or our growth. Reading your perspective made me reflect, but I still have strong feelings against her, and actually the whole time I got ready this morning was thinking about all of the shitty things she's said/done to you, me, and dad. For me, I've lost the ability to empathize for her. What I don't agree with is the fact she has the ability to change behaviors now and put everything on the table, but she is unwilling to do it. She is unwilling to change even if it means seeing her grandkids more. So be it.

Great job on your weight loss! I am so proud of you. I also appreciate reading your thoughts every day because, like I said, it gives me a chance to reflect as well. You definitely touch everyone around you, and you are so loved!!

Anonymous said...


I've been lurking around your blog ever since you posted your "road maps" to I feel like your struggle with your weight definitely mirrors my own, the ups and downs, rockin' the points, etc. I hear you. You're also a great writer and I love to read things that are well written and witty!

That said, I had weight loss surgery last September. I'd love to talk with you about it, if only to dispell some of your misconceptions. Your opinions are awesome and completely separate, but I'd love to share with you some of the good things. I won't hound you, but if you're interested, shoot me an e-mail (

Rule on.


Anonymous said...

Hi Laura!

I keep thinking we were separated at birth!! The things you write and feel have been me... years ago.

Whatever you decide to do with your weightloss quandry... please know that people who truly love you, appreciate you, relate to you and care about you will always SUPPORT you.

I know you were pleased that your mom seemed to hear you with an open mind... However... You really need to start thinking only about yourself and not your parental expectations at your present age.

I only share this with you because I finally learned the 'lesson' at the age of 40.... Just sparing you a little time!!

Regardless... Face your weightloss fears... and you will come out victorious. I know that sounds corny...but I'm sincere. In the meantime if you need a supportive listening ear... Please email me. I've wanted to be your friend for a long time.

Karen (

scott the jew said...

I'm a walking #$%^ cliche but I say, "Listen to your heart." Yes, I have been reading your blog. Either way, this one over here supports you. And now my impression of a Jewish Mom, "You never call...!"