Sunday, July 5, 2009

Cleaning Out My Closet

I don't know how to write about this surgery, and that's why I haven't posted very much in the past month.

I want to write about it, but I'm hampered by some things. I think it's time for a list of what's on my mind.

  1. I've been writing about non-surgical weight loss for some time. Do I look like the biggest a-hole in the world to suddenly come out about my surgery? I can't care about that. This is a journey I started over a year ago with a medical team. It's been on my mind for the past 3 years, to be honest. I just couldn't take the plunge and start the process. When I started the process, I couldn't let myself rely on the possibility of surgery.
  2. It's sad to admit, but I go through life with the idea that things rarely work in my favor. That way when they do, I appreciate it even more. I figured I wouldn't get approved for surgery, but I should try anyway. Who knows? After 6 months of constant consultation with a nutritionist, a psych, and my doctor, I was rejected for surgery in November 08. We did a little more work getting my weight history and reapplied. I didn't hold out any hopes. I was approved in May, and things progressed quickly from there.
  3. I was still on the fence about surgery. I'd lost weight through diet and exercise before; I should be able to do it again, right? Would having surgery be an admission of some kind of defeat? Some kind of weakness? I figured I would make the decision when I had the option. When I got approved, it was pretty easy to make the choice.

I am defeated. I do have a weakness. I have been obese all my life, and if that's not a sign of failure then I don't know what is.

It's sad that my identity has always been tied to my weight, even since I was a kid. How do you turn around 20 years of beliefs, especially when they've been with you since your formative years?

Short answer: You can't. I can't.

I've accepted long ago that I will never have a normal life when it comes to food or my weight. Since that's the case, why put off surgery? Sure I may lose weight through dubdub over the next few years, but I can't say that it will stay off. Well, I can say that, but who the eff knows, right? I thought I'd keep my weight off last time, but that was a bust. Time gives you all kinds of drama to deal with: love, death, wealth, poverty, babies. Any of that can drag me out of control.

I want control. Everybody with an eating disorder wants control: fat people want it over food and choices about their lifestyle, anorexics and bulimics want it over food and choices about their lifestyle. Our bodies are ours alone, and we want to control it any way we can.

I don't like being told what to do. That started long ago with food, with being told I can't have this or that, sugar cereals or cakes. That I can't have clothes or toys until I lost weight. When I became a big girl who could make her own choices, guess what I did? I bought a box of Cookie Crisp and had dessert with every meal. I got fat, I got thinner, I got fat again when I couldn't control my emotional situation. I know my history. I don't want to keep repeating it.

I have this chance to have a new tool - one that restricts the amount and types of food I can eat. It's not going to tell me what to do, but it's going to pre-empt any of that crazy behavior. I will have to deal with my food issues head on, instead of bingeing and hating myself later.

And really? I'm done with food. In revisiting favorite foods last week, I realized that food's not as good as it's cracked up to be. Last week was a chore, and each meal was lackluster, to be honest. I got fish and chips Thursday night, and it was bland and soggy. I didn't even finish it. I'm over this slavery to food.

I work well within boundaries. I'll find ways to make any restriction flavorful and enjoyable.

This post seems full of contradictions: I don't like being told what to do, but I work well within boundaries. It's true, and I stand by it all.

The only difference is, this surgery is MY choice. This is not my mom lecturing me on my food choices; this is me going into a situation as a fully-informed adult. This is my decision and I am proud of it.

I'm tired of defending it. I will gladly talk about health, diet, fitness, but from here on out I will only talk about my body on my terms. I'm not anyone's property. Everybody has an opinion about what I'm going to do, but the only one that matters is mine. My body is not up for debate anymore. I am not my disease.

This is my new mantra. Now is the time when I have to stop looking at myself as a body and start seeing myself as a person. I need to cultivate my interests because I've thrown so many to the wayside over the past 3 years. I don't want to lose my personality, because I do have one, and I know it's more than being a bitter fat girl.

Which brings me to another pondering - when I lose weight, will I stop bitching? I hope so. I mean, from this day forth I will not be hard on my body. But I will bitch about people who drive me crazy.

Back to the surgery: I hopped on this opportunity because I don't want to be 45 and obese, pissed at myself for not taking this chance. I want to start living my life. Like I said, I've pissed away my twenties, I wasn't a normal teenager; I live like a divorcee, for Christ's sake. Done! I'm done with it!

I shouldn't care about this, but the friends I've told about this surgery have not been so excited about it. It's scary, I know, but for me the benefits outweigh the risks. I hope they can accept my decision and my new lifestyle. I don't think they can really see or understand how I feel at this point in my life right now. I've been asked why I care so much about what other people think. The misconception is that I'm doing this for other people. No...I'm doing it for me. What I'm doing is not living. I need to build up myself before I can be any good to others.

And yeah, other people do come into play. I'd be lying if I said they didn't. Truth is, I don't care what people think so much as I don't want to be invisible anymore. To both men and women. People don't treat me seriously at the gym, at a sports store, at any stores that aren't Lane Bryant. I've been out to bars with married women who - acting as my wingmen - get hit on by the guys they're trying to introduce me to. I can be as tricked-out and present and engaging as a muhfucker, but guys go after the hot women. It's a fact. And while I don't want to go out with the kind of guy that hits on married women, I would so love the opportunity to break their hearts and blue their balls.

Surgery isn't magic, it isn't going to cure me over night, and it's going to really suck for a while, but goddamn it, I'm ready.

And it's not up for debate.

So there's that,



Anonymous said...

Dear Laura, you are "secondhelpinglaura" on Can you describe what happened to change your mind? I'm a guy and want to tell you that your face is one of the most beautiful I've ever seen. I'm basing that on the thumbnail on your blog page.

Laura said...

Thanks, anonymous guy! Yeah, I've always had a pretty face, but my body's always been a struggle. At 5'10" and 300 lbs, it's in good proportion, but I'm deceptively fat. Looking at me you'd think I wouldn't "need" surgery, but like I said to be 27 and to have spent 20 of those years obsessing over my size is pretty sad. Not to say that this will stop body obsession; I can say with certainty that food and fat will always be my struggle. Everyone needs a hobby right?

What changed my mind is that I realized I wasn't living. I have anxiety about the tamest social situations, and I'm embarrassed by my awkwardness. I'm sick of discussing the regularity of my exercise routine with friends, family and strangers. I don't want to explain my size anymore. No matter how vocal I can be about fat stereotypes and fat hate, I'm still a walking stereotype with the worst kind of fat hate - toward myself. I want to improve myself - mind and body - and I can't do that as a binge eater, lying to myself about how I really see food. It's both my knife and my band-aid. I don't want to use it to hurt or heal myself anymore.

That's what alcohol is for...AMIRIGHT?

Just kidding. I know it's not a popular decision among the HAES community, but it's mine. I can't rely on other people to make me feel good or bad about it, can't base all my decisions on whether people will like me or not for taking the risk. I've got to do this on my own and as such, I'm accountable only to myself. It's refreshing, really.

So yeah, thanks for the compliment. It's one I always hear before sentences like, "It's a shame we can't get this prom dress in your size." Or, "He was a jerk, anyway." I don't say that to brush you off, but it's just a funny truth for me. Anyhoo if you're near Chicago and wanna put a baby in me, send me your number.

Anissa said...

I am incredibly proud of you. Chuck and I love you very much. I am constantly amazed by your blog. You are brilliant and talented! I want you to be happy and it sounds like you are on the right track!

Sarah said...

Hi Laura--

I respect your decision, we all have to learn to live with food, we all have our own path.

Anyways, have you checked out this site? She's a great read and good source of info.

I'm rooting for you and wishing this goes flawlessly.