I wanted to write about holding the hand of a friend who learned this weekend that her husband cheated on her. I wanted to tell you about the experience of watching her numb her pain through a lot of alcohol, and those moments when it surfaced still–her contorted face, her tears, her quivering lips. I wanted to tell you how I empathized with her as she questioned everything she could have done–change her hair, improve her smile, work on her body.
I wanted to write about how spending time with her triggered me. And taught me. I wanted to share how validated I felt when my boyfriend confirmed that I’d been on both sides of that situation–I’ve cheated and I’ve been cheated on.
And maybe I should, but not today.
Today, it’s my weight that I will share.
Not the number, but the impact.
I have always struggled with my weight. I went on my first diet at the age of 10. I felt shame when in 4th grade, I had to present an “About Me” poster to the class and others whispered about my then 100 pounds.
When I was even younger, my father brought my attention to the stretch marks in between my thighs and told me I had them because I was gaining and losing weight and gaining it back again.
In my childhood home, Richard Simmons was a household name. Workout videos had space on our shelf. Weight Watchers meetings were family affairs for my mother and I. I knew of Atkins, South Beach, and a thousand unnamed soup diets.
In college, I developed an eating disorder that cost me my hair, my grades, my major, and taught me a false security in controlling food. I had to stand on a scale backwards at the college nutrition center. In my adult life, my now ex-husband saw me return to Weight Watchers and throw myself on the bed, bawling when I gained 5.0 lbs.
My current partner has engaged in body shaming. He’s pointed out the many things wrong with my body. He’s taken me to a consultation for an expensive weight-loss program he heard advertised on the radio. He’s pushed me to try on smaller sizes I knew would not fit. He’s insisted on my wearing pantyhose and covering up my legs. I’ve lost a lot of weight in our relationship to try and amend his unkind behaviors.
Most recently, I signed up with a health coach who tried to combine nutritional training with pseudo-psychotherapy. He was supportive, but lived his lifestyle unwaveringly, and I couldn’t do it. Correction, I didn’t want to do it. I found it stifling and too restrictive. I found him too overwhelming and oppressive. I constantly felt I was doing it–getting it–being wrong.
I’ve weighed nearly 300 pounds. I’ve weighed just above 160 pounds. I do not know where I sit now. Under 200, above 170. Somewhere that puts me in a 12/14.
My mother was severely overweight. And she still is. She’s also in Stage 5 kidney failure and is currently refusing dialysis. I do not want to be her.
I write all of this to say that I’m at the point in my codependency recovery where I can recognize unhealthy behaviors and patterns in myself. And one of the most pervasive is around food.
Controlling it. Giving it a higher power status beyond what it is. Struggling with guilt and shame before, during, and after a meal. Eating my emotions.
I obsessively wrap my fingers around my opposite wrist several times throughout the day to measure how big they are. I can tell when I’ve gained weight, when I’m bloated, or swelling by this very simple move. I’ve stopped using the scale because I’m afraid of it. I know I am not as small as I was a year ago–still deep in the throes of grieving my lost relationship–and yet I’m not at my highest either, a seemingly small but important “win.”
I once joked with a friend that I was going to join all the 12-step programs. Overeaters Anonymous is a thing. I’ve engaged in compulsive eating. I’ve engaged in emotional eating. I’ve stood in my kitchen, not exactly hungry, but not emotionally satisfied, so I ate to restore the good feelings I couldn’t seem to find on my own.
But I don’t think I need another 12-step program right now. I need to find a better way to approach food. A healthier way.
I’m not sure what that is. His mom is a member of Weight Watchers and says it’s helped her. Do I dare try this for a third time? Is this a sign of insanity?
I don’t feel I can do this on my own.
Sure, I’ve had great success losing weight in the past. I’ve lost 100 pounds simply by exercising and eating as if I were a diabetic. I was also on Metformin to help me get pregnant at the time. I lost 100 pounds again years later by cutting out sugar and most carbs and counting macros and calories and bouncing from health coach to health coach to health coach. That seems like madness to me.
The bottom line is this: I want to be healthy and happy.
I want to make healthy choices.
I want more energy.
I want to stress less when I pull my pants on in the morning.
I want to enjoy clothes shopping again.
I want to make my outside match my inside.
I want to make me a greater priority.