Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Becoming unrecognizable

I have my moments when I look in the mirror and I still see the old 417-pound me staring back.  Then I have other times when I really don't recognize the person looking back at me at all.  That happened to me today.  As people are coming back to work or I'm seeing other people in my life who I have not seen for months, a few have told me that they sincerely did not recognize me.  I would think to myself, "Yeah, right!  They're exaggerating a little bit."  They have said  I look like my younger sister, which is a compliment I like, I won't lie.  Who doesn't like to be told they look younger?  I've even been told that I'm pretty, which is a new thing for me to digest.

What happened today is that I had my school picture taken at work.  That picture is the one that goes in the yearbook and gets put on our staff badge that we wear.  I know I have already posted these pictures on Facebook or shown some people in person so I'm sorry if you've already seen it, but for the benefit of those who don't know me other than this blog, I'll post the pics below.  On the left is the picture on my staff badge from last year at this time.  The picture on the right is on my new staff badge from earlier today.

When they took my picture today and had me look at it to see if it was alright or if I should retake it before it went to print, it was no big deal.  Yeah, looks pretty good, let's go with it.  But it wasn't until I got back to my desk and pulled out my badge from last year that I sat there feeling pretty dumbfounded.  I put the two badges together side by side and then the tears started to fill my eyes.  I could see what some people were talking about when they said I was unrecognizable to them.  I have a jawline, there's an actual collarbone, my hair is shinier, there's a freshness to my skin.  There are even dimples on my face.  I am not having the moment of being so uncomfortable in the heat that I was mentally telling the photographer to hurry up and take the freaking picture because I was feeling sweaty.  I just feel so much healthier and present. 

I couldn't stop looking at the two pictures today as they sat on my desk.  I was super busy and managed to do my work, but thoughts of where I was a year ago stayed in the forefront of my mind.  I was in so much pain and couldn't even recognize how far that went.  The pain I'm referring to isn't even the physical pain, even though that was significant.  I had out of control diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, numerous areas of pain in my hand and back and was recovering from having had cancer removed from my body.  Even more than that, though, was just an inner unhappiness that I never really talked about, let alone owned up to, even to myself.  Sometimes in life we're just going through the motions, putting one foot in front of the other and not really acknowledging the fact that we want things to be better.  I so desperately was in that place of wanting something other than what I had. 

Fast forward to a year later and things are significantly different.  There is a huge change in me.  Yes, the most obvious area would be physical changes.  Yet, what I mostly refer to is the change in spirit.  If I couldn't feel it internally, it appears physically in that newer picture.  If you look at me, you simply see a different person.  This process of weight loss is the most challenging and, at the same time, most wonderful event that has happened in my life.  I'm finding myself more and more each day, the part of me that had become lost and was afraid to have a voice.  I think back to the past and it really is no wonder that that part was lost.  I never thought I was a very strong person but the truth is that I am.  I'm braver and more courageous than I ever gave myself credit for.  The fact is that I'm going through such a major life change right now and facing each new day and each new adventure head-on, instead of running away from things that I have feared.  When I had lost a significant amount of weight before and I started getting attention for it, that is the time I started putting the weight back on.  This time I knew that I needed to forge forward.

Sometimes I do feel like a little girl in some respects, manuevering around in a world that is foreign to me.  This is the smallest I have ever been, yet I know I will continue getting smaller throughout this journey.  I can't identify with being the biggest one in the room any longer.  When we were taking a group staff photo on some stairs on our high school campus, I was standing in the back row where I would usually stand, reserved for the taller members of our staff.  It's usually just a sprinkling of women mixed with men in that back row.  I actually felt small standing next to some of them today.  That's a feeling I can't say I've ever had before.  These are the exact moments when I feel like a stranger in my body.  While some people may view me as Kick-Ass Kathy for losing so much weight and seeming to do it with ease, trust me when I tell you that I am going through a very emotional process with a huge amount of vulnerability.  With all of this said, I would rather be nowhere else right now than this exact spot.  I have so much to be grateful for and I don't spend even one minute taking any of this for granted.


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