Friday, August 17, 2012

Of muscles and skin

For the last couple days at work, we have had students go through registration for the upcoming school year that will be starting at our high school next week.  That has given me the opportunity to see quite a few people that I haven't seen over the summer or even longer, among them parents, students and co-workers.  I have had numerous people stop me as I have been helping at registration, as I was walking across campus or doing a double-take as they were talking to me in my office.  Most are incredibly floored at the weight loss they see in me, some commenting that they didn't even recognize me.  It has been wonderful to hear and I am allowing myself to say thank you to them.  I say "allowing myself" because sometimes saying thank you is the hardest thing in the world. 

I have lost 100 pounds before and I remember that I started putting the weight back on when the compliments started coming my way.  This is hard to express in a clear way, but there is safety in hiding behind weight and a body that no one notices for anything positive.  Since I was abused and sexually attacked, it made me feel incredibly vulnerable and all sorts of trust issues reared their ugly heads.  So I slowly, but surely, put the weight back on.  When I embarked on this particular journey I now find myself on, I kept these feelings in the forefront, knowing I would need to deal with them or I would end up in the same exact spot again.  There would be no running away from them this time. 

When I started, my "Pounds to Go" vase had an intimidating
amount of rocks to go.  Now look at the difference!
Amazingly, there's a difference this time.  First of all, I know I am working hard at this.  It's not as if I'm having the literal conversation with myself saying, Girl, you know you're working hard at this, right??  No, it's not like that but I know I bust my butt to not only put in the physical work but also the emotional work as well.  You all know I exercise a lot, usually about six days a week.  Although, it doesn't feel like this concerted point of exercising per se, it's become a love for me of taking care of my body and feeling invigorated at the same time.  Yesterday, for example, I went on a brisk walk and, as I did more laps, I felt more alive.  It wasn't about me needing to rack up the miles in a crazy way but it was more about just doing it because it made me feel good.  And the emotional work comes at every turn as well.  I need to sit in feelings and deal with them, no matter how uncomfortable or wonderful they may be.  As I shed more weight, more of the "protection" that I put around me is gone.  I can embrace that or run.  Running away is not an option, so here I am, embracing it and dealing with it.

One of the things that I am dealing with right now that is pretty difficult is my body.  I have always been overweight, usually the biggest one in the room.  As my body shrinks, I sometimes look in the mirror and have no clue who is looking back at me.  There is absolutely no denying the fact that I do see a difference in my body, which took me a long time to even acknowledge.  Given that I've lost almost 168 pounds, it would be idiotic for me to say that I see no difference and, frankly, far from the truth.  Right now, my body is a mix of these incredible muscles from all my hard work ... and excess skin.  No matter how much water I drink and how much strength training I am able to do, inevitably there was going to be loose skin because of the significant weight loss.  I totally get that.  It's just that my eyes are wide open.  I'm purposely looking in the mirror instead of trying to avoid it, like I have done so brilliantly most of my life.  There are a lot of stretch marks and a lot of emotional pain that I have worn on my body.  They really are scars of a war.  They tell a story of survival and resilience.  I know that skin removal surgery will be a part of my future, and I am perfectly okay with that, but right now I'm just dealing with wondering what became of me as the weight was coming on over the years.  Why was it okay?  Truthfully, it was never okay.  How do you tell a young girl who was being abused and attacked that there is a proper way to deal with the emotions and it's not through food?  You can't.  We all cope in different ways and that was how I survived.  I do need appreciate everything I have gone through and be thankful that I am still here today.  Now I can move on from that place.

This is not a post about being sad, though.  This is about survival and a lot of joy.  There is joy in coming out of the cocoon, finding beauty on the inside and outside of me and spreading that to other people.  I totally get that I am not doing this alone.  I have so many people supporting me and others who quietly look to me for inspiration.  All of a sudden, I have become this spokesperson of sorts for saying, Yes, you can do it!  If someone would have told me six months ago that I would be in the place I am in now, I would have laughed right in their face.  Here I am though, getting stronger each day and getting down on my knees and thanking God for blessing me in a way I never knew was possible.  Can you imagine how I will feel when I get to my goal weight?  I don't think you'll be able to wipe the grin off my face.


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