I started my weight loss journey long before I signed up for surgery. That journey has been going on almost as long as “Don't Stop Believin'” has been over-played and over-sung – because I was born in the early 80's! Get it? Ha! I have been that typical yo-yo dieter for most of my life. I can always lose about 30-50 pounds on my own and then I put it all back and then some. I've done some crazy diets over the years, like the cabbage soup one and this one where you could only have one type of food per day – protein on Tuesday and veggies on Thursday, that kind of thing. I did the big ones – Weight Watchers, good ol' diet and exercise – even a weight loss pill that is now off of the market because a lot of the patients that took it, well... They died.
I went through the typical years of self loathing and self hate, worried about what other people thought of me, shrinking into myself in public, sitting in pain to try to avoid taking up space in this world. I was always wanting to weigh a certain amount, look a certain way be who I'm “supposed” to be. I suffered years of abuse from those in my life whom I trusted to love me but over the recent years I have learned to distance myself from those who made me feel less than, and it's incredible what happens when you can make those changes.
The pre-op process for the surgery is intense! I have had to go for a lot of appointments, blood work, a gastroscopy, ultrasounds, two sleep studies, and the list goes on and on. So far, the most formative appointment was the short time I spent with the psychotherapist to pass my psychiatric evaluation. I have certainly struggled in the past with some mental health disorders; post partum depression and post partum OCD both combined lead me to have a three week stint in a locked in-patient psychiatric hospital – so I have seen my fair share of psych professionals. This was a different beast though. Ultimately I did get cleared by the psychotherapist but it did bring up some of my crazy feelings around food and body image, particularly when she asked if I had any troubled personal relationships or any relationships that breed negative connotations surrounding food and body image.
The conversation went a bit like this: Me: “Do you mean if my mom... Well she photoshopped me to make me look skinny before she put pictures of me on her social media...” Her: “Really?” Me: “Yeah. I mean, at least she's bad at photo editing and so it is pretty hilarious!" Her: “Would you say that you use humor to mask your pain?" Me: "You bet your ass I do.” Going into this whole process I have maintained a positive outlook and have enjoyed every part of the process as a part of the ride, however, this little shadow of doubt started poking into the back of my mind. Not doubt related to my decision making, but doubt in that self love I've spent the last 33 years developing.
Everyone in my life is so positive about the surgery, so happy I've made this decision, so happy that I'll finally be smaller... I am thankful for the show of support, but I started thinking “is there something wrong with me now?”
Now that I have finally gotten to the point of loving my body for the hugs it has given and received, the lives it has helped save throughout my career, the times my body almost failed me and then came back from the brink. My body has made a very cool mini-human, and it has rebounded from the times it couldn't quite finish making other ones.
My body has been broken and bruised and depressed. My body has gotten me through every bad day I've ever had and has been there to celebrate all of the good times my privileged life has had to offer. No, there is nothing wrong with me now and I refuse to believe that there is. Yes, I want to make a change and work to be a healthier, less pained version of myself, but this body is also a lot of who I am.
Every formative experience in my life has been in this body and I need to honor that journey. When I get to my weight loss “after” I don't want to look back at myself in a negative light. I do not want to look back to see sad, dreary “I hate myself” before pictures, because I don't. I am beautiful now, I will be beautiful in the future and despite what I have been told I have always been beautiful.
I am not perfect, I have made mistakes and I am certain that I will continue to make many mistakes into the future. There are times when I could be a better friend, a better mother, spouse, nurse, employee, co-worker, boss, daughter... I dear say that imperfections highlight beauty instead of darkening it though, because in my experience it's not about being perfect, it's about seeing the problematic imperfections, acknowledging that they exist and working to improve into the future. After all, to err is human, and that's what we are. Catch you on the flip side, Elise