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Emotional Weight Loss Journey

Moments We Will Remember Forever In Our Weight Loss Journey

There are days in our lives that we will never forget. Moments and memories forever etched into our minds that have written part of who we are with their mere existence. I want you to think for a moment of a scene from your favorite book, for me it’s always that moment in Great Expectations where Pip is standing in the graveyard at the end of the story and he realizes that his life has come full circle. Think about that scene in your favorite movie; for me it’s Christian Slater looking at Marisa Tome in “Untamed Heart” and saying “I don’t make sense, you don’t make sense, together, we make sense.”

We have moments like these in our lives as well. Little scenes that will stay with us forever like that. I have a lot of those special moments and memories with my Father, I notice that a lot more now that he is gone.  And we have these moments in our weight loss journey as well, and just like in the movies, sometimes they are happy moments and sometimes they are painful moments, but each one of them is a pivotal moment in our weight loss story. I’m about to share one of these moments with you.  I call them “Forever Moments”

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For me one of those days was spending my Birthday at Disneyland in 2005. 

Growing up in Southern California I spent a lot of time at Disneyland as a kid. We went there anytime relatives came to visit, heck we went there once a year just taking me and a friend. I’d say we went easily 2-4 times a year for the majority of my childhood. it wasn’t  until I became a teenager and roller coasters, boys and Magic Mountain and getting in free over and over with “Twickets” became the forefront of my Southern California amusement park date life.

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This Photo was taken in August of 2005 During a Visit to my Parents house in California

I can honestly say at this point, that I have been to Disneyland with everyone in my life that was ever important to me right up to Jason. My love of Disney is likely what lead me to my affinity or maybe I should say obsession, with Tinkerbell.

Jason and I had been married for going on three years at the time. We had just moved into house that we were hoping to someday buy, when we got a call from my Mother that my Dad was using the old playhouse that he and my grandfather had built me when I was a little girl as a storage shed and the floor was falling out and it wasn’t safe anymore. Jason and I packed the dog up in the Jeep Grand Cherokee that we owned at the time and drove to California. It was August, very near my birthday and we spent a couple of days tearing down that playhouse and then went and bought my Dad a Tough Shed and put it up for him, organized it and Jason built my Mother a cat box she was certain she just had to have.

Then Jason decided to take me to Disneyland for my Birthday. Now Jason, let me say, was a lot more fit that I was at the time and even though he was a very big man and soared easily soared above me at 6’2 to my 5’5, he wasn’t what you would consider “over-weight” at the time. He was very much the type of guy that you’d look at and go, yeah he’s a football player or a bouncer or something like that, but he’s big, and intimidating and with his long hair, gauged earrings and tattoos he looked like the type of man who you really didn’t want to end up in a fight with. I can only say that it was this fact that made me think that it was a good idea to wear a little 4x black skort and a tank top to Disneyland when I weighed 420 lbs. Let me define skort too just in case you are unaware; a skort looks like a skirt but it’s really short, so short in fact that you have a little pair of biker shorts attached to it so that it’s not obscene when you walk. I wear running skirts very similar in fashion today and you know what… I wear leggings underneath them because I am ashamed and disgusted my the excess skin that hangs on my thighs. ( Or at least I did up until now! We’ll see how I feel this next summer about putting on a pair of shorts now that my thighs are done.)

I was always the sort of girl who wore long pants, long skirts, and tried to flatter myself even though I was so big I could hardly find clothes that fit me. I to this day have no clue what possessed me to wear that outfit out in public accept that at the time I was a newlywed, my Husband was very happy to be with me, despite my weight we had a very active, healthy and interesting sex life, and I had some semblance of self-confidence when I was on his arm that allowed me to think I could wear whatever I wanted, he thought I was beautiful and that was all that mattered. But it wasn’t really… so that day proved to me.

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This picture was taken during the Disneyland Visit I am writing about in August of 2005. I was 29 years old.

Disneyland as morbidly obese person wasn’t fun at all. The rides that I could ride on were so limited. Jason was so good about it though, he would sit me down somewhere near the ride entrance, then walk over and talk to the Disneyland attendant working at the front of the ride line and explain to him that I was a very large girl and that he didn’t want me to be embarrassed if I couldn’t fit on a ride and ask them first if the ride could accommodate my size. And Disneyland, I have to say, was amazing with their handling of the situation. I was really astounded by that. Anytime Jason asked ahead of time about me fitting on a ride, they would let him take me through the handicapped section and allow me to board before the other passengers so that we could make sure I could fit and that the seat belt would close before there was an entire crowd around to witness it if I couldn’t. They really went to great efforts to make sure I was spared any embarrassment they could afford me and to this day I am a loyal Disney customer because of that treatment.

But what changed me forever that day was the moment that I was talking about earlier. That moment in a movie or book that you will never forget… I remember this moment so vividly that I can close my eyes and see it like it just happened…

I was standing in Fantasy Land in that intersection right in front of the Story Book Whale Ride. I was holding the largest size drink that you could buy in the park, which is always the best choice financially because you get cheaper drinks all day by refilling it. But it’s size was ridiculous, probably 64 ounces, it was a diet coke, the sun was beating down on me and my face was breaking out in a terrible Lupus flare up. I was standing in front of the Matterhorn, that big white mountain that is like a trademark sight of the Disneyland California theme park and I could hear the music from the It’s a Small World ride in the background. I was trying to decide if I wanted to try squeezing into a teacup, or if there was a chance that I would be able to ride the Matterhorn, but was convinced that the Alice in Wonderland Caterpillar ride was the next thing on our to do list when it happened. This nice looking sort of exotic looking man walked by me. When his eyes hit me for the first time there was this moment of blankness of his face where it didn’t quite register. He was walking really fast, like he was trying to catch up with someone or trying to meet someone somewhere in the park, maybe even returning to where his family was standing in line to wait for a spot for the parade. We were thinking of doing that too. Suddenly he stopped dead in his tracks, like hit the brakes and just froze for a moment. Then he looked back at me and I watched as he took me in. It was the briefest moment, seconds really as he looked from my head to my feet and his eyes went wide. He was shocked, literally shocked, by how big I was. The look on his face wasn’t disgust, it wasn’t mean, it was sheer shock, and then when the shock faded, the look that was left was one of disbelief and fear and in that moment, I imagined the conversation he would have when he got to wherever he was going and met up with whoever he was there with, his girlfriend or wife I imagined.

“I saw this woman when I was walking back from the restroom. She was so big, I mean, literally I was shocked at how large her body was. I couldn’t help but wonder how she was even standing there, how strenuous it must be to try to move. She looked like she was in agony standing there. I can’t imagine how someone that large could spend a day at a place like this walking around. Her ankles were as big as my calves and her thighs were literally almost the size of your waist. I can’t imagine, being that heavy, out in this heat. I wonder how a day in a place like this can even be enjoyable. There is no possible way it is safe to let someone that size on a lot of these rides.”

This is a picture of my fellow Disney Loving Friend Joy Muller and I in October 2012

This is a picture of my fellow Disney Loving Friend Joy Muller and I in October 2012

And honestly that conversation I imagined him having after he saw me, is one of the kinder and gentler conversations that I’d ever imagined. Most the time as an obese woman, when someone reacted to my size it was a very negative thing. So for me to imagine this man having a conversation that wasn’t really meant to be mean or cruel truly speaks to how sincere I felt the look of utter shock on his face was.

I don’t think, that until that moment, I really ever realized just how big I was. I know that sounds strange, but I knew that I was fat, heck I knew I was way beyond fat, I knew that my weight was dramatically out of control, I even knew it was dangerous to my health. But I don’t think  ever truly until that moment realized my actual girth. I had been fat most of my life. I’d been chubby since I was a little girl, and I had really always sort of been one of those “If you don’t like me because I’m fat, you’re stupid and that’s much worse so screw you.” types. I’d always put on a very good show and a very strong face about my weight, I tried to play that BBW card like it was a good thing and under appreciated by most men that were just too vain or narcissistic to see beauty in something other than the norm.

For the first time that I could remember I was truly ashamed of my size and for the first time I could actually recall I felt unworthy. I felt like less of a human being because I was so morbidly obese. I felt like I didn’t deserve to be there shocking other people with my mere existence like some circus side-show freak.

Another picture of my fellow Disney loving WLS BFF Joy Muller and I after we ran our FIRST 5K at the Walk from Obesity in Dallas TX Oct. 2012

Another picture of my fellow Disney loving WLS BFF Joy Muller and I after we ran our FIRST 5K at the Walk from Obesity in Dallas TX Oct. 2012

That California trip held two moments like that for me. Moments when I realized for the first time that I was truly so big that I could never go out without expecting, understanding and accepting that someone was likely to be shocked and likely to do or say something negative because of my size.

I can honestly say that day changed me. I realized for the first time that my weight was so out of control that I could no longer function in the everyday world. It was the very beginning of what would later end up being a good couple years of me practically becoming a hermit and only leaving the house when it was absolutely necessary.

One moment, forever etched in my memory, I am so grateful today to not live in fear of how people will look at me and not have to worry about those shocked faces. I’m so thankful to not worry about whether I will fit in a seat somewhere or if I can ride a ride or not. I am so happy to no longer feel so ashamed of myself that I am reluctant to go out with people I love because I don’t want to embarrass them. These are emotions that I’ve left behind me, ones I never have to fear or feel again thanks to the healthy lifestyle changes I have made and how I have used my weight loss surgery as a tool to take back control of my life.

I am an example of Bariatric Surgery gone right and if I can do this, anyone can do this, that’s my message for you all today. If I can do this, you can do this. And if you need some encouragement, I’m right here. We can do this. I just want to share a few more pictures with you of me and some of my favorite people. To really show you how different my life is today!

Me and some of the most wonderful women I could ask for as friends.

Me and some of the most wonderful women I could ask for as friends. Laura, Yvonne, Connie, and Sandy taken at the OAC Convention Awards Dinner October 2012

So now you know one of my “Forever Moments”, how about you share one of yours with me?

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Emotions Surfacing With Too Much Time to Think

Ok let’s get raw, after all, that is sort of what you are used to with me right? I’m one of those blunt, tell it like it is, call it like I see it girls that tend to rub people the wrong way if they don’t appreciate that sort of personality type. I am also one of the most supportive people you will ever meet and if you ever need someone fighting in your corner I am one of the people you know you can count on. I am also very real and very accountable when it comes to owning my own issues and calling myself on the carpet on my own behavior.

I am not always right, in fact, I am often wrong and I have admittedly made some pretty drastically bad financial decisions in the last 10 months. Some I regret, some I don’t, but they are stressing me out a lot and weighing heavy on my conscious as we approach the new year and a time of new budgets, resolutions, goals, and what have you. I’ve made decisions that have made me quickly second guess the path I was currently taking and wondering if I shouldn’t reassess the situation and come up with a plan B.

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There is some added pressure in that I am the one that handles the finance in my household. Nobody else in the house ever has to worry about whether the bills are being paid, about what they are spending, they never have to worry if they can afford to pick up something to eat o the way home and they never really have to ask “Can I buy this?” – I’ve always been the one that does the budgeting, that pays the bills, that writes the checks, that robs Peter to pay Paul, that borrows from the savings, that opens that new account to juggle interest charges, that works on building our credit scores, that pays attention to when things are due. So in those times that my Family has ended up in a situation where we are in over our heads and we’ve bitten off more than we can chew, guess whose fault it is? Mine. All Mine, And when it happens, I am very good about beating myself up over it and making myself miserable over it. I am also really good and sacrificing anything extra for myself without anyone else knowing to try to make myself feel a little less guilty.

Now, it is from that place that my post the other day about Reality Sucking came from. I’ve put my Family in a situation where because of the decisions that we made as far as how to fund our portions of the cost of a year of reconstructive plastic surgery, how to compensate our income for the time off, how to deal with the financial stress that my side of the family was putting on us, and to buy ME a new car that would also serve as a car I would use for my future business plans later. Not to mention how to fund sending me on trips we felt were going to be huge emotional moments and open doors and show me the right path as far as the new career I am seeking out, as well as decisions to buy me certain things I need and wanted after massive weight loss, we’re in over our heads, money is now extremely tight again, and once more our dream of buying a house is slipping through our fingertips. That’s A LOT of weight on my shoulders. The ONLY person in my household that is upset about this situation is me. The only one blaming me, is me. The only one making me feel guilty, is me. But because I do feel all those things, I start instantly trying to get back to a situation where I feel like I can give more than I take or get, because that is just the kind of person I am.

So the plan, as it stands now, as my Family has agreed, is that I continue to spend the next year, focused on my weight loss and achieving my goal weight, focused on exercise, that I have one final session of reconstructive plastic surgery to fix little cosmetic issues like pleated skin on incision lines, a dog-eared incision ending and possibly if I decide to, an arm revision and breast implants. Studying for my Personal Trainers exam, taking my test and making sure that by the end of the year I am able to start working in that industry in one form or another. My goal, is to open my own company as an Independent Personal Trainer in July of next year. These are still my goals. However, there is also a big part of me, feeling guilty as I explained above, that feels that if I go through with this second year plan my Family and I started last year, that come the end of the year instead of having us closer to our long-term goals I will have us closer to bankruptcy

When I start feeling this way, I often have to examine my life, my goals and my plans and figure out an alternate path that I’m more comfortable with. My Family, choose with me, to invest three years of our life to getting me healthy, happy and to getting me into a job that I’d be happy doing. We took that on, and there were several people involved in the decision, from our household to that of my dear friends the Hatcher Family, to my Second Father, all discussing what we felt was best for me, and for all of us in the long run. When we started this, when we first made the decision for me to have the gastric bypass, we did it knowing that once we did it a snowball effect would start. We knew that I would be one of those people who HAD to have the excess skin removal surgeries, and at the time, we decided that it was what needed to happen if I was going to have any chance at living to grow old with my Family, or more truthfully, a chance of ever living at all. We quite honestly, went into this deciding that we’d be ok with never being able to buy a house, and that we would likely, when all was said and done end up nearly $120,000 in debt. ( We fully expected back when this started to end up having to cash pay for both my gastric bypass and my plastics and expected the total to be about this much ) We even made comments about looking at the bypass surgery like the downpayment on a house, and it being something we new we had to do to make sure I was still around at 60 or 70 to enjoy the life we were building. We made comments about looking at the cost of the Plastics to be like buying a fancy car, and how fixing my body would be more important to my Family than a nice car.

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Now you would think, with a Family that is that supportive, and with us getting so lucky with how our insurance coverage ended up playing out, that the fact that we came out of this at more like $60,000 deep, and more than 1/3 of that is wrapped up in an unexpected new car loan so really only about  $40,000 deep rather than what we expected would make me feel better, or more accomplished, or like I really did a great job or something. But it doesn’t. The fact that my Family can’t buy a house right now, when we really really want to, and when the economy is best suited for it, all because we’ve spent two years FIXING the me I broke by shoveling ridiculous amounts of food in my mouth makes me feel like an utter asshole, there isn’t any other way for me to say it. I feel like a big fat giant ball of stupid for the fact that my family has to suffer financially while I get my life back, because the only way I could find to cope with my feelings was by stuffing my face and blowing my body up to a point that it was permanent damaged, scared and unable to every shrink back to normal.  Ever seen one of those cartoons where the fat person is floating in the air and there is someone on the ground blowing them up with an air pump? That’s the vision in my head of what I did to myself, and now, everyone around me pays for it as they help me fix the most irresponsible behavior I ever exhibited in my life.

Once this sort of self loathing kicks in, my brain starts to panic and look for the quickest exit and the quickest “fix”.

That’s where I have been lately. In that space in my head where I am trying to find the fix to everything. The answer that solves all my problems and makes me feel a little less guilty. I’m not sure what the answer is yet, I’m not sure if it is a change of direction that is needed, heck I’m not even sure that it’s not completely mental. I may very well be at some stage of my emotional weight loss journey where I need to accept that it is ok for my Family and for me to love me enough to put ourselves so in debt to get me here and accept it, and know that in a few years, this too shall pass, and I’ll still be the happier healthier me that we did this all for.

I’m coming to all these realizations, that a lot of people take to be negative, when to me, really they aren’t negative, they are just, finally me seeing the difference between dreams and realistic goals. There was a time that I believed I would be dead before I was 40 and that wearing a pair of size 8 jeans or a bikini in public was about as realistic as me thinking I could ride in space shuttle or walk on the moon. There was a time when I believed that likelihood of me every running, let alone running miles was about as likely as me being a famous singer.

Lately my dreams have been of becoming something like The Ellen DeGeneres meets Chris Powell of the weight loss community. I have dreams of being on a show like The Biggest Loser or Extreme Make Over-Weight Loss Edition, only having it focus on not only people LOSING the weight, but on people LIVING after the weight loss, because that is the truly amazing, and most emotional part of the journey. And there was a part of me, there for a moment, that really started to believe that maybe if I tried hard enough, I could make that dream happen. Maybe if I contacted the right people, got the right person to notice me, pitched my idea to the right network, got on the right reality game show, that somehow I could make that happen, and that really big dream, became the one I was chasing for a moment instead of the more realistic one that I had when I started this whole process a year ago.

c00d9cfa50a711e29b9b22000a1f96c5_6I have a lot of internal struggles going on and quite a bit of guilt, and I am sure any therapist out there could tell me that this is all being amplified and brought into the forefront because I am sitting here in a recliner, recovering from plastic surgery, with way too much time on my hands to think about this stuff rather than being at my usual go-go work-work-out-work-work-out sort of pace and that three-week of heavy-duty pain killers have my emotions a bit raw. You think? But that’s what this blog is for, that’s what it’s always been about, and it’s these harsh realities and moments of feeling absolutely desperate that caused me to create this online space. So I’ll keep writing about them and I’ll keep sharing these moments as long as I keep experiencing them.

Today I weight 164 lb. and I still feel like I’m Desperately Seeking Slender, I’m just looking for it in places other than the scale these days.

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Author: Pandora Williams

Author of Desperately Seeking Slender

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