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