In Sex Love and Obesity Part 32 I hinted that the end of mine and Peter’s relationship wasn’t nearly as dramatic as I had expected it would be. Truthfully, after nearly two years of constant and consistent drama, the ending was sort of anti-climactic.

It was the week of Peter’s birthday. His birthday was on a Monday. Since we were both working all week, we had decided to celebrate his birthday the following weekend. He wanted to go out on Friday night. I had taken him out to lunch the day of his birthday, to celebrate. We had a nice lunch together and everything appeared to be normal. Peter seemed a little withdrawn, but I knew he was struggling with how busy I was with the new job and chalked his behavior up to that.

I didn’t buy him a present or a card.

Sex, Love and Obesity - At the Bar

It was mostly a matter of time and money. I was waiting on my first paycheck from the new job, my funds were tight, and I had decided that taking him out to lunch on his birthday and then out to dinner and out for drinks the following weekend should suffice as a present.

My alarm had gone off at 4:30 am that Friday morning. I’d worked until 9:00 pm that day and then rushed back to my apartment to clean up and head out with Peter. I don’t remember most of the evening. I was exhausted.

I’m sure I got stoned before we headed out for the night, and I am pretty sure I was that, hardly able to walk sort of drunk before we left the bar that night.

I spent most of the evening at the bar in a conversation with the bartender about work. I don’t remember getting back to the apartment that night.

When I woke up the next morning, Peter was gone.

He didn’t wake me up to say goodbye, there was no note. He was just gone. Instantly I picked up the phone to call him and see where he was. When he answered, he told me that he was just too upset with me to stay at my house that night. He had gotten out of bed at about 2:30 am called a friend of ours to tell her what was going on and decided to leave.

He was upset that I hadn’t done more for his birthday. Upset that I hadn’t bought a present or gotten a card. I tried explaining that I had really assumed my buying him lunch and paying for our evening out had been his present. But his feelings were hurt. That was all compounded by the fact that I had spent the evening talking to the bartender about work instead of being focused on him.

I told him I thought he was acting immature and self-centered. He told me he wasn’t sure he could do this anymore and needed some time to think things over. I wasn’t going to tolerate another one of Peter’s attention needy temper-tantrums. H needed to make up his mind and decide what he wanted. I wasn’t going to play the attention needy games with him.

The next day he was dropping off the last of my things.

Peter stood in my living room, telling me that he had decided he was breaking up with me. He told me he was depressed. He explained that there was something wrong with him, that he didn’t know what it was, he didn’t feel like himself anymore and he needed time to find himself and figure it all out. I begged him not to go. I asked him to go back to therapy with me, to get help, to act like a grown up with me and try to work out our problems. That’s what you do in a committed relationship right?

But I had given Peter an ultimatum. I had demanded that he make up his mind and decide what he wanted. I refused to play the “I’m leaving,” game where he held the relationship hostage to get his way or get me to do what he wanted me to do. He told me he loved me. Said he was sorry. As I cried, he explained that he didn’t want to hurt me. This was just something he had to do.

I warned Peter that if he ended it, if he left that way, there wasn’t any coming back from it. He’d never see me again. We’d never be friends. There wouldn’t be any third chance at a relationship with me. He accepted all of that. Then, in a mushy “I’ll always love and always be here if you need me,” good-bye speech that should have been scripted in some sort of romantic drama, he walked out my door. It was the last time I’d ever see him.

I knew there was someone else when he walked out the door.

I just knew Peter too well. In all the time I’d known him, there was always some girl he was chasing. Somehow, I just knew that there was no way Peter would walk out the door and end his relationship with me unless there was another woman he was interested in and someone else he thought would give him all the attention I wasn’t.

I’d made perfect sense. He’d been working at his new job for a while.  For the first time since he had moved to North Carolina he was surrounded by people other than me and my friends. We were going through this period where I had taken the new job, things weren’t “perfect” for him in the relationship anymore because he wasn’t getting enough attention.

Sex, Love and Obesity - Walking Out

Somehow, I just knew that not getting the attention he wanted for the last few weeks had caused him to look for it somewhere else. I asked him, as he was leaving, if there was someone else. He denied it. Of course, I found out just a few weeks later from a mutual friend that he had already been interested in a girl and work that had started showing him attention.

At first, it hurt.

I couldn’t believe Peter had broken up with me. Somehow, I always thought I would be the one breaking up with him. For a couple of days, I blew up his phone with messages like “I really can’t believe you are doing this,” and “I just really don’t understand how you just walk away like this after everything else we’ve been through.” I spent the rest of most of that weekend trying to smoke and drink away my broken heart.

Sunday evening, when I wasn’t looking, Manny managed to get into some Halo Top ice cream I was eating. It scared the hell out of me. He had been so sick; I was so worried that this would cause another setback and land him in the hospital again. In a frantic panic, not knowing who else to call, I called Peter and begged him to come over and take Manny to the vet with me. As usual, I had been smoking weed and drinking. I could drive and I needed to get Manny to the vet.

When Peter answered the phone, I could tell that he wasn’t alone. It sounded like he was at a party. He told me that he was out drinking with his friends and that I should be a responsible puppy mom and call an Uber. I came unleashed on him. Lashing out at because he wouldn’t come help when Manny was involved. I was angry, hurt, drunk, and not thinking rationally at all. I was in an absolute state of panic. Did Uber or Taxi’s even allow pets?

I hung up the phone and called Clark.

After Peter refused to help me, I think I said something hateful like “I hope you die in a fire.” or “I hope you burn in hell.” or something like that. I hung up and called Clark. As usual, Clark came to my rescue. As soon as he heard what was going on and that Manny was involved, he was on the phone with a friend of his that lived nearby arranging us a ride to the emergency vet hospital.

Manny ended up being fine. My panic was all for nothing. But it’s strange how the mind and heart works sometimes. I begged Peter not to leave. Begged him to stay and work things out with me, tried to remind him that if we worked through our problems in an adult like fashion, we’d end up with a stronger relationship in the end. I was so ready to forgive Peter for anything and everything that he had done to me. But the moment that man abandoned Manny, I was done with him. Done.

It was like a switch went off and suddenly I just didn’t care anymore. Any feelings I once had were gone. I never wanted to see his face or hear his voice again. I didn’t care if he lived, died, got married, had kids, or choked on a pretzel.

Just like that, it stopped hurting.

Sex, Love and Obesity - Self Discovery

Looking back, I’m not sure that it ever really hurt at all. I think I was more angry than I was hurt. On one hand, I was angry at myself. Angry that I had gone back to begin with. Angry that I had stayed even after finding out about his online affairs and angry that I had allowed him into my head space for another five months. I was mad at myself for believing in him, for believing in us and for buying into his shitty “Happily ever after,” bullshit a second time around.

On the other hand, I was proud of myself. This time around, I hadn’t let him control me. I didn’t let him convince me that I wasn’t worthy of the job offer I had received. I didn’t let him push me into moving back in with each other.

This time around, I had held my ground. I knew that I was worthy of the job. I was confident in my abilities as a Trainer. Somehow, I knew that there was something out there waiting for me. I didn’t know what it was yet. But I felt free.

Peter had given me the gift of Freedom.

That was the biggest realization of all for me. I didn’t feel sad. I felt free. Wanting to be loved had trapped me in an emotional cage. So long as the person on the outside holding the key, offered me a promise of love and happiness, I was stuck inside the cage. I couldn’t escape. I couldn’t leave. Because, the chance that this might be the only person that would love me and that this might just be as good as it would get held me prisoner.

The promises of “love” and a life of “happily ever after” and made me stay in that cage with my wings tucked in so that I would fit. If Peter wanted me, I was stuck in the cage wanting to be wanted and afraid that nobody else would ever want me again. But now, it was like Peter had unlocked the cage and walked away leaving the door open.

At first, I was scared to walk out. I danced around the door peeking to figure out whether it was safe. But once I stepped out, I realized I was free. As I held out my arms, I realized they weren’t chained to anyone or anything anymore. Instead, the broken chains dangled from my wrists and I realized I could move about freely.

For the first time, I was actually Free.

It was a strange and beautiful feeling. Not being bound to anyone or anything. There was no relationship I needed to end. No fear of hurting someone when I left. No loose strings to tie up. Nobody I had to tell that I was in love with someone else. There was nobody I had to answer to. Nobody that I had to explain my actions to.

For most of my life, I had felt like a marionette. Someone else was always in charge of my feelings. They could control how I moved and how I behaved with the promise of love or the threat of taking it away. There was always someone pulling my strings. From the time I had left Oregon I was obligated to someone. Whether it was my ex-husband, Clark, or Peter. But now, all those strings had been severed.

Throughout this entire story when Peter has contacted me, he has complained that I have painted him out to be the monster. That I made him the villain in order to paint myself out as the hero. He’s so wrong. Peter is not the villain of my story. Obesity was.

Obesity had been my puppet master.

For as long as I can remember obesity and a desire to be loved had been the cross I bore. They crossed over each other. Not feeling loved, drove me to food for comfort. Food loved me when nobody else did. My unhealthy love affair with food, lead me to obesity. Obesity captured me, it tortured me. When it was through with me, I was left feeling worthless and unlovable.

Once I had broken up with food, battled obesity and come out a triumphant survivor on the other end, those feelings of unworthiness still existed. They drove me to unhealthy relationship after unhealthy relationship desperately seeking someone to love me. Before I broke a chain, I attached another one. Allowing my fear of not being loved, not being wanted and being alone control what I did, where I went, and who I was.

Sex, Love and Obesity - Obesity was my Puppet master

Peter broke all my chains.

Peter, wanting me all to himself, had created a wrecking ball sort of effect. He wanted so much to be the only person that I was in any way tied to. As a result, to keep his love and achieve that happily ever after fantasy he promised I had detached myself from the chains I had to anyone else. My ex-husband knew it was over and I was never coming back. There was no longer a chain binding me to him. I had ruined any chance at a future other than a friendship with Clark because of my relationship with Peter.

With those chains all broken, I began searching for my independence. I began trying to find my wings, learning to fly and become who I was meant to be. But Peter didn’t want me to fly. He didn’t want me to be this fiercely independent, strong, brave woman. He wanted my entire world to revolve around him. The only way to do that was to keep me in that emotional cage.

We had been a toxic combination. My need to be loved and his need to be the center of someone’s world. I stayed because he loved me, trapped in an emotional cage I was afraid to escape because, what if nobody else ever loved me? It was a perfect storm. An emotional hurricane of a relationship. Hurricane Peter.

After the hurricane comes a rainbow.

But now, the storm was over. Peter didn’t want me anymore. He’d walked away, leaving the door to my cage open. There was nothing to be afraid of anymore. The worst was over. I didn’t have a man that loved me the way I wanted to be loved. But I had plenty of friends that loved me enough to make up for that. I didn’t have a man that wanted me the way I wanted to be wanted. But I had plenty of things I wanted for myself that would keep me going.

The emotional hurricane of the relationship was over. The emotional abuse I had endured at Peter’s hands had ended. I had survived it and thankfully, in this round of the hurricane, there really had not been much environmental damage. In fact, as the storm ended, it was like there was a rainbow bridge leading out the door of my cage. The sky was a bright blue, full of hope and the sun was shining, promising a warm touch to my skin to fight the chill of the cold fear of loneliness.

I felt free. For the first time in my life. I tip toed out of the cage onto the rainbow and fluttered my wings freely for the first time in almost twenty years. Waiving my hands around I realized there were no chains and no strings. I looked above my head, searching for the wooden cross controls of a marionette and for the first time, I didn’t see them.

I was not afraid.

Sex, Love and Obesity - Unafraid

It shocked me at first. The fact that I wasn’t afraid. It was almost as if I had been afraid of being afraid for so long that I was scared to do anything that might make me feel fear. But there I was, looking around an apartment that was all mine, and things that were all mine, at a life that was all mine. Nobody was in control of me but me. I didn’t have to be afraid of nobody loving me.

It was like a breath of fresh air. A freedom I had been afraid to have, never thought I wanted, and suddenly, appreciated more than anything else. Peter had set me free and free felt good.

Really, fucking good.

I could do whatever I wanted. Whenever I wanted. I had a whole new life ahead of me. A new job to work hard at. Friends to hang out with. And maybe, just maybe, without the facade of the unrealistic pursuit of “happily ever after” hanging over my head, I had a chance of finding a real happiness.

Strangely, I felt like I deserved that. I deserved to be happy. The words my father had said to me when he told me he was scared that obesity was going to kill me. “I just want you to have a happy and healthy life.”

Yes, I deserved to be happy.

The next morning, as I stood in front of the mirror putting on my makeup, I caught myself smiling and thinking “Damn I’m kind of cute. Actually, I’m more than kind of cute. I am really fucking cute.” As I drug the mascara wand over my lashes, I heard that same voice in my head again. “I’m not ugly. I’m not fat. But who cares if I was? I’m not unlovable. I am good person. I’m a kind person. Someday some guy is going to feel really lucky to have me.”

I didn’t recognize the voice at all. It was a voice I’d never heard before. But I wondered where she had been all my life and why I was only finding her now. If I’d heard that voice inside me eight or ten years ago, I might have made better decisions, gotten here faster.

I put on my eyeliner, splashed on some foundation and decided that the voice I was hearing was my own. A voice I hadn’t been able to hear before because she was locked away hidden underneath fear and feelings of unworthiness.  But now that she was talking, I was listening.

I brushed on some blush and patted down my pixie hair cut with a smile. That pixie cut was doing me justice. It was well suited to the newfound freedom I was feeling. I was a pixie. A free pixie.

Never to be caged again.

In my mind, I envisioned the emotional cage I had once been in. I kicked the door shut and locked it. Promising myself I’d never allow myself to get trapped in there again. Occasionally, I close my eyes and I think of that cage. When I do, there is a wooden cross at the bottom of it. The cross that once controlled me. The cross that I tied myself to with strings of unhealthy relationships. “Obesity” and “Desire to be Loved” are written clearly on each board.

Occasionally, when I have those moments where I feel worthless, I take those feelings and I throw them in that cage and remind myself that is where they belong.

I do not belong in a cage. There was a time that I allowed my feelings of unworthiness and my lack of self-confidence to cause me to forget that I had wings and that I was meant to fly. A time when I allowed fears of being alone and not being loved to allow me to forget that I dreams to chase. Those days are over.

There was a time that I thought that losing weight would solve all my problems. That suddenly I would be skinny, everything would be fine, and someone would love me the way I had always dreamed of. That misconception caused me to make a whole lot of bad decisions when it came to sex, love, obesity and life after weight loss.

Here is what I know to be true today. Losing weight won’t fix all your problems. Nobody can love you if you don’t love yourself. And most importantly, you’ll never find love or happiness if you sit in a cage with surrounded by unhappiness and fear.

Pandora Williams author of Desperately Seeking Slender is an ISSA Certified Personal Trainer and Cooper Institute Approved Wellness Coach Trained in Weight Management Strategies. Her training and coaching services are offered exclusively through GoGirl Fitness Studio.