Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Story of Matt

Once upon a time, when I was a hot 140-pound 19-year-old going to college, I had a friend named Matt. Matt and I met at college. We did everything together. I was secretly (or not so secretly?) in love with Matt, who was several years old then I was. I would imagine what it would be like to hold his hand, kiss him, tell him how I felt. But since he was already in a serious dating relationship, I kept my feelings to myself. I had a long distance relationship with a guy myself at the time, so Matt figured I was pretty much taken. But there was some major chemistry between us. And we loved each other in that best-friend kind of way.

Matt and I had some great times at school, and then I left and got married. He got married, too, to the chick he was dating all that time. I even went to his wedding. We were happy for each other and still had a special connection, a deep friendship.

Years went by, and we lost touch. Maybe a decade went by before we found each other again... online. By then I was divorced, but Matt was still married. We each had several children. We lived several states apart, but Matt began calling me more and more often, sharing the bits of his unhappy marriage that he was sure was about to end. We talked for months. He wanted to come and see me. I was very clear with Matt that I would not have him showing up on my doorstep, because I absolutely refuse to be "the other woman" who contributes in any way to a failed marriage. So we continued our telephone friendship, supporting each other in a loving way. Secretly (again?) I was still in love with Matt. I was hopeful that IF his marriage ended, he and I could have a shot at love together. Matt often hinted at the same feelings, but I continued to encourage him to stay with his wife and kids and work it out if at all possible, for their sakes.

One evening Matt called to chat. He travelled for work, often, and would call me to talk on his long drives. He was talking about his wife. "She has gained a lot of weight," he said. "I think she is depressed. She is eating a lot and getting really big." "Oh, that's too bad," I said, "how much has she gained?" Matt said, "I don't know but she is getting extremely fat. I worry about her health." My curiosity got the best of me. "What clothing size is she now? 22? 24?" Matt laughed. "Don't be mean! She isn't THAT fat. She is probably in an 18."

I felt a flush over my face. I wondered what Matt would think if he knew that I was a size 26. This was a side of Matt I had never heard nor seen. I mean, maybe most guys think that way. Maybe most PEOPLE think a 22 or 24 is huge... and maybe it is. But I always had in my head that Matt would love me at any size. (And to his credit, he still loved his wife. I am probably projecting a bit, here). The next thing out of Matt's mouth is stuck in my head forever:

"Well, Lyn, it IS hard for me to be attracted to her as much now. And I don't really feel the same way about her anymore. I mean, if YOU weighed 200 pounds I am sure I would lose a lot of respect for you, too."

It just cracked me inside when I heard him say that. It killed me. It made me feel so ashamed. He had no IDEA I not only weighed 200 pounds, I weighed nearly 300 pounds! We had so many years of close friendship and trust. He was (and still is) one of my best friends. But when he said that... well, it changed things.

He still calls me. He is still married and his wife is still "fat." We don't talk about weight anymore. To him, I am still the 140-pound hot 19-year-old he secretly loved. I cannot even fathom the look in his eyes if he saw me now. Even if I lose 40 more pounds. Or 60 more. And that changed the possibility of me probably ever seeing him again face to face. When he asks to visit, I say no. And when I post pictures on my blog, I cut my head off... unrecognizable.

I didn't sit down to post about that, but it just came out. I did sit down to post about a new formula for success I am brewing up. I am going to start a "Habit-a-Week Challenge" on this site. I will probably post a sign-up sheet and then start posting one new healthy habit each Monday for 16 weeks. I got the idea from a course I took from a nutritionist at a hospital many years ago. You take it slow, make one small change each week, and by the end of the course you have a whole bunch of new healthy habits and everyone in the course lost weight. It's different in that you don't have to set a weight loss goal. You just commit to following each step... one per week. And in this way you can pull yourself out of a rut. Get your mojo back. Make big changes painlessly. Get back to losing weight. So if you are stuck in a rut or just want to revamp your program, watch for my challenge and join me in some new healthy habits!

Ya know, I think someday I *will* call Matt up and invite him over for a visit. We can sit on the porch swing and talk about old times. And I can tell him about my weight loss journey. Maybe then he will look at me with *new* respect. I can only hope.

21 comments:

Your Best Friend said...

Hey, found this blog a while back while looking for inspiration in my weight-loss journey. (Always-been-fat, size 24 in high school, eating disorder in college, size 18 now--doing it the healthy way. 30+ lbs lost [I don't weigh myself, really] since I started)

Whew! Anyhoo, maybe it's because I've never known what it felt like to be a normal size, but I think I might have mentioned something to matt. No way would I have let him get away with that. I almost want to scream to my grandparents about the weeks of not eating, or puking what I ate, when they talk about "How good I used to look, so stop eating (candy, fast-food, etc)" bleh. Yeah, I looked good, but I was MISERABLE. But they're old, and don't deserve that weight on their shoulders.

Good luck, and be proud enough of what you've accomplished to tell him. :)

Alexia@theonelastthing.com said...

Wow, that was intense.

Most of my past experience was people wanting to change me into something acceptable. I'm sure some would be horrified to see how much in the opposite direction I went before I started losing finally! Oh, well. I'm pretty confident most days, but there are some I wouldn't want to run into just yet for fear of the reaction. I'm grateful for my husband who encourages me for my health, but loves me the way I am.

CatsPuke said...

Goodness me, what a story!

Don't invite Matt over, if he can talk about his wife like that then he's obiously not the person you remember him to be.

Neither is he worth the effort of being shoulder to cry on, or your worries about what he might think.

Don't do this so you can invite him over someday. Remember you're doing this for yourself, not anybody else, be them past persons, present persons or future persons. It's.Only.You.That. Matters.

Love yourself, not who you might be.

CP x

Amber said...

Good friends are with you through thick and thin. What kind of friend loses respect for you because of the size of your body? I can understand a friend being concerned for you health and mental well being, but to just judge someone and lose respect for someone because of his/her weight is really shallow. I hope you find the courage to say something to him and stand up for yourself no matter what size you are. He sounds like an ass.

I have a lot of friends that live in other states and I maybe see them once a year. They are mostly thin. Sometimes I do fantasize about seeing them, me being much thinner, and them being amazed and proud of me for taking a huge step towards health. But I can't even imagine putting off seeing them because I'm fat and afraid they'll lose respect for me. That's why I love them!

Lyn, I love your blog, I read it everyday, but this post just made me so sad. I think that everyone who is overweight carries some doubt and insecurities about their body, but that should never be the case with your friends.

Lyn said...

Amber, you're right. And I do have friends who love me no matter my size.

I think what's different in my situation is that I was the "thin hot" girl for so long. I was a normal weight until I was in my mid 20's and I moved away just before I became obese. So almost all of my old friends have not seen me in 15 years... and have NO idea I am fat.

If I had been around Matt (and other friends) as I gained, it might be different. But when all your friends *think* you are 140 pounds and hot, it is very difficult to imagine just walking up to them at 278 pounds and saying, "hi, it's me." Maybe I want to maintain the hot girl illusion or something. But imagine being in that situation... you haven't seen your friend in 15 years and have gained 138 pounds and they have no idea you are fat. Avoidance is a lot less painful than the look on their face. At least for me.

elife said...

I had knots in my stomach as I read this because it hit home on so many levels for me.

First, I soooo understand the fear that someone from your thin life will discover that you are no longer thin. Especially someone for whom you had romantic feelings.

Second, I also understand what it's like to realize that a guy you thought was so great is actually not that great as a husband.

Last year a cute, fit, smart guy started paying attention to me. He had been married & divorced very young, and his ex was supposedly a selfish, needy woman who didn't value the amazing guy he was.

We hung out, he did all kinds of sweet things for me, but I couldn't accept that he would like a fat girl and basically acted weird and rebuffed him.

A thin, beautiful, needy woman swooped in and grabbed him. I was so sad and mad at myself; if ONLY I had been thin, it all could've worked out, I thought. He thought she was THE ONE. Ouch. They got engaged. And then he started calling me and complaining about her, asking me to go for a drink because he needed my advice.

At first I was a little excited, thinking she was on her way out. And I realized that in all the marriages I admire - some of my friends, my brothers', my parents - NONE of the husbands would ever complain about their wife/fiancee to another woman. Nor would the things this fiancee was doing annoy them.

They got married 6 months ago and are already in counseling. Turns out he is even needier than his needy wives.

As for me, well maybe this is the one time my weight did me a favor!

Diana said...

I wondered why you have been cutting your head off in all your pictures. I thought maybe you were in the witness protection program or something. LOL! :)

Seriously, I don't think I like Matt. Anyone that judges people based on their weight can't be part of my circle of friends. Maybe that's harsh of me, but it seems too shallow. I just couldn't stand to be around someone like that.

I have to say I love your blog. I'm not sure how I even found it, but I read it every day now. You are a very wise woman, and I love your writing.

happyfunpants said...

This is every horrible nightmare I've had - because he said what he was thinking. And it's so hard for me to reprogram what I think guys think about me when I read this. My dad was VERY open that this is the way he felt...about all women and specifically my mom.

Personally, I think I want to hold on being fat sometimes. It's like a layer of protection. Almost like a mini test. Because I never want to hear someone say to me that they would love me more if I was thinner.

And yes, I know that's f--'d up. I know that what he did was bad, but HOLY COW how do you reprogram your brain to learn what is healthy?

UGH.

Anyway, I hope that you don't invite him over only when you're skinny - just because that's not being fair to you.

Fab Kate said...

Do you really want a friendship with a man who disrespects his wife, and is so focused on weight that it supersedes love and friendship?

Fat Lazy Guy said...

I understand about not wanting people you've known to see you as something different than you were. That's why I'm mostly anonymous on my blog. :)

And I understand if it's motivation for you to get healthy and lose weight. I don't think it matters where or how you get motivation, but that you keep going even when it's not there :)

PaulaM said...

Boy did this one hit home for me. I always had a great body, worked out every day, etc. Was known for my body. Weighed around 127 lbs. and really didn't gain any weight until close to 40. I feel exactly the same way you do, would be aghast if anybody from those days were to see me now. Although why at age 54 I would still look exactly the same even if I hadn't gained is absurd. Of course you wouldn't mention it to Matt, cause when you're on the phone with him you are still that young hot girl. It's a cheap thrill and blast to the past when life was easy, you had no worries like today. However, once he said his wife disgusted him because she gained, I don't think I could even continue the friendship with him. Cause that's real talk from him. And shame on him for looking for excitement outside of his marriage. Interesting that they are still together. Wonder how HE looks, maybe he's gained or gone bald. The problem with men is they are so visual and women tend to love men in spite of how they look.

Ceres said...

Hmmm... Here are some random and not well-organized thoughts:
Yeah, I will agree with the other bloggers, this Matt person doesn't seem like someone I would like to be good friends with.

On the other hand, I think a lot of people are prejudiced against fat, at least to some extent, even if only subconsciously. It's like it's a signal of weakness or low self-esteem coming from the fat person, and weakness and low self-esteem are just not attractive. Maybe Matt was more open to you than most people are with others.

However, that issue aside, talking about his wife in such a way to a person that he hasn't seen or been in contact with for so long is really disrespectful and says something about his character overall. So shallow!

I've never been thin, so for me it's been the reverse: I long to see people whom I haven't seen in years, especially guys, because I am showered with attention and admiration. It's shallow from my part to receive these compliments and signs of affection, when I know that on the inside I'm still who I was a year ago. On the other hand, I really think that my being fat has been largely responsible for my non-existent love life, and my close friends tend to think the same. Maybe it's a self-esteem issue, but the end result is the same: had I been thin, my love life would have evolved quite differently. I want to partly make up for all that I've missed so far, I want to be loved and attractive to the other sex. It's definitely part of the reason why I'm losing this weight.

Stephanie said...

Lyn - I just read this post about Matt today and um...at the risk of being yelled at...I would like to say a few words in Matt's defense and just to this topic in general. And I must say I have the utmost respect for you and what you are doing with your life -you go girl.

I don't think that Matt ever said he didn't love his wife because she was fat - he just said that he had lost respect for her. When we stop taking care of ourselves and abuse our bodies and minds in such a way that we demonstrate to others "hey, I don't give a rip about myself," we are really saying that we don't respect ourselves. If we don't respect and take care of our bodies, we must accept that there will be people who will judge us for that -even our spouses.

My husband loves me and would never leave me because of my weight - I know that. But I also know that it is disappointing to him when I am overweight and not taking care of myself. I know that he is not as attracted to me when I am heavier - I know that he has less "respect" for me because I have less respect for myself and, I believe, for our marriage. I believe that it is part of my role as a wife and mother to do my best to be healthy and happy and maintain a happy, healthy marriage. Being fat and unhealthy and out of control of my eating is not meeting my family's expectations - nor is it meeting my own.

So most of the commenters talk about Matt as if he is a bad person because he judges his wife for being fat. I don't think Matt is a bad person - he is simply disappointed to see the woman he loves let herself go and stop caring enough about not only herself, but also HIM and their marriage, to make the necessary changes.

My husband was very fit when we got married. But what if, after we got married, he started making horrible food choices, stopped exercising, complained about his weight gain while making bad food choices, blamed his weight gain on having kids, no time, etc - you get my drift... What if? Would I still love him? Yes. Would I leave him because he was fat? No - but you can bet that I would be disappointed that he didn't care enough about himself or our relationship to do something about it.

The reality is pretty simple - and I know you are well aware of it. Fat is judged - heavily (no pun intended). Fat women are judged especially harshly. We can either complain about it and say how awful people are, or we can choose not to be fat. By choosing not to be fat, we show the world that we respect ourselves and also, as a natural by-product, others respect us. We all wish we weren't judged on looks - but hey, the verdict is in. WE ARE.

Lyn said...

Stephanie,

You said it better than I ever could have. Thank you for putting that into words. I do love Matt as a dear friend... and I would not be able to do that if he was a "fat hater." He does still love his wife, he never made fun of her. His comments were regarding his concern and her weight's affect on him. And I have never, ever heard Matt say one negative thing about a fat person in any other context. So, to me, it doesn't change my feelings about him as a good person, a wonderful father, and loving friend.

I hope someday I can sit him down and explain to him what his comment did to me, and how in actuality most of us who gain a ton of weight have already lost a lot of respect for ourselves.

Thanks again.

PaulaM said...

If he loves his wife so much why is he always calling and trying to see his ex-girlfriend?

Lyn said...

Paula,

I think you misunderstood. I was never his girlfriend. We never went on a date or anything remotely like that. We were best friends and I knew his girlfriend (now wife) in college. Even with a gap of many years where we lost track of each other, when we started talking again the friendship was still there the same as ever.

Sheri said...

I think I would have told Matt the truth. But then his reaction to his wife would not only make me feel ashamed, I would have been annoyed to learn that a friend I held so dear to my heart would feel that way. After all, a real friend would accept you as you are no matter what. Sounds like his wife may be feeling neglected by him. I know that's why I gained weight in my own relationship many years ago. He was always paying attention elsewhere and to other women, not to me. I didn't feel loved anymore. I wonder what his reaction would be? From my personal experience, it's incredibly painful to have someone abandon you when they see what you look like. Please be wary of the hypotheticals in your imagination. I don't want to see you get hurt.

Sheri said...

One thing about Matt and his view of his wife. Putting myself in her shoes, I would prefer it if he came to me with is concerns. Friends or not, I would not like a loved one to express all these concerns to someone else. One of the biggest issues in a relationship is the breakdown of communication. The first person you should be able to share your concerns with is your spouse. She isn't communicating with him either by the sounds of it, and that is very sad on both parts.

skinnyhollie said...

Wow, what a story! Reminded me of my best friend from college (also a guy). I guess the difference is that I've always been heavy. I hovered at a size 24 throughout high school and college, so all of my friends accepted me that way. It was funny, however, when I went to my 10 year reunion and was a size 18. I loved watching the jaws drop. My 15 year reunion is next year, so I REALLY want to at least be back in an 18 by then. It would be even better to be at goal!

Thanks for sharing!

Mary said...

I love your blog and this post hit so close to home that I had to comment. But there are no words to really express all I want to say. Simply, I lost who I believe is the love of my life because of my weight. I've gone through all the emotions from hurt, to sadness, to calling him every name in the book, to anger and bitterness, to believing him and hating myself.

Thanks for being so open and honest. Know that you are amazing and awesome and so many people care that you don't need Matt. But I also understand the need to hold on to the friendship. Good luck!!!

Paula said...

Sorry Lynn, I guess I did misinterpret that you two were together at some point. Having said that, I still don't think it's right he's discussing his marital woes or wanting to come and see you, maybe I'm cynical but that sounds like a man who'd be happy to come and cheat on his wife.