Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Changing

I woke up this morning feeling like I am shedding a skin... a costume of sorts. Losing this weight after 14 years has brought about a lot of changes, both physical and mental. In some ways I feel like I *have* to let go of the person I'd become in the fat suit; in other ways I am the same as I've always been. It's a little disconcerting and confusing, but I feel ready and not afraid.

I have always been a person who does what needs to be done. I wouldn't describe myself (my true self) as lazy, dependent, or fragile, yet somehow over the past decade I was trying to plaster enough fat on myself to become those things. I was becoming someone *else*, at least in my own thoughts, because I was morbidly obese and under the spell of food and binge eating.

Maybe part of me was convincing myself that I was bad or worthless or incapable. In fact today I thought to myself that I was, perhaps subconsciously, forming myself into my mother. I have issues with my mother, because she disowned and rejected me when I was 18 for not believing in the tenets of her religion. She really hurt me and later, my children. And when she died and left everything to her church, including all the family heirlooms and my deceased father's things, it just made the pain of her death worse. Last night, I dreamed I was a little child again, perhaps 3 or 4 years old. I could see the blonde wisps of hair around my face, and my mother was screaming at me and I was crying, terrified. And then in a split second in the dream, I was older and screaming at HER, saying "I remember what you did to me!" And then I woke up, in tears. I don't remember a lot about when I was very small, but I do know my mother was not well. She was in a mental hospital for awhile. And she tried to commit suicide and take me with her at one point. She was a raging alcoholic, but once she 'recovered' she became a food addict and went from slim to morbidly obese. She was a person who felt she was incapable and dependent. She never held a job in the 32 years after I was born to the time of her death. Her journals reveal that she was deeply insecure and unhappy. And even though I want to disassociate from her identity because I have little respect for her, I found myself in her shoes: obese, unhappy, dependant, and obsessed with food.

For at least a decade I have felt some sense of shame about my weight and my secret eating. I also felt like a victim. I think I was laying that 'victim' identity ON myself. I felt trapped by my own behaviors, powerless to change, and burdened by the pains and losses I'd endured in my past. And that is exactly how my mother lived her life. The difference is, I was not LIVING the way she lived. My actions and thoughts did not mesh. I was working, going to college, raising four little kids by myself. But in my head I was a helpless, sad, lazy, fat victim.

It's changed, now. I feel empowered. I realized that I DO have the power to change and control my behaviors, my body, my life. For once I feel like a truly competent person. As the pounds drop off, I feel like layers are dropping off me emotionally, too. It's very freeing. I feel lighter in a way that's hard to describe. It's like I've been lugging around a couple of big, heavy suitcases full of rocks for 14 years, and I've suddenly looked down, noticed them, and said, "huh, I don't need these!" I'm leaving them at the curb.

Every pound I lose is more than just fat. It's emotional burden lifted. It's a step closer to mental freedom. My body is changing but I am also letting go of those false thoughts I had about myself. I am not my mother. I don't have to be my mother. I don't have to be fat to show some kind of loyalty or connection to her. I do not have to hang onto the Fat Identity anymore.

Getting rid of the fat clothes is therapeutic. It IS like letting go of the layers, the burdens. It IS a purging of more than just a closet. I feel like I am finally coming into my own. I am starting a new chapter in my life as I let go of the 200's and drift seamlessly into the 100's. It's happening. I'm close. But mentally, I am already there.

38 comments:

Andi said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story, it's very encouraging and means a lot to those of us going through similar issues :)

Laryssa said...

You're one of the lucky ones. I hope I can reach the mental state you are currently in; the one where I can get rid of all the emotional stuff that makes me go back to my old eating habits.

Your post from yesterday also hit home for me. I've realized that I'm a "bored" eater and need to find ways to occupy my mind so I don't just want to sit and eat when I'm bored.

Trixie said...

Great post and very timely! I've been struggling with this a lot too.

Thanks,

Trixie

midlife_swimmer said...

amen!

Splurgie said...

Sounds like you're doing the hard emotional work along with the diet and exercise. You won't fail!

Jack Sh*t, Gettin' Fit said...

Wonderful sentiment, Lyn.

Brandipants said...

You are a wonderful person! You have come so far and not only changed physically but I think you have changed emotionally too. You are dealing with all your problems and facing them head on. Way to go. Keep up the good work. You deserve to be happy and healthy! Cheers to you!

aapuzzanchera said...

Awesome post! Thank you for sharing!

Autumnforest said...

I can very much relate with the mother issues. I spent the past 10 years figuring out why I gained weight during the last 10 years. My husband blamed in my lack of control and became angry with me (really turned a lightbulb on for me). I realized that I had let him command how I cleaned house, how I looked, how I acted, what my interests were, and I had lost myself completely. The real me who was skinny until 10 years ago was opinionated, liberal, goofy, lovable, has a wicked sense of humor and is into weird things that my husband totally disapproves of. When I reclaimed that gal again, I quit eating and my weight is dropping rapidly. I was basically shoving my mouth shut so I couldn't fight the forced censorship of my personality. I don't give a damn anymore if he likes or doesn't like the person I TRULY am, I will never let someone else dictate who I am ever again and I'm back into my old skin more and more each day I continue to be genuine. So, I get what you're going through. Sometimes, we force square pegs into round holes and be everyone's everything and forget about ourselves. When you feed your real soul, your body doesn't care about the food at all.

beerab said...

Congratulations on getting down to 201 :)

Wishing on a star said...

I liken the new me to my Edgar suit (Men in Black movie reference). I am still trying to get used to it. Sometimes I look down at my arms and legs and think who's are these? Great post as usual.

Thank you.

Rose B. said...

I read your post with sadness realizing that I could have written your post. You are truly an inspiration. I hope the pain and hurt shed more layers. Thanks for being so open and making many of us feel less alone.

Jenny S said...

Great post! I can't wait until I too can feel like you do ... shedding my suit. I'm so sorry about your dream, how terrible! I'm also sorry about your family heirlooms. :( How sad. I'm so glad you are breaking free from the mindsets that can hold back.

Lily Fluffbottom said...

Thank you for sharing. You've done amazing, I hope you know.

Sheilagh (60 x60) said...

Thank you, I really needed to hear this, you don't know how much this post has helped me:)

Sheilagh

Auntie M said...

This is such a hard thing, the emotional shedding. At some parts of the weight loss it seems easy and I am like you are-- care free.

At other times, the scariness of it creeps in and I lose focus.

I have not had an easy or seamless move from 200 to 100s. In fact, I went below and have teetered and now rest above the line again.

I want your focus!

So-Me said...

This post is really great, I feel like every pound lost is bringing me closer to freedom. I am working out SO many emotional issues, and I know that is why I will succeed this time. I love how you say it's like you've been lugging around a couple of suitcases full of rocks and then you left them at the curb. I am going to visualize doing this with a lot of my baggage. I so do not need it anymore. Letting go of the past feels amazing - it is so nice to just breathe again :)

Love your blog btw :)
Cara

coffeegirl37 said...

I found your blog via Seattle Runner Girl's and I am so glad I clicked through to read this post. Now I'm going to dig through here and learn more about your journey.

This post resonated with me, made me tear up, and made me feel overwhelmed with joy for you. You give me hope that I too can end years of bingeing and embrace a strong, in-control-of-her-eating self. THANK YOU for sharing your journey.

Jo said...

No one knows what the other person is carrying around emotionally. Great post!

Spaghetti Cat said...

Wonderful Post Lyn.

Shelley said...

In shrinking, you are growing.

I'm so glad this is working for you, Lyn.

Leslie said...

2 words: WOOOO HOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!

SeattleRunnerGirl said...

THIS is what I'm working towards. Lyn, thank you so much for your supportive comment on my post yesterday, and thanks for sharing this today!

Georgia said...

What a wonderful post, Lyn - congrats on coming so far! :)

MargieAnne said...

Rejection by a parent is just about the most powerful destructive force that can be loosed on us.

You have come a long way in recognising the root of some of your buried pain.

The next step is beginning to understand your mother and the root of her pain. We all need to come to a place of compassion and forgiveness.

People who get caught up in religious fanaticism usually do so to find some kind of stability in their own lives. They don't know how to live free so let someone else dictate how life should be.

None of what happened when you were a little girl was your fault. Checkout whether the little girl you once were took on responsibility for her mother's actions and thus guilt because it was your fault.

A moment of revelation came to me when a group of my friends were talking about the relationship they had with their mothers. One said she and her mother were good friend. I immediately knew there was something missing in my relationship with my mother and always will be but my attitude toward her has changed. We have great respect and love for one another and I'm no longer afraid of her.

You are on an awesome journey of discovery.

Missa said...

I admire how you are freeing yourself from the emotional prison of the people who came before you. You go get 'em.

Cheers,
Missa
LosingEthel

clickmom said...

Your clarity and honesty are remarkable. As a fellow survivor of both abuse and neglect, I can identify with your journey. Just this week in therapy I was discussing how even at an adult age I experience abuse as the child I used to be and am then unable to protect myself. I'm trying to leave that all behind too. I'm about half way (50 pounds) to my weight loss goal, and thrilled to be this far into the journey. Reading your thoughts this winter and spring have inspired me.

Anonymous said...

"Every pound I lose is more than just fat" I love that!! It would make a great title for your bestseller. Lyn, after you get to your goalweight, you should put your favorite postings into a book. Pick the ones you got the most comments on. I think it would sell well.

Sunnio

Jinks1 said...

I love you for your ability to pull yourself up and continue on, I know it is not easy. You are so giving to your children and I am glad that you are giving to yourself as a child as well. To have an insecure, unattached mother is such a struggle for me each and every day and I applaud you for seeing your true self through all of that. When you grow up feeling unloved by everyone, it is so HARD to love yourself..no one else ever did. But you are LOVEABLE and amazing and you are making it happen....CLAPPING !!!! :)

globalmom said...

Thanks for this post--I'm just so amazed by you and your ability to persist. I really do wish we were next door neighbors--I know we'd be really good friends. I can relate to the mental adjustment...when I last got down near 200, one guy made a comment about my body, I got nervous, and the rest is history. I just wasn't ready mentally for it. Good for you doing the emotional and spiritual work!

georgiabe said...

wow..your post made me cry...I so hope I get there.

Stephanie Hill said...

Thank you so much for opening your self to your audience and sharing yourself with us in this way. I am just starting my own weight loss journey, and learning from you is truly inspiring.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Lyn, your posts (as always) really touched me, and made me realized the same thing about myself!

Although my own mother is still alive, she lives in a prison of her morbid obesity. She nearly died in 2007 due to a wound that would not heal due to diabetes. Her four months in the hospital (in isolation due to several staph-type infections) were a nighmare made much worse b/c of her size.

I have always vowed not to be her. She was extremely abusive to me, both physically and emotionally, and I began to compulsively overeat (like her) to handle it. Then, when she said cruel things about my weight, I'd starve myself till I passed out (I became anorexic and my sister bulemic.)
Eventually, I topped out at nearly 180 lbs. at 5'8 (wow, I'd love to weigh that now!)

At age 18, I left home and lost 40 lbs. I looked good, and kept the weight off for 20 years, until infertility drugs, high-risk pregnancy, early perimenopause and hormones for that, a pituitary tumor leading to an endocrine disorder called Cushings Disease, plus steriods for an unrelated brain tumor, caused me to gain 100 lbs. in a year and which have been very impossible to take off.

I am now becoming my mother, with bad knees, humiliated by my weight. And while I do not binge, etc., and eat healthy, the odds are so stacked against me and nothing is working. Exercise causes me days of pain due to knee arthritis and plantar fascitis.

I am planning to start Medifast (inspired by you!) since WW isn't working, once I get the OK from my doctor.

My mother, like yours, became her obesity. I don't want that to be me.

Hugs to you, sweetie, for all you have been through and for sharing your story. You are an inspiration!

Hugs, M

Kim said...

Beautifully written. I think for many of us our weight issues and food issues started when we were young with some kind of emotional trauma. We didn't know what else to do to make ourselves feel better, so we ate. At least I did. Now, 109 pounds lighter and still not at goal, I struggle with self image. On bad meal and I am convinced I have gained 15 pounds, though I know it is not possible. I do know this will all be a struggle for the rest of my life.

Anonymous said...

I don't have the words to tell you how much I admire you - your strength, your wisdom, you resilience. God Bless you. As you are helping yourself you are helping me emmensely as well.

Mary :: A Merry Life said...

Thank you for writing this. It's exactly what I needed to read today.

maureen said...

I have always been a person who does what needs to be done. I wouldn't describe myself (my true self) as lazy, dependent, or fragile, yet somehow over the past decade I was trying to plaster enough fat on myself to become those things. I was becoming someone *else*, at least in my own thoughts, because I was morbidly obese and under the spell of food and binge eating.


Wow! That blew my mind, we get upset with others when they do something to us, but look what we do to ourselves. I needed to hear this today. Thank you so much for your insightful thoughts. You are truly an inspiration. I am so proud of you. Today I start doing what I need to do to get it done.

Thank you Lynn!

Anonymous said...

good for you lyn! wow i did not know how much of a trauma survivor you were. i don't know you in person but i am so glad for you that you are doing SO MUCH better. it is a miracle! god bless you. you have been a blessing to so many women of all ages who struggle with the same kind of problem.

peace be with you sister.