Friday, September 17, 2010

Seeing

In the summer of 2006, my weight was not the biggest concern in my life. I had other things going on, good and bad. But as always I was aware that I needed to lose some weight. But I was not at my fattest, and felt happy that I had dropped a few pounds that year. I was hoping to get back down to 257 pounds. That's what I had weighed in the fall of 2005 after I had my baby and I remember how skinny I felt and looked in photos back then.

I'm not sure what I weighed that summer when I was feeling pretty good about myself for getting below 278, but I would guess I was around 260 pounds. We were going on a trip to see family we hadn't seen in awhile, and I remember going shopping, trying to find something nice to wear in the summer heat. I wanted to be able to go swimming, but there was no way I'd wear an actual swimsuit. So I bought a white, lined tank top and some tan shorts. I figured I could wear them while we traveled and swim in them, too. I put them on and thought I looked decent in them. And my memory of myself in that outfit is a cheery one, where I felt good about how I looked. Thinner than usual.

This summer, I found the picture.



Now, because I cropped the faces out of the picture you may not be able to tell exactly how large I was, but I was large. You can see at the bottom that only one half of my lower body (one thigh) is in the picture. I did not look how I thought I looked. When I found this picture I was stunned. I could not believe it was me. My face was puffed beyond recognition, and I had so many chins that I could crop off my face and still leave chins for you to see. I was in pretty bad shape, and I didn't even know it.

This is not at all meant to be a criticism of my old body. It is meant to show you how absolutely oblivious we can be to our own condition. How, although I KNEW what sizes I was wearing, and I saw my body in the mirror, I never *really saw* my body. I avoided it. Unlike today, where I look at and pay attention to my body every single day, I just did not look. Did not feel it. I was detached from myself, somehow. I had a mental image that I was maybe 20 pounds overweight... not more than 100. I think it was some kind of mental shield of self defense, protecting my fragile sense of self from the reality of what I had done to my body. I didn't want to see, so I did not see.

It takes a lot of work to change that mindset. That's why I post things like how my skin is not firm or how my thigh fat spreads when I sit down... or how my ankles are looking more refined and my shoulders more narrow. I am in the mindset of paying close attention to the changes in my body. I don't want to ignore my body anymore. I will look and truly *see* it as it is, good and bad.

16 comments:

w0rld4vamps said...

I understand exactly* what you're saying. When I finally "saw" myself for the first time it was hard. I didn't want to accept the things about myself that were right there in the mirror (or pictures) but you're right, one needs to see in order to pay attention and work on it.

Deb Willbefree said...

I mean this sincerely--you are a wis and courageous woman. In this time when the focus is "being positive", truth is often left by the wayside.

When, in fact, there is nothing more positive about seeing what actually is and stating it with hope--or, at least, with determination. :) That's what you have done.

Deb

He Took MY Last Name said...

i found a pic of me where i was at graduation, my face was a swollen balloon. I looked at it and thought omg i am so happy im not that big anymore. i showed my hubby, my mom how excited i was that i was thinner. all they could say was "yea...... we were worried about you." not the reaction i was looking for.

Anonymous said...

Totally makes sense, Lyn and w0rld4vamps. It takes a lot of denial to be obese and make it through each day, especially if you have to be out in the world all the time -- at work, shopping, movies, restaurants, etc. A lot of us shut down and isolate as much as possible. If I had allowed myself to be truly, fully conscious of my appearance when I was 270+, I'd make it as far as my bedroom door and never leave. (In fact, I had days like that.) The denial it takes to just live your life without collapsing under the weight of the shame of being overweight and being judged by others -- passively or overtly, friends and family or strangers -- is also a bizarre kind of bravery. It IS armor in so many ways.

When we decide to watch our food intake and start working out, and weigh ourselves and take our measurements, suddenly we're conscious, and it's a real double-edged sword because we can also become so critical of our bodies no matter how much we lose. The criticism is, of course, really counterproductive and can throw us off track.

I'm at a place right now where I'm re-losing weight, and every time I start that negative self-talk, I'm able to turn it off, thank goodness. It's pointless to say unloving things in my head when I'm doing all I can to heal my body. -- CK

christina said...

I know exactly what you mean. I have lost 47 lbs to date. When I come acrossed my earlier pics - when I thought I looked pretty... ummm no... and the sad part is the look on my face in these pictures. I looked very uncomfortable and sad... even when I thought I wasnt. My face gives me away.

http://last-weight-loss-journey.blogspot.com/

Jenna said...

This rings so true for me, As I am shedding weight and clothes sizes, it amazes me how I could " Look" in the mirror but really not "see".

Along my weight loss journey and trust me I know that is what it is a journey I have posted about this as well and truthfully I think it will happen when I go down a few more sizes.

The other day my sister told me my face was half the size it used to be, since than I have tried to get a mental picture of that!

Lynne said...

I totally relate to your post. I never feel as large as I really am, nor do I normally see it in the mirror; it's when I see myself in pictures that have me instantly thinking, "you've got to be kidding!" Like you, I've always thought I've just been a few pounds overweight, vs. the reality of 100 or more.

Your such an inspiration :)

Shane G. said...

Lyn, I know exactly where you are coming from. I have regularly in the past rationalized my appearance in pictures. I actually am having the opposite problem right now. People are continuously telling me how much better I look but I cannot see that in pictures. I need to find that happy medium one day.

Pamela said...

EVERYONE'S comments are my truth as well..I did not recognize myself in my daughter's graduation pictures and I am her MOTHER! I actually thought someone should have told that woman not to wear purple because she looks like Barney...I never knew I was as big as I was and as Shane said I have difficulty understanding that I am so much smaller now as well. The body dysmorpholgy is like being in a world with trick mirrors everywhere. And honestly? I have no idea which one to believe. After a 75 lb loss I still hide from cameras, social situations, and a lot of life I should be living. You, Lyn, are brave, inspirational and honest at a very deep level. I learn something here everyday.

Every response here spoke to me today loud and clear. Always a relief to know you are not in this alone...

Findingfitme said...

I always thought I was a FIT FAT girl when the reality is I was the FAT girl. Now I have 40 pounds off my body, I like looking at old pics, see where I came from.

A woman in transition... said...

Today I went to a get-together with my husband's company. I spent more time hiding from the photographer than I spent having fun.

I see myself. I almost wish I didn't, but I do. While it may really, really hurt, at least it gives me motivation. So do your blogs. :)

Stephanie said...

I know EXACTLY what you mean! I currently am suffering from that same mindset. I know logically that I'm extremely overweight, but when I look at myself I don't really see how overweight I am. Every once in a while I'll see a photo of myself and be shocked by it, but I still find it hard to see what I actually look like.

Fit B said...

This post rings true for me so much!!! I had my wake up moment after I had my daughter. I knew I was over weight for a long time but after I had her and started looking at pictures of her and I together i knew I did not want to be the "fat mom"
now I look forward to taking pictures and seeing my progress :)

Brandi said...

It's funny isn't it, how skewed our views of our own bodies can be. We can walk around every day feeling beautiful and sexy, but then in the mall we walk past a mirrored window and it actually causes our mouths to drop open in surprise. Like we can't believe the body we see in the mirror is really the one we live in!! It's like living in a shack without realizing it because the house is so lovely on the inside that we never really venture out.

Thrift Store Mama said...

One of the reasons I've stayed overweight for this long is because I always thought I looked pretty good in the mirror. Seeing photographs, really SEEING them was shocking and very, very upsetting. Still is.

Steelers6 said...

I can relate.

Interesting "He Took MY Last Name" mentions the reaction she and her loved ones had to the very same photo. Seems like they saw the reality the whole time, while she did not. This is probably fairly common.

I think I too have had a mixed up view of body image, and it is challenging and interesting now as my weight goes down.

Kinda sad that you had dropped some weight and thought you looked good, & now are stunned. You probably did look much better and also felt better.

I've noticed that I look and feel better, and it even seems I dress better ? after losing some of the weight I have to lose. [although I did put a lot of effort in to looking my best at my highest # as well.] I think the WL & "new" style makes me feel and act more confident, which in turn probably even makes me more attractive. Does that make sense? So I guess we need to feel that confidence at any #, bc it is probably a beneficial thing, kwim?
Chrissy