Will This Really Make Me Feel Better About Myself?
Recently, during an evaluation for surgery, I was asked, “Once you have this surgery, what do you think it will change for you?” and that hit hard because I didn’t have a real answer. The honest answer was that I was looking for a quick fix to feel better about myself. I wanted to look in the mirror and like my reflection, but after that question, I realized what I saw ran deeper than my appearance from the outside. That quick fix wouldn’t change anything for me. I would feel the exact same way about myself at the end of the day.
This realization was rough. At first, I wanted to be defensive and justify why the surgery was important and how it would help me. I was angry and felt threatened about being questioned, even though I knew it was their job to dig a little deeper. I felt uncomfortable and vulnerable in a consultation that already made me feel weak.
You see, I’ve struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember. I’ve never been the skinniest friend or the kind of person who wakes up every day at 6 am to hit the gym. Sure, I’ve been more in shape than I am now, but I’ve never been health-conscious or worried too much about the stuff I put in my body. I grew up on prepackaged meals and toxic waste. Everything I put in my body as a kid was straight trash, and I find comfort in those foods as an adult. Even though I know they are bad for me and my health will suffer from these choices later, I still sway that way when presented with the option. It’s terrible. And I know it’s terrible, but I still do it anyway.
Now I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been and it bleeds into all aspects of my life. I feel so uncomfortable all the time. I can barely tie my shoes, chase my kids, or go on a daily walk. I’m constantly getting injured and feel completely exhausted. I have no motivation for regular everyday things, and everything feels 100% harder than when I was lighter. My mind feels cloudy and I struggle with depression. Most days, I can’t see a way out of this hole I dug myself into.
Am I too deep? That’s the question. Is there a way out of this fucking dark space that keeps swallowing me whole? I want out. I don’t want to feel this way or struggle with my weight and self-worth forever. So of course quick fixes seem appealing, even sexy if you will. Just suck all the bad choices out of me so I can feel better about myself (I know that’s not how it works).
Restart. Cleanse me of my mistakes and give me a second chance.
But don’t make me suffer through them and look them in the eyes. I don’t want to do that. I don’t feel like I have the energy to let go and get to work yet. There is so much work to do that it feels too overwhelming to begin. One glass of water, one walk around the block, one small change is all it takes to get started, but sometimes when you’re in this mindset, it can feel like you’re asking me to drink the ocean, walk across the United States, or change everything about me in one night.
And I’m not ready for that. At least that’s what I keep telling myself. These habits run deep and have been with me my entire life, but I hate walking into a room and feeling like everyone can see my weaknesses too. It’s visibly noticeable that I don’t have the strength to withhold or make good decisions for myself. It makes me feel like people don’t take me seriously in business situations or are embarrassed to hire me for a job because I’m big. Even if this isn’t true, the reality of it is that in my mind it’s real. This type of thinking holds me back and keeps me quiet and hidden in the corners of my life. It prevents me from stepping out of my shell and meeting new people or trying new things. I’m embarrassed by who I’ve become and just want to hide from it.
That’s no way to live, but it’s the way I’m currently living.
So, I’ll bring the question back around for a second time. Once I have this surgery, what do I think will change for me?
And now I know that it’s a great start, but my work won’t end there. I will have so much to do on the other side of it, and all the uncomfortable emotions and ways I feel about myself will have to be addressed. Everything I want to hide from, I will need to make space for to be successful. These issues are more than what we see from the outside. They create unhealthy self-talk, low self-esteem, lack of motivation, and feelings of helplessness. When you’re not the typical image you see on TV or others you’re surrounded by, it can be hard not to compare or put yourself down.
This oversized version of myself has left me feeling resentful and unhappy. At some point in adulthood, I just stopped giving a shit about what happened to me or how I looked, and I constantly feel the aftermath of those tiny decisions that weigh heavily on my soul. But change is possible. My life isn’t over yet, and I don’t have to give up.
I have to lean in and make room for the unknown. It’s scary to move so far away from who I’ve been the last decade of my life to who I want to become in the next decade of my life. This image feels like ME and I’m attached to it in so many ways but I also want to break the chains and leave room for growth and self-love.
Here’s to the next chapter of my life, where there’s room for mistakes but also room for growth. Where change is scary but welcomed and self-love is more important than self-destruction. We all deserve a chance to go somewhere we’ve never been and the support to wander through that territory without judgment but with love. Lots of it.