Currently Reading: “If I’m So Smart, How Come I Can’t Lose Weight?” by Brooke Castillo.
In early November, an immediate family member who lives overseas had a massive heart attack and was in a coma for a number of weeks. They are now back at home, however the doctors have said they are not a candidate for surgery and there is no more that can be done. It is a day-to-day situation.
After a four-week period that could only be described as one of the worst of my life, I am back here to write. I spent the last five weeks not sleeping, on a whacked-out time schedule, calling long distance every 10 hours or so and being chained to my cell phone 24/7. The stress made me either A) not want to eat or B) sleep for hours. When I finally did eat something, it wasn’t anything resembling actual, real food. I believe I’m at my highest weight since August 2009 (when I maxed out at 245lbs). I’m not game to weigh myself, as I cannot take one more bad thing. The stress will probably kill me — if the fat doesn’t kill me first.
So I’m back on the “I hate being this fat, so let’s do something concrete about it this time before I have stroke/heart attack” horse. I always knew there was more to my fatness that just taking in more calories than my body needed. I was almost always aware that there was a (big, scary) emotional/behavioral component – that up until now I had been too scared to address in a full and genuine way.
I know a lot of the emotional/behavioral stems from having family members treat me like I was worthless growing up. I also know a really big part of it is to do with being sexually assaulted twice; once at 12 and again at 22 – and both by people who were “friends of the family”. Right before the first assault I was a happy, healthy (weight and otherwise) 12 year old who had just lost 25lbs and was finally looking like the other girls at her school. After the assault, my 12-year-old brain didn’t know how to comprehend what had occurred, and I certainly didn’t understand why these sick and evil acts had been dished out to me. So I learned to distract myself with whatever tasted good, whatever would give me a tiny piece of comfort. I learned very quickly to use food as a salve, to self medicate when those horrible memories emerged.
I was not overweight when the second assault happened at 22, but I slowly became overweight within the next year or so. I thought that if I could make myself as invisible as possible to men, I’d be less likely to be hurt again. I thought that my fatness would repel any would-be-rapists, and I went out of my way to make myself as physically unappealing as possible.
I learned pretty quickly that my fatness didn’t save me from feeling sad or anxious or from having flashback nightmares. My fatness didn’t save me from unwelcome advances or wolf-whistles or cat calls. I still had to go through all the painful stuff that came with the aftermath of my assault, but I had to go through it and be disgusted at how overweight I’d allowed myself to become. What I thought would be a protective cocoon from just the bad stuff wound up insulating me from everything in the world, good and bad. My cocoon made me feel worse and worse about myself with every passing year, and I wound up missing out on an awful lot of stuff because I was burdened with an unhealthy body, an almost annihilated self-image and some seriously damaged self-esteem.
This latest family health scare has made me fully realize with an unadulterated clarity that it is my personal responsibility to just get it done, already!. Get the emotional and psychological work started. Get the weight loss done. It doesn’t matter how scary I think it is, it’ll be a whole lot scarier if I don’t deal with it. I fully intend to break out of this cocoon forever. I shouldn’t have trapped myself inside in the first place and if I don’t make a break for it now, I might never get out. I also know I have to do the emotional work just as much as the weight loss side of things — If I don’t, I’ll never truly be free of it.