More than one dimension
“You do not know the weight of this self you are carrying until you put it down.”
Fingering the delicate necklace my deceased brother gave me, I reflect on what it took to be able to wear this again. When you are heavy, everything fits differently, even shoes and jewelry. It sits nicely in a place on my neckline that it hasn’t been able to before. I have missed wearing it and the person I used to be.
Over the past two years, I have gotten lighter by 120 or so pounds .(Note that I don’t use the words “lose” or “dropped” weight. Both words imply that you have temporarily misplaced something and that you are looking for it. I'm not).
I say around 120 because I’m not sure of the exact number and frankly, I don’t want or care to know. There is still more weight to discard, and I don’t know how much. Neither number matters.
The letting go of weight also came with letting go of so many other things. I began to talk about this in Picking Now over Never, and what I didn’t realize then was that the letting go also meant letting go of how others would react to my choices about my own body. And letting go of caring about that.
I have discovered that my bodily changes can prompt consternation in other people. Unsure of how to react, they say hilarious things that are So. Not. Right. One friend cocked his head, and said “You look taller.”
Deadpan, I replied, “I’m trying to get to 6' 2'. Think I’ll make it?”
Many times the focus is external. The truth is that most of the changes have been internal. I’m not an asshole anymore, but no one focuses on that. And no, I wasn’t an asshole because I was fat, but because I had not done the “grown-up” work that healthy people do. I am still doing that work and this is more important to me than the number of pounds I carry or don’t.
My face and my body are my own, as is the work that I have been doing. Just like it is weird to say to someone, “you are so much nicer now,” commenting on other people’s bodies is also not cool. When someone says “Wow you look great. How much weight have you lost?” what they are really saying is “you are so much thinner now.”
This only serves to reinforce the rubber stamp of thinness as desirable. It is not really flattering to tell me I look good because I lost weight. This, while meant to be a compliment (I think) is actually rude and the implication is that I’m so much more attractive now that I’m thinner. Um…thanks? Was I not cute before? Because I will argue that I was. And really, try saying that to Lizzo (who is gorgeous). A better thing to say is “you look really healthy and happy” or “cute outfit.”
And I gotta say, I’m kinda conflicted. I also don’t like it when people don’t say anything. I mean, how exactly do you NOT notice 120 pounds that aren't there anymore? That’s the equivalent of a 12-year-old boy who is not on my hips or tummy — the obvious places.
So, what is my message? Do I want the change noticed, or not? I'm not sure. I mean, there ARE other things going on in my life. I don’t spend every waking moment thinking about my weight or my body. But I do know it is a change that is hard not to notice. So it turns into a surprisingly awkward encounter with neither of us knowing what to say.
I wasn’t expecting this when I started the journey. If I were still an asshole, I could say something sarcastically funny but maybe damaging. Kindness matters more to me now. I know people are trying to be supportive or complimentary. It just doesn’t always translate that way.
My chiropractor has a really great way of commenting. He points to my ankles and wrists and says “look at those” with delight, reminding me that weight is all over my body, and not just in my boobs, butt, and belly. (I have especially noticed this as the rings slide off my fingers and the cherished necklaces sit in different places on my decolletage). He also tells me that my body moves better and is more flexible overall. Honestly, this is the best kind of compliment, because this is my goal. And it isn't just my body that is more flexible…
My goal is to return to the cool girl I used to be. She is happily climbing out of the Asshole Suit I wore for (more than a few) years. I want to return to the athlete that I was, and the even keeled “doing me” girl. Okay, maybe not all the way because, that girl? That girl was a crazy chick when doing sports. I still want to be athletic (pandemic or not), but it is not my primary identity anymore. Neither is being a jerk.
I am grateful to say that I am not sure what my primary identity is, and I think that when I am done dropping things that no longer serve is when I can tell you what that might be.