Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Awful Spiral

I've posted quite a bit, both here and in comments on other people's blogs, about my weight, and my issues with it. I know it has to be boring, constantly reading about the same topic over and over, but it's intrinsically tied up with who am I and the kind of person I've turned out to be.

For a long time, I just assumed that I was heftier than other people due to genetics. My parents weren't overly large, but other people in my family were. My paternal grandmother has always been a rather rotund woman, and one of my mother's sisters has been slightly beefy. I also have three female cousins who have struggled with weight just as I have. I told myself that I come from hearty, peasant stock -- we're big people! Just deal with it. Or, like how both of my parents are olive-skinned, and I'm the almost translucent one -- genetics. I'm a throwback to earlier branches on my family tree.

As I got older, and moved to more sedentary jobs, I didn't (and still don't) get nearly the exercise that I should. I do run around after children all day, so it's not like I have NO exercise, but it's not as much as it once was. I also don't have the best eating habits. I don't like eating breakfast too early , and have to force myself to each a little something every morning. All the foods I love are the ones that are terrible for you. I do love fruit, and some vegetables, but I need more of both of them in my diet. I eat all the bad stuff, and too little of the good stuff.

As for that dreaded word: diet... I hate diets. I hate restricting myself to certain foods. And, I can't follow a lot of prepackaged plans because most of them rely heavily on you eating mounds and mounds of tuna fish. When I have to deny myself all the things I enjoy, I get terribly depressed, and end up sneaking or cheating anyway. Then, I get depressed because I cheated, and deny myself even more, and then I slip... and there's the spiral.

In my brief therapy sessions, the doctor wondered if I mask my pain by eating. If I stay fat *on purpose* in order to shield myself from life. I don't think I eat to cover any pain, but I do think that being fat, in an awful way, feels "safe" to me. It's what I know. I have been fat since about age 10. That's more than a quarter-century of my life that I have lived this way. That I have felt this way. *Do* I remain fat on purpose? Do I really have that much control over the situation? I know if I could choose to be thin, I would -- it's just the "getting there" part that takes so much trouble. Would I be happy being thin, or would I find something else to obsess over? It's that self-defeating spiral again.

I recently had a talk with Marni about weight, and weight issues. She had gastric bypass two years ago, and it has changed her life. I'm so glad that she was about to escape the horror of being "just another fat lady", and I applaud her decision to have the surgery. She says her life is completely different now. She even participated in the Atlanta 2-Day Walk for Breast Cancer. This is a monumental change for her. I'm not sure, however, that surgery would be right for me. I have this feeling like my weight is something I got myself into, and I should be able to get myself out of. Surgery is a very radical option when all I'm facing is sheer laziness. Now, if I had tried every diet out there, and exercised like a madwoman, and the weight still wasn't coming off, then surgery might be an option.

If I ever did have the surgery, would I still be me? So much of who I am is tied up in being fat, and in identifying with the other women who are like me -- and in championing the rights of people like me -- that I worry that I would lose sight of that. And that I'd still be the fat, unloved girl, trapped in the now-thin body. Would my husband still love me? Or worse, would he love me more -- making me feel like all those years that he told me I was beautiful "just as I am" were a lie? Would my daughter be a little more proud to be seen with me? Am I an embarrasment now? Would my mother actually tell me that I look good, without making a comment that she's "just worried about my health"? And my doctor wouldn't attribute every medical problem I have to "morbid obesity." Would I even HAVE any of these medical problems?

I wonder what it would be like to walk into any store and find something that fits me, right off the rack. I wonder what it would be like not to cover every exposed inch of skin because I can't stand the sight of so much of my own flesh. I wonder what it would feel like to have a man staring at me in admiration, not repulsion. I wonder what it would be like to plan a vaction, and not have to worry if I'll fit in the theme park rides, or we that can't go horseback riding because the horses can't carry me. I wonder what it would be like to walk down the street and NOT have people make jokes or snide remarks. I wonder what it would feel like NOT to be described as the "fat lady." I wonder. And I dream.

Some days, I am heavy. And some days, only my heart is heavy.


Marni said...

Your worries and concerns were mine two years ago.

No, surgery isn't for everyone and you have to be SURE that it is right for you. My doctor told me I would never be "normal" again, but I would also never be obese either. It was the right thing for me.

It is tough being a big girl and I still have big girl thoughts - EVERY DAY! Just know -- I am here to support you in whatever decision you make.

Linda (FM) said...

Keep writing about it, KLee. Don't worry whether your readers find it boring or not. Write about it if it helps.

I'm thinking about you, and believe whatever you decide will lead you to good things.

Phantom Scribbler said...

Do you read Cecily? She's started a password-protected blog for women who are working through weight-loss issues.

Whatever you do -- or don't do -- we're here for you, KLee. Thanks for this beautiful, heartfelt post.

Songbird said...


Karyn said...

Big hugs.

Rock (and write) on.

Jenevieve said...

I have been struggling with many of these same issues, especially now that I live in a culture of people who subsist on fried food and sugar (yes, even more than Americans!) My weight has always been a strugle for me, and my family has always referred to me in terms of my weight (Oh, Jeni, you know, the big girl"). I don't really have a point here; just wanted to say thanks for your eloquence and I feel the same way.

ccw said...


KLee said...

Jeni -- I'm glad that you decided to speak up. I know how hard it is. Thanks for commenting!

Jenevieve said...

And thank YOU for spelling my name correctly. Not many people get that! :)

Can I link to this post on my blog?

Bridget said...

klee- i love this post.

i can't imagine you being "just another fat lady."

You are Klee! Phat or not. :)

KLee said...

Thank you all, for the kind comments. Yes, Jeni -- you are welcome to link to this, or anything else here that you might find useful. Another post, way back in the archives is :

Bridget (can I call you Bridge? :) I appreciate the sentiment. I wish we lived in a culture where fat didn't matter so much. I may be fat, but I don't think I'm all that "phat." :)

liz said...

Big hugs from here too. And lots of love.

jo(e) said...