A friend of mine shared a blog on her Facebook page the other day. The blogger is on WordPress at cannebodyhearme.wordpress.com, and she flat-out blew me away. The truth is, she is me, or might as well be. Except that she’s much younger, and much, much thinner. But her weight loss was achieved via Weight Watchers, so she’s been me, too. She’s been heavier, actually. Currently, though, she’s smaller than I’ve been in my adult life, ever. Or am likely to be, in truth. She must be 20-something; I just turned 46. I expect to lose more weight, eventually. I also expect to reach my goal weight, a number I have yet to choose. But will I stay at this mythical goal weight, once I get there? That also has yet to be determined. At the moment, it doesn’t matter. The future is not for me to angst over. I could, and have, but I also recognize that it’s a waste of my energy. One day at a time is more than just a 12-step program cliche, it’s the truth. It’s all we ever have. When I put that idea into practice, it makes all the difference.
There was so much this woman said I could relate to… too much. I ended up reading several posts, skipping around randomly. She spoke of hating herself in pictures, of only seeing the flaws. That has little to do with weight; nearly every woman I know – regardless of size – seems plagued by that same issue. She wrote more specifically of avoiding smiling in pictures because she felt it made her face appear larger. Ouch. Guilty. So very guilty. Moreover, I almost never smile with my teeth showing in photos, because I think it makes the problem worse. When I do try I think I look awkward, nearly manic. Years and years of trying to smile “just enough” have taken their toll.
She wrote one blog about being stuck in a mode where she wanted that piece of cake worse than she wanted to be thin, at least for the time being. She also talked about avoiding meetings because she knew she’d gained, and about the shame she felt. I’ve been there, lately. I haven’t been tracking and I haven’t been to a Weight Watchers meeting in a month. Initially I had gained a little, and wanted to “fix it” before weighing in. Uh huh. Want to guess how well that’s working? The further I get from my last meeting, the more I gain, and the harder it is to face that scale. She at least seemed to be getting on the scale at home, though. I’ve been avoiding even that, worried that it will tell me I’ve failed, that I’m huge, ugly, a mess. Ah, numbers. The bane of my existence. I was never very good at math, but the power those numbers have over me is horrifying. I know I’ve gained, and I feel terrible about it, but without the number, it’s a nebulous, manageable kind of terrible. I am guessing I’ve gained around five pounds, because my clothes still fit, they’re just less comfortable. But if I get on that scale and find out I’ve gained seven pounds instead of the five I think I’ve gained? Let the torrent of self-loathing begin. All that over a theoretical difference of two pounds? Yes. Yes, indeed.
It’s about the number, yet it’s not. The entire thing is a construct, really. I feel pretty and good about myself at a given size, but hideous at the next size up. It’s all bullshit. It’s me beating myself up and grabbing an arbitrary number to use as my weapon. It’s not about the weight.
When I was in Overeaters Anonymous, I learned that anorexics were no different than I. Oh, they looked different, to be sure, but it was an illusion. Different sides of the same coin. The low self-esteem and self-hate, the battle for control of our weight… all the same. They might have been thinner but they weren’t winning the battle, either. The differences were all a matter of perception. Our own, society’s…. In the end it didn’t matter. The goal was never a number, but a different way of looking at ourselves, and at food. The struggle to achieve those things is so much fucking harder than reaching a fixed point on a scale.
I looked at this girl’s “after” picture, and I was jealous. She’s young, she’s thin and she’s very, very pretty. It’s all a lie, though, an illusion. We are the same, she and I. We both seek a healthy relationship with ourselves and with food, and both of us continue to struggle. She hasn’t “won” because she’s thin now. Her post revealed that “after” wasn’t an easy place to be. Not surprising, in the end. There is no “after,” there is only today. It’s all we have, all we can have. What we choose to do with today, though….
As for me, I need to face my fears and get my butt back to my Weight Watchers meeting. I can’t do it alone. Any lie I tell myself that keeps me from weighing in is ultimately just my self-destructive tendency rearing its ugly head. I need to go. To face the number, the scale and myself. Those people in my meeting, my leader included, will neither hate me nor shame me for gaining weight. No. I do that to myself. Self-love can’t be conditional, hinged solely on what the scale is telling me. Going to that meeting is an act of love. Staying in my townhouse eating cookies, not so much. The struggle is real, and it’s a life-long one. Today was better than yesterday. I’ll let you know how tomorrow goes.