Tuesday, July 09, 2013
During college, I fell in love. I know, I know - me and about a billion other people. Not unique. But! For me, it was my first time, and I fell H-A-R-D! We were together for 5 years and it - our relationship - came to a screeching halt one day when I was completely unprepared. I had invested so much of myself in that relationship, that I found myself not really knowing who I was the day it ended. I remember packing all my worldly possessions in the back of my Chevy - the hatchback was broken - so I literally held the lid up with one hand as I tossed all my junk in the back of the car with my other - leaving no hands available to wipe away the tears that were streaming down my cheeks or the snot that was dripping from the end of my nose. I was beyond heartbroken! I was 261 pounds of blubbering mess, and I thought my life was over. As I left St. Louis, Missouri that day to make the long drive back to Kansas City (where my parents lived), I stopped for gas. My face must have been a dead give away, because a complete stranger walked up to the counter, purchased a single rose, turned and said - as he handed the rose to me - "this is for you, you beautiful woman." I concluded that he was blind. He had to be. Me and beautiful simply did not go together in the same sentence. . . total oxymoron!
I lost my appetite that day. My appetite for food. My appetite for fun. My appetite for life. I truly thought my life was over. I was 21. When I arrived home - back to mom and dad's place (where else does a 21 year old loser go when they think their life is over?), I stopped eating. I don't think I did it on purpose - not at first anyway. In the sadness of my heartbreak, I simply forgot to eat. I don't know how many weeks passed before it occurred to me that all my clothes were getting baggy, but because nothing seemed to fit anymore, I decided it might be time to step on the scale. So I did, and I discovered that I had lost 40 lbs. Wow! That's how I felt in that moment. . . WOW! It sparked something. There seemed to be a new light. I felt alive for the first time in weeks. My depression started to lift. This was it, I thought! I can funnel all my energy into this. . . that will distract me. . . that will give me new life. . . that will heal the hurt my breaking heart can't bear to feel for even one more day.
So I continued not eating. Sort of. For six months, I ate one salad a night. I started going to clubs to meet new people, to dance and to drink. And it worked! I started getting attention - for the first time in my life - and that attention only encouraged me to keep on going. . . to keep on starving myself.
And then. . . B-A-M! Out of nowhere, I developed the most gawd awful pain I'd ever experienced. It took doctors some time to figure out what the problem was . . . given my young age. The final diagnosis was "gallstones". My gallbladder had to come out! This was before laser surgery - so I was admitted to the hospital - my gallbladder was surgically removed - I remained in the hospital for 7 full days living off of IV fluids and pain medication - and then I was released. Did I learn anything from that horrid experience? NO. I kept right on . . . starving myself. It got to the point where I was eating only every 3rd day. 1 small potato with a handful of cheese and 1/4th can of corn on top. That was it. That was all the food I consumed every 72 hours or so. And it worked! I lost 110 pounds in 6 short months! Oh, and my gallbladder. But, the way I saw it - back then anyway - the gallbladder probably weighed 5 pounds - and I didn't really "need" it - so I was glad to lose it! Just helped the scale go down faster. My thinking was so confused that I actually day dreamed about losing a kidney - or maybe a lung - cause I could live with just one, right? And if I lost another body part, welp, that was just more good news for me. . . cause it meant a smaller number on the almighty scale!
I say I lost my sanity during that time in my life, because. . . I did. I did not care one wit what damage I did to my body, so long as I lost the weight. I did not care how I lost the weight, so long as I lost it fast. I did not care about Karen - I only cared what other people thought of me (or what I perceived them to think about me). And I naively believed that if I were thin, people would think better of me. That's all that mattered. The number on the scale. The size of my blue jeans. Whether I could fit into a "medium". In my mind, that - my physical size - represented "beauty". If I was small - I WAS beautiful. If I was not small - I was NOT beautiful. I wanted the "blind" man to be right in his assessment of me. I wanted to BE beautiful. To achieve that . . . food had to go!
I'm not sure that I ever really got over the relationship that ended - the one that lead to all of this. But! After losing a 110 pounds, my gallbladder and my sanity, I met someone new. Someone who loved me (thin). And that love, led to a new relationship and that new relationship led to a feeling of security. And that secure feeling led to food (after starving for 6 months, I was hungry!). And that eating of the food led to weight gain. And that weight gain led to. . . obesity. I didn't know how to eat. . . "well". I never had a "healthy" relationship with food, so I really didn't know how to eat and keep the weight off. Slowly but surely, I regained all the weight I had lost. . . plus some extra for good measure.
That was a very long time ago, and yet I remember it all as if it were yesterday. Why tell this story here and now? Because I want never again to do that. And, I don't want anyone else to do it either. Starvation is NOT a way to lose weight. Starvation can result in a whole host of health problems. Starvation can result in death. And death ain't living. Losing weight and being healthy are about life - about living - about sustaining life. After all these years, I'm still trying to learn how to "eat to live" - how to use food to sustain my life. For far too long, I lived to eat. I actually thought my purpose in life was to eat donuts and candy! But now I know the truth. And once you know the truth, you can do better. That's where I'm at today. Doing better.
Do you have a story that you can share - one that will help me and others achieve our goals? If so, please share it. If not here, then in a blog entry of your own. Take time to encourage others and in the process. . . you might just encourage yourself. I just did! Now I'm ready to go out and take on the day. . . whatever it might bring. Wherever you are, whatever you're doing, I wish you peace. Peace with food, peace with yourself, peace with the world.