Loss and Stuff

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One month from my abdominoplasty and 4 days from going back to work I’m thinking “What have I learned?”

More than anything I learned to deal with loss. Loss of inhibition (contrary to the picture above and most of my selfies I did have inhibitions). Loss of self loathing. Loss of a loved one. Loss of who I thought I was.

Turns out I’m finding myself pulling down my shirts less and less. I’m totally comfortable wearing cute gym stuff  (uh…not that I can go to a gym for another 2 weeks, but a girl gets curious). I stopped over-thinking how I look, now it’s just a matter of comfort and wrangling my binder and boobs to stay in the right place. Stuff I didn’t expect to look different does. Mostly good, but I swear it’s going to take me years to accept this belly button as my own. Never have I been so obsessed with that thing and infuriatingly enough I don’t have a picture of it before I got pregnant with Jadon and neither Joe or I remember what it looked like 21 years ago. It’s on my body now, better get used to it.

The self loathing is still there, probably always will be, but I’ve let quite a lot of that go. I’m still picking things apart about my body, again that will take more mental work on my part. Something so deeply rooted in your psyche doesn’t just go away because some skin and fat are gone. Unfortunately I’ve taken a step backward and allowed myself to absorb some very negative and hurtful things that were said by someone I deeply respect.

That brings me to loss of a loved one, in a metaphorical sense. I never quite knew what it would be like to have a parent walk away from a relationship with me. I expected it to happen one day. I expected anger, bitterness, and frustration to eventually boil over just as I expected my parent’s divorce and my brother’s suicide. All my life I’ve seen relationships careening toward disaster and have done whatever I could to repair, fix, save, or borrow time to keep them alive. I have a 0% success rate, but I also understand that I can’t and don’t make decisions for people. The pain of that loss can be unbearable, especially when it involves your dearest loves. It haunts me, but has brought me closer to my Mom who loves me without limitations, without conditions, without judgement. I’ve learned that my husband and I have raised a son who’s endlessly resilient even when deeply bruised. I learned that I married a man who’s ferociously, yet appropriately, protective. While I mourn this loss, I’m not giving up and will try to mend hearts again. Time is needed.

Lastly, I lost this perception of who I thought I was. I thought I was stronger than I am, that I was impervious to dependence simply because I’m mindful of it. Nope. Pain killers are good for a few days, but not 3 weeks. Turns out when you stop taking them life sucks and seems completely surreal. Floating around on a cloud of pharmaceuticals feels fantastic, not to mention all the energy I had to clean and organize. Coming back down to reality is horribly unpleasant. Now my energy is sapped and I’m coming off of a 2 day chest cold, but I haven’t taken any pain meds today. I’m done with them and my pain is minimal! Starting to feel normal again and the tightening around my lower abdomen is much better and less painful.

Speaking of tightening, turns out you do have to continue to eat a reasonable diet (ugh so much bread…) I can’t drink milk anymore and my body rebels against a lot of sugar- not something you notice when you’re on pain meds. However, NOTHING WILL KEEP ME FROM EATING CHEESE.

Yeah, still a work in progress. Still worried about meeting the expectations of myself and others. Still worried about perception. I think a lot less about how I look and a lot more about how I feel.

I think I’ve gained a lot in 4 weeks.

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Thanks and Stuff

I posted a “before and after” picture of my body last night. It was terrifying. As I hit the button to post the picture on IG and Facebook I immediately felt like throwing up. I vacillated between changing the tags, changing the privacy settings, burying it under several timeline postings of corgi puppies and quiz results, or just deleting it completely.

Here’s the pic:

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Me in 2008 at my highest weight. All others taken the night before surgery and yesterday.
My husband, Joe, either checked IG or Facebook, turned to me and reacted with, “bold move, hun.” That was the best way to explain my posting. The fact that he voiced my exact thoughts about the picture comes as no surprise after 22 years together. What did surprise me was how that that statement made me wonder if I really should delete the picture. Was I being too bold? Was I crazy for posting this?
It’s not like I have a huge following (I barely have 100+ followers on IG). I don’t often see more than 60 likes on any picture or FB post. I thought this would probably just fly under the radar and no one would notice. I hoped no one would notice.
For 15 years I hoped no one would notice me. I hoped they wouldn’t notice my weight. I knew people looked at me because I was obese. I saw people turn to each other and giggle or whisper about my weight. Someone even spit on me in the mall once (yeah that happened).
As I lost the weight and my body changed I was left with what looked like melted skin/wax on my torso. I was happy to be healthier, to have more energy, to see better test results on my physicals year after year. I was not happy with my stomach/abdomem. I felt like people were still looking at me because they could see my stomach. I thought people were still giggling and whispering about my stomach. That fear of my appearance constantly being judged was still there. I felt like I’d worked so hard, but had never been able to enjoy it.
Insurance doesn’t pay for abdominoplasty. It will pay for a panniculectomy, which is just removal of extra skin, but only if you have a skin condition or medical necessity. My skin has always been healthy, but it has caused back pain- not extreme enough to result in a medical diagnosis. A panniculectomy doesn’t address the need for the rebuilding of the abdominal wall and is functional only. In order to achieve the results I wanted I would have to pay for a fleur-de-lis abdominoplasty fully out of pocket, including unpaid time off from work. It’s not something we take lightly, but Joe is as committed to my happiness and finally feeling good in my own skin as I am. I’m still recovering after 2 weeks (as of today). It still feels like my skin is being flayed off of my body if I sleep through or forget a pain pill. I still have a drain to remove any extra fluid that builds up around my incisions. I’ve gotten over an infection, but there’s still a lot of swelling and I’m pretty laid up.
When I looked at the before and after picture I posted all I could see was the melting skin/wax that I tried so hard to work off, to hide, to ignore.
That’s not what everyone else saw. I received so many words of encouragement. So many people expressed their support. It was humbling and comforting.
I’m still anxious about the post. I’m still worried that others will think I didn’t work hard enough or lose enough weight to lose my belly fat and skin. That I’ll be judged as harshly as I judge myself (I’m still working on self love).
I waited 5 long years to maintain my weight, to see if the skin would shrink. It never did. I’m slowly embracing and trying to love my body in the present and the past. It’s something I’ve struggled with since I was 10 years old and realized what “fat” meant. That it meant me. I’ll try as hard as I possibly can to block that negativity, to stop assuming what others see when they look at me, to love myself as I am.
Thank you to everyone who has passed on a kind word. To my core support team (you know who you are) and even to those who have looked at me with judgement or cruelty- all of it has shaped who I am today. Pun intended.

P.S. To Joe, my hero, thank you for everything you do for me every single day. Love you.

P.P.S. Thanks to Jadon for taking care of mom and always kissing my forehead when I need it. To Carolyn for my cozy blankie. To Jen for don’t go crazy being bored supplies. To all of my friends. Seriously thank you!

Support and Stuff

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This is a picture of strong, supportive women!

Sometimes what women say to and about each other makes me cringe. Actually, most of the time. Often we as women work against each other. We quell shit talk with more shit talk. We shame each other for not supporting other women. We rarely lift each other up. We tend to be our own worst enemies. It seems we prefer to watch each other fail.
Case in point. I’ve been raw about a friend telling another friend (in not so many words) that my weight loss surgery was basically ‘taking the easy way out.’ It was infuriating! I worked hard, ate right, tried to improve my relationship with food, but while I’m literally working my butt off this bitter person went around saying it was easy. Then I realized something- I SAID IT FIRST! I put myself down in front of the same two friends by saying I ‘took the easy way out.’ I downgraded my achievement to cheating. She was simply repeating what I said first. Self sabotage at it’s finest. My friend wasn’t bitter, she wasn’t jealous, she was being agreeable and I shouldn’t have said something so hurtful about myself in the first place.
It’s not enough that we snipe each other, no we up the ante by calling ourselves out for any and every fault we can find.
Each time you hear another woman put you down, remember she’s done the same to herself and probably ten times worse that day. When you’re on the receiving end of side-eye, remember the woman throwing that hate probably looked at herself the same way this morning before she left the house. When a girlfriend criticizes your parenting skills, be mindful that she’s probably second guessing herself all day when dealing with her own children.
Let’s encourage each other. Compliment each other. Celebrate wins  together.
Wouldn’t that be easier?