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:
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!