Recently I came across a video clip of me at my son's first birthday. I'm holding him in front of his cake for the Happy Birthday song. My words to celebrate this major milestone in his life? "Make sure you don't get any of me in the picture." You end up seeing only a fragment of my shirt, the backdrop of his Birthday Song. No mommy smiles, no kisses or giggles shared. Just me, being concerned about being captured forever on video at the size I was. Shame and guilt ruined what should have been a joyous memory to look back upon.
I discovered this lack of visual proof of my existence for those years when I started losing weight and went searching for a "before" picture. I quickly found there were none. The only "before" pictures I have are from after I had already lost 25-30 pounds, before I reached my heaviest, or a handful of side shots of random body parts that I had not deleted or cropped out. In this age of digital photography and camera phones, all I had to do was hit delete on any picture I couldn't stand to look at, and *poof*, evidence of my size was gone forever.
This makes me so sad, for so many reasons. I am sad when I look back and remember the swirling darkness I felt as I was letting my weight spin out of control. I am sad that my kids will have no pictures of me smiling and laughing with them when they were little. I am sad that I couldn't find it in myself to be defined by something other than my weight. I am heartbroken that I gave myself worth and found my identity solely in the size I was.
I recall so clearly the day I sat in a Burger King drive through wondering what to order. For a split second I thought about ordering something healthy or small, and then I looked at my size, and decided, "Screw it, I'm already fat, I'm just going to order the double steak burger with french fried onions and cheese, and the super sized fries." I felt completely trapped in my size. Immobilized. As though I was forever doomed to be the size I was. I had been yo-yo dieting/gaining weight since 4th grade. I had battled anorexia and bulimia and compulsive overeating all my life, living one extreme or the other. I felt destined to be large. This was just going to be my fate, and I needed to learn to accept it, embrace it, and feed it with enormous amounts of comfort food.
This happened shortly before I found I could barely squeeze into the seats at my daughter's piano recital; before it dawned on me that I had no energy to play with my kids; before I realized I sent them to do an inordinate amount of menial tasks for me, because I lacked the energy to climb up the stairs to get the remote control, or get my phone that I had left on the table. Right before my husband bought me a size 3 XL winter coat, after I outgrew my smaller ones; before I stepped on the scale and saw a 3 in the hundreds place. Right before I had a moment of emotional despair when half of my crunchy cinnamon bagel seemed to disappear from the bottom of my bag, and it dawned on me my emotional attachment to food ran way too deep. Right before I started to feel like the mom on "What's Eating Gilbert Grape?", and before the worry seized me that my children might be embarrassed to be seen with me. Right before I felt deeply convicted that God says he gives us a Spirit of self-control, and I was doing a horrible job displaying it. Right before God brought me to the verses I Corinthians 6:19-20: "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." *ouch*
All of those life shattering realizations propelled me towards an epiphany "I have got to do something different this time." Something had to change, and I couldn't do it on my own. I had to truly surrender it the Spirit of Self-Control. The ONLY one who could help pull me from this cycle of despair and self-destruction.I had to be willing to give it up, turn it over, and get myself out of the way. I had to give up control in order to get control.
Slowly, things started to change. I started to eat healthier foods, and less of them. I started to exercise on the Wii Fit, walking around the digital island, and practicing yoga and strength training with the help of the little white board. Then, someone I knew on Facebook started posting about losing weight and running a half-marathon. And the seed was planted....
...to be continued...
|Screen shot of me from my son's 1st Birthday. Only evidence I have that I was there, except as mentioned above.|