Eyes closed. Mouth Shut. I am in pain. “What have I done? “What have I done?” are the thoughts that ping back and forth, in my mind, like a game of table tennis. Every thought that said, “what have I done?” was served with “this is what you wanted, remember?”. To that, my reply was “is it? “
To be invisible is to feel like a walking, talking human being; a person that has feelings and a perspective that no one will ever see. To be invisible is to be someone that would stand in the middle of the room, filled with laughter, chatter and just feel alone. People bounce up against you and don’t apologize because they didn’t see you and you didn’t say “ouch”. You brush up against them and mentally apologize for disrupting the notion that you aren’t there. To be invisible was to be me. Unseen. Unnoticed. Unimportant.
One would think that being 316 pounds creates attention, the kind of attention where people look at you and not through you. Nope. I felt like people saw a shoulder to cry on, someone to hold their purse while they danced, an ear to to bend when they are in need of comfort. What about being the one that told fat jokes so that I could rob someone of the opportunity to do it first?
To be 316 pounds made me feel like I was made of cellophane. To be a size 26 meant that friends would go shopping without me. Men would say “ I would date you if you were smaller”. Ignorant courage, was assumed of the stranger, that thought it was ok to say “ you have such a pretty face”. Being 316 pounds,a size 26, with a pie face, would give the chick fila clerk, the permission to suggest a salad, when I foolishly asked what would she eat, if she were me. I will never forget that moment when the words darted out of her mouth and I tried to read her face for remorse, where there was none. The moment where her associate tried to turn her head so that I wouldn’t see the shocked look on her face; the look that says “I was thinking the same thing but I would never say that out loud”. I will never forget the moment I pursed my lips to say “you’re right. I guess I’ll take that salad, after all.” I toiled with the idea of saying to that chick fila associate: “why, so you can throw it up in the bathroom, after your done eating? You sickly, anorexic, pimpled faced 19 year old, super senior.”
I would have said, “maybe you should focus on making sure your teeth don’t corrode because it ages you, after awhile”.
UM,YEAH right. Am I nuts? That’s not me. Cellophane doesn’t speak back. Cellophane doesn’t have feelings. Cellophane takes the tray, carrying a salad that I didn’t want, to sit in a corner, alone and swallowing the lettuce along with my tears.
I was visible for all the wrong reasons. I felt I was visible, only when I had a role to play or when I had something interesting and insightful to say. I was visible for fleeting moments that were just long enough to make sure I had a pulse. When they were done with me, I would climb up the perch that was inside of my head and I would just sit there. I resigned myself to only observe the world and climb down when needed.
Year after year. Bite after bite. Climb after climb………up this perch. I would get the courage to lose weight. I was serious this time. “This time, I’m going to make it. I’m going to hit my goal”……I would tell myself and even others. It turned out that I would have less and less cheerleaders at the finish line, with every pound I gained. I lost myself. Question: how can I lose something I never had; my identity.
After a year of only losing 16 pounds from walking,zumba, half used bottles of hydroxycut, herbalife pills, green tea, water aerobics, salads, step aerobics and healing from past hurts. I gave up and accepted that I was going to be 300 pounds, forever. I would think to myself and say seriously? What was I eating? I was eating my future.
I always wanted people to see me. I mean really see me. I wanted to be seen as a sexy woman. Confident. Vibrant. Present. Driven. Someone that had a trusted opinion. Smart. Damnit, I just wanted someone to look at me and say, “I see YOU”. I accept you and you DO exist.
In 2013, after being denied 3x, I was approved for gastric sleeve surgery. By the way, If I hear one more person say that I did it the easy way……….in my mind, will, get punched in the face. Surgery, of any sort, is one of the hardest things I have ever done. For clarity sake, if you found out someone had a baby through a surrogate or IVF, would you tell them that they did it the easy way? A journey to a need is personal and a walk you take alone. So keep your walk, on your side of the street.
Annnnnnyyyy way. I had the surgery and just like what I wrote earlier, my first thoughts were “what have I done?” I lost 92 pounds. If that statement ended with an exclamation mark. This piece would be over. It’s not.
I hated every minute of my journey because I wasn’t where I wanted to be. To boot, I was getting attention; the very attention that I dreamt of. The attention, after my weight loss, scared me and I didn’t think I deserved it. I wasn’t prepared to handle something I prayed over. Being seen/visible, without mental preparation, is like knowing your truth but you have no voice. It’s broken.
I gained 50 pounds. I started to inch back into my old habits. I started to go back on
auto -pilot. I was settling back on my perch, watching my life pass me by. Again.
Not this time and not on God’s watch. After yet, another breakdown over my weight, I went back the place where I started and I hit the reset button.
I fought collected drops of tears on my shirt. I nursed every painful memory until the memory was powerless. I made a decision to see myself in the way that GOD sees me. That was hard, actually. I was used to jumping through hoops. I didn’t have to do that with him. Once I surrendered and found my value in him, I then had a foundation. I then made a decision after a decision to see myself. Through every kleenex remnants that stuck to my moist cheeks, after crying. Through the pain of facing what I thought was emptiness. Through the courage to live in the moment and value myself- right here-right now. Through it all, I filled myself with validation. I laughed at my own jokes, I cried in public. I put one foot in front of the other. I opened my mouth and let the pain pour out like secrets from a toddler. I set myself free. Truly free indeed. Once I did that. People started to notice me. The compliments were different. The attention was different. It wasn’t about my body or my clothing style. People commented on me. They started to see me. Its because I had someone to show; the real me.
I am a person that still has hurts and has hangups. I still have moments of feeling overlooked. The difference now? I am cemented in the Love that GOD has for me. I am never alone. I am always wanted and I will always be seen. With that in mind, I have the courage to try again.
I was visible after all. I didn’t see it because the image I had of myself was settled so deep inside of myself……like one of those russian dolls. It just took the unscrewing of figure after figure, turn by turn, until the little doll that never saw the light of day was the strongest doll of them all. The layers of the doll were hollow and useful to protect me while I was young. Now that I am older, my doll maybe smaller but she packs a mighty punch.
I also realized, the people that have to take the time to pull the doll are apart, have to be patient enough to find the smaller doll. The ones that stop mid -way, were never meant to find me. The ones that just looked at the first layer and assumed there was nothing there, are to be avoided.Nor do they own me. However, the one that comes to where I am and has done the work to pull a part the shell, is the one that saw me all along. They knew what value I had along. It happened as soon as I knew that I was willing to share the very thing that I was hiding.
It turns out, I was never invisible. I finally gave myself permission and the courage to live.
And so I did.