I just got a text from a friend telling me she's lost 20 pounds.
My first response was, "At what cost?"
She's barely two weeks out from gastric bypass. She can't eat solid food. She's been back to the emergency room once for unusual pain.
I know that surgery offers hope to many and salvation to some, but I've just never felt it was an option for me. There are far too many risks, far too many restrictions to my lifestyle...I have never overeaten because I was hungry. I make unhealthy meal choices because I'm happy, sad, depressed, rejected, joyful.... anything but hungry. How then, would having a smaller stomach help me lose weight?
For my friend, I believe she sees the surgery as a path to happiness and that she's sold her soul for the surgery and it's intended results. I pray that it answers her prayers and does not damage any elements of her general health.
Though she denies it, my instinct is that my friend really thought she'd wake up from surgery and weigh 130 pounds and, then, of course, her life would be perfect. I see a lot of people living in this prison. Though there are not bars in the cells, the imprisonment comes from believing that self worth is tied to our outward appearance. That unless we fit some media supported ideal, we are not worthy of love, happiness or peace.
When I got the text message this morning, I wanted to scream! At one point will we start loving ourselves and others not for our outward appearance but for our inner value? Sure this woman has lost 20 pounds and she wants to celebrate. I would prefer to celebrate her kindness, her ability to create or grow a garden. I would prefer to celebrate her ability to make people smile.
The thing is, it's not really all her fault. We've all been taught by the media, entertainment, fashion and society in general that if you're thin and pleasant to look at , then your life should be perfect and your actions of merit. If you're fat, then, clearly, something is wrong with you. Likely, you're lazy, dishonest and invaluable.
Here's the thing -- I'd rather be fat than dead because of some surgery or weight loss drug. I'd rather carry extra weight than worry about every morsel of food I put in my mouth. I'd rather live in joy than worry about how I look in a swimsuit, what numbers are on the tag in the back of my pants or what others think or say about me. I've come to this honestly. I've tried a myriad of drugs, watched as other took a bite of cake when I thought I couldn't and hidden in the car while my children and friends played at the pool.
At the beginning of the summer I vowed to not worry about my weight until Sept. 1. It's been entirely difficult. I have thought about it constantly. I have bragged about my weight loss in hopes of winning approval from judgemental friends and family members -- but in watching my friend deal with her struggles I've become acutely aware of the futility in all of that. I eat the food I enjoy, that blesses my body. I participate in activities that bring me strength and energy - again that bless my body. I celebrate my family, my friends my world....
The reality is if your life sucks at 300 lbs., it's going to suck at 130. True happiness comes not from numbers on a scale, but from inner peace. Happiness comes from feeling like you're in control of the things you can control and giving the rest to God. Joy is from knowing we are DIVINE, WE ARE GOOD ENOUGH, not because of our weight on a scale, but simply because WE EXIST.
Until all of us embrace that truth, we will always be trapped in a prison of self doubt and fear.