Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The high cost of looking outward

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.


lovepossum said...

again i thank you for your powerful words and inner truth. I know what you men and i too have struggled over the past few months. I started a health program just over a week ago now that has helped me change the structure and way i eat (as my major concern was my eating habits not so much as my weight) something so simple has shown me what have been making food mean to me and that i have been miserable at any weight while i was being a slave to the highs of eating junk.

Not wanting to sound like a marketing testimonial (which i'd never be part of) i have to say after changing what and how i eat, i weighed myself for the first time in a week and found that i had lost 3.5 pounds...and it didn't mean anything that great to me. i mean sure i was happy, but didn't care that much compared to what i had achieved in just nourishing my body with better foods than i had done before.

As for my mum, she would weigh about 260 pounds and got a band surgically put around her stomach a year or so ago. she did start loosing a lot of weight but then put a lot on. she has had trouble when food get stuck and sometimes chokes if she doesn't chew her food. Her weight wont change until the way she uses food to do something other than nourish herself changes. i am the same, i had to go on a program and eat lots of fresh and cooked healthy food before i realized that i'd spend every lunch time at work trying to find the best thing to eat so it would make me feel happier..and chocolate treats in the arvo were warranted, and why not, have another if your feeling sad... i didn't even realize i spent all that mental energy on that stuff. it's interesting.

My point is it's the inner truths that are the meaningful parts of our existence, no the outer. I agree with you that it doesn't matter what weight you are, it's all about getting closer to knowing who you really are and what is important to you.


the nice one said...

Thank you Ms Karma! Amen! how wonderful life is when we can enjoy the moment and love ourselves. you are an inspiration to me!
I had hoped to say something inspiring but nothing is coming but there is a song that i really love and found while i was dealing with a similar situation with a friend who was literally starving herself and no matter how small the number on the scale got she still wasn't happy. the day she told me that she had lost 30lbs and still needed to loose 20 more to be beautiful and i sat there 30 lbs heavier then her. i wanted to scream at her but of course i didn't that wouldn't do me or her any good. enjoy the song


goodkarma said...

Wow! That's a great song -- I'm going to figure out how to post it on the blog, if I can.
I've been amazed at the response to this post -- so many people have responded privately (always fine) We all know someone who struggles with these issues... and more often than not, we struggle with it ourselves...
More soon,