Friday, October 8, 2010

anniversary


It’s my third anniversary today.

I’m not married. This is not my coming out story. This is a story about my lifelong struggle with weight. I was a chubby kid, a chubby young adult, and severely obese after I turned 35. This is not a story about failure, or lack of willpower, or laziness.

Lazy people don't get college diplomas while raising strong-willed toddlers on their own. Lazy people don't work full time. Lazy people don't go back to university at the age of 35 to get a degree because they never had the chance when they were younger.

So many people equate excess weight with laziness, failure, and lack. But most of the time, weight gain happens because of metabolism, genetics, and emotional dependence. People that are more than 100 pounds overweight have a lot of difficulty losing the weight, for a number of reasons. Metabolism works against them.  Exercise is sweaty and uncomfortable, and you can't do enough to make a difference. Some people are able to overcome the odds and lose the weight through diet and exercise alone.

I was not one of those people. Diets didn't work, even if I adhered to them faithfully. Going to the gym turned me into a sweaty, breathless mess after 10 minutes. I felt horrible about myself, and I was slowly losing control of my health...by June of 2007 it was just a few little warning signs. I had slightly elevated cholesterol, High blood pressure, knees that ached when I climbed the stairs...those were the physical symptoms. What I never talked about was the depression and unhappiness I felt all the time.  My dependence on food was depression-driven, was sending me into an early grave with a waistline that successfully hid the real me from the rest of the world. Food is addictive, as I discovered after surgery, when I had lost my seemingly harmless crutch. It makes you feel good, and it alters your brain chemistry without affecting your ability to drive a car, or function at work.

I made a decision. On October 5, 2007, I had weight-loss surgery in Las Vegas. I wish I could remember more of my Vegas vacation – the kids had fun. After my 24 hour stay in the hospital I didn’t feel like doing very much other than watching television. I couldn’t eat to stave off boredom anymore, and never will again.

I've lost 130 pounds over two years. I look and feel completely different than I did two years ago. My chronic pain is gone. I've gone from a size 26-28 to a size 14. 

I didn’t have surgery to look better. But I do.  And now that the shock of looking in the mirror and seeing a complete stranger has passed, I like what I see. It was tough at first.  Why, suddenly, were people talking to me, on bus and in line at the grocery store?  And why wasn’t I worthy of similar treatment before my surgery? After all, I was the same person underneath, just more …exposed. I simultaneously treasured and abhorred the invisibility that obesity offered. If I no longer had my weight to hide behind, how would I cope?  Why didn’t I enjoy sex any more after surgery than I did before?

Weight loss surgery changed more than my weight. It was a catalyst that forced me to confront issues that I had never dealt with. It forced me from my place of safety and out into the world, where I finally realized that my problems with sex were not a lack of drive, but a lack of desire for men.  The surgery transformed my body and my life in ways that I couldn’t have anticipated three years ago, when I checked into hospital for a now-routine, laparoscopic procedure.

It's not a choice everyone would or should make.  But I credit that decision with the happiness that I have today. I am living a completely different life than I expected – apart from the partner who supported me through the process.  I came out as a lesbian within months of the surgery.  I am comfortable in my body for the first time in my life.

 And I wouldn't change a thing...

6 comments:

Kalisis Rising said...

finding that comfort in your own skin is priceless and IMO, worth the sacrifices that it takes. I'm glad you've found it for yourself - happy anniversary.

the only daughter said...

Ditto.

Paula Sophia said...

Camlin, as a person who's dealt with weight issues one way or another all my adult life, I applaud your courage. Thanks for sharing.

Camlin said...

Thanks. It was wonderful, and a struggle, and I would do it again in a heartbeat, anemia and all...

Redbone210 said...

Happy anniversary!

~Just me again~ said...

Happy anniversary. What a good post. My GF is very overweight, suffering from alot of physical ailments. But she's not lazy at all. I think she hears that alot, because she always points out that she's not lazy.
Now that she's moved up here to Canada, the healthcare is better (in terms of not having to pay)once she gets all her other ailments under control, she's been talking about getting surgery as well.