So here I am, finally a psychotherapist. I’ve finished school and all my training is swimming inside my head. I’ve also just recently lost 35lbs. And, I have to tell you… I am not any happier and my life is not magically more amazing, brighter or better because of it. Do I have more confidence? Yes, but the problems I had 35lbs ago are shockingly still here. Yes… I was shocked by this. There was this piece of me that thought all would be perfect if I could just lose the pounds.
Thanks late-night infomercials!
So now that my life isn’t 100% better because I’ve lost weight, I thought I’d share with you what isn’t typically discussed during a weight loss journey:
How much space I no longer take up. Today, I walk down the street and am astounded by how much physical room I no longer take up and that is scary for me. Sometimes, I see a man and I automatically think “He can over power me and there’s nothing I can do”. I was sexually abused. It happened once and it was clearly enough to have an impact. I’ve hid behind my weight and used my size to feel safe. A few years back, I had dropped a fair amount of weight and I clearly remember being looked at differently by a male friend, and even though he was a friend and considered him “safe”, that was my turning point. I gained all the weight back. There is safety in size; being overlooked and taking up physical space when you’ve experienced trauma.
People think they have a right to my body. By that I mean everyone thinks and assumes you want to hear how much thinner, healthy and amazing you look. In reality, I just want to crawl into a ball and hide under my covers. I found the attention of weight loss by those around me great at times but I also found it embarrassing. It reinforces the idea that there was something innately wrong with me when I was heavier and that’s just not true.
It doesn’t mean my relationship to food has changed. I’m a salt and vinegar chip junkie. That’s my addiction. I know it. I could eat a party sized bag in a night if I was so inclined… and trust me, I was. That hasn’t changed. I’ve just learned that listening to my body means sometimes not always listening to my brain, I have and always will have a wiring in my brain that says “salt and vinegar chips = love, comfort and acceptance. Listening to my body means taking time for myself and tapping into that inner place to see what’s really going on.
My ass got bonier. So did other things, and when I’m off spatially and trying to adjust to this new body, I tend to bump into things. It’s kinda funny but also a literal pain in the ass. I suddenly have bruises and I’m confused as to where they came from.
There are obviously benefits to weight loss and feeling more confident and comfortable. It has to happen when you’re ready and, on your terms, not because of what someone says or because of what society deems as acceptable. We have enough stressors and expectations to live up to in this world from the outside without adding more of the crazy making from our minds on the inside. I have to tell myself every day that I am enough and amazing as I am. Above all else, I’ve learned to be kinder and gentler with myself. Harsh words and beating myself up for 30+ years has gotten me exactly nowhere. Now, I’m finding acceptance and love in myself which means I don’t hate on myself when I don’t do it perfectly every minute of every day. And that reflects, in body, mind and soul.