I read with deep interest the blog of a fellow “WLS’er” – or weight loss surgery post op friend – this last week regarding healing from our hurts. Any of our hurts … and how it isn’t an easy process … but a process it is.
My biggest life-long battle has been with morbid obesity. I was, though overweight, not obese as a child or a teenager. Morbid obesity became a part of my adult life. We married in 1969 at the wise old ages of 18 (me) and 20 (him) and started our little family two years later in 1971 – the perfect little adorable family. A year and a half later, he initiated an affair with our 18 year old babysitter (who had been our neighbor at one time) that was to last 10 years. Throughout his repeated promises that “it” was over, and my wanting to believe him, to threatening to leave him if it wasn’t over (I was not strong enough then to actually do it), my self esteem bottomed out and the weight gain started. I knew (because he told me) I couldn’t compete with this little size 2 Filipina and gave up trying. And yet when I would threaten to leave him, he would tell me that I was so fat no one else would want me. I weighted 180 lbs … was he right? Or he would tell me that he couldn’t live without me, that we (the kids and I) meant more than anything in the world. Retrospectively, we are sure he was likely bi-polar or manic/depressive …. it just wasn’t diagnosed as such then. We were together for 23 years … the last 20 filled with periods of esteem-killing verbal and psychological abuse … I stayed because I thought it was best for our family. And I continued to gain weight. He died in 1992 of a massive heart attack … a friend, in a late night check-in call that night to see how I was doing, asked me if it wasn’t in some way a relief that the abuse was finally over. I knew he was right –
I remarried in 1997 – to a man who had a history of substance abuse (pot & alcohol). My justification was that I was desperately tired of being alone and desperately wanting to be part of a couple again but there is no earthly reason why I should have married #2. His self esteem was lower than mine and his way of dealing with life was fight or flight. Our years together alternated between fighting and his threats to “split the sheets” and him blaming me for all the things that were wrong in his life . When I told him maybe we should “split the sheets”, because he obviously wasn’t happy, he said me, “You’re so fat, who else would want you”. I weighed 225 lbs (and I’m 5’1” on a good day) – was he right? Another co-dependent relationship built around verbal and emotional abuse.
I had gastric bypass surgery in June of 2005 and lost 90 lbs. I did it for me and me alone. I went from a size 22 to a size 8. The abuse didn’t stop, the fights did’t stop – but I knew the situation had to change for me to stay sane. When his friends told him (because they knew the way he was) he better shape up or he was going to lose me, my successful weight loss became the reason our marriage wasn’t working – that I’d changed. Maybe that’s right … maybe I just finally got tired of being the victim. Life changed.
My point in all of this is that recovering from morbid obesity is as much recovering from the hurts as it is from overeating. Of letting our hurts heal. I have healed from the hurts I allowed from the men in my life who were so insecure with themselves that trying to control me by verbal and psychological abuse was all they knew how to do. I have healed from the boss that blatantly told me I was not the image he was looking for to fill a particular position (a promotion I applied for based on my skills) and if he considered me for it would I be willing to spend 1/2 of my first check on new clothes (5 years later after my surgery and weight loss he did not recognize me and actually flirted with me …) I have healed from the doctor who shamed me to tears for being obese and being an embarassment to my husband. I am STILL healing from feeling that perhaps I am “not enough” or “good enough” … but I am working on it. I am always working on knowing and accepting that I am enough … and loving myself and trusting myself and my intuition.
Recovering from obesity is much like recovering from any addiction – the battle is never done or over. Over the last 3 years I have regained 25 of the 90 pounds that I lost. I could fall easily into blame and self-hatred and beat myself up for failing again … but I do not think I’ve failed. And the more I keep myself in that mindset … the easier it is for me to keep on track to dump the pounds picked up.
Healing … an ongoing process.
I want to thank Cari De La Cruz for her willingness to share her ongoing journey – and I am pleased to share a link to her blog for you to peruse if you’d like – I know she’d like you to!
Bariatric Afterlife By Cari
My Before & Afters:
February 2005 – Waikiki March 2006
Grandson’s Birthday Party
September, 2007 NYE December, 2010
40th Class Reunion w/Daughter (sorry not so clear!)