Weighty Matters

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Photographs and Memories

on March 13, 2014

I was on a hunt last night for photos of a particular friend. I’m not one of those people who has old packets of photos neatly boxed in date order with labels on the boxes. So I had to dig through a lot of photo store envelopes, haphazardly piled. This meant that I went through many photos from mostly the last 13 or so years. I wish I could say that I was carrying around a warm, fuzzy nostalgic feeling after the experience, but that isn’t the case.

Mostly I’m sad. I’m huge in the majority of the photos in which I even appear. It doesn’t matter what the photo portrays, whether it was a party, a gathering of friends, a fun event, an exciting occasion — if I’m fully in the photo, I can’t see anything else or feel any of the happy that should be part of those memories. The only shots where I experience the joy are those where enough of me is concealed behind other people.

How pitiful. Miserable. I am mired in the sludgy realization that my obesity most likely robbed me of some of the happiness at the time the photos were taken and the way I looked then still steals the joy of the memory from me today. There’s a photo of me with my younger nephew at his bar mitzvah. We both have huge smiles on our faces and must have just shared some really great moment. Damn it. I know I was happy right then when the photographer took the shot, but looking at the picture years later only brings me pain and that regret.

There was one exception. I found a photo from 11 years ago of me with my dear friend Chrissy. Chrissy comments here at the blog and has mentioned her own weight loss surgery/journey so I’m not blowing up her anonymity. Anyway, in that photo, we’re both obese, but it didn’t make me sad to look at it. I was able to look objectively at where we were and be really happy that we’ve come so far. We both have achieved significant weight loss and regained a great amount of quality health. These things I can celebrate.

I need to process this and make my peace with the photographic evidence of my past. I want to reach the point where I accept and forgive myself for the effect my previous obesity has on my memories. I want to not cringe when I look at old pictures but recapture the pleasure and joy in those experiences.

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One response to “Photographs and Memories

  1. Skye says:

    It’s sad, but it makes sense that seeing your obese self in those photos would make you lose sight of the joy and happiness of the moments. You are still relatively new in your new, thinner, healthier life phase, so it’s hard to see past the issue for you — your former obesity — to see the bigger picture — the moments worth sharing and remembering. I imagine as you grow more confident and settled into your new reality, more sure that you won’t return to your former unhealthy and diseased ways, you will be able to see the photos for what they are: moments of happiness and joy, kept for enjoyment. It will come.

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