Weighty Matters

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Photographs and Memories

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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