Weighty Matters

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Why Did I Bother?

I’ve been struggling over something and wanted to get it more square in my head before I blogged about it. Problem is that I’m still not sure I’m square with it but it’s been several days since I posted. So, I decided to plunge in and write about it and see if that helped me even it out.

While I was away, someone I have a “conference aquaintanceship” with chatted with me about my weight loss. I’ve seen her once before since I had the weight loss surgery and the change in my body size is pretty dramatic. She was amazed and largely complimentary. Like many people, she wanted to talk more about my process and journey. I don’t mind. Often, if someone isn’t asking for their own benefit or need, they talk to me for information because someone they care about is obese and is either contemplating surgery or they wish the person would think about it. For the record, I never tell anybody they should have surgery. It is totally not for me to suggest to anyone that they should undergo a life-altering, potentially dangerous, operation. I can only express what has worked for me and how I feel about it.

Anyway, this acquaintance and I chatted for a bit and it was fine — up until the point where she realized that it’s been more than two years since my surgery and I’m not yet at goal weight. The woman asked, “If it’s taking you this long to lose the weight, why did you bother having surgery? Why didn’t you just do it on your own?”

She sounded a little scornful and disappointed, like the time duration had burst a bubble or destroyed an expectation she’d fostered.

I immediately experienced a range of reactions. I felt criticized for not losing all of my weight faster. I was shocked at what I thought was insensitivity on her part. Then there was a healthy dose of my asking myself, “What the f**k does she know about it?”

At the same time that I was trying to process my reactions, I also wanted to formulate a decent response that didn’t include obscenities and an abrupt departure. My fall-back position is to not reveal when someone’s words hurt or upset me. It’s a natural, animal reaction. Don’t show injury, illness or weakness. If you do, predators will kill and eat you. I didn’t particular feel the urge to educate her either. Normally, I’ll give as much time and talk as needed if someone has an honest desire or need. That I just wanted to vacate this conversation told me that what she’d said had pushed a button inside and I wasn’t prepared to deal.

I mustered up a smile and said, “If I could have lost all of this weight without surgery, I would have done it decades ago.” Then I excused myself and left.

I just had my breakthrough on why this has bothered me so much for so long. Her comments, although I don’t believe she meant them in a hurtful, malicious way, triggered my disease, believing-I’m-not-good-enough (B.I.N.G.E.) reaction. In that instant, I felt like I’ve somehow failed because I’m still not at goal weight. Even while I type this, I know that it’s screwy and untrue. I have not failed. This is a lifelong journey, not something with a finite beginning, middle and end. I’m still walking the walk, one step at a time. I’ve been on this road for more than two years. I’ve never before sustained an effort this long.

For the record, what I said to the woman is also the absolute truth. If I could have lost so much weight and kept it off without surgery, I would have done so. Years and years ago with every diet, I wished that I would get to goal weight and keep it off. I was never successful for longer than a year. Why did I bother having weight loss surgery? That’s why. I couldn’t do it on my own but I’m doing it now.

That’s victory, not failure.

Ok. I feel better now.

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