I was roughly thirty-five, in my relationship for about five years and just about sick of people asking when we were going to get married, have a baby, and move through the societal checklist.
Not in this body. I mean, I couldn’t say that and I wouldn’t, but I thought it constantly. Pay for a fancy dress and a party and a photographer to document me rolling down an aisle in a size twenty something dress? Nope, not this year. There was no way I was adding the weight of a baby to this body either, never mind the hazard of having a baby when you’re overweight. I try again.
A few months went by; about six of them and I didn’t like not knowing how much I weighed. It was weird, it had been a thing I always knew about myself. I ordered a pricey digital scale to go with my fitness tracker and I was on the phone with a girlfriend who had just gotten the same one. She was telling me how to set it up, when it was ready, I proudly stood on it. It was beautiful, shiny black, sturdy, digital output.
“Do you love it or what?” she said ….
“I, yea, I do …
let me call you back in a minute though?” ….
I stood there looking at the digital output ….
What in the ever living fuck was that number? How was that real? How did that even happen?
Back to cutting out food groups, adding fiber, monopolizing the treadmill at the gym, skipping dessert, avoiding carbs and eating meats wrapped around cheese for two out of three meals a day.
I hadn’t ever really considered bariatric surgery. I mean I joked about it and maybe in my wildest daydreams I imagined “what if…” but I didn’t ever expect it to be anywhere near a reality. Which in itself is kind of silly, since I’ve been making lists for more than half my life that start out with “lose weight” or “more water” or “join a gym” …. And while I have always done those things in some capacity, they always kept popping up on a list. There must have been a reason, and it was probably that they never really worked, at least not as well as I wanted or needed them to.
So it’s kind of surprising, that when I made an appointment with a new doctor to discuss my anxiety and depression and health and weight concerns and he asked me if I had ever considered bariatric surgery, I sobbed ….
Sobbed my eye makeup right off and said no.
It was like a secret shame, of course I thought about it …. What fat person doesn’t think of that alternative? That’s like asking a partially deaf man if he ever considered cochlear implants or a pregnant woman if she considered natural versus cesarean.
I wanted to jump up and shout like Charlie when he got the golden ticket, “YES! YES! I have thought of it, do I qualify? Can you help? Can I have it? Can you put me under right now? Let’s go, let’s do it!” …..
Instead, just the heaving, choking sobs that were a strange combination of defeat, shame and relief all rolled into one.
This was 2014, on the 7th of June, and the day that this stranger put his hand on my shoulder and comforted me and helped change my entire life.
On my way down the stairs out of the medical building I breathed my way through a panic attack and texted my very first girlfriend, my cousin and light-heartedly shared what just happened. Instant support.
The ride home was less than fifteen minutes but I played everything you could imagine in my head as if it was all about to happen. As if my destination was a hospital in town where they were waiting for me with scalpels and fat vacuums. What would I look like, who would I tell, how does it work?
I really was thinking most about how I would go about telling my live-in boyfriend, who never had to count a calorie a day in his life. I mean surely he knew I wasn’t a size 2 or anything but I was getting that anxious feeling you get when you have to present something to a class full of your peers, but instead of it being a report on the last book I read, or a dissection of my family tree … it was a confession, an apology even that I had apparently been doing something wrong all my life and here I was, too fat to fix without a staple gun and what should I do next?
Well, I’m an asshole because I don’t know how I thought he would react or how a person is even supposed to act when their partner comes home and is like ‘Hey, I really like tacos, so I’m gonna have to reduce the space I have to hold them’ – but he was perfect. He repeated my history to me …. My cutting out of food groups, eliminating ingredients, only drinking meals, fasting, appetite suppressants …. Of all the words he said to me, the ones I remember most, the ones that were the most melodic to me where “If someone is basically offering you the opportunity on a silver platter, if insurance will cover it and you don’t take advantage of that, you’re stupid” …. Oh sweet release!
He didn’t make a face, he didn’t say anything negative or disparaging, he encouraged me, he wanted me to give myself the gift … and if I hadn’t already been in love with him for years, I would have fallen right in that moment.