I hated you. There…I said it…I know it sounds harsh, but it’s true. For the last two years since my gastric bypass surgery I looked at “before” pictures and I hated you. How did you let yourself get that far? You were fat, ugly, lazy – those are the labels society placed on you so I accepted them as reality and fact. You were that person that was the butt of all those fat jokes, the one who hid in the shadows, trying not to draw attention, the one on the sidelines of life, a spectator. I hated you for those things.
Once the weight came off, your life changed drastically – you became a full participant in life enjoying time with your family camping, river rafting, biking, hiking, and even riding the rides at Disneyland. You even realized your dream of having a healthy baby and have been blessed beyond measure with a gorgeous baby boy…and your body was strong and healthy enough to carry him and give him life! Amazing.
Weight loss surgery gave you the tool you needed to change physically and to be able to accomplish those goals that at one time seemed impossible to you. However what was most surprising to me was that the hardest work after surgery was mental and emotional transformation that came after the physical. Coming to terms with compulsive eating and addiction was – and continues to be – a major mental shift in the way we think about food and the relationship we have with it. Moreover, I had to reconcile how others saw me with how I saw myself and find validation and self-worth from within and not from outside sources. I’m still working on that part.
Yet after a lot of soul searching, and some conversations with some wise friends who have forged the path ahead of me, I realized something very important; YOU – my pre-surgery self – are the most important part of my journey and my ability to get to where I am now. The years YOU spent enduring the judgment and looks of pity or disgust gave me empathy for others who are struggling with obesity or other physical impairments. The time YOU spent working towards a healthier body gave me strength to endure and the motivation to keep going when things seemed too hard. And most importantly, YOU were the one with courage to finally stand up and say “enough is enough” and YOU were the one brave enough to take the step to have the surgery and make the lifestyle changes necessary to lose 188 pounds.
So what do I have to say to you, my pre-surgery self? First, “I’m sorry.” I judged you the way the world judged you. And I forgive you for all those perceived failures if you can forgive me for my unrealistic expectations and harsh judgments. Next I’d say “Thank you.” Thank you for being brave and strong and beautiful before I even knew you were. And most importantly I’d say “I love you.” I love you because you made me who I am today.
I take the best attributes of you and the best attributes of who I am now to move forward and continue the process of becoming a better person, wife, mother, and friend. We’re not perfect, and the journey is only just beginning. And here’s the big secret…you were never intended to reach a finished product through this journey…instead we are a beautiful work in progress.