I pick up again on scanning the many boxes of family photos I haven't looked at in years. The project begins about a month ago but the fat pictures of myself freak me out and I take a breather. This batch, unfortunately, seems to be even fatter. I know that the person in the photos is me but for the sake of sanity I've had to disown her. I can barely conjure now what it was like to move about and navigate the world in that body. That said, I was always active and certainly present and capable for the kids. Additionally, while I was probably a time bomb, at the time of my bariatric surgery my blood pressure was normal and I showed no sign of the “co-morbidities” often associated with obesity. Still, the photos are beyond disturbing. Because my friends and kids and family are in so many of them I refrain from destroying them, but as there are ample others of loved ones without me, I might change my mind about that.
Laura Bogart has written a number of excellent essays about the experience of being fat. A recent piece on Salon http://www.salon.com/2014/08/04/dating_as_a_fat_girl/ chronicles the plight of the fat woman in romantic relationships. I was in a thinner phase, after months on The Rice Diet (just rice and salad with mineral oil dressing...really), when I met Himself so it was definitely a case of bait and switch. The advantage of seeing someone every day is that he doesn't notice the weight creeping up. Or, notice the pounds melting away either. So my long marriage has exempted my body from both criticism and praise. My personality and intellect, not so much.
While I believe that Bogart is at peace with who she is and her decision not to diet or weigh herself is a liberating one, she does eloquently express the difficulty of finding a partner who loves about her what she loves in herself. She recounts one relationship with a man who was embarrassed to express affection for her in public. There is also an issue of fetishists, who in their way are just as shallow as men who seek bimbo trophy wives.
For me, at the minute, it seems like I've gone through so much that it's worth, what on some days feels herculean, the vigilance required to stay at a relatively normal weight. There is a woman at Weight Watchers who is not much overweight. She constantly mentions “stomach stapling” as an “easy way out.” She is a nice woman so I don't slap her. I know a number of people who've undergone bariatric surgery (there are no staples involved btw) and after a year or so of dramatic weight loss begin to regain and finally exceed their pre-surgery weight. Friends assure me that this can never happen to me. They are wrong. At present, I am above my comfort zone and even that is about twenty pounds more than the Weight Watchers chart says I'm supposed to weigh. A lifetime of yo-yo dieting has messed up my brain chemistry, and despite bariatric surgery I have very little sense of when I am truly hungry or full. I have to vigilantly keep track of every morsel I consume and wake up at 4:30 every weekday morning for a walk.
I totally get why Laura Bogart has opted out. I believe that with decent habits one can be morbidly obese and still remain relatively healthy. My own bariatric surgery was followed by four additional surgeries which resulted in a serious problem with pain meds. I look at the horrible old pictures and am assured that it was worth it but, perhaps if I nurtured the same self acceptance as Laura Bogart has, I would have been spared some ugly suffering.
I am able now to make it from Casamurphy, in Baja Mount Washington, up over Kite Hill and past the Self Realization Fellowship to the top of the mountain. Aside from shopping for normal clothing sizes, being able to self propel is perhaps the biggest perquisite of weight loss. This is the first week of school and I pass the Mount Washington School. Nervous parents. New backpacks and fresh haircuts. Never again will I shop for school supplies at the Target or fret that my kid gets the “good” teacher. No more carpools or play dates. And they won't let me hold their hands when we cross the street. The changing role is bittersweet. I am nostalgic for the sweet innocence of little kids but also I am gratified when I see the young men that mine have become.
Last week's new TV campaign paid off. The new model for the bedroom is on order. Himself relented not because I am unable to see the present tiny set or because it is an energy sucker but just to shut me the fuck up. I have yet to touch any of Rover's accoutrements at the office and I have never gone to work without I dog. I miss the furry presence. Not to disparage the characters of the two home-bound canines, suffice it to say, they are not suitable for the workplace. Despite my avowal to never ever ever do it again I am thinking that it would be nice to get a little dog to take to work. I mention the possibility of new little dog, but strategically, when Himself is just about to doze off, and he mutters something that doesn't sound too outraged and might even be construed as acquiescence so I think maybe a new companion is a possibility.
Spuds and I are discussing the new TV and Himself rolls his eyes and says to him, “How would you feel knowing that your opinions bear no weight whatsoever?” Himself gives me no credit for editing, with him in mind, many of my wants and desires. I only badger him relentlessly over really important stuff. I make a huge strategic gaffe and mention now the little office dog. Spuds goes ballistic and accuses us (unduly harshly in my opinion) of being borderline negligent with the special needs canines we already have. Himself smirks in satisfaction. Spuds returns to New York on Monday. I will have to keep my mouth shut about the dog for awhile, given now the unholy alliance of Himself and Spuds. This gives me until December to find Himself in a good enough mood to revisit the dog issue and complete the adoption before Spuds returns.
I've had both kids simultaneously at home for less than three weeks this summer. Joe College is back on campus and Spuds will soon be gone. We will meet in San Gabriel for some Chinese food and then it will be December until the four of us are together again. Last year is my first experience with the totally empty nest. There is a lot of wonderful travel but the time at home is a challenge. I realize that there is more to the morass than just the kids being gone. I have lived many more years as a fat person than as a not so fat one. I coped with being fat by being an over achiever. I had to prove to the world that I was smart and nice and funny and the World's Best Mom. It took a lot of effort. With less to prove and no kids around to micromanage I sometimes struggle with purposelessness. I'm thankful to have a nice new TV to look forward to. And maybe a little dog too.