Gastricly Speaking

So 2 years ago give or take a month, I had a gastric bypass.
Basically I had my stomach (internally) made smaller and a whole bunch of intestine bypassed.

A whole mess of people have said that I should have done it the ‘old fashioned way’ and a slightly smaller mass of less polite people have flat out said I took the easy way out .

And every single one of these people are thin. Maybe not supermodel thin, but thin none the less.

So here is the answer to them that they cannot seem to understand.

1. Fat runs in our family. I know that sounds like a cliché but, and it is a big but, that doesn’t make it untrue. We go back generations and on both sides of a familial line. 90% of my gene is fat. The other 10% is my red hair… 🙂

2. I did try it the ‘old fashioned way’. And it worked to a degree. But no matter how many mountains I climbed (please note, fat does not mean unfit), how many small meals I ate, how much I went to the gym, the weight only went down so far and then plateau became my best friend.

3. I got sick somewhere in all of number 2 above and got put on a whole banana boat worth of cortisone. Sjoe I was so swollen my lips split open. For those of you who don’t know – cortisone = swollen and usually = heavy duty weight gain.

4. At my biggest I was 170kg. People who didn’t understand the illness and what cortisone does to you, judged me continuously. Friends and strangers alike. I cannot begin to describe to you what weighing that much, being that sick and being judged does to a self-esteem. It is probably easier to just say there was no self-esteem.

5. I got the gastric bypass to save my life. My life. Very important and often misplaced words. My life. The one I have to live. The one I inhabit and make my own. My life.

I have lost 70kg and I want to lose another 30. However, if I don’t that is fine too. Because along the way I realized that I don’t need to be thin. I need to be happy. Free from caring what others think of me.

Alone in my space and at peace.

That is all any of us need. So the next time you feel a need to pass judgment on what you perceive to be ugly, deformed, disabled, fat – just stop a moment. And be alone in your own space, at peace. And afford that gift to others.

Time removed from Memory

Sometimes, you just have to write things down in order for them to make sense. For whatever reason, your brain gets too full, too convoluted, too bogged down and the endless circle of thought and rethought is… well, endless. Allot of this blog will be about me trying to make sense of my rethoughts, amongst other things.

I have this slightly weird memory issue. As in I don’t have one. While I remember various parts of my life, some mundane and some not so much, huge gaps of time are lost to me. When I am not missing a particular memory, then I am quite content to believe that this space in my recollection of time is a blessing. However, there are times when I intrinsically know that I am missing huge chunks of a childhood, a life, a relationship, a period in time – and the sense of loss is profound.

I do not think that this loss of time is due to any massive trauma or actual choice that I made. I think it is just a part of me, and oddly, my sister. As much a part of our genetic line as our freckles or particular sense of humour.

What I do remember is difficult to articulate. It is taste and love and isolation and running around in an unseasonal and atypical snowfall, hotdogs in front of the SABC’s big round and ugly test pattern, Macguyver in black and white, the freedom of the ignored, horses, dogs and  fantasy.

I believe that some of what I remember is absolute truth, and some is based on the stories of truth that families tell each other over many years.

I was born in 1975, a very late edition to an already established middle class family consisting of a working dad, a housewife mom, a 12 year old brother and a 9 year old sister.  I don’t know if I was planned or if I was a glipsie – not that it really matters, late is late and the reality of being born late to a family already being torn my division meant that I spent huge amounts of time alone. So to say that I didn’t really fit is putting it mildly.

I have overwhelmingly good memories. All of them in isolation to each other. The smell of a horse. The freedom of a slightly wild child on a farm. A neighbour child and myself being naughty, as only farm children can be. My first fireworks. Fresh milk. Homemade biltong. The smell of my dad. The laughter of the workers. A snake.

However, too often the gaps are telling. Or maybe the missed memory is telling. For example – we moved from the farm to Cape Town when I was 13. But in my memory of the farm I was always young. I am always young. I don’t remember being a ‘tween’ as it were. My memories of the time are confused and jumbled and I think I remember things out of time.

It is a very odd sense of being. To this day, my memory works like that. Not in any obvious way, and I never really realize it until someone sends an offhand comment my way: “Remember when…”

And I really don’t.

I sometimes wonder if it hasn’t left an indelible mark on me somehow. A shadow across my personality if you will. Perhaps in the not remembering, that is why I doubt and second guess myself always.

Then again, perhaps in the not remembering, I am protecting myself?

I chose to believe that in the not remembering, I am making space for awesome.

 

 

 

Nurturer

I am one of those indomitable (and truth be told, annoying) souls that are convinced that if you just love someone enough, they will ….. (fill in your most desperate wish here)….

Love you?

Accept you?

Treat you better?

Respect you?

Truth is, I believe anyway, is that to be a nurturer is to be damaged too. I have never come across one such as myself who nurtures only the sound of mind and heart, only those with a healthy ego. No, part of our condition is that we pick the injured, broken and damaged. Those souls that need saving. In our eyes anyway.

We offer our all to these less than worthwhile souls, breaking our entire being on the shores of their damage. We attach ourselves wholeheartedly to the unworthy and in doing so, perversely, base almost all of our worth on them. Their opinion. Their kind, or harsh words. Their indifferent actions.

And we break. If we are lucky, we do not shatter.

Stay in a moment like that for long enough, constantly trying to heal and help and clothe and feed the monster we create, and part of your soul goes black.

The best, and worst of a nurturer, is that we give. We give all. And the nature of the human condition is that we take. We take it all if offered.

Some souls do not want to be fixed. Some souls, as damaged as we perceive them to be, are not broken. Some souls enjoy the shattering of others. And some souls simply don’t care.

I have been blessed. I nurtured the hell out of a narcissistic sociopath. He was not broken. He simply was. And who he was didn’t care. Couldn’t care. His right, if I am to be fair. We all have the right to be who we are.

I broke my being against his nothing for an age.

But I came out the other side with an understanding of the human condition. And for that I am blessed.

I do not allow anyone to take advantage anymore. I still nurture, for that side of me is almost completely me. I mostly nurture my zoo. And my family. And the few special souls I have allowed into my orbit.

Never again will I break my soul against another. Perhaps that is part of why I remain single. Or perhaps the damage runs deeper than even I can see.

No matter.

I have learnt my lesson. Each of us, has a supreme right to be exactly who we are. Do not think you can change anyone. You cannot. Do not break your soul against another.

Rather find your place and your peace.

And be exactly who you are.

Rewind

It has taken me a good long while to decide to write again. Life happened and writing fell away. Time changed all sorts of circumstances and the world kept turning.

Sometimes it felt like it didn’t. But it did.

My walk along the ‘gastric bypass’ highway has been freaking hard. Portion control becomes the be all and the end all of everything. The entirety of my being revolved around what I could or couldn’t eat, would I would or wouldn’t tolerate. Lets not even mention the pressure to lose. Because if you don’t? Well that is just a whole new level of failure.

However, much like any diet, it is neigh on impossible to eat like that for eternity. Human nature kicks in. A chip here, a biscuit there and voila – plateau.

I have managed to lose almost 70 kg. Almost. The ‘almost’ part of things makes me feel better. It is not the truth though. Almost is not where I wanted to be. It is not thin.  And all my waffling about accepting who I am and thin not being the be all and end all?

Was true. But was not the only truth. The entirety of it is that I want to be smaller. I want to fit into regular clothing. I want to  run and not have bits jiggle more than they should in places that they shouldn’t.

So I have dreamed a new dream. I started jogging. Oh so ever slowly. 5 minute warm up, 60 seconds run, 90 seconds walk, repeat for 20 minutes, 5 minute cool down. It probably doesn’t sound like much. But for a reformed ‘fatty’ this is huge.

It is also not the only exercise I do. Having recently adopted 2 bundles of furry fluffiness, walking puppies at least 40 minutes a day has become commonplace. But I don’t know that I can consider that as just exercise. The therapy? The joy? The love? The laughter?

Priceless.

I hope to write more often. I hope to find the same peace I have always  found in the written word. There is a joy and a calm in formulating sentences, phrases, paragraphs. It forces me into the calm places in my head.

It is my great, true love. And I have found it again.

 

Rewire your brain…

The subconscious mentality of a fat person as written by a reformed fatty…

I cannot park in that small parking bay-there won’t be enough space for me to get out of my car.

When in a crowded shopping mall – I will automatically give a wider bit of way because my idea of how large I actually am is exaggerated.

When dishing up food – I will dish up more for myself than I actually need because my idea of how much food I need is skewed.

When cooking for guests – I will always make more than necessary because I believe everyone eats the same amount of food as I do.

When trying on clothing – I will unconsciously pick sizes too large for me because that is how large I think I am.

When buying a handbag – I will get the largest one there. Not because I know that at least then it is in proportion to my body but actually because my brain tells me to go large – because I am fat.

When buying jewellery – I will go for the largest, chunkiest pieces because surely I can’t possibly wear anything fine and delicate as it will look funny.

You get the idea ne?

So every day, I make a conscious effort to think like a thin person and I attempt to rewire my brain.

So far I have gotten the following …

My portions are automatically smaller-and instead of having 2 potatoes because I am hungry, I have 1 plus a tomato. Or 3 tomato’s. I love  tomato’s.

When faced with a block of oh so yummy chocolate – I have 1 or 2 blocks. Because, actually, that is all I really wanted in the first place.

When buying clothing – I purposefully take a size smaller than I think I am. And 9 times out of 10 – it fits.

When parking – I don’t skip the parking bay squashed in between two idiots in SUV’s who think the demarcated lines should be half a millimeter from their tyres because I don’t think I will be able to get out of my car. I channel thin person and I contort but I can get out.

When faced with a slightly open sliding door (open enough for a thin person) – I don’t automatically make it wider. I fit. Because I do.

You get the idea ne?

Change the way you see things.

Change your reality.

Rewire your brain.

Just do it.

It works.

I promise.

Malachai

Once upon a time a little girl that was born 9 years too late. She was an oopsie.

She was born into an angry family.

A mother that was so insecure she was jealous of her eldest daughter’s relationship with her father. A father that was not strong enough to stand up to his wife. A physically broken brother. An emotionally shut down sister.

She grew up ignored. Alone. Isolated.

She taught herself to read and by grade 1 was arguing with her teacher about whether Little Women was appropriate reading material or not.

She taught herself to be. To be loved and wanted in a world that only existed for her.

In her mind. In her soul.

A world filled with loyalty and honour and friends and love and hugs and daring bravery.

A world filled with violent blue and black skies and creatures filled with humour and courage.

A world the complete opposite of reality.

Reality was lonely.

Alone.

Filled with fear and timidness and no voice.

No life and no soul.

Reality was blocked out – to this day, she does not remember it. She refuses to remember it. It was not physical. Nor was it sexual. It was just pure neglect. Emotional. And something more. Something there is no name for. It was… non existence.

She played with the animals on the farm. She climbed the trees. She roamed the day and the night and no one saw her.

She grew a bit wild. And her teachers didn’t care. They punished her for being smart. They punished her for being different.

She roamed the wild places, and filled it with safety. The safety of intangible. The safety of what her mind could control.

And one day, she imagined freedom. And it was powerful and dark and scary and life and soul and blue and black and purple and swirling mist and love.

It was Unicorn.

His name was Malachai.

His name is Malachai.

And he is her memory of life.

Her memory of living.

And he took her from the dark places and showed her the light in her soul.

He lived the fear with her. He lived the tears with her. And he was where she kept her sanity.

He is where she keeps her sanity.

She etched him on her body, when she was old enough.

And she keeps his name, his courage, his shadow close.

Because he is life to her.

Freedom.

Power.

Courage.

He is her.

Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans

They say life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.

To me that translates as….

Life is that moment in the morning when you decide to be happy instead of sad. Even when sad is easier.

Life is that moment when you smile at a stranger instead of frowning. Even when they do something to annoy you.

Life is that moment when you stand up and take a step instead of collapsing into a puddle of tears. Even when the entire world is on your shoulders and it is hard, so very hard, to walk.

Life is this moment. This moment of being, of existing, of making small choices.

To smile. To be happy. To be free. To be strong. To face yourself. To face others. To step out of your comfort zone. To choose health. To choose exercise. To choose acceptance of self. To be.

Life is now.

Yet we spend an infinite number of moments making other plans.

One day, when I am thin, I will be happy.

One day, when I am rich, I will be content.

One day, when I am more, I will be loved.

One day, when I am famous, I will be worthy.

One day………

One day will never come.

Because being rich, famous, worthy, thin is not magically going to make you happy.

This moment now – this moment of accepting, of being, of choosing, is the one you exist in.

This moment is the one you have to live with.

This moment is the one that makes you stronger, or weaker, and prepares you for the next moment.

This moment is life.

This moment is choice.

Choose wisely.

The Fat Chick

I have always been the fat chick. Always. That is how I have defined myself forever. Fat and damaged.

This is part of my story.

When I was 13 years old I remember my family (mom, dad, me) traipsing down to weigh less and joining up. I was 13 kilograms overweight at that stage. Needless to say, weigh less did not work for me. Or my mom. Or my dad actually. And I’m not saying weigh less doesn’t work. I’m just saying that it didn’t work for me.

Somewhere along the line, it became cemented into hard and fast concrete that I was the fat chick in the most damaging and important place – my head. Sadly, weigh less was and is never going to fix that kind of being fat.

The kind of fat that makes you think you are bigger than you are / horrible / nasty / no one will ever love you / weak willed / destined to be fat / it’s in my gene’s fat (because that is easier to believe than to believe you have become conditioned – by yourself and others – to think the absolute worst of yourself).

For many years that cemented belief, that low self esteem, that thinking the worst of myself, ruled my life absolutely. It took control of every single part of it. I became a recluse. An introvert by choice. A loner. I made very bad choices in men (boys). I let myself be manipulated / used / hurt because my head told me that was all I was worth. If someone could love this damaged / fat / terrible person that I am – then I must at all costs make myself worthy. Be worthy. Well to try anyway. I walked with my head down – convincing myself that I was OCD – just so that I wouldn’t have to see people’s reactions to me (and I don’t mean their true honest reactions – I mean the reactions I thought I was getting). I worried and stressed and emotionally – quite simply, I destroyed myself. It became an extremely damaging cycle of neglect, self hatred, low self esteem, bad choices, allowing myself to be hurt or treated badly, making bad friendships etc. All the while adding layers and layers to the cemented block in my head that said you are huge / massive / the biggest person ever / totally unworthy / ugly / deformed / unloved / disgusting. Being fat did not do that to me. Being fat is a symptom. Yes I spent years not caring what I ate / comfort eating / not exercising. Ultimately though, I made me fat because I am damaged.

A lot of people don’t understand severely obese people. Personally, I think there are three kinds of fat;

  1. Society in general is breeding a culture of laziness and overeating. America and the UK are good examples – and we are not far behind. I have no sympathy with those genuinely lazy greedy souls who just eat because they can.
  2. People like my brother who has a genuine hormonal imbalance and whose body cannot metabolize fat. People with genuine medical reasons for being overweight. My heart goes out to them. To my brother who has the soul of a saint, but a body the entire world judges him for.
  3. And people like me. People for whom being fat is a symptom of a larger, underlying problem. People like anorexics and bulimics and yes, even some of us fatties.

Sometime in the last 2 years or so, the best 2 things in the world happened to me. My ex boyfriend dumped me. I ran out of worth / things he needed / money. And I got sick. Very sick. For the first time in my life I was truly faced with mortality, the idea of dying. And for the umpteenth time in my life I was faced with being rejected. However, this time was different. Perhaps it was the circumstances. Maybe it was age or just plain exhaustion or a tiny bit of wisdom. Maybe it was God. I don’t know. I like to think it was a combination of all of that along with a bit of me, and a very large part of my nephew Mookie Man (obviously not his real name), my family and having reached rock bottom with nowhere else to go but up.

For the first time ever in my life – I chose not to be floored. I chose not to fall apart. I chose to live. And most importantly – I chose to be happy. I started going for therapy. I started to put myself first. I joined a gym and I actually went (and found myself enjoying it after a while). I did things I was afraid of – I walked with my head up even when I felt small, I smiled at strangers and greeted everyone I saw, I talked to random people instead of huddling in a corner, I smiled when I felt like crying, I danced instead of lying on my bed crying hysterically, I went for belly dancing lessons, I did Pilates. I forced myself to live, go out, be me, laugh and enjoy things. I forcefully distracted myself from being miserable, crying, obsessing. And eventually I didn’t have to force anything anymore and I didn’t have to stop myself from being miserable. I woke up one morning and realized that being happy wasn’t a choice anymore, it was a reality.

Through all of that, I started losing weight. Not because I was on a diet, but because I wanted to live a long and happy life. And quite simply, being fat and all that comes along with that is not conducive to a healthy long life. I started reading the labels on food packaging. I cut out what I can honestly say I can live without – butter, most oil, and takeaways, full cream anything. I ate chocolate in moderation. I had a handful of chips instead of a packet. I found a dietician. At that time, I don’t actually know what I weighed. Scales don’t go up that far. So I took a random number and worked from there. I lost 16.77% of my body weight. About 28 kilograms. Yes I was still too big and yes I was still fat and obese (or as my ‘friend’ puts it – you are still obese but at least you look more normal now’…).

But – what started out as a choice to live, a choice to be, a choice to find myself and fix what was so very obviously broken had snowballed beyond my wildest dreams. In the best way possible. The right way. The way it should be. I didn’t need anyone to tell me I am worthy. I didn’t need anyone to love me. Because I knew I was worthy and I loved me. I am amazing. Quite simply – because I am.

And then I sick. Again. I spent an entire month in a hospital so that the pulmonologist could try and figure out what the hell.  It took a long time, filled with large doses of cortisone and medicine and being careful. And my weight started to climb. It was a perfect storm of circumstances. Illness, inactivity, cortisone and just plain bad luck. I stopped weighing myself because I just knew. At my largest – I weighed 170kg. The most I had ever weighed in my life. Everything hurt. Everything was swollen. Just walking was a bitch.

BUT – I never lost the joy that I had found. Yes my circumstances sucked – but so the hell what – I am still amazing. I am breathing. I am funny. I am smart. I am me.

For years I struggled to be thin, conform, be loved and liked, be worthy. No one ever told me that being fat wasn’t my problem. My head was my problem. My head never thought I was good enough. My head was wrong. Don’t get me wrong. It was hard. It is hard.

I am healthier now and after much soul searching, much discussion with people who know about these things, after much advice – I chose to have a Gastric Bypass. On 7 June 2012, I took a very large step off a very well worn path and started my new journey to another facet of awesome.

Through all of this – I have on occasion failed. Sometimes I have let what others think of me interfere. Sometimes I put the ideas and opinions of others ahead of me. Sometimes I feel that concrete block like an actual weight on my shoulders trying to press me into oblivion.

But always, I smile. My family or the people who truly matter say wow you are doing awesome. I take my lead from Khan in the Parlortones – and I dance like nobody is watching me.

And the concrete gets weaker every time.

And my soul sings every time.