I received a most beautiful gift in the mail, a pewter swan. The following note was attached, “A gift from one who lives in Swanton, home of the Swanton Swans. Also symbolic of my favorite story and how the ‘ugly duckling’ became a ‘very fine swan indeed!’ As you have done!”
Step back for a second and flash back over the past few years of my life. In January, 2011, if you’ve been following the blog (and if you haven’t…start at the beginning!!), was when I started my weight loss journey into Onederland. By July 2012, after a rocky bit with my inner ear conundrum, I made it to goal. Honestly, I thought reaching goal and getting my weight down would be a “cure-all” for so many things in my life.
I was confused when it wasn’t.
While a lot of people were very supportive, many people close to me were not.
I’ve come to bristle at the thought of dating anymore. Guys that knew me when I was bigger, complain that I’m “too skinny” and look too different. I’ve been called “boney” and “wasting away”. I’m not. I’m SO not. Guys that have only known me since I’ve reached goal couldn’t understand the disdain for the way they joked about “fat chicks”. When I explained my situation, they’d say, “But that’s not you, so it’s ok to say that.” No… it’s not. I honestly thought dating would be easier. It’s not, for me.
I’ve had to pull back from the center of friends I’ve always had. There’s nobody in that group that can relate to what has happened to me physically, mentally, emotionally. They think the journey is “done now” and I can “eat normal”. It’s not done and their normal is not my normal.
So I had to dig deeper and tackle those core issues that needed fixing. Like needing other people’s approval. Like needing to be part of a “couple” – you know, being in a relationship and using it like a trophy or a measure of “making it”. Doesn’t matter if it’s bad or good. Well, I’d rather be alone than be with someone that doesn’t treat me with respect or love me for who I fully am. Let’s not forget bad self-esteem. Or needing to be liked by everyone. Being angry at others for flaws in my own self. I did journaling. Lots of journalling, meditating, walking while thinking, talking it out. Lots of positive self talk. Looking in the mirror every morning and saying, “Good morning, Beautiful.” And looking in the mirror at night and saying, “Good Night, Sweetie, pleasant dreams, you ROCK!” I’m not perfectly fixed, but I’m perfectly flawed like Otep would sing. Cracks in antiques give them character, right? I don’t think we’re ever totally fixed, but I’m working on it and it’s made it easier!
On the up-side, I have found many friends online and in person through the Kim Bensen Weight Loss Center and through this blog. I have found many kindred souls that have been through the same experiences, the same heartaches, the same victories.
And I have found my voice and my confidence. Albeit, not a roar, but it’s a flame getting bigger all the time. I’m not afraid to ask for what I need, to stand up for myself, to speak up when confronted. But I don’t need the drama of those around me. I’m recognizing the dynamic and the sickening soup that I’ve allowed myself to be cooking in because I felt an obligation imposed on me out of “loyalty”. There are times when we have to look at those close to us and recognize their relationship as being toxic and unhealthy. So we have to find the courage to pull ourselves up out of the quicksand and climb hard into higher ground. For our health.
I was presented with two career opportunities that required my courage, strength and dedication. But it requires me to say good bye to so much that has been familiar and my safety net. It requires me to relocate into another state. Several states away. It requires me to rely on a network of newfound friends that are incredibly supportive. It requires me to enter a very corporate job market at “almost 50”, as my Dad pointed out. It requires me to learn more about my profession using my high school education and experience through doing. I never went to college and was mocked by people throughout my life for not going. I’ve learned a LOT by doing it. It requires me to take a leap of Faith and cannonball into the waters of Life.
A few years back, I don’t think I could have CONSIDERED doing such a thing. It would give me an anxiety attack. I would make excuses about why I could not do it. I would rationalize that it would be impossible to do this. But after losing 150 pounds, it made me feel like I could DO ANYTHING.
But not everyone around me feels the same enthusiasm as I do. They point out my age. They point out the hard work. They point out that there are people who need me where I am now. They call me selfish. They call me foolish and crazy. And only a couple asked me, “Would it make you happy?” I look into my daughter’s eyes and she is excited and says that I am a role model for her and girls everywhere no matter the size. Tall order.
My story has really started to have that fairy tale kind of feeling. I thought it was Cinderella, but the only time I’m losing my shoe after midnight is when I’m just too tired from pulling too many hours awake, there’s no Prince Charming, no pumpkin car. It really is the story of the Ugly Duckling who became a swan and finally found where she belonged after all. I even looked up the story by Hans Christian Andersen and I cried as I read it. It was way too bittersweet and familiar to me.
Sometimes where you’re born isn’t where you end up.
Sometimes, those closest to you can hurt you the most.
Sometimes not fitting in is a blessing in disguise, it makes leaving easier.
Sometimes break ups are the best thing that can happen to you.
Sometimes you need to break away from what you’re told to do and find what you WANT to do.
Sometimes the ones that claim to need you the most are avoiding doing for themselves.
Sometimes those late blooms in life are the most spectacular!
Sometimes you have to find the courage and strength to do something big (like get to goal), to show you just how powerful you really are.
And sometimes you have wonderful friends, like my Susan, to remind you of a child’s story that helps you cannonball into the next part of your life so much easier.