I often cry when I write. And by cry, I mean ugly, troll-faced sobbing. But that’s okay. Writing is cathartic for me. Being honest with myself and those around me, this is what brings me freedom from the ghosts of my past.
Today will be no exception.
I am going to share things with you today that scare me to my core. But as my dear friend Andrea said to me just last week, “It is okay to have fear, but it is not okay to let that fear keep you from doing something.”
I’ve always been relatively transparent about my battles. And I’ve had my fair share. If there is a way to triumph, I will find it.
By nature I am stubborn as an ox, and I will not be bested. Ever.
Yet 2 years ago, I had to admit I couldn’t handle the burden of Zion’s autism expenses alone anymore. Once I admitted that need, it made me vulnerable. There I sat, naked and ashamed, quivering behind that little leaf, just waiting for that first person to step up and say they would join my village and help us.
Then the most amazing thing happened. People started lining up in droves to help shoulder that burden. It was very humbling.
So I learned there is power in weakness. That lesson taught me how life-changing it can be to take a knee, and allow the support around me to lighten my load for a while.
Even so, as much as it pains me to admit it, there is one lifelong task I have not been able to champion. I could probably sit here all day and wax poetic about the joys of being “thick,” or “big and beautiful,” …or I can just call a spade a spade.
I suffer from eating disorder-induced obesity.
There I said it.
I am not going to lie and say I have eaten tofu and bean sprouts for 42 years. I started this mess with my own two hands when I was 8 years old. Somehow the pain of my childhood and losing my grandfather turned into sneak-eating junk food in the closet.
In the blink of an eye, I learned that just for a moment, I could stuff my feelings down by pouring cheese sauce over them and eating them. And even better, I could do it in secret.
But a pudgy tummy is a brilliant tattle tale.
Within a year someone from my family grabbed my burgeoning belly and said, “Angela, this is starting to hang down. You need to go on a diet.”
And thus began over 30 years of disordered eating.
When I was happy, I ate very little, if at all. When I was sad, I would binge-eat.
I would eat next to nothing until I felt like I was starving, and after driving myself into a voracious and frenzied hunger, I found ways to secretly gorge on the forbidden fruits. Chocolates, chips, candies, ice cream. I would go to spend the night with my great-aunt with the intention of binge eating, and once she was asleep for the night, I would eat ice cream and cheese puffs until I was sick.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
This cycle went on for years.
Until one day I got busted, big time. After babysitting for a family, the children’s mom called my mom to tell her I had eaten an enormous amount of snack food the night before. And there was no denying it, so I got in trouble.
I was so ashamed. So I had to find less obvious ways to feed my sickness. I got creative. I would save my babysitting money, and then walk to the drug store to buy my contraband. I hid my treasures. And I hid them well.
But the pounds were not so cooperative.
This went on into high school. Friends and family were constantly making comments about my weight. The binge/starve pattern would go on for longer periods of time. I would reign in the beast for a few months and lose 30 pounds, and then lose control and binge for a few months and regain that 30 pounds.
And then 30 became 40. And 40 became 50.
In 2009, I discovered vegetarianism.
And hot trainers.
I worked my arse off and got my weight down to the lowest it had ever been as an adult. I stayed at that weight for a while. But I never dealt with the real problem.
The last 6 years, my weight has been all over the place. I have also fractured my feet, not one…oh no, not two…but three times. Hence, I have spent a great deal of time sitting. I have tried so many things to lose the weight…I have done Weight Watchers. I have juiced. I have paleo’d. I have walked. And walked. And walked some more. I have tried almost everything.
But there is one thing I said I would never, ever do.
My doctor has been after me for 15 years to have this procedure . But I have always said this wasn’t for me. In my shame, I felt I should be able to champion this burden on my own. After all, I did it to myself. And accepting surgical intervention would be admitting defeat.
And God forbid I ever do that.
So two years ago, I joined a program through work called Bridges to Weight Management. This is a program that utilizes a team of dietitians and therapists to help achieve weight loss and wellness.
This program has changed my life.
I have learned that all this time, I was trying to fix my body…when it was my mind that was broken.
And now I have learned how to control an eating disorder I’ve had since I was 8. Yet after two years of therapy and mostly balanced eating, I am at an impasse. My head is right, but the weight will not come off.
So here, today…I am waving my white flag.
I am ready to accept surgical intervention to achieve a healthier me. That’s hard for me to say. It’s even harder for me to say out loud and publicly. Because I do fear being perceived as weak.
But fear is not a valid reason to keep myself from doing something. Neither is judgment. But I would be lying if I said I don’t care how you perceive me. Because deep down I want to be seen as the bad-a$$ who can master any and everything. So perhaps this is a lesson to me on many levels. It is good to humble myself and accept help.
And that help is scheduled for July 29.
All my life, through sheer stubbornness and determination, I have taken down giants…David and Goliath style.
Now it is time to use that little slingshot to take down the biggest giant of all.