I haven’t really used my closet in years. It’s mostly full of clothes that are too small for me. Some outfits are just too cute to give up…and, of course, there’s the guilt that I’m so good at heaping on myself. When I’d get too fat for something, I’d just push it to the back of the closet and pretend it wasn’t there…telling myself that I’d be able to wear it again next week…next month…next year. Then I’d heap impossible expectations on my shoulders, set myself up for failure, and I’d be curled up on the couch in my stretchy pants with a pint of mint chip by Friday. That was my cycle for years…and my stuffed-to-the-gills closet is proof. Now that I’m through the looking glass and on the other side of things, my closet isn’t the downer it once was.
I’ve worn the same five size 32 outfits to work for a long time. Too long. I chose the tops not necessarily for their style or color, but because they covered the absolute nightmare that is my hips. The tops, along with all the black pants I wear, have seen better days. I wear them, I wash them, and I hang them just inside the closet where I can get at them easily. That way, I don’t have to step inside and look at all the cuter stuff that I haven’t been able to wear in such a long time.
I think I shared with you a week or two ago that I dropped a size. I was walking to my desk at work and realized that I kept playing with handfuls of fabric on my pants…and I thought to myself “I wonder…did I drop a size?” I quick-stepped it back to the ladies room, dropped my pants and pulled the tag out so that I could read it. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I’d thought I was wearing a pair of my size 32 pants, but as it turned out these were size 30. And they were pretty big.
I stopped at a plus sized store on my way home and headed straight for a rack of pants. I didn’t give a crap what they looked like, it was the size I was after. I had to know, peeps. I had to know. Just for the hell of it, I grabbed a couple cute tops as I waddle-sprinted toward the back of the store. I was in a dressing room with a pair of size 28’s quicker than the old me would have mowed through an order of super size fries.
And guess what?
They were a little snug-ish to get on, but they fit. The tops I tried on were still too clingy in the middle for me to be able to wear…yet. I still grabbed one that I really liked, having complete faith that I’ll be able to wear it soon enough. For a brief moment, I considered putting it all back on the rack and walking out of the store – but I knew there were no size 28 pants waiting for me in my closet. So I decided right then and there that I’ll buy myself a new outfit every time I drop a size.
As I made my way up to the register, the two women who worked there were chatting behind the counter. One was gulping down a huge burger and fries…and she looked over at her friend and half groaned, half laughed as she said “This is my second damn dinner.” The other woman giggled and shook her head as she replied “Get it together, girl.”
The young woman scarfing down the burger was pale, sweaty, and fairly unhappy looking. Her hair was tousled about – not in a sexy, come hither way but in a I’m so fat I’m uncomfortable and I hate myself way. Her skin was dull and sallow…and the light behind her eyes said “I give up…I don’t care.” And I felt it all. Right in my heart. In that moment, she was a defeated spirit.
I’ve been where she was so many times. I understand. I get it. And when I saw her eating away her stressful day, my heart wasn’t filled with judgment or disgust or shame for her…it was filled with compassion.
I don’t know how many days I spent feeling like she probably did that day, but I’m unbelievably grateful that I finally had the balls to do what I needed to do for myself. There was a moment for me when something just clicked and I thought to myself “How many times are you going to lose the same 45 pounds over and over again before you realize what you’re doing isn’t working?” In that moment, I realized that I needed to put my pride aside and grab hold of the opportunity that was right in front of me. That was the moment when I embraced hope and possibility.
That moment is what I want for all my struggling, overweight brothers and sisters out there. It doesn’t matter how it happens, but it will happen. If you haven’t had your moment…you will. Something will click and change will begin to happen. And whether you take control of your food demons by natural or surgical means, you’ll be okay with the sacrifices you have to make and the hard work you have to do. And no matter how you decide to handle it, all that matters is that you do what works for you.
I’ve thought of that girl behind the register every day since – and every time she pops into my head, I send positive vibes out into the universe for her. I pray for her. I hope for her. I want her to have her moment…because I understand all too well the mental beat down she was going to give herself later because she ate all that food.
We’re all at different stages of this journey. Here I was doing the happy dance in the dressing room and rejoicing at dropping a size, and just a few feet away one of my sisters in the Battle of the Butt was grieving and tired and eating away her stress. I know from experience that there is nothing I could have said or done for her that would bring her out of it – even if she and I were the best of friends. So I did the thing I knew I could do: I sent good thoughts to her…I prayed for strength and healing and hope for her…and I was kind to her.
Before my surgery there were days when I would roll out of bed, throw my hair up in a clip, do a shoddy job with my make up, put on clothes that may not even match, and schlep off to work. I barely looked good enough to run to Target on Saturday morning…I certainly didn’t look very professional for work. But I didn’t care. My spirit was defeated by more than 200 pounds of crap I’d heaped on myself. So that girl behind the register? I get her. I was her.
Now? I bought my one celebratory size 28 outfit…but what’s just as exciting is that I’m starting to care about what I look like again. I don’t enjoy looking in the mirror much more than before, but I don’t shy away from it. I care about how I look before I leave the house. I take time with my hair and make-up…not because it’s expected of me but because I enjoy doing it. For me. I think about my outfits before I put them on – and, this is kind of a big deal, I’m even matching my earrings and the occasional necklace with my outfit. Holy crap…who is this woman?
This is the me who’s learning to embrace all the possibilities that lay before me. It’s an amazing and wonderful experience and I want it for all my butt battling brothers and sisters…including that girl behind the register. Someday I know she’s going to open her closet and see her own rainbow of possibilities.
Have you had your moment? Have you crossed paths with a stranger you could really relate to? Share your story here…you never know who might really need to hear about your experience.