Guy is not afraid I will leave him for Hugh Laurie. I don’t
think Hugh Laurie is afraid, either, though he might want to be. But my
boyfriend knows that Hugh Laurie is imaginary, as far as crushes go–even though
it is rather a hopelessly large crush because, my God, the man is talented and
also wildly hot–and also, because as soon as I get done mainlining the House
DVDs I’m renting, I will get over it.

What we have talked about, though–what he thought about, but
is not necessarily afraid of–is that losing weight will change me,
fundamentally. I say well, before, I had never run without being chased. That
is pretty darn fundamental. Oh! Also, I crave salad! That’s crazy.

No, he says. You have always had people hitting on
you, he says; the difference is, will you believe them now, when they tell you that you have
beautiful eyes and should run away with them? When they buy you drinks, will
you stop thinking they’re just polite? He is afraid, in short, that I will lose
weight, discover what he knew all along–that I am worth something–and then, I
will leave him.

I’m not sure that that is actually a function of weight
loss, to make me believe that people are telling the truth when they say kind
things about me. I don’t remember it
being in the list of pros on the surgeon’s slideshow–I would have been more
excited to see that than Resolution of Gastroesophageal Reflux: 99%. But it is
possible that’s the way it works–that when they pulled out a big hunk
of my stomach, what came along with it, clinging to the underside, was my
self-doubt, which I imagine is black and slimy and possibly has many rows of
poisonous teeth. I believe I was born with it, and that it was possibly one of
my fairy godmothers, this greasy lump of hate. It has certainly taken an
interest in me, and I am surprised, with it in tow, that I have ever let anyone
else be interested.

In high school, I did not have a boyfriend. In ninth grade, when David called me up–sweet David from homeroom who sat behind me
every day and told me I looked nice, and asked me if I was going to the dance,
and asked if I would like to go with him, maybe, please, his voice breaking and
trembling just a little bit–I did not assume he was gathering up all his
courage and he had just done one of the bravest things a high school boy could
do. What I assumed was that he was stupid, or maybe crazy. I imagined that
maybe he was being put up to it, and that I would wait in the living room all
night, wearing Bonne Belle lip gloss and an itchy new dress and feeling almost
pretty, and less pretty and less pretty and less pretty until I realized he was
never going to come, because he had been making fun of me and my capacity for
believing anyone would ever ask me out. 

Christian worked on yearbook with me in 10th
grade. Christian put his arms around me and I tensed, afraid he would feel
something disgusting and lumpy, that he would realize all my clever stratagems
for hiding how fat I was–the oversized button-down shirts and the long skirts
that hid my legs, the way I wore all black less because I was a Goth and more
because it was supposed to be slimming, the way I would back out of the room so
no one would look at my ass–were all a lie, and that he’d spring away with a
cry of fear and loathing and wipe his hands on his jeans, horrified, and wonder
how I was ever able to live with myself.

Christian did not vomit in the corner after he touched me.
He wondered why I got so tense. He was sweet to me, and friendly, and we
talked, and I relaxed because he didn’t want anything from me that I couldn’t
give him, he wouldn’t expect anything and then have to be horribly
disappointed, and then one night after school he tried to kiss me and I cried,
because it was another joke, a terrible joke and I ran out of the classroom and
hid in the girl’s room until I thought he had stopped looking for me. I walked
to a gas station and begged my mother to pick me up, and he never understood
why I wouldn’t talk to him any more. 

I got over it. I had to have gotten over it. It was a combination
of being an insane teenager who didn’t even realize she wasn’t that fat, and
starting to believe that maybe the world isn’t necessarily always a cruel place,
or at least I didn’t have to be cringing all the time, waiting for the blow to
land because I am smarter and braver than that. It was finding out I could shop in places other than Kmart (thanks, mom) and buy clothing that made me
look curvy instead of potatoey. It was so many things, and I came into my own,
which is a story of beautiful triumph and great perseverance, and you are all
inspired. I know I am. 

The only problem is that it never quite goes away, the
feeling of having to work harder to be loved
because you are fat, to make up for being unsightly by being extra-excellent
and super accommodating. You can see yourself doing it, and you can try to stop
yourself, but it always seems to slip out. The self-deprecating comments are
always at the ready, because while I do not back out of the room any more,
because I know that people see exactly what I look like, I have to make sure they know that I know exactly what I look like, too.

That’s always driven Guy nuts–my knee-jerk fat jokes, the
way I will take a compliment, twist it like a balloon animal and ta da, you’ve
got yourself a hilarious and lovable crocodile of self-hate. It’s gotten
better; it was getting better before I started losing weight. I decided that I
was tired of apologizing for myself, and I worked at accepting compliments as
they were intended, and it was so hard. 

It’s getting easier, and that drives me nuts. I am 106
pounds lighter, and it is easier to think that someone means it when they say I
have a nice ass, and that the man who missed his bus to run after me, this
morning, and ask for my phone number might really have been disappointed, and
not just to have missed his bus. Why couldn’t I have felt this way when I was
bigger? I am exactly the same goddamn person. I am worth exactly as much. I am
exactly as awesome, no matter the width of my ass. Someone is nice to me, and I
want to say fuck you. You wouldn’t have been nice to me a hundred pounds ago,
would you have been? Fuck you. 

The problem is, I also want to bask it in. I want to be
wanted and needed and desired. Keep buying me drinks, keep telling me I’m
pretty. Tell me you want me, and I’m the most gorgeous thing you’ve ever seen.
I want everyone to love me. I’ve already got someone to love me, and I hate
myself for this.

Guy is afraid I will leave him. He cannot imagine how much
it has been to me, that we have been together over three years, that over those
three years my weight has fluctuated by almost a hundred pounds, all told, up
and down. That at every step of the way, he has called me gorgeous and he has
meant it, really meant it, and that I have believed it. Really believed it, the
way I have never believed anyone else. It would be impossible to not believe
him–it would wrong him, if I did not believe him.

What I’m afraid of, besides never meeting Hugh Laurie and
getting to go to prom with him, is that I will change when I lose weight. That
I have to change, and that I will change so much, and in ways that I have not
even anticipated, that he will be the one to walk away.

9 Replies to “metamorphosis”

  1. Oh, aye, I have the same concern which I wrote about a couple of weeks ago (“Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?”). It is a fact that you cannot change things without having things change. I think that’s called a tautology. But, anyway, already in the first month, I feel my relationship shifting, questions being asked and feelings being voiced that had perhaps previously been swallowed. I have confidence in both myself and my husband that wherever this dramatic weight loss takes us, it will be the right place. That doesn’t stop me from waking up in the middle of the night working overtime on a worry frown between my eyes, though.

  2. This is a very good post and I love the imagery of taking a compliment and twisting it like a balloon. I do that all the time. I’m trying harder but my mental image of myself sticks to me like white on rice.

    As for other relationships, perhaps the solution (which isn’t easy) is to love ourselves and allow others to love us back. I suppose it’s possible that we will all change but I believe our essential personality will stay the same. Your guy has been there for you through thick and thin, so I doubt you would leave him.

  3. You’re preaching to the choir, babelope. I don’t know what it is about the 100lb loss level that starts them coming out of the woodwork like a clip joint on fire.
    But it does. For me, it’s been quantity, not quality.

    My DH worries about the same thing, as your Guy, although I think I’ve got him mentally sedated on the issue of me leaving him. This is more of his own concerns than mine, when it comes down to it.

    I’ve also blogged about the attention, but you seem to deal with it in a more affirming way than I do. It’s not that I don’t believe what guys say, it’s that I don’t want them to pay much attention to me at all. As I speculate in “Attack of the Needy Dudes” over on the blog, this may have to do with me not wanting to lose control. Or, despite not having been cruelly set-up as you were, not trusting their motives for being “friendly”. Some sugar-free candy, little girl?

    An approving smile is great, a few pleasant words – fine and good. Keep the drinks. And I’m with you about people who should have been nice to me at whatever weight I am or was. At the same time I also realize that things have changed. I’m entering a new club, whether I want to or not. One woman actually called her co-worker a “fat bitch” to my face yesterday. That just stunned me and I was too gobsmacked to reply or retort (she was no skinny Minnie herself).

    Great post!


  4. Over 14 years ago I also had a gastric bypass…after years of yo-yo dieting. I am 5’0″ and weighed 271. I lost to 160, and stayed there a few years, then slowly gained back up to 190.

    My surgery helped me by making it physically impossible to binge…but still after several years I was able to eat too much, and able to eat sweets & fats I couldn’t eat the first few years.

    I could not face going over 200 lbs again, and in 9/2004 began to restrict and count calories…again. I’ve been successful beyond my wildest dreams, and for the past 15 months I’ve weighed between 110 & 115 lbs.

    I have to work to maintain it.
    Right after surgery my body wouldn’t let me eat too much. BUT now, it will, and it takes constant work to eat only what I need, instead of everything my body will allow me to eat.

    Surgery has been a wonderful success for me, and I would do it again without hestitation….However, it is not the ultimate solution that will end all dieting forever….Like I thought it would be…
    I still have to work every day on eating less food than I want, and less than my body will let me eat.

  5. Oh, wow, this post hit home with me. I was back in the 9th grade too, when the very cute, quiet boy that rode my bus enlisted the help of his friend to ask me out in Algebra class. There was no way, no how I was believing this wasn’t some sort of a cruel joke. When I see pictures of myself from that time now, I see what a cute little girl I really was, and that of course I was capable of making some shy teenage boy so nervous he couldn’t even ask me out himself. But at the time all I wanted to do was vomit, quite literally. I felt acutely ashamed of… what? I don’t know. I said no, and told him to leave me alone. He did.

    When I get hit on now, or ten pounds heavier than I am now, or fourty pounds less than I am now (all weights I have been in my adult life) I don’t think it’s a joke, but I’m still suspicious. Are you talking to me because you think you can’t get that skinny blonde over there? Or do you really want to talk to ME? And if so, why? Yes, there’s still that why, even now.

    I think that you are bound to change in all sorts of ways you can’t foresee, but I think you are a step ahead of the game in the very fact that you are aware of that. It might not be the easiest balance to strike, but there’s got to be a happy middle ground of appreciating being appreciated, and maintaining the positive relationship you’ve had all along.

    Take care, and thanks for such a wonderful post.

  6. Great post…I am from your other blog, but I love your writing and am glad you are posting regularly! This one hit a nerve with me as well. I do that all the time…My husband loves me for exactly who I am, and thinks I am pretty no matter what I have looked like, but I still wonder how he could love a fat slob like me…I know I don’t love me as much as he loves me…and that makes me sad. He tells me I should think better of myself, and is always pointing out when other people think I look good “that guy just hit on you” or “checked you out” of course I am totally oblivious to this or thought they were looking at me in disgust…It is like I live in a weird house of mirrors and I only see me in weird skewed ways. And I look back at photos of when I started worrying about being fat (fifth grade) and thinking people were only paying attention to me so I would let my guard down and be perfectly primed for total humiliation in front of large crowds and mean laughing people. I remember how I stopped doing things I love like swimming and being active in front of people. And then I really did get fat, you can look at photos of me and say “man! She is curvy and hot” I was just a “women” before so many other girls my age…but I thought I was a huge fat slob, and now I really am! I have thought about the surgery I weigh 210 and is I lost 100lbs I would be almost too skinny, but I am worried I will be judged by friends and family if I do such a thing…I guess I am afraid a lot…I should stop worrying what other people think…anyway great post!

  7. I have to say how much in awe I am of how you pinion these so-tough-to-describe (for me, anyway) feelings in a few hundred-word straitjacket… I can remember so vividly the feeling that any man paying attention to me must be doing in on a dare (it’s something I still feel now), and that description of twisting compliments like animal balloons is envy-inspiring (I know this isn’t and shouldn’t be a writing critique/fan letter, but I can’t help it!). And that visceral “fuck you” you (well, _I_) feel to guys I don’t think would have given me the time of day X pounds ago… though of course I’m judging them in the same way I assume they would have judged me…

    Such an amazingly insightful post — thanks!

  8. I am just balling my eyes out right now. I have been taking the time to go in order and read back on all of your entries, and this one just… hit home.

    Quick me: I am 30 y/o, 370ish lbs, and my surgery is scheduled for Sept 5th.


    1) I absolutely love Hugh Laurie as well, and plan to one day marry him, take advantage of him sexually, divorce him and take all his money. I’ll let you take him on your prom date if you like.

    2) I have always felt that I had to do a little extra to make that guy like me. Even if it meant doing… sexual things that I didn’t really want to do, just to show him that I could rock his world.

    3) Now I am married, and have been so for 4 years (dated for a year before marriage) and I too finally have a man that says that I am beautiful and when I see how he looks at me, I know that he means it with all of his heart and soul.

    He too is scared that I am going to leave him. That I will get all skinny and not want a fat man anymore.

    My biggest fear is that he will leave me because I will change. I wont be his fat wife any more. I wont have that roly-poly belly that he likes to touch and caress.

    You are damn right though. I am so excited about the attention that I will get that I never had for the past 30 years of my existence, and I want guys to gawk at me and buy me drinks, and ask me to dance. I want the attention that my hot little skinny sisters had that I never got a bit of. But, I know where my home is, and who will be waiting in my bed, and that’s the only man that I want to love me, and for me to love back.

    I wish I could make him understand that.

    I am going to read your journal entry to him. Maybe then he will understand how I really feel, because, girl.. You are totally in my head.

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