a year so soon

This has been a hell of a year—in every sense of the phrase, sometimes all in the space of one week, one day, one hour. Last year, at this time, I weighed 316 pounds, and could not walk a block without breathing heavily and feeling sick and dizzy. I hated to look at myself in the mirror and if I could have worn a muumuu, I would have. I was in a job I’d been at for five years, and I was slowly-but-surely dying by inches of boredom, and my boss could tell. I was in a relationship with a wonderful man, which had so many significant, insurmountable problems that we never, ever talked about, because we knew as soon as we did, everything would fall apart. I wanted desperately to keep everything together, because I loved him. I knew things would fall apart, and he knew, too, and we held it together, and we never talked.

I was lonely, and scared, and stagnant, and terrified to change anything at all, because I knew one single move, the tiniest whisper, and the whole edifice I had constructed so carefully and then so carefully barricaded myself behind would go tumbling to the ground and shatter and then what would I be left with? I made the decision to get weight-loss surgery. Is it possible that I knew that this would be the thing to blow it all apart? I didn’t feel a sense of impending loss, or of inexorable, inevitable, oncoming-freight-train kind of change. It was a sense of relief, that I was doing something about being so unhealthy. I would have been terrified if I had known exactly what I was getting myself into. Would I have done it anyway? I would have done it anyway.

A year later, I am lonely, and scared, and terrified, but I sure as
fuck am not stagnant. Everything has changed, in every arena. I weigh
154 pounds less, and can run and bend and do yoga (poorly) and Pilates
(worse) and when I look in the mirror, sometimes—not always, but
sometimes—I am happy with what I see, and I think that maybe, I could
grow to like this new version of me who is so different looking and who
can do things, suddenly, that she likes to do…like wear pretty clothes and
take care of herself. I wish I could have had this epiphany 154 pounds
ago; that I had never slid into that pit of despair and self-hatred,
but I won’t second-guess it, or feel bad about feeling good, because
that’s just crazy—I will just be so glad and so very grateful to be out
of it. To feel like I can like myself.

Then this job falling into my lap: such a huge change financially,
such a million miles away from an academic library. I never thought I’d
leave there—I thought I’d be working at the university until they
rolled me out on a cart. My relationship—which I thought would last,
hoped would last until they rolled my body out of the library on a
cart—suddenly, stunningly over with one conversation. Me turning to him
and saying, “What can we do about this? What should we do?” We shot the
elephant in the room, and it was one of the hardest, most brutal things
I’ve ever done, and the best thing we could have done for one another,
and he is still in my life in such a good and positive way, and I am so

I was lucky to have E. fall into my life. Our three-month whirlwind,
gorgeous and astonishing and eye-opening and making me breathless,
waking me up, taking me by the shoulders and shaking me and slapping
me across the face and making me feel grateful, lucky, petrified,
alive, and a little crazy, but mostly in a good way. Opening things up
for me, and giving me a kind of hope for the future I hadn’t
experienced in a long time. Making me think that maybe things are going
to work out for me.

And now, here I am, a year later and a little crazier, just as
terrified as ever, but making plans for myself, for this next year. I
have no idea what’s going to happen, or what I’m going to do, where I’m
going and how I’m going to do it. But I hope, this time next
year, that I’ll still be able to say if I did know—I would have done it

7 Replies to “a year so soon”

  1. That was fucking awesome to read.

    What a beautiful synopsis of a dizzyingly incredible year of change. It sounds to me like you are just going up up up up up and things are just going to get better and better and better.

    As for having no idea what’s going to happen next, let me say that I used to think I had my life pretty much laid out. I thought I knew what was what and what would happen when. Some of it was good and some not so good, but it was KNOWN and that comforted me and that was ok.


    Actually, it turns out that that wasn’t ok. So I changed. BAM! Just like that. (Ok, it took longer, but I’m making a point.)

    I went from a not-always-happy-but-safe-and-known security to Hello! Big Changes. So much so it Requires Caps.

    And my life now? So much happier. So much I never expected but now can’t imagine having lived without.

    For me, giving up the fear of losing The Known was what it was all about. I’m not sure it was exactly the same for you, but there are some similarities, that’s for sure.

    I wish you the best, Anne. I’m telling you, I really see you next year saying even MORE emphatically than this year that you “would have done it anyway.”

  2. I had the exact same situation in my relationship. We ignored so much. SO MUCH. SO. MUCH. And then, with one conversation (well, two), a four year relationship was over. kaput.

    Except, it’s not OVER, because he’s still my best friend and he’s still living here… for the time being anyway… but it is very very different.

    And we are both much much happier. And fuck it’s hard because he was what i thought was going to be my future, but now I realize that i deserve so so so so much more. because if I’m going to be honest, it was my relationship that was making me fat. Er, keeping me fat — I’d already lost 70 lbs, but these last 30… they just weren’t goin’ anywhere…

  3. such a powerful entry. quick, rare delurk to say: congratulations on your year of Big Massive Change!

    it struck me as i read through that the salient things about your description (feeling sick, needing change but terrified of it, holding on to problematic relationships Because, etc.) could have been much the same, had you replaced “316” with [some very low number] — or indeed (?) if you had replaced the phrase “weighed x” with the phrase “totally hated my body.”

    also, i think the “crazy” whirlwind you’re in might be a lot saner (long-run, at least) than the non-choices you were making then. which is to say: congratulations again!

  4. As someone older and wiser (OK, older and longer post op…I don’t know about wiser), I wish I could tell you that the most dramatic parts, the hardest parts, and ugly parts, are over now that you’ve passed Year One.

    But I don’t like to lie.

    What I can tell you and even feel ballsy enough to promise you is that you are now far better equipped to deflect the crapballs that get thrown your way. You’ve done the really hard stuff and you’ve come through it. The “hard stuff” to which I refer is to truly look at yourself, beyond the simple aesthetics of your weight loss and seen what and who you always were but was buried under the bulk.

    The true, brave, ballsy, sassy, snarky, fabulous, intelligent beautiful you is now coming out. And look the hell out world because here you come. Not everyone is going to be happy with your new sense of self and that’s hard to swallow. They tell you that you’ve “changed”, first as if that’s a bad thing and second as if it’s your personal fault that they are too afraid to embrace the same changes you have and love all over it.

    Of course you’re just as terrified as ever. In addition to the last year which you must digest, you’re now looking at the rest of your life opening up in front of you. Who wouldn’t be afraid of that? But hopefully it’s a good terrified and hopefully you know now that even when you’re knee deep, you’re stronger than you ever thought possible. Look back at what you wrote. Look at the struggles and hurts and the triumphs. Look at what you got through! There are a lot of people who did *not* get through a lot less.

    You’re still changing. Be patient and kind to yourself. Treat yourself. Laugh at it when you can. And if you’ve got to, start singing old Gloria Gaynor songs. Because you have and you will continue to survive.

    Happy Independence Day and go you!

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