I have always been the fat chick. Always. That is how I have defined myself forever. Fat and damaged.

This is part of my story.

When I was 13 years old I remember my family (mom, dad, me) traipsing down to weigh less and joining up. I was 13 kilograms overweight at that stage. Needless to say, weigh less did not work for me. Or my mom. Or my dad actually. And I’m not saying weigh less doesn’t work. I’m just saying that it didn’t work for me.

Somewhere along the line, it became cemented into hard and fast concrete that I was the fat chick in the most damaging and important place – my head. Sadly, weigh less was and is never going to fix that kind of being fat.

The kind of fat that makes you think you are bigger than you are / horrible / nasty / no one will ever love you / weak willed / destined to be fat / it’s in my gene’s fat (because that is easier to believe than to believe you have become conditioned – by yourself and others – to think the absolute worst of yourself).

For many years that cemented belief, that low self esteem, that thinking the worst of myself, ruled my life absolutely. It took control of every single part of it. I became a recluse. An introvert by choice. A loner. I made very bad choices in men (boys). I let myself be manipulated / used / hurt because my head told me that was all I was worth. If someone could love this damaged / fat / terrible person that I am – then I must at all costs make myself worthy. Be worthy. Well to try anyway. I walked with my head down – convincing myself that I was OCD – just so that I wouldn’t have to see people’s reactions to me (and I don’t mean their true honest reactions – I mean the reactions I thought I was getting). I worried and stressed and emotionally – quite simply, I destroyed myself. It became an extremely damaging cycle of neglect, self hatred, low self esteem, bad choices, allowing myself to be hurt or treated badly, making bad friendships etc. All the while adding layers and layers to the cemented block in my head that said you are huge / massive / the biggest person ever / totally unworthy / ugly / deformed / unloved / disgusting. Being fat did not do that to me. Being fat is a symptom. Yes I spent years not caring what I ate / comfort eating / not exercising. Ultimately though, I made me fat because I am damaged.

A lot of people don’t understand severely obese people. Personally, I think there are three kinds of fat;

  1. Society in general is breeding a culture of laziness and overeating. America and the UK are good examples – and we are not far behind. I have no sympathy with those genuinely lazy greedy souls who just eat because they can.
  2. People like my brother who has a genuine hormonal imbalance and whose body cannot metabolize fat. People with genuine medical reasons for being overweight. My heart goes out to them. To my brother who has the soul of a saint, but a body the entire world judges him for.
  3. And people like me. People for whom being fat is a symptom of a larger, underlying problem. People like anorexics and bulimics and yes, even some of us fatties.

Sometime in the last 2 years or so, the best 2 things in the world happened to me. My ex boyfriend dumped me. I ran out of worth / things he needed / money. And I got sick. Very sick. For the first time in my life I was truly faced with mortality, the idea of dying. And for the umpteenth time in my life I was faced with being rejected. However, this time was different. Perhaps it was the circumstances. Maybe it was age or just plain exhaustion or a tiny bit of wisdom. Maybe it was God. I don’t know. I like to think it was a combination of all of that along with a bit of me, and a very large part of my nephew Mookie Man (obviously not his real name), my family and having reached rock bottom with nowhere else to go but up.

For the first time ever in my life – I chose not to be floored. I chose not to fall apart. I chose to live. And most importantly – I chose to be happy. I started going for therapy. I started to put myself first. I joined a gym and I actually went (and found myself enjoying it after a while). I did things I was afraid of – I walked with my head up even when I felt small, I smiled at strangers and greeted everyone I saw, I talked to random people instead of huddling in a corner, I smiled when I felt like crying, I danced instead of lying on my bed crying hysterically, I went for belly dancing lessons, I did Pilates. I forced myself to live, go out, be me, laugh and enjoy things. I forcefully distracted myself from being miserable, crying, obsessing. And eventually I didn’t have to force anything anymore and I didn’t have to stop myself from being miserable. I woke up one morning and realized that being happy wasn’t a choice anymore, it was a reality.

Through all of that, I started losing weight. Not because I was on a diet, but because I wanted to live a long and happy life. And quite simply, being fat and all that comes along with that is not conducive to a healthy long life. I started reading the labels on food packaging. I cut out what I can honestly say I can live without – butter, most oil, and takeaways, full cream anything. I ate chocolate in moderation. I had a handful of chips instead of a packet. I found a dietician. At that time, I don’t actually know what I weighed. Scales don’t go up that far. So I took a random number and worked from there. I lost 16.77% of my body weight. About 28 kilograms. Yes I was still too big and yes I was still fat and obese (or as my ‘friend’ puts it – you are still obese but at least you look more normal now’…).

But – what started out as a choice to live, a choice to be, a choice to find myself and fix what was so very obviously broken had snowballed beyond my wildest dreams. In the best way possible. The right way. The way it should be. I didn’t need anyone to tell me I am worthy. I didn’t need anyone to love me. Because I knew I was worthy and I loved me. I am amazing. Quite simply – because I am.

And then I sick. Again. I spent an entire month in a hospital so that the pulmonologist could try and figure out what the hell.  It took a long time, filled with large doses of cortisone and medicine and being careful. And my weight started to climb. It was a perfect storm of circumstances. Illness, inactivity, cortisone and just plain bad luck. I stopped weighing myself because I just knew. At my largest – I weighed 170kg. The most I had ever weighed in my life. Everything hurt. Everything was swollen. Just walking was a bitch.

BUT – I never lost the joy that I had found. Yes my circumstances sucked – but so the hell what – I am still amazing. I am breathing. I am funny. I am smart. I am me.

For years I struggled to be thin, conform, be loved and liked, be worthy. No one ever told me that being fat wasn’t my problem. My head was my problem. My head never thought I was good enough. My head was wrong. Don’t get me wrong. It was hard. It is hard.

I am healthier now and after much soul searching, much discussion with people who know about these things, after much advice – I chose to have a Gastric Bypass. On 7 June 2012, I took a very large step off a very well worn path and started my new journey to another facet of awesome.

Through all of this – I have on occasion failed. Sometimes I have let what others think of me interfere. Sometimes I put the ideas and opinions of others ahead of me. Sometimes I feel that concrete block like an actual weight on my shoulders trying to press me into oblivion.

But always, I smile. My family or the people who truly matter say wow you are doing awesome. I take my lead from Khan in the Parlortones – and I dance like nobody is watching me.

And the concrete gets weaker every time.

And my soul sings every time.

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