I’m kind of surprised at what a non-issue my weight seemed to be in young adult.
Seemed to be is the most important part of that sentence.
Nobody made a big deal about how I looked. Nobody challenged me in what I ate or my lack of exercise. And I wouldn’t have been receptive to it anyway. I wasn’t at a place that I could understand the reasons I didn’t take care of myself. That it went far beyond a perchance for McDonald’s and ice cream. I was actively living in denial.
If you had asked me, I would have had no idea how much I weighed. I didn’t own a scale.
I was thankful for my horrible eyesight because it meant I couldn’t see my body clearly in the shower. I never put on my glasses until I was fully dressed because I didn’t want to see my naked body in the mirror.
But then one night, when I was 24, I woke up feeling like someone had put a cinder block on my chest. The pain radiated to my shoulder blades. I couldn’t take a deep breath. I stumbled to a neighbor’s house and asked him to take me to the hospital.
Later, he told me he thought I was going to die. I did too.
After a few hours in the ER, I was sent home with a prescription for a high-powered antacid. I peeled the sticky plastic circles off of my chest from the EKG and then crouched in the bathroom and threw up black bile.
A few days later, my doctor diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease. Apparently I needed something with an acronym to serve as a wake-up call.
I radically changed my diet, cutting out all things rich and fried. When I was tempted to eat a french fry, I would think about that night in the hospital with clarity and the craving would pass. I was 29, and the pounds fell off easily with little exercise. I dropped from 210 to 159.
But then the memories of my ER visit faded. I moved to another state and ate to stave off the stress and fear of a new job and a new city and intense loneliness.
And suddenly, I was right back where I started. But this time covered in the shame of believing I had failed.
I no longer avoided looking at myself in the mirror.
Now I stared at myself each morning. And hated what I saw.
To Be Continued