Sometimes in my life I get reminders. Hints of what my life could have been like, both good and bad. Yesterday I had one of those reminders.
When I got up yesterday morning, it took some time, coffee and 4 episodes of ‘Criminal Minds’ to get me going. But once I had my shower I was ready for the day and for my long training session. I went through my workout fine, pushing myself a little harder but was annoyed because of my clothing. I had chosen a white, form fitted tank top that was in the back of my workout clothes closet and put it on. It was tight, but I figured it was fine. However, during the entire workout it kept bugging me. I didn’t like what I saw in the mirrors, I hated that little jiggle in my core, and it stuck with me.
I had finished my training and headed home, starving. I woke my husband up and we decided to go out for brunch. I changed clothes and picked a top out that had capped sleeves but it was comfy and cool. The day turned out to be warmer than I expected and I got to wear my new sandals I bought the day before, so I felt better. But still fussed about my upper arm wings, which I constantly do if I am not working out. Why it makes such a difference to me still, I don’t know. Finally I just gave up and we headed out.
On the drive over, my husband and I talked about how lucky we were to live the life we do. How amazing our relationship is and how we don’t get the jealousy that some people have over their significant other’s hobbies. We each love and embrace our differences and accept that there are things we each do, that the other is not actively involved in and THAT is OK. It was a beautiful day, and all was right with the world. By this time, my clothing frustrations were a minor annoyance in the back of my head and I was holding hands with my adoring husband, smiling and laughing as we always do.
As we pulled into the parking lot of the restaurant, I noticed an older woman sitting in one of the rocking chairs out in front of the establishment. I had a flicker of recognition, thinking it might be someone I knew, but realized she was not. Then as I get out of the car, I noticed how truly heavy she was. She was in a longer skirt, the length would have come to below mid calf had she been standing. Yet, what caught my eye was that her panniculus was actually hanging below her hemline. Right then, I realized that person could have been me, had I not had surgery. See the left side of the main photo, that was me at one of my heaviest points in my life and my tummy is almost to my knees at that point. The right side of the photo was as I headed out the door for training.
For those of you who do not know what a panniculus is, it a medical term describing a dense layer of fatty tissue growth, consisting of subcutaneous fat in the lower abdominal area. I call it my pontoons, because even 8 years post op and 3 years of intense training, mine is still there. It has gotten smaller, but it will not go away on its own. I have done what I can to get it smaller, but until I have surgery its a part of me. Something I have to live with, train around, suffer through and try to constantly understand its just a part of who I am. Even when I get annoyed with my body.
When I saw this woman, sitting there, barely contained in the rocking chair, and not able to cover herself fully, even with a skirt, I wasn’t appalled or ashamed for her. I just simply understood. In that moment, I knew that could have been me, sitting there, struggling to keep my skirt down to cover my draping stomach. But then as we reached the door, my reflection was there. The outline of my shoulders, my arms, my breasts, my waist and yes, even my panniculus, which was there but not really noticeable in the shorts I was wearing.
In that reflection I didn’t see all the flaws I had thought about earlier in the day. I didn’t give a second thought to my flappy upper arms, the jiggling little pocket in the core of my body or to my panniculus. I was thankful that I was sore and fatigued from my morning workout. I was thankful that I had an amazing man holding my hand as we walked into brunch. I was thankful that despite everything I put my body through, I am able to walk, run, fight, do just about anything I put my mind to, because I am not held captive by my own body.
In that moment, I remembered in all too vivid detail, what it felt like to have 250 more pounds to carry around. What it felt like to be ashamed of what I had allowed myself to become. What it felt like to have someone judge me because of my weight, because of what I looked like, because of what I had done to my body.
In that moment, I wish I could have let that woman know how much my life had changed. How much better I felt, how much more free I was. But in that moment, I also knew how it felt to be her. How some stranger coming up to me, telling me life could be different would sound like an insult and just how negative some comments can be when you are not ready. So we walked into the restaurant and I ordered brunch. I had exactly what I wanted, and knew that I was ok. That no matter what, I had changed my body and my life for the better.
We went to Costco afterwards, Greg and I. As we walked in, another woman came out that reminded me of my old self, she walked like me, was built like me, had a similar ‘apple on a stick’ figure like me, but she was blonde. I asked Greg “I think I was like that, about her size”. Greg looked at me, and thought about it for a few minutes. He told me that in all honesty, he couldn’t remember if she was my size or not, that I had been the way I am now for so long, he couldn’t gauge me the other way.
And that’s OK.
Because I will always remember. I can’t forget, because for me, if I forget, it would be my downfall. I can’t go back. I can’t let myself be held captive again. I refuse that future, now and always, because I will never forget the reminders of my past. I will accept them as they come, painful or not. I need them every so often to remind me of where I came from and how I became the woman I am today. I am thankful for all the photos I do have of me then, of my journey and of me now, because I can always go back and remember the way I was…and be thankful for the future that I have been given.
When the Universe reminds you of something, try to pay attention…