EDIT: This was originally written and posted prior to my gastric bypass surgery, and subsequent weight loss, that took place three years ago. While many of these things are no long an outward daily struggle, a good deal of this psychological burden still lives heavily in my subconscious – and I felt it made sense to keep a post like this active so that those reading my blog would understand my thought process.
I ordered new boots online. They just came in today – and they don’t fit.
And now I’m sitting on the floor of my room, trying not to cry about it.
Sure, this is a common annoyance for anyone who orders an item of clothing online. After all, you can stick that tape measure every which way and assume that a medium is a medium is a medium everywhere – but there’s that chance that something still isn’t going to fit.
This isn’t what I’m talking about. This isn’t why I’ve shut my door and turned off my lights. This isn’t what sent all of my emotions spiraling home.
This is the moment in which I stop to look and see how far I’ve come – and yet, how much longer I have to go.
Fifteen months ago, this exact same scene played out in my old apartment, almost down to the dust-bunny-ridden floor. I had ordered boots from a plus-sized store – a different store from last week, mind you – and I knew the trouble I was getting myself into by doing so. I had taken a tape measure and roped it around my calves, my thighs, my foot, my ankles. I double checked – no, quadruple checked – my measurements, and compared them almost obsessively against the size chart provided on the website.
Of course, nothing I looked at was bound to fit exactly – clocking in at under five feet and weighing nearly three times what was deemed “healthy” for my size, things were either going to be way too long or way too wide. To be safe, I ordered six different pairs, in varying widths and sizes. I hoped that maybe something would fit – anything – and then I could return what didn’t work and use the best fit to buy something that actually worked.
The boots came in. The box was nearly as big as I was. And lo and behold, nothing fit.
Nothing. Not the short booties that were supposed to stop at the ankle and wouldn’t slide over my heel. Not the long leather beauties that claimed to be wide enough to hit my knee, but instead wouldn’t zip over my calf muscle. Not the bright yellow rainboots I had been so excited over, which cut off the circulation halfway up my leg and bent in uncomfortable angles.
Nope. Nothing fit.
So I sunk to the floor, surrounded by six pairs of boots that taunted me, that haunted me – and I cried.
I cried because I was so sick and tired of feeling like I was trapped in a body I hated. I was sick of being punished for looking the way that I did, by the world around me, but by myself, too. I cried because I didn’t think I had any sort of way out, any sort of solution that could feasibly work and put me in a place where I could ever love myself again.
I cried because I hated the way I looked. I cried because I hated the way I felt. I cried because I hated almost everything about me, and I cried because I just didn’t know how to stop.
So I did what I normally do in an emotional situation I’ve lost control of – I did the most dramatic and drastic thing humanly possible in the hopes of jump-starting my system. The next morning I woke up, picked myself up off of the rug (because yes, I had been so upset I had fallen asleep there), and called the Sibley Center for Weight Loss Surgery to make an appointment. I was done fucking around with diets and disorders. I was sick of skinny people recommending a new workout routine, or dance studio. I needed help, real help, from those who “got it.”
Most of you know the rest of the story from here. I went through an intensive six-month process that included physical and psychological tests, as well as modified diets and a whole lot of soul-searching, before I went in for gastric bypass surgery last July. I started dropping weight immediately. Within the first five weeks I had lost thirty pounds, and not a single pair of the pants that I owned fit. In the last eight months I’ve lost over a hundred pounds – and there aren’t words to explain the difference.
There isn’t a week that goes by that I walk into a room and my roommate doesn’t go “GOD,YOU’RE SO SKINNY.” I catch people staring at me on the bus – except this time, it’s not a look filled with pity or contempt. It’s because my skirt looks damn good and my eyes match my sweater.
So why in the hell did I spend last night on the floor on the verge of tears, just like I did nearly a year and a half ago?
Because the sheer act of trying new boots again was something I had been avoiding. Yes, I’ve lost weight. Yes, I look good. But with rapid weight loss, you don’t just lose the parts of you that you hate and then you’re done with it. My arms aren’t as weight-heavy, but I’ve got extra skin that makes me look exclusively for open-cut (or long) sleeves. My stomach is considerably flatter and my waistline considerably smaller, but there’s some careful rearranging that’s done behind the scenes – and you’ll probably never catch me dead in a two-piece ever again.
And my legs – well, my legs will always be shorter, and curvy, if the female members of my family are any indication.
Up until this point in my “journey,” if that’s what you want to call it (which I don’t..) it has not been much of a challenge to lose the weight. If I’m not hungry anymore, I stop eating. For a long time, even walking down the hall became seriously strenuous exercise. It was a genuine surprise when, last week, I stepped on the scale and didn’t automatically see a drop from days prior.
I wouldn’t call what I’ve been through up until now “easy,” but it certainly wasn’t as hard as it seemed.
So, getting back to those boots – to try them on and have them not fit was a straight up slap in the face to my confidence. Sure, these boots are several inches smaller than the ones I tried on in January – but they’re still meant for curvy girls, for the “plus-sized.” The zippers wouldn’t close and my stupid new rainboots still cut off circulation, the pawprint pattern just continuing to taunt me. I was still the girl who shopped for Old Navy online since their plus sizes were exclusively on the website. I was still the girl who bought oversized band tees since I could blame the bad fit on the men’s sizing and not my own shameful size.
I had come all of this way, and felt like nothing had changed.
Those boots didn’t represent the progress that I’ve made – and I’m not trying to downplay my success, I’m really not. I’m perpetually impressed with the changes that I’ve made, and how many bags of clothes that I’ve shoved in my hall closet because I don’t have room for things that don’t fit, in my life, anymore.
I, like most people who go through this sort of change, think that losing the weight is going to be the be all, end all. It’s really, really not – I can’t stress that enough.
I still stand in front of my mirror in my underwear and my bra and push things into places I want them to be. I still see flabby arms and chubby legs and a random patch of dark hair in a spot I won’t point out because I don’t want to draw any more attention to it than I already have.I still hate my bangs and bite my nails, which doesn’t help me in thinking about how stubby my fingers are.
At my most recent surgeon-check-up-visit-type-thing, he told me that I was at a “comfortable place” and that I could be happy with where I was – this was a good weight for me. I remember staring at him like he’d just insulted my mother – and I remember getting mad. I still want to lose another forty pounds – how dare he? It was like telling a middle-schooler that a C is a “comfortable grade” and that I should be happy with that. And if you knew me at all in an academic setting – you knew that a C was never, ever enough.
These boots represent my need to do more – to do better. I recently signed up for a 5k with an included training program – because I knew this was on the horizon. I knew there was going to be a moment where I would hit “good enough” and I wanted to be sure I didn’t just stop there.
The organizers for the 5k organized us into groups to train based off our initial running times. I was put into the slowest group – which, contrary to what anyone thinks, I’m completely fine with. I often tell people that “I don’t run – for buses, for men, for anything.” That still applies today.
What got me so upset was that all of the slowest exercises had been modified – so much so, that the work wasn’t even strenuous anymore. I lost any sort of respect for the program when they made it clear that the point of this group was for complacency – for those happy with where they were. There was no motivation – no push to be better if you feel like you’re running in place.
I don’t do well with complacency. I like to make goals and then hit them, and if I fall short, I’m sorely disappointed in myself. These boots felt like they should have been a goal – and I’ve fallen short. It feels like I’m back where I started, sitting on the floor, staring at the wall and hoping to god that there’s something, anything I can do to feel better about myself.
I’d like for those boots to represent something better – a step (ha) in the right direction towards the goals I’ve already established. I want to be able to run that 5k without stopping. I want to be able to put on a sleeveless top and not immediately grab the closest cardigan. I want to wear jewelry that I’m not consistently worrying about, jewelry that doesn’t have my thinking that my hands look chunky. And yeah, I want to be able to order a pair of boots online that will zip up and look good – boots that feel like they fit.
Is this a low point that I’m going through? Maybe. Do I love the way I look? No. Is this new phase, “Phase Two,” if you will, the hardest thing I’ll ever have to do? Most likely. Am I going to have to work towards those Michelle Obama guns and a bathing suit body. Yes, definitely. But hey – who doesn’t? I just can’t afford to let people tell me this is good enough anymore. These boots, as trivial as it may seem, just confirm that.
And for those of you who are actually curious – I’m keeping at least two pairs of these boots. They’re going to fit one day. I’m sure of it.