The “After” Myth

DURING

After.

It’s here.

In my first post, Before, 3 years ago, I said “I’m not to After yet, but I’m closer to After than to Before.”

I now weigh 117 – 120 pounds (depending on the day), and standing at 5-foot 6-inches, that measurement means that After is very, very here. But, before you congratulate me, dear readers…if I have any…and dear friends and family who I know follow this blog… I have to come clean with you: I don’t feel like I’m at After. I’m terrified of being at After. And, I don’t like that After is here.

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The tagline of my blog is “uncovering myself one pound at a time.” For most of this blog, I’ve spoken strongly about how my relationship with food and myself was what caused my weight struggles. I stand by that. The thing is, the symptoms have resolved faster than I’ve been able to treat the deeper disease. I’ve lost the weight, but I’ve failed to uncover and learn to truly love myself in the process. Truthfully, I have no idea who I am without “needs to lose weight” being one of the primary parts of my identity.

This is why I have not been posting…because this blog is not about weight loss…it’s about life gain. I could not bear to post here about the beautiful things one can gain in life by learning to love yourself while, in the background, hating myself so hard while the weight melted off. Progressing on the outside while regressing internally. Because, that’s the truth, readers. The last stretch of this weight loss hasn’t been healthy OR happy: it’s been agony. It’s been sad. It’s been an exercise in mourning.

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I’ve gotten so good at putting on the happy face. At “smile, nod, yes, thank you, I have lost a lot. No, I’m not trying to lose any more; you don’t need to worry.” I’m very good at this script, but it’s been such a lie, readers. The truth is my body melted away, and I stared at myself in the mirror not understanding why I couldn’t love the skin I’m in. Why? I thought After was the goal!

But I made a mistake.

A crucial mistake.

I forgot that the number on the scale is only a number. Only just a number. It’s not a before. It’s not an after. Getting that number to a certain set of digits is not my After.

I’m not at After. There is no After – happily ever or otherwise. There is only today. Just today – During.

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I tell you this now not to discourage you but to hopefully prevent someone from making the mistake that I did and associating After with a number. I weigh 120 pounds and still struggle with my weight. Losing weight does not mean you no longer struggle with your weight; I wish I had truly understood that. I still struggle with food. I still struggle with me.

Looking at the picture I put first in this post, I have to pause. I look at me … past vs. present. That is me. All of those pictures are of me. People say they do not recognize the girl in the other pictures. I’m here to say: that girl is me.

Don’t look at her as an abomination, because enough people, myself included, did that already.

Don’t congratulate me on no longer being her; I still am her. And doesn’t she deserve to be?

Don’t tell me I look better; I don’t. I look different.

Don’t speak of her as if she is a poor, piteous person. She’s not.

She’s me.

She’s standing right here, and she is fucking strong.

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There. Is. No. After.

There’s no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow of weight loss because the rainbow has no end.

There is today. There is now. There is during. There is life.

I uncovered myself one pound at a time; now, I must REcover myself…I must DIScover myself. And that…that is the new goal. Not numbers. Not sizes. Not inches.

Me. I am the goal. Finding. Loving. Being.

Can anybody hear me?

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Dear Self, You don’t know it yet, but you’re going to be ok.

self

7 years and 105 pounds ago

Hello, self.

I just wanted to tell you, it’s going to be ok.

You don’t know it self, but, one day, you will lose the weight. But, of course, that won’t fix everything. You don’t know that yet though. You don’t know that there’s more to it yet. That’s ok.

You don’t know it, self, but, one day, you’ll find someone who would and will love you yesterday, today, and tomorrow. You don’t know it, self, but you’re already worth loving.

You don’t know it, self, but you’re going to be successful. You’re going to have a career, and you’re going to be good at it. You don’t know it, self, but you’re going to fight so hard. You don’t know it, self, but you’re going to do great things.

You don’t know it, self, but one day, that smile will be real. Then, you’ll struggle to find it again, but that’s ok. You don’t know it, self, but life is both more beautiful and more difficult than you know. You don’t know it, self, but you’ll be glad you woke up tomorrow morning.

You don’t know it, self, but tomorrow comes. Things change in ways you don’t know, self. You change in ways you don’t know. You don’t know it, self, but you don’t know yourself. I wish I could tell you who you are, but I still don’t know you, self. I still struggle to love you, self. I’m sorry for that.

You don’t know it, self, but you’re already beautiful. You don’t know it, self, but those are still just words to me even now. You don’t know it, self, but you have a voice. You don’t know it, self, but you’ll find that voice. I believe.

You don’t know it, self, but you’ve been lied to. You don’t know it, self, but you’ve lied to yourself as well. You don’t know it, self, but you’re going to need help figuring all of this out. You don’t know it, self, but it’s OK to ask for this help. You don’t know it, self, but you deserve help even now. You don’t know it, self, but someone else believes you deserve help too.

I worry for you, self. I cry for you, self. I am angry at you, self. I am angry for you, self. Because you, frozen image self…you will never know these things. You, self caught in time, will never know love, joy, self respect, passion, drive. You, past self, will never know yourself. But, I want to know you, self. I want to love you, self. I want to be you, self.

We don’t know it, self, but we will be best friends. We don’t know it, self, but we will be the most important person to ourself forever; we touch our life more than any other. We don’t know it, self, but we need one another.

I don’t know you, self. But someday, I hope I will.

Love (someday soon),

You.

—-

Note: I am intentionally not including any current pictures in this letter tonight because the picture included here is of the girl who deserves to be seen. She is deserving of love. She deserves to hold her head high. If either of “us” inspires anyone, she should be that one. If you want to be proud of someone involved in this journey here, then, please… be proud of her then, not me now.