We came back from the beach today. In the last couple of years I've noticed that as much as I love to go to the Outer Banks, I tend to sleep a lot and isolate myself from my family. I've never been a huge beach person. I remember being five and going to the beach; when we got home my mom made us strip in the backyard to hose all the sand off us. I was absolutely horrified; I was convinced that all the neighbors were watching and seeing my naked butt in the backyard.
When I had kids, I took them to the ocean because I felt like every kid should at least see the ocean. We lived halfway across the country at the time. My kids loved the beach. I have pictures of my little boy, walking down the beach at sunset, and my little girl rolling in the water and being covered with sand. I remember those moments, when I was such a new mother; when I got so much pleasure from watching the absolute joy on their faces. I'm so glad that I captured those moments with a camera. We share collages of them between my mother and me.
That was ten years ago. I remember specifically because we have the same week every year. It was their first year visiting my family after we had gained custody. I took my role as a mother incredibly serious and I cut myself about no slack. If I made a mistake, as we all do, I beat myself into a pulp over it. My children deserved better than me. They deserved perfection.
It's been a long time since then, and I've learned a lot of lessons, not only about parenting, but about life. I awoke this morning to pack the cars and head home; we picked up Gabi on the way and we made it home in relatively good time. But I've continued to ache all day. It's pretty horrific and my foot is killing me--I have a significant bone spur in my heel.
So I'm sitting here feeling sorry for myself for a multitude of reasons, including wasting another vacation, and what comes on but the predictable bariatric surgery commercial. A man and a woman who swear how their lives have changed due to stomach stapling; life is better than ever and so is their health.
Ten years ago I had a doctor tell me that without gastric bypass I would die in a few years. Well, I'm still here, without the surgery, while many who have chosen to go under the knife have died. Twenty years ago I had a doctor who put me on the legendary mix of "Phen-Fen", and after the news reported how the drug combo mix was lethal, my doctor told me obesity was more lethal. Again, I am here and many people have suffered loss of life or had heart or lung damage due to the drug mix. Somehow I've managed to survive despite all the wonder treatments out there.
But tonight, with my damn foot and my fibromyalgia and a bit of a possible cold (I'm getting hot and cold), I couldn't help but wonder when I saw that commercial how different my life might be if I did try surgery.
I've thought about lap band systems for awhile now. I've even researched them on the internet. The nice thing about a lap band is the procedure is easier than gastric bypass and the band can be adjusted.
The first time I went on a diet I was nine years old. I probably was about fifteen pounds heavier than I should have been, which is noticeable on a nine-year old. My mother was terrified I would have a weight problem and so she signed me up with her for Weight Watchers. This was not the current point system--this was when foods were "legal" or "illegal". I tried, bless my little heart, I did. I ate WW sugarless chocolate cake that I made...oatmeal peanut butter bars...precut servings of some ice milk that resembled a frozen something or other. But I never lost weight. Every diet I've been on the story has been the same: I don't lose weight.
I'm not stupid. I know why I eat and I know I need to eat healthier and I need to eat less. More than anything I need to exercise. When I was a young child, I was molested by a family friend, and I used food to manage the stress I was under. The irony of my story is that it's the same as millions of other stories. What other drug would be available to a five year old? And once you're eating out of comfort, the ironic circle of body hatred is complete. You hate yourself for being abused, then you hate yourself for eating to shut it out.
In our world, we're bombarded with easy fixes for weight. Gastric bypass, Biggest Loser, hours of exercise, supplements, drinks to substitute for meals...the list goes on and on. So why did I write about this tonight? Because I wonder what my life would be like if I didn't hurt. If the physical pain left, would the psychological pain leave too? Is the answer really as simple as a rubber band in my gut?
I've always believed that a healthy lifestyle is how a person should live, regardless of his or her size. Making good choices is the key. It's what I would tell my children and anyone else who asks me. But I talk a good talk. I need to walk it now. Because the next vacation I take, I want to go to the pool. And I want to ride the rides at the amusement park. And I want to keep up with my kids. And I don't want to think about all of the opportunities I've wasted in my mid life.