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Today, I’m re-posting something that my friend Faye Fleming posted. It really made a big impact on me, and several others, and I think it’s great reading for anything who thinks the sleeve will solve all their problems. So here we go.
I’m going to lay out some thoughts I’ve been having. My intent is not to minimize the experience of anyone else, but simply to offer my own thoughts and beliefs. I know this journey is different for all of us, but I am always saddened when I see a post about how a pre-op person can’t wait to “be skinny” or “look hot” or “feel good about myself again”. Skinny does not equal happy. Skinny does not equal hot. Skinny does not equal feeling good about ourselves. There are just as many skinny people who are unhappy, unattractive, and down on themselves as fat people. Happiness, feeling attractive, and feeling good about oneself are characteristics generated from within, not without.
A few years ago, at a very low point in my life, happiness seemed to me like a foreign concept. I could not remember the last time I had felt genuinely joyous or happy about anything. Intellectually, I knew that there were many things in my life that were desirable. I had a good job, a comfortable house, a dependable car, some money in the bank, food in the fridge, etc. But despite these things, I was unhappy. Now, I had good reasons to be unhappy, or so I thought. My marriage was failing, I was coming to grips with the fact that I would never be a mother, I wanted desperately to change my life but felt completely stuck, and so on. I remember reading somewhere that happy is a verb…it’s an action, not a passive condition. I began to wonder…if I truly felt that there was no spark of happiness or joy in my life, who’s fault was that? Who was responsible for my happiness? The answer, of course, is me. I was failing myself. I was not loving myself, or being kind to myself.
I decided that if happy was an action, I was going to try and exercise my happy muscle. I was going to try and find one thing to feel happy about for a few minutes every day. My goal was 3-5 minutes a day of active happiness. I thought that would be super easy. After all, I had been able to identify good things in my life, so how hard could it be to think about them for a couple of minutes every day? Well, it was actually harder than I expected, but I stuck with it. I had to set a timer in the beginning, but I made myself do it every single day. Gradually, I noticed it got easier. Some days all I could come up with was something like the weather, or the fact that my bills were paid on time, but damn it…if that was all I had, then I was damn well going to focus on it & feel happy for 3 freakin’ minutes.
I eventually began to notice that I felt happier overall. I’m not sure why, because by this time I was just divorced and trying to figure out dating at 270 poundss & maintaining my new house, etc, but regardless, I felt happier. After meeting the man who has become my 2nd husband, he said that one of the things that attracted him to me was that I always seemed happy. I’m not saying that this is somehow a magic bullet against bad stuff happening, but holding happiness in my mind for a few minutes every day helps me to deal with the inevitable downs of life. It seems to me that consciously taking time to feel happy each day has somehow made a state of happiness more accessible in my brain.
It’s been almost 7 years since I began my happiness quest, and I can honestly say I feel happier today than I ever have in my life. To quote Charlotte in the Sex and The City movie, “I feel happy every day. Not all day every day, but every day I feel happy.” In choosing to have the sleeve, I absolutely do not expect it to make me happy, because I’m already happy. I feel pretty good about myself today, this minute, at 300+ poundss. Yes, there are things I want to do, but I can’t right now. Yes, I have pain every day & difficulty walking, but I still feel good about who I am and what I have to offer in my small corner of the world. I am aware that I am probably judged negatively by some people because of my weight, but I don’t even really notice that. Today, I find it so much easier to find things in my life that make me genuinely happy. I am definitely looking forward to weighing less and seeing an improvement in my mobility, but I don’t think it will make me somehow better or more acceptable or a more worthy person. I am enough, right now, just as I am. We all are, and we are all so very precious. Today, right now, at this very moment, we are beautiful, and we are valuable, and we are enough.
I believe that with all my heart, and I hope you do, too.