Have you ever tried to squeeze into too-small jeans, managed to get them over your hips, sucked in and zipped up only to realize that all that extra “you” is now spilling out over the top of the waistband?
Sometimes that’s how life after loss feels.
Too much emotion, too much baggage, too much EVERYTHING that has to fit inside a very narrow set of other people’s expectations and tolerance for self-expression.
I find that I CAN squeeze my words and actions into that skinny space-for awhile.
But then sure as anything, the real me pops out the top and there I am-exposed to the world- warts and all.
I weigh more today than I’ve weighed in ten years.
Just before Dominic graduated high school in 2008, I decided that being “fluffy” was not good for my health, not good for my joints and for the first time in my married life I had the extra energy, time and attention to work on losing weight.
I lost over fifty pounds.
Still not skinny, but definitely a much smaller version of me than had existed since I started having children.
But after Dom left us, a series of choices and out-of-my-control health issues combined to make it harder and harder to maintain the weight loss I had (fairly) effortlessly maintained for six years.
I’m scheduled to see my GP tomorrow and you know what makes me more nervous than all the bloodwork they will have to do? Stepping on the scales!
Why is it more deplorable to be fat than to be mean?
Why is it considered a greater moral failure to lug around extra pounds than to lug around a hateful heart?
I feel more like a failure because I’ve allowed pounds to creep back up on my backside than for so many other things that are so much more important.
Menopause, middle age and many sleepless nights which increase my cortisol levels have conspired to make it harder this time than last time to rid my body of excess weight.
I’m active, eat well and in limited amounts (no Twinkies or high fructose corn syrup!) but my hips refuse to get smaller.
I try hard not to blame everything on child loss.
But I’m pretty sure a significant portion of responsibility sits squarely on the fact that my heart is broken. I am exercising so much self-control every. single. day. that I don’t have any left over.
I rarely cry any more in public.
Goodness! I rarely cry any more in private.
I can return a cheery, “Have a nice day!” to any and everyone I meet.
But that means I am constantly running a tape in my head that goes something like this: “Don’t take it out on her. She has no idea. Keep smiling. People don’t know that you were about to cry just a minute ago. Don’t let that person’s ugly attitude unleash the beast inside you.”
Can I be honest here?
I’m tired of everything being hard.
I don’t know if or when I’ll lose weight (please don’t inbox me with your latest, greatest sales pitch).
I’m trying most days.
But sometimes I just don’t have it in me to try. Sometimes I just want to be normal-whatever THAT is. Sometimes I just want to have one corner of life where things are easy and don’t require constant vigilance or extreme restraint. Sometimes I want to eat ALL the things and not give a hoot if it adds inches to my waist.
It’s interesting how God gives a similar message to many in His family around the same time. My friend and fellow bereaved mom, Kathleen Duncan posted just yesterday Dear Momma Who’s Feeling Not Enough. She had no idea that I had this post lined up over a week ago for today. So maybe we should all take a moment to realize that we ARE enough-just us. Because of Christ, we ARE enough. ❤
It has taken me decades to internalize the message that I don’t have anything to prove.
It has taken many, many heartbreaking moments to realize that no matter how hard I try to please everyone and met each expectation held over my head, I will fail.
It has taken diets and restrictive clothing and false faces painted on with make up to understand that my body is not the best representation of who I really am.
It has taken years of self-talk to rub out the negativity stamped on the inside of my brain and behind my eyelids.
I am just now (at 53 years old!) learning to lean into my identity in Christ and turn my back on the false identity the world and the enemy of my soul wants me to embrace.
But the truth is that IF Christ took it ALL to the cross (and I believe He did), then there’s nothing left to prove.
And if there is nothing left to prove then I am truly free.
I’m free to eat and drink to the glory of God instead of eating and drinking to craft my body into a shrine of perfection and youth.
I’m free of people pleasing and set free to please God (even when it doesn’t please people).
I’m free of trying to impress the neighbors and free to impart the good news of the Gospel-no strings attached.