In mid-2008, I spent an extended weekend at my in-laws’ house. I weighed myself the day I left, and the morning after I returned. In four days, I gained 20 lbs, for no reason whatsoever. This was back when I was extremely ill, and bizarre jumps up or down like this happened at alarming frequencies. This jump came a decade after the start of my illness, and honestly? I gave up. Succumbed to depression and bad habits. Two more jumps followed over the next year, landing me at my highest weight.
That illness is long since gone, so why bring it up? Because rapid weight gain – like rapid weight loss – plays tricks on your mind. It’s difficult to wrap your head around it, and you struggle to see yourself accurately. Unfortunately, 2015 was another depressed, resigned, giving-up kind of year, accompanied by another mass of rapid weight gain. Beyond those accompanying mind games, my brain issues have been compounded by the surreal nightmare I’ve lived in for the last two years. Everything has changed so much, and I find myself staring at myself, my body, my family, my life, without recognizing any of it.
Two years ago, I was 60 lbs lighter and feeling good about myself for the first time in years. My children were nine, eleven, and thirteen, in elementary and middle school. We’d lived in our then-house for eight years, and I had a whole network of people around me that I loved. I was healthy, happy, strong, secure, and confident. I had plans to start school the next fall and finally work toward finishing my bachelor’s degree.
I’m having a hard time letting it all go. The good and the bad. My reflection surprises me. I have to consciously remind myself to drive to my new house instead of the old. My body can’t do any of the things it used to. My family has fractured chaotically with so many rapid changes. My oldest son has grown into a volatile high schooler with both legal and mental health troubles. I’m personally not stable enough to hold down a job, much less go back to school…hell, I can’t even write, and that’s my forever-passion!
The reminders are constant – I can’t do what I used to, I’m not who I used to be, life is wholly changed – and still I expect to be able to run, to lift weights, to fit into certain clothes, to write, to finish to-do lists, to feel secure about the future. But I can’t. Everything is working against me. Injury. PTSD. PCOS. An extra 60 lbs of weight. Medicinal interference. Time constraints (so many doctor visits!!). Emotional baggage. Family baggage. And so on.
I want to let go. I want to forget the nightmares of the last two years, but when I start to, even my reflection reminds me. Then when I think of what I once was, once had, I remember what I’ve lost, and I cling to it as well. I don’t know who I am or how to be anymore. Letting go means losing all those things, good and bad, that make up the whole that is Manda. But holding on just makes me unable to grow into a new self. I’m tired of the catch-22.
The time to choose is getting close. I can feel it.