~ I’m Not That Way Anymore (Part 2)


I think it takes a certain amount of “mental maturity” to conquer a long-standing weight problem. You can’t do it if you are going to diet by deprivation until you lose, and then return to the way that you always ate. I had been told that dieting would fail, and only a permanent lifestyle change would make a difference. Okay, but when can I have a hot fudge brownie a la mode or some enchilada fries? It took a long time for this to click inside of my head, “You can have them right now, but why would you want them? ”

I wasn’t a fat child. As a matter of fact, I have a picture of myself holding my baby brother where I am wearing shorts, and I cannot believe that those perfect legs sticking out from my body are mine. My parents had to struggle to get me to eat because there were so many other interesting things in the world that captured my attention.

Suddenly, I started to like food. Not so much that I fixated on it, but I began to get hunger sensations and want to feed them. Always analytical, I spent years trying to figure out what exactly it was that had made me fat. Maybe it was Sara Lee and her evil chocolate fudge brownies that I discovered around 3rd grade. Maybe it was when I turned 16 and started to drive and stopped taking dance class simultaneously. Maybe it was when my mom got sick and I had to adjust to the diet of another family. I wanted to figure out that pivotal point so badly, because it seemed logical that if I knew what it was, I could undo it. I didn’t realize that searching for the answer was just a way of avoiding the problem. It was an excuse of sorts.

Health problems could have been the culprit. I had terrible asthma. When we ran the mile on Friday mornings in P.E., I would wheeze and cough for the rest of the day. Medicine, both inhaled steroids or oral capsules, didn’t help much. I hated to exercise because it brought major discomfort, and it embarrassed me. As a teenager, I began developing unbearable stiffness in my legs, and sometimes when I would get up from a sitting position, it would feel like I had steppe onto shards of burning glass. I was 17, and scared. I didn’t want to admit to anyone that I wasn’t normal. If I didn’t say anything, I thought it might go away. It did for several years, but as I was completing my undergraduate degree and life turned stressful, the stiffness returned, then morphed into pain and fatigue. Finally, a pretty pink butterfly colored my cheeks and the bridge of my nose. People said I looked healthier than ever. I felt like telling them, “Normally, I have pale olive skin and dark circles under my eyes. Something about this ‘healthy pink’ isn’t right.” On certain days, I couldn’t even walk across a small stretch of the sprawling Arizona Sate University campus without wincing. It hurt, but I shut up. If I didn’t say anything, it didn’t exist, right?

I left to begin my Masters in Film Production in Boston, and shortly after, I got bronchitis and couldn’t recover. One night, I was struggling to breath so badly that my friend took me out in a blizzard and dragged me to the emergency room. There, I overheard the doctors talking about a patient with a positive ANA. “She probably has systemic lupus,” they explained. I felt so sorry for the girl behind the curtain, until I got up and peeked in to find out there was no one next to me. They were talking about me. I didn’t know much about lupus. All I understood was it was potentially fatal and I was 3,000 miles away from home.

Suddenly, my weight became unimportant. Before I could conquer any of my difficulties in life, I would have to choose to live. I had to get through the “why me” and the “this can’t be real,” and make peace with my immune system that wanted to devour me whole. Then, it would take a few years more to develop that much needed mental maturity.

I’m Not That Way Anymore (Part 1)

I’m Not That Way Anymore (Part 3)

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1 Comment

  1. Reply I’m Not That Way Anymore (Part 1) | Corazon en un Platillo | Heart on a Plate: Recipes and Poetry of Love July 26, 2013

    […] To be continued… I’m Not That Way Anymore (Part 2) […]

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