I had high hopes of posting on the day, but I was running off to Philadelphia and then the woods to camp for my sister's 30th, and had some personal distractions besides. More on that later.
I had surgery on July 28th, 2016. I weighed 332 pounds. Today is August 8th, 2017, and when I belatedly replaced the batteries in my scale, I weighed 180.4 pounds.
It's hard to know what to say about that.
I've lost 151.6 pounds. I'm under my original tentative goal weight and basically at my second tentative goal weight. My BMI is 31—still obese, but barely. On July 28, 2016, my BMI was 57. On Sunday, at a party, someone without much tact said to me, "You've lost like half your bodyweight!" and she not all that far off.
What do you say about that? (I said, "It's been a wild year." This has become my go-to stock response. I like it because it shifts the focus of conversation off of my size and onto my experience. Most people do not care to take up that conversation, I notice.)
I'm living my life. My life is different. And it's not. And it's different mostly in ways that have nothing to do with the weight I've lost, and it's different in ways that are intimately related to the weight I've lost. And I am still here, still the same person I've always been but also deciding who it is, that person, the person I've always been, the person I sometimes don't recognize in the mirror. I literally talked to myself in a mirror on Sunday, at that party, after that conversation. "Who are you, stranger?" I said, staring myself in the face. I was fairly drunk on two glasses of wine at the time, in my defense, but there was a strange kind of identification/disidentification with that image. She's me. She's a stranger. She doesn't look all that different, but I don't all the way recognize her.
One year ago, literally speaking, like August 8th, 2016, I was still recovering in my parents' apartment, just across town from the hospital. I was staring at the walls. I was experiencing postsurgical depression but didn't really know it (please be aware, any newbies who happen to be reading, that it's very common among bariatric patients!). I was following the rules to the letter. My whole world was that tiny apartment and the postsurgical packets and protein and water.
And now my world feels strange and wild and wonderful, open and full. I am struggling with the ways in which that does and doesn't feel related to my size. It has really been a wild year.
Last July 28th, I hadn't slept and I hadn't eaten for two days and I took a wee-hours taxi from deep Brooklyn to the hospital and arrived half an hour before it opened. I remember sitting on the retaining wall with my bag and my fear.
This July 28th, I had the same bag with me, but was heading off to camp for my sister's birthday, and the prospect of a bus trip was different, and the prospect of a weekend party with strangers was different too. I am strange to myself and compelling to other people in ways that I was not before, and some part of it is the whirlwind, the intense energy I'm throwing off right now as my life alters and rearranges, and some part of it is the way the world sees (and doesn't see) fat people. I walk through the world and I can be anonymous in new ways and individuated in new ways. It is different to be in the world.
My collarbones jut. My arms are saggy lump-bags that hang and gather and pucker (they were my least favorite feature at 332 pounds, and they are my least favorite feature at 180.4 pounds). My waist caves in like an inlet between my ribcage and my hips. I have been crossing my legs every now and again.
I can't tell if I am still a fat person or not. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I have started to think about the idea of passing. I have felt like I pass for not-fat. I have been afraid of invoking that stigma. I know that I live in a body that is non-normative. I can't tell if I want to alter that or not. Plastic surgery would alter and diminish, but not erase, that non-normativity. I will always have it in some degree. And I will always have the mind that has resulted from that having.
A few weeks ago I heard that my ex-boyfriend was seeing someone new and it hurt. I miss him, even though I don't want to be back in that relationship. And a few weeks later, I'm also seeing someone new, and it's thrilling. That's the other reason I missed the one-year mark, honestly—romance haze. What I think is interesting about this relationship is that it's with a person who represents both the expansion of my world—O brave new world, I keep saying to myself, that has such people in it—and also an opportunity for me to claim kinds of non-normativity both consistent (fatness) and new (queerness of a couple of kinds). Bodies feel strange and new to me—the ideas and experiences and histories that live in them. There are ways in which this, more than any of my previous experiences, has made me able to really directly experience the beauty of a queered or grotesque body. I look at myself naked in the mirror and I sort of love what I see, sometimes as much for its strangeness as despite it, without having to talk myself into loving it. And also I wonder how much of that is enabled by my collarbones and cheekbones and waist.
I don't have to know now, and I don't. It's only a year. It's not even over. My weight is still drifting downwards. I am settling towards some equilibrium of behavior and habit, but haven't gotten to it yet. I'd still like to be a little smaller, so I am still paying attention, but I am letting things loosen up, too. Some days I feel good about that, others okay, others concerned.
I have not drawn very many firm conclusions, is what I'm saying. But here we are. It is a year later. My understanding is a work in progress, as indeed am I.