Spring Awakening

            I am often slow to come to an awareness of things about me. While my eyes are open as I go about my day, I keep personal feelings tucked safely away. Therefore, I miss the obvious.

            For example, I might be so focused on the menu that I fail to register that friends have ordered and what they have ordered. I might not like the appetizers that they’ve chosen, so my mind races ahead trying to figure out if I am going to be expected to share the cost even though I won’t take one bite.

            Did she just order a salad and that friend a complete entrée? Or was I mistaken? I don’t want to choose the chicken parmesan meal if everyone has soup. Or soup if they order the chicken.

            Today was a perfect example of how long it takes me to process where I am and what to do.

            I had a reservation at the gym to swim. It’s a three-lane pool, and since it reopened, we’ve only been using lanes one and three. My slot was lane one, my favorite.

            When I arrived, lane three was occupied with swim lessons! I almost turned around and left. Eighty pounds ago I would have been embarrassed to swim with parents hugging the walls. I knew, sensed, that they’d all be staring at this fat old lady slapping her way across the pool. My huge, baggy arms made a whomp, whomp sound when they hit the water, something so intriguing that no matter how hard those parents might try, they wouldn’t have been able to ignore. On top of that, the sight of my huge body waddling onto the deck might have repulsed them!

            As I stood at the check-in desk contemplating what to do, it dawned on me that I am no longer that fat old lady. The eighty pounds have been gone for two years and the cosmetic surgeries that I had last year removed the excess skin from my arms and waist. I had no reason to be embarrassed, no excuse for not swimming.

            I changed, and before walking out on the deck, stopped and looked in the full-length mirror. The image startled me. Am I really that thin? Is my stomach really that flat? Are my arms really that small?

            I nodded. Yes, yes and yes. I am all those things and more.

            With my head up I strode onto the deck. I put on my cap and rinsed off. I sat on the top step and slid my feet into my fins, then pulled the goggles over my head.

            I took off, counting one, two, three, four, my arms coming up and then plunging back in, no sound except the bubbles escaping my nose. Back and forth I swam, with newfound confidence.

            I was a swimmer. A real, actual swimmer. A woman who looks good in her new body. And it made me proud.

            Now if I can hold on to that awareness, my life will be so much better.

My Never-ending Battle

I’d like to be able to tell you

That I’ve won the battle with my body.

That I’m down to a respectable weight

And that nothing will distract me

From that goal.

But weight loss is a continuous battle.

It is never won.

It defies logic.

People look at a fat person

And think that something’s mentally wrong.

Why else look like that?

Why not just stop stuffing food into your mouth?

But it’s not that easy.

There was never a time in my life when I was thin.

Even going back into my toddler years,

I was a fat child.

In elementary school I was the source

Of many laughs.

The interesting thing is that I’ve never

Been a big eater.

You would never have caught me with

My plate mounded high and

Shoveling food down faster than a dog.

But here I am, years later and still fighting

The same old battle.

I don’t like the way I look.

I’m embarrassed when I put on my

Swim suit and walk out on the deck.

When I picture my floppy arms

Coming out of the water.

I’m humiliated when I sit next to skinny people

And see that one of my thighs equals two of theirs.

And I’m tired of the fight.

It exhausts me, the simple act of eating.

Or not eating.

Filling myself with fluid so that my stomach

Will be full and I won’t take that extra bite.

And so I would love to tell you

That I’ve won the battle so that you would smile

And nod

And be proud of my accomplishment.

But I can’t.