It’s been several months since I’ve written here. Many times I’ve hit these pages, intending to write, intending to post on social media, and I stopped. I have been busy on a work project, a documentary that tells the stories of four women who survived child marriage. These women aren’t from third world countries, they are all from right here, in the United States of America. It caused me to take a break from social media, to step away from it all, to focus on my work. At least, that’s what I told myself.
Shooting this documentary was a difficult task. Hearing the shocking, detailed accounts of how these women suffered extreme trauma, costing them years to recover, definitely took its toll. It caused me to look at some of the trauma and difficulties I had experienced, some I hadn’t really thought about in a very long time, and it also made me think more deeply about women in general. How, as a woman, I have often been judged more on my looks than on my skill set. How rarely do I hear a news story involving some sort of abuse or assault that doesn’t have a female victim. It caused me to look at my own journey, and in particular my constant struggle over body issues. It also caused me to think about why, when I was within striking distance of my weight loss goal, I fell off the rails.
While I didn’t gain back all of the weight, I did gain back 30 pounds of the 85 pounds shed. I can’t blame the documentary. I need to understand the sabotage. All the good hard work, weighing, measuring, making different choices. The size 10 clothing I was excited to shed and replace with a single digit size I hadn’t seen since high school. What happened?
I began avoiding photos again, I justified putting on the leggings, the baggy sweaters again. I was still perfect for two out of three meals a day. Breakfast and lunch still got weighed, and I still made sure to eat 3 meals a day. But the evening meal, the time when it’s been the most challenging throughout this process, I dumped all the rules. I got angry about having to even think about this stuff. I was so emotionally depleted from my work, I told myself I needed a break. And what exactly was that break? Imbibing in alcohol, eating much larger portions at dinner, allowing the late night snacking to creep in. The old voice in my head telling me ‘you deserve this,’ ‘you’re doing a hard thing,’ ‘you can get back to weight loss again soon.’ And once again, here I am, allowing the lies to win. Maybe I felt better after that first couple of sips of wine, or the first bite of that cookie. But once again, it certainly didn’t solve anything. Me being angry about not being naturally thin, or using food for comfort, that didn’t solve anything either.
I feel the old aches and pains coming back. My mind and body have suffered. I was feeling SO good and so proud! I was so happy being on the road.
It is time to begin again. And I’m pretty angry about the whole thing to be honest. But I have to let that go. Instead of being 85% of the way there, I’m now back to being halfway to the goal line. These lessons have been learned before. Why did I choose to repeat history yet again? Why didn’t I reign myself in sooner with the first sign of my jeans tightening? The only answer I come up with is I was overwhelmed, and ashamed. Initially it started with a change in my medication which caused some weight gain, then it was feeling sleep deprived and emotionally taxed. I was feeling out of control, and instead of re-connecting, I chose to go under, to isolate, to seek refuge–but in the end, it didn’t renew me. I was afraid of judgment, of disappointing people, of not keeping my promise.
My work involves me driving the ship, me making choices, taking risks, trusting my gut. In every creative endeavor, you’re forging new territory. You can’t know it will all work, but you take a stab. You head into nothing to make something. You fall back, there’s a break down, you fix it and continue on. Perhaps I was using up all that courage. In the weak moments at the end of a long day, the last thing I felt like doing was being mindful. I wanted to chuck my brain, I wanted comfort, I wanted to escape being the one who knows where I’m going. I didn’t want to be public or put myself out there. I was tired. And yet, as I look back, I see the pattern. I am holding onto a belief that I haven’t poked enough holes in yet: Hiding away, or completely detaching doesn’t renew or rejuvenate me. If there is anything my work has taught me, it’s collaboration. No filmmaker or tv producer ever acts alone, not really. You need someone to put up the lights, you need someone to record the audio, to get behind the camera. You might be able to wear a few hats, (and I do), but at some point you need other people. I am now more than ever convinced that losing weight and reaching my goal cannot be a solitary journey for me.
As 2019 dawns, I come back to what I know works: Being part of a community, connecting more, recognizing it’s OK to show up warts and all. It’s OK to be vulnerable in a safe space. And while I had hoped not to have to fall back to be reminded, to be the one that did it in a year’s time, I can’t change the past–I’ve stumbled more than once, and I will have setbacks again. What I know for sure, and what isn’t a lie…I know how my body feels when I work the plan. It’s not just weighing and measuring. It’s not about suffering alone in silence during the moments of struggle. And I am grateful, that despite my absence, the A Team has continued on. And the Beautiful BadAsses welcomed me back with open arms. It is one of the good things to come out of social media. I don’t have to search for a meeting, I don’t even have to leave the comfort of my home. I can open my heart, share my challenges, support others all over the world, right from my living room. I can still avoid social media, I can go quiet and step away from the stresses of the day, but it doesn’t have to be a bubble of isolation and loneliness.