Reclaiming an unknown life...

I am 157 lbs in the mornings, 158 at night.
That's great right?
You would think so.
A few days ago...
I started getting frightened.
I don't really know how to be a "thin" person.
Oh, I have been 138 lbs before, but I wasn't intentional about it.
I had a fat mind in a thin body.
I don't know what I look like at my natural weight.
I know who I am when I am fat.
Right now,
I don't really know who I am.
I am finding out.
So much of our lives are defined by how we look and by other people's expectations.
I think many times We become who we are expected to be.
We never stop to ask who we are.
We just go along and go along.
Then one day we look up and say
"Where the hell am I, and how did I get here!"
I knew for years what I DIDN'T want.
All my life, I have made choices based not on moving towards something..but on moving away from something.

I DIDN'T want to be married multiple times.
I DIDN'T want a lazy husband.
I DIDN'T want to be 'stuck' in a small town and not see the world.
So I made choices ( or reacted) to ensure those things didn't happen.
I made 'moving away' choices.
Not moving toward choices.
The thing is, when You are making choices based on things you don't want to happen...you aren't really creating outcomes you want....yes, you have an outcome.
But nothing you had a hand in, nothing you could mold.
They are reactions, not choices.
I didn't want to be stuck in a small town.
But, I didn't work towards something, like college or getting better grades.
I waited till the last minute and then joined the army in reaction to the idea that I would be stuck.
I wasn't stuck in a small town, but the outcome wasn't thought out at all.
When I started losing weight, it was because I didn't want to be fat.
Somewhere along the way it transitioned to wanting to be healthy.
From moving away to moving toward.
These seem like small distinctions, but they aren't...it's a huge shift in momentum...
Like I learned in my self defense class, you can go faster forward than you can backward...
you can also see where you are going when you are moving forward, or towards something.
Not simple backing away from something.
 Now I have all these ideas in my head of things I want to try, and things I want to do.
I need to make sure that I am not reacting, but acting.
The thing is, the weight was an excuse not to live.
Because it was easier to blame an "other",
than it was to face the fact that I simply didn't know WHAT I WANTED.
So, instead of looking and doing, I excused and delayed.
It is easy to allow our weight ,
Or our obligations,
or our infirmities,
or our childhoods,
or our mistakes...to be our excuses.
You see, once I started saying yes to getting healthy...I started developing preferences.
It happens.
Then what?
What if  you state your preference and make someone angry?
This whole 'change your life' thing is pretty scary.
If it gets to be too much, you start to want to move away from so much change.
Mostly, cause it's not just you.
Not if you are married and have kids.
For years, the expectation of who I 'should' be, kept me from being WHO I AM.
What do I mean?
Here is an example or two:

I don't LIKE to crochet.
But I did it for a year or two cause I thought it was a 'homey' thing to do.
And fat women...if we can't be pretty...or sexy.. or dynamic..well, we can be homey.
I decorated my house in a very 'country' fashion for years.
This was how I assumed a homey home (a "real" home) should look.
My first couch I bought was the couchiest couch in the history of couches.
You couldn't get any more couch like.
It was blue, with little wooden arms and wooden feet..buttons on the back and a ruffle around the bottom. Very midwestern country like.
I had no real opinion of that couch
It was what I grew up with.
It's what I expected when I looked at a couch.
I neither liked nor disliked it.
I still remember the first time I saw a couch I loved.
It was cream colored leather and very modern.
It too had buttons...big ones.
The legs were metal.
I thought.
I can't like that couch.
It isn't me.
But me as defined by who, or whom?
I was taught to disregard my likes and dislikes from an early age.
It didn't matter If I liked the food on my plate.
I was to eat it anyway.
It never occurred to me that I had the right to my own likes or dislikes.
I was never asked, only told.
So I never formed any likes or dislikes, I felt it was outside of my control.
I felt powerless, up till a few years ago.
The only thing I really knew I liked  to do was read and draw. I liked to draw because it kept me calm and focused.
It also allowed me my only form of expression. (As a result, I did develop definite ideas about self expression and every human beings innate right to do so)
I liked to read because I wanted to travel..   

I have had to make a lot of things up out of whole cloth.
I didn't know what a normal family looked like or how it operated.
I didn't come from a 'normal' home.
I did know that alot of what I went through was NOT what I wanted for my children.
Don't get me wrong, I got a lot of things that you can't buy from my mom.
I learned the meaning of hard work...persistence and a no quit, no whine attitude.
These things have been INVALUABLE.
But again, I was taught for the most part...what I didn't want.
To fill in that void, I had to look for alternative sources of inspiration.
So now we come down to creating a life for me.
I know what qualities I want....But I have never owned them.
I know what it is to feel happy.
I also know that happiness is a choice, as is optimism.
Faith is a choice
Being well read is a choice.
Generosity, patience, cicumspection, it's all a choice.
It's a deliberate choice.
It's who I choose to be.
There really is no reason to wait.
I can do it now.
Not perfectly, but what in life is perfect.
All this time, it had nothing to do with being thin.
It had to do with wanting to be someone I can be proud of.
And  I had to have enough faith that I could accomplish it.
That I was capable.
I guess what I am saying is that I am trying to reclaim a life I have never had, and a person that has never existed except as potential.
A person and a life I have never seen modeled.
But a life and a person I know CAN exist.
If that makes any sense.
That is what this last year has taught me.
I can.
It's all a choice.
Went to the gym..walked a mile, jogged a mile.
Did 15 minutes on the elliptical and 20 on the stairmaster (my new favorite machine)
Then I did 200 situps.
Oh, and I got a tattoo on Wednesday...That I will tell you all about tomorrow.
Have a great night guys.


snoconegirl said...

wow..you have been thinking..thats good for you too..its something we all have to go thru to figure out who we are..i am going to be the same way..cause i have never seen myself thin..have a good weekend..loveya,kelli

Blue~ said...

There is a lot of mileage in that old chestnut about being and doing what we have to - to survive. We do the best we can with the tools we have around at the time. For some the start in life is a different road to others, and they learn different skills.

"I didn't know what a normal family looked like or how it operated.
I didn't come from a 'normal' home.
I did know that alot of what I went through was NOT what I wanted for my children."

Been there too.

Isnt what we do, even if as a result of 'moving away' from something, moving towards something else? I get what you are saying, but I also think that you are being really hard on yourself if you think that all you have 'created' so far is somehow less than what it should be. It is you, as you are, and just as worthy as the person you now feel drawn towards.

Its great that you want to take life by the horns, and forge something different, to grow, but it should'nt come at the price of knocking back all that has been. All that was is still you and equally valuable, but its great that you see a whole new opportunity to grow ahead of you.


Kim said...

Thanks for one of your inspiring posts...needed that. Thanks for coming to check up on me. Can't wait to see your tattoo. :)

Sheilagh (60 x60) said...

Oh Boy, this post resonates around my heart a thousand times.

Linda Pressman said...

Well, I can see you did a lot of internal work on your break, Chris. Those are big realizations - to know that you've been living an idea of what you wanted life to look like instead of really living it.

I figure my maturing got suspended at the age that I turned to food for everything I needed from the world instead of being fearless. That would mean that when I started working on these same issues I was a 15 year old in a 40 year old's body. I've been raising her ever since.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Chris. Are you sure we don't know each other? Are you sure you are not really my scribe, writing my thoughts out in cyberspace after I have spoken them only to myself? No? huh.

Along with everything else you wrote in this post, a few days ago, in reaction to an inconsequential occurence, I thought "...and here's me, a 200 pound woman..."

My next thought was, "Oh. But I'm not a 200 pound woman anymore." And I felt confused.

I've ALWAYS (with the exception of a few weeks here and there) been a 200 pound woman. I was 207 in high school.

Four things occured to me all at once: 1. My identity was being "the fat lady"--being a 200 PLUS pound woman. 2. I was going to have to change that identity. 3. I still saw a 200 pound woman in the mirror. and 4. I was afraid--I had not walked this path before. I didn't have my bearings. At all.

And, then, I was hungry. For sweets. I didn't indulge--but it was hard.

I have 30 pounds to go before I get where you are, but I have started into those same turbulent waters.

We will BOTH sucessfully traverse them. :) We will.

For me, it will be through time spent talking this out with God. He is a trustworthy guide and knows my best self already. He knows your best self, too. He'll show us the way.


anne h said...

Been there - the couches, the changes, the whole thing!
Always insightful, Chris.....thanks!

Karla said...

I love this post!!! I am a true blog stalker... and I glance... look at the pictures...maybe read a recipe, but I never read the long blog entries, loses my interest (okay I am shallow!!!) but yours is one of the few I always read, you have such great insight, keep it up girl... you have a way of saying just what I am feeling...

Hanlie said...

Wow! You really struck a chord with this post. I can really relate... Thank you for sharing this with us. You are so inspiring!

FrugalMom said...

I think most people are scared about changes, afraid of going outside of their comfort zone. It seems that you have now managed to climb outside of your comfort zone by hard work and determination, and I am sure that it will open up a whole new world for you.

The Fit & Frugal Challenge

✯FiTCETERA✯ said...

"I made moving away choices, not moving toward choices."
hmmmm ... you've made me think here about what it is I have done too.
I know that I was taught to worry about what other people think ... about me in general, what I do, think, wear, look like, own etc ...
It's debilitating not being deliberate.

I love this post, Chris.

TJ said...

I have a lot of the same "finding myself" issues lately. You would think with as slow as I lost weight I would get use to my body and learn to know who I am as time went on, but no. I've only know the FAT girl. All of a sudden people are calling me skinny (I wouldn't go that far just yet! lol) but I do see a new person when I peek in the mirror. I just had a talk with Sean- he knows I worry about how people see me, and he told me to stop worrying- I think for the first time in my life I have stopped. :)

Leslie said...

Hi Chris. Long time lurker, first time commenter. I wish I could thank you a thousand times for this post. I thought I was the only person struggling with this. After an 11 year marriage and divorce followed by an unsuccessful 3 year relationship, I am just now trying to figure out who I am - and I'm 40! I've lost weight before, but trying to identify as a thin person was so scary I ate and gained most of it back. Thanks to you and the other commenters, I now know I'm not alone.

Anonymous said...

I think the distinction between moving away from something and moving towards something is huge. It's the difference between FEAR (I have to get away from this thing I don't want) and FAITH/LOVE (I am moving towards, and deliberately choosing, this thing I DO want for my life).

Thanks for your comment on my Confession post - I started writing it mad at my husband and ended up realizing through the writing process that I was/am more mad at myself than him! Process, process.

I'm excited to hear about your tattoo, but even more excited to see how your life evolves as you CHOOSE to the the person you ARE and can be PROUD of.

Anonymous said...

Thought provoking and insightful as always Chris. Thanks for keeping it real!

Rettakat said...

This was wonderful... I can identify with sooo much of it.

One of my all-time favorite quotes is one I found when I first started this journey... Back then, I didn't REALLY understand it. Now, I kinda do:

"Sometime in your life you will go on a journey. It will be the longest journey you have ever taken. It is the journey to find yourself." --Katherine Sharp


Seth said...

Sometimes it is as simple as asking ourselves - what do I want.

We try to live other's lives and live up to what they want, all the while neglecting what we want and more importantly need to become who we are meant to be.

good post. enjoyed.

bbubblyb said...

I needed to read this today. I do need to think more about moving towards what I want for ME not moving forward out of fear has always been my way and I am way to strong for that now. Thanks Chris.

Robin said...

It sounds like you made Thoreau's trip to the woods figuratively speaking. Good for you. He went there to live deliberately, too. Great post!