Good grief it’s cold this morning. My ears feel like they have frostbite and the collar of my jacket doesn’t quite cover the tops of them – even when I hunker down into my clothes.
I’m sitting on a bench at 7am in the dark outside a coffee shop, waiting for it to open.
There are several other caffeine purveyors I could choose, but this one is marginally cheaper and that’s all the thrifty motivation I need to endure the temperature.
Besides, sitting in McDonald’s (which is nearby and just to the right of me) thinking virtuous thoughts and just drinking caffeine seems vaguely perverse. All I can think of when I look through the window is ‘sausage and egg McMuffins are 21.5 syns and I refuse to eat them’ rather than ‘coffee and a McSalad please’.
I’m gonna wait. Not long now and I’ll be in the warm. Besides – shivering burns calories.
Also – despite the cold snap it’s nice watching the world wake up.
I’ve been walking since about 5.30 am and I’m out here because I can’t sleep. On the plus side on top of the five and a half miles I rattled off on my exercise bike late last night I’ve just walked another four into and around town (almost). By the time I get home today my conscience should be spotlessly clean when I look at my fitness stats on Apple Watch – even if my mind is still dwelling on other thoughts.
Yesterday evening a wonderful continental friend spent her time translating something into English that she thought might help me with my moments of stressing and my tendency to over think some things in life.
She ended up sending me by e-mail her top 12 tips on how to overcome a mind that refuses to shut down.
The list was mainly aimed at combatting negative thinking.
For the record I don’t feel down at the moment – just a bit preoccupied with a variety of subjects. However a few of the points she sent me stood out in her mail regardless.
(I’ve brutally edited her list down for expediency only)
- Does this thought help me in any way?
- How would my best friend tell me I should feel about these thoughts?
- What would I tell my best friend if she/he were in a similar situation
- Does this thought help me to solve my problem, or does it just simply make it harder?
These for me are really important, and they remind me of the way not so long ago I was trying to re-frame my thinking about alcohol after my mother died.
Mostly the thing keeping me awake is that I’m playing yesterday’s job interview over and over in my mind and considering how I could have improved my performance. Last night I got back and after a while decided that regardless of how positive or negative I felt I needed to shake it off and immediately apply for more things – then chase up the ones I’d not heard back from.
I did this until quite late (another two CV’s forwarded, three previous requests chased and one mail from DHL telling me I am not what they’re looking for chucked in the trash). My brain was so alive with possibilities all of a sudden that I ultimately had to hop on my exercise bike to try and sweat it out of my mind.
That only tired me out for a little while though. After going to bed at 12.30 I was again wide awake by 2.30am and lay pondering the mysteries of the human condition in the dark of my bedroom whilst staring at the ceiling. I realised that perversely I was (in part) now being kept from sleeping by the very questions that were designed to lull me to sleep as I tried to answer them.
I’ve already spoken to some other people about one of the other things that’s going through my mind – but I’ve not really approached the subject in my blog. Some aspects of weight loss, despite my complete honesty about all the topics I post on are still difficult to write openly about.
‘Would you consider having surgery?’ My friend had asked me the other day.
The topic wasn’t out of the blue – but in reaction to my sudden shift in conversation topics as we talked about what we’d watched on TV the night before.
I’ve been dwelling a little bit more recently on the subject of loose skin and what I’m going to be left with when I’ve finished my weight loss.
This issue was (mostly) dormant in my mind until a few days ago until I happened to watch a rather gruesome documentary about celebrity cosmetic surgery. In it a woman was having excess skin removed from her stomach after dramatic weight loss. It was both a brutal and dangerous procedure that left significant scars and risks of serious complications.
She was willing to live with these. To her wearing a bikini with confidence was of paramount importance. Her fears about her appearance had overruled her fears of being cut open with a scalpel.
As I sipped my tea and stroked my friend’s snoring dog I had without realising it begun to share my own feelings on the matter.
Initially in my case my loose skin wasn’t noticeable as the pounds fell off – but I’m beginning to see it gradually developing in the mirror when I catch a glance of certain angles of myself. Although it’s not upsetting me at the moment it’s increasingly becoming something that I realise I’m going to need to deal with emotionally.
It’s going to become more and more noticeable as time goes on and I’m trying to decide how I will deal with this aspect of myself. Will I be strong enough to just carry on (to go swimming for instance) and not worry about it?
Part of me feels that if it’s just me that’s going to see it then honestly I couldn’t care less. This side of my psyche doesn’t mind having scars either physically or mentally.
After all – they contribute towards making me who I am.
However, another aspect of my personality views me quite differently. When I look in the mirror this side of me is evaluating the reflection of someone that it hopes will one day also be looked at by someone else.
Although I don’t think I’m yet in the right place to have a relationship again I can see a time on the not too distant horizon where this may no longer be the case. This is a good thing – as my previous certainty about continued solitude is gradually being replaced by hopes of future companionship.
However – in a similar way to how I ultimately reacted to the possibility of a gastric sleeve procedure a few years ago I don’t think I could face someone cutting bits off me and throwing them in the bin. It seems perverse to me to do this to myself (although I definitely don’t judge other people who have) just so that I can look more socially acceptable.
Cosmetic alterations seem alien to me. Every fibre of my being when I consider the subject feels nothing but a mixture of horror and revulsion about what it would really mean for my body.
The intensely graphic documentary that I watched the other night did nothing to change this.
‘No’ I’d replied to my friend. ‘I wouldn’t’.
‘Ok – how would you feel if the tables were reversed and you had a partner with the same issue?’ My friend then asked.
As with all of the best questions that friends point at eachother to help make sense of a problem this is the thing that’s been on my mind ever since.
‘I don’t know’ is the honest answer, and that’s an uncomfortable thing to write down.
I’d like to think it wouldn’t matter. I’d like to think I’d see past things like something sagging a bit on a partner – but if I’m judging myself when I see my reflection in a mirror then how would I judge someone else?
I was suddenly struck with a fear as I drove home that I was afraid of what someone would think of me not because of the reality of how someone else would judge me when I’m naked – but instead because I might struggle to see past it in others.
Am I seeing my own prejudice in my reflection?
Does my opinion about how I look translate into the potential judgement of someone else – or is it just me having an opinion that is solely restricted to myself?
I don’t know the answer.
It’s an uncomfortable question because I don’t want to think I’m in any way superficial – but if I’m not then why do I notice my own flaws so much?
I’m trying to apply my friend’s pertinent check and balance questions to myself right now but temporarily I’m coming up short of answers.
I do know it’s not something I can change without medical intervention and that I would prefer to be fit and healthy with stretch marks (and unmolested) instead of the alternative.
I know that my friends would tell me I’m being stupid thinking about it and they’d probably be right.
However – although I’ve seen a lot of physical improvements in the last nine months the lion’s share of my weight loss journey has been more about the psychological after effects of being so overweight – and what happens when you dramatically change – than just all of a sudden being over the moon that I’m wearing smaller trousers.
Moving from being someone called names all the time in public (remember this post?) to being complemented on my appearance is something I’m still having difficulty dealing with at times.
The sun has now come up and the world is once more filled with people going about their daily lives. I’m in the warm with a hot beverage watching people pass the window of the coffee shop.
I’m almost one of them now.
I’m living alongside them and walking along the same paths that they do. Most of the time I’m anonymously hidden in plain sight, and they’re non the wiser. They aren’t seeing the fat man that I still am inside my head and they’re no longer shouting over the road calling me names.
The question is internet – when (if ever) will I stop seeing him in the mirror as well?