Sometimes feelings from the past come back when you least expect them – and last night I was rudely reminded of how things used to be out in the big wide world.
After work, bothered by the thought of my impending weigh in on Saturday and about the number of miles I feel I haven’t walked this week I headed out for a brisk stroll to Leamington and back.
I was also busy trying to switch my brain off and filter all the useless and non-productive thoughts that go through my head (that I needlessly worry about) from the things I focus on less and actually need to consider more.
Although I’m generally positive I sometimes find that a healthy sense of perspective is a tricky thing to maintain. Like a lot of people I think that I’m often guilty of letting what are actually very small fears temporarily dictate my internal narrative and overwhelm all of the positive things in my life.
I find lately though that my thoughts always comes into better focus during exercise.
Maybe it’s the endorphins, maybe it’s the change of scenery, maybe it’s just coincidence.
As I walked it was working. My thoughts were collating, my grumbles had slipped away – I could see some clarity. My mood was improving.
Then all of a sudden I noticed what appeared to be a cigarette butt bouncing behind a passing car to the right of me and looked around. It’s orange embers and sparks were dying quickly as they spread out by my side.
Then there was a loud bang, and I realised that it wasn’t a cigarette – it was a firework.
I jumped – and was immediately jolted out of my train of thought.
As I looked after the car that was disappearing into the distance I realised I had no hope of getting the number plate. It was too far away and turning a corner. All that all I could tell was that it was a silver BMW.
It was gone moments after, and all I was left with was a raised pulse.
I’m not blowing this out of proportion. It was a banger. I wasn’t in danger. The people in the car were medical miracles – and living examples that human beings could against all odds survive brain donation.
Things happen, and there will always be idiots in life. I’m not of the opinion that all of a sudden my neighbourhood has become any more antisocial than it was the day before.
However – the event did something quite unexpected.
I immediately thought ‘They did that because I’m fat.’
Then I stopped for a minute. I’m still big – but I’m no longer standing out in crowds like I used to. I’m not that size any more. I’m no longer almost 35 stone.
At times though I’m instantly transported back to being that person. It’s like I’m still covered with his body – and occasionally I react with the same emotions and feelings he did. I expect the lingering looks that he received, and deep down I also think I’m going to receive the same abuse.
One of the questions I keep getting asked (when discussing the amount of weight I’ve lost) is ‘Do you feel different?’
I’ve always responded to this question with ‘Sure – I definitely do. I’m no longer carrying 11+ stone around with me. In every measurable way I feel physically healthier, fitter and more vital. I feel very different.’
However – when this question was asked of me earlier in the week by someone I’d only just met they replied to my usual response with ‘No – I mean, do you think the same way that you used to?’
It made me pause for a moment because I realised that I’d been answering this question for almost a year the same way because I’d been thinking about it the whole time solely in terms of my changing dimensions. To me the query was all about numbers, and detailing the effect of dropping the immense burden that I carried everywhere and which so drastically limited my mobility.
Then quite out of the blue I’ve been reminded that changing the outside doesn’t necessarily change the inside. Deep down I’m at times still dealing with a lifetime of incidents like this and this and this. What I sometimes feel is a seemingly endless history of abuse that stretches back to early childhood means that I still expect people to see me and react in a way that they probably no longer do.
The idiot with the firework is long gone – and I really couldn’t care less about him or her.
The universe will sort them out soon enough. Things have a way of balancing themselves out.
The person that lives within me though is still here, and occasionally I become him again – just for a brief moment.
The duration of the feeling though is not significant. The issue for me is that fact that it’s still present at all – and I don’t want it to be. I want instead to be a continually confident person – no longer tied to the past – and living his life completely free of worry about what will happen when he interacts with the world.
These days 90% of the time I manage it – and I hope that as months, and eventually years continue to pass that this ability will grow and grow until I one day I no longer second guess myself and don’t expect the uglier side of people to be directed at me without warning.
I look forward to it – but I’m clearly not there just yet.
In the meantime internet I’m changing my answer.
It’s now ‘Yes – I feel physically very different – but sometime it’s not so easy to forget who I used to be. I’m a work in progress.’