I had long talks yesterday not with one but with a few people about what’s left behind when you lose a lot of weight.
I don’t mean physically what you see in the mirror (although that’s certainly part of it) – I mean emotionally.
When we have a significant problem in life like over eating or drinking and it’s bad enough that it controls other aspects of our day to day existence it can be easy (even if it’s just on an unconscious level) to think that if we stop doing that particular thing that everything else that’s wrong with our lives will magically fall into place.
It’s not my personal experience of dramatic change however – and the people I talked to had similar stories.
Often what you’re left with is a realisation that you’ve simply dealt with one of many symptoms related to a far more complex set of underlying problems – and it’s those that are harder to resolve long term.
Just because you get thin it doesn’t mean that all of a sudden your self critical inner demons get suddenly silenced.
In my own case I’m beginning to come to terms with the odd reality that my current size and shape means that I don’t stand out in society the way that I used to any more.
I have more weight to lose – but if I stopped tomorrow (I don’t plan to) then it’s highly likely I’d never be called ‘fatty’ on the street again.
If I maintained my current weight I’d continue to benefit from cheaper clothes, I’d be able to be very fit and active – and I could (should I choose to) find a partner and ‘settle down’.
There’s more at play here though.
The moment that I really started pushing my (already pre-existing) self destruct button was when I lost something (emotionally) precious to me around 17 years ago.
I’ve never really moved past that moment – despite the distance I’ve travelled in life, and even now I’ve yet to come to terms with how to do that and find a new place in the world that’s not alone.
I’m so used to this state of being though that honestly I don’t even notice it any more, because I’m not lonely. I’ve developed a lot of deflection and coping mechanisms to ensure that doesn’t happen.
In much the same way as I used to say ‘no’ to everything without thinking why I did it (I was scared of appearing like I struggled physically) I still tell myself that I don’t need a partner and that’s just not who I am in life.
I tell myself that Davey is a single guy, and that’s how he functions best – with no complications and with none of the extra stress that a relationship would bring.
I have a lot of amazing friends and I’m a lucky guy in this respect. I genuinely feel loved in life – but I have been thinking more and more lately that I should want something else, and that I’m hiding a part of myself not because it doesn’t exist but because I learned how to lock it away a long time ago.
The problem is I’ve since forgotten where I put the key.
The reality is that sitting underneath all of the weight and drinking problems I’ve been tackling recently were a set of geographical fault lines that are very similar to the ones that are still actively rumbling away under the outwardly solid and unmoving continent of my ‘single and not looking’ status.
I don’t think I ever came at partnerships in the past from the right angle because back then I never understood (until it was too late) what I needed to receive from one to be happy and what it was important for me to give back in order to make one truly work.
For a brief period I felt that I held the perfect one in my hand – and that I had (very unexpectedly) what I needed in life – but then almost as soon as I’d found it circumstances conspired to take it away.
If I’m completely honest it was a situation that (whilst largely out of my control) was exacerbated by my vices and weaknesses.
I really only have myself to blame in many ways.
I could have been a better man but at the time I had too many demons and not enough self control or awareness to face up to or deal with them.
I’m sometimes moved to intense feelings of regret about this period of my life. I had one whilst talking to someone late into the evening yesterday and after verbalising it felt very raw and exposed for hours afterwards.
When I see all that I’ve accomplished in the present, and all the truths I’ve learned about myself in the here and now I feel almost inconsolably angry with myself that I couldn’t understand these things back then – in the moments that it mattered so much.
I feel like kicking the younger me that was so inflexible and unwilling to change – and frustrated that his behaviour helped me to loose almost everything that made me happy back then.
Nowadays though (even if I didn’t a couple of decades ago) I definitely know more about the inner Davey and why he was driven to hurt himself over and over again.
The food and the alcohol were simply barriers to stop feelings.
That’s all they’ve always been.
They only ever became a problem because I never learned as a child how to truly feel things without pushing them away and running from their consequences.
I was taught instead to curl up mentally into a ball and feel nothing when my mother’s almost daily emotional abuse started – and I used the same coping mechanism on an ever increasing and grander scale as I moved further into adulthood.
I’m not afraid of weakness or pain now though. I want to feel them, and I want them to arrive unimpeded by any kind of drug.
At least I like to think I do.
If I’m truly no longer scared of vulnerability and feelings (both good and bad) why am I still alone when I know that I have an insane amount of love to give?
Why is ‘Netflix and chill’ (if you’ve never heard of this then Google it) really only me chilling with Netflix on my own whilst eating my dinner?
Now I’m increasingly ‘normal’ (for want of a better word) I’m left with a really uncomfortable reality.
Stopping my self destructive behaviour hasn’t ‘fixed everything’. It’s instead laid the foundations for me to rebuild other broken areas of my life and to do so with maybe a little more perspective and self confidence than I had before I began on my path back in January 2016.
In many ways I’ve spent almost two years just being born again. I’ve simply been resetting the dials to zero – and despite the distances I now physically travel, emotionally I’m still learning to walk.
So – maybe this lengthy and reflective post is me – taking the advice that I’ve given to many others recently about loving and being kind to themselves in the same way that they would to friends and family.
I think maybe it’s time to begin a new chapter – and one that doesn’t start with the words ‘Davey sat down to a meal for one.’
Anyway. After that light and fluffy short paragraph full of pink fluffy clouds and rainbows, here’s how yesterday in #onplanoctober land panned out.
I did a lot of walking….
- Apples x4 280
- 500g Aldi Slim Free chicken tikka masala 371
- Boil in the bag rice 440
- 300g baked potato 231
- 1 courgette 54
- Half a bunch of broccoli 20
- Half a large onion 10
- 200g mushrooms 44
- Can of tuna in spring water 120
- Can of mackerel in tomato sauce. 190
Total calories consumed 1760
(No syns eaten)
- Active/total calories burned 1784/4517
- Cardio minutes 84
- Steps/miles walked 33,821/16.8