When I entered college, I was the thinnest I had been in years. And it took me several years to get to that weight. Yet, I still thought I was fat. Did I still have a fat boy outlook on life? Could I not accept that I was no longer the chubby dude who could draw, as I was known as in high school? Was I so out of touch with myself that I didn't notice the way I was thinning out? What was I truly seeing when I was looking at my body? Was I seeing the physical or the fear?
When I graduated, I returned home and became depressed and ate to cope. And I gained all the lost weight back. Plus some. All the while, I still remained unaware. I lived in elastic sleep pants so any expansion went unnoticed. Yet, I looked in the mirror every day. How did I not see my face getting fuller? Was I out of touch with myself? Or was I just not wanting to see the changes? Was I denying myself, lying to myself yet again? Or maybe I was just too apathetic to deal so I looked but I didn't really look. I ignored. And I carried on.
It's just sad to look back and realize all those years I worked at losing the weight was ruined. All the calorie counting, the sacrifice, the working out and sweating and being frustrated, all gone. All wiped out. And I'm left where I began. I have a long, hard journey ahead of me to lose the weight all over again. It feels like such a waste of time, like I should have already conquered this, like this shouldn't even be an issue. I have so many other aspects of my life I need to figure out and weight shouldn't be one of them. But it is. But it always will be.
I can do it again. That is not the question. The question is how long can I make it last before I succumb to this sickness one more time? And how many times do I have left in me?
It's weird how we can lie to ourselves, how we can become estranged from our own bodies, minds, and souls. You'd think you would know yourself and know more about yourself than anyone else but that simply is not true. You are in your head every minute of the day and you have access to all that you know and believe yet you can still be disconnected from yourself, still not even know who you really are. It's kind of astounding, actually.
Once, I was who I was and then something happened and I wasn't who I was anymore. But I didn't know that. I lost myself, somewhere deep within my mind or soul or psyche or whatever. I became disconnected. Broken. And maybe that's how I lost my way. I wasn't whole and because of that, I veered off my path and ran right into a ditch. I've been stuck there ever since.
I've been working out ever since the first of the year. I get off work and all I want to do is eat a pizza and take a nap but I don't do that. I change out of my work clothes and pop in a workout DVD and get going. And I hate it. Every time. And I dread doing it and I never feel better afterward. I'm still waiting around for those alleged endorphins to kick in. But I keep going because I know I'm doing something good for myself, although it doesn't feel too good.
Usually I wear athletic pants to work out in because it makes me hotter and makes me sweat more. Helps get rid of some of that water weight. Plus, I just like to be covered up at all times. I'm painfully modest. But I recently split the pants right down the crotch
I never wear shorts. I don't own any shorts of any kind. I was surprised to find those shorts at the bottom of my chest of drawers. See, I always like to be covered. I'm a pant guy. If I weren't so hot-natured, I'd probably wear long-sleeved shirts all year round as well. But that's just not feasible as I am the human furnace. So, it was a strange feeling being bare below the knees. It was cool and comfortable but still strange. Foreign.
As I was on the floor stretching, I walked my hands up to my knees and felt my shins as I was trying to get to my toes. This is going to sound kind of lame but go with me on this. I felt my shins in a different way than I had before. Like, really feeling them. It wasn't like showering with the buffer of a bar of soap or scratching an itch through thick denim or plaid cotton. It was skin on skin, exploring what my legs felt like without all the other stuff getting in the way. And I realized that these were my legs. They felt cool despite the sweat I was working up. The skin was smooth and pale beneath the abundance of soft dark hair. My shin bone was rigid like a steel pipe beneath a slippery satin sheet. My calf muscles were pliable while at rest, hugged by a pad of fat, yet firm when I flexed them.
And I thought to myself, "Damn. This is my body. And I don't even really know what it feels like." And that's when I realized I couldn't even get to my toes because of the enormous layer of fat around my midsection that acted like a pillowy barrier. I recalled all those years ago when I first started seriously losing weight, how I could reach beyond my toes. I had become so inflexible and so fat all these years later and I could barely get to my ankle. And suddenly, everything started clicking. That was my bulbous stomach. That was my jiggly thighs, my doughy waist, a roll of fat between my stomach and chest, man breasts, thick arms and back fat. Hindering my movements. Hindering my life.
There was only one other time I can remember when I really looked at myself. Back when I was in college and at a decent weight, yet still thought I was fat, I can remember lying on my back on my bed. I was preparing for my afternoon nap when I looked down at myself and realized I could not only see my toes but my feet, legs and thighs. There was no mountain of meat distorting my view.
I lifted up my shirt to my chest and visually explored the landscape of pallid skin. My hip bones stuck out at each side of my waist and dipped inward, meeting the corners of my belly that sloped upward in a small pad of fat. Back then, I thought I was fat. I realize now that I was probably just slightly chubby. No where near as big as I am now. I massaged my belly and ran my fingers along the hard bone of my hip. Deep shadows formed in the concave formation of my hips, shadows that led into my underwear, the elastic waist forming a smooth line from one side of my waist to the other.
Although I thought I was fat, I was becoming aware. I hadn't quite gotten there but I was close. So close. I was beginning to realize I wasn't as big as I thought I was, that the shadows and protruding bones were evident of something my mind wouldn't allow me to understand, wouldn't allow me to believe.
I kept touching, exploring, realizing, becoming aware. The cool skin of my stomach was interrupted by jagged red lines, stretchmarks that scarred me from my shoulders to my inner thighs. Yeah, no matter how much weight I lost, they'd always be there. A reminder of my gluttony. Another thing to be ashamed of. And suddenly, the awareness was gone and I was still fat and stretched out and ruined. I'd never be smooth. I'd never be flat. I'd never be good enough.
Just like that, I lost whatever it was I was so close to finding.
And through the years, through the binge eating and consistent weight gain, it was my body going through the changes but I wasn't aware of it, didn't realize how big I was, didn't realize what I felt like. You'd think because it was my body, I would at least have some kind of awareness about what was going on with it. But that's how out of touch I was with myself. I had ignored the problem for so long, choosing not to touch or even look at myself, just masking the problem, literally covering it up with clothing. If I didn't have to see it, I didn't have to worry about it.
And I wasn't just out of touch with my physical body. Obviously, I had to be out of touch in other ways to ignore and/or be so unconscious of the changes.
So, how do I fix it? How do I become in tune with myself, with my mind and my body? How do I get back inside myself and take an inventory of problems, both physical and mental? Does it start with a touch? Does it start with acceptance? Or does it start with a frustration, an admittance, a confession?
Do you ever look at yourself, really look at yourself? Do you ever realize that you are in your body? I know that sounds like an obvious statement but is it, really? There are times when I look at myself, examine myself and find flaws that fluster me. But this is my face and this is my body and I have to accept it. This is the only body I will ever have and this is what I was given to work with and it's scary sometimes.
I always wish I had a different body, different face, different hair and skin and eyes and teeth. And I can spend so much time wishing for things that I forget that I'll never have them (with the exception of plastic surgery which isn't likely for me). Like, this is it. These are my eyes, whether I like it or not. This is my jawline and my receding hairline and stretch-marked stomach and nipples and penis and fingers and lips and flat butt and freak lump in my throat and this is all that I have. This is mine, all that I will ever possess, no matter how I like it or don't like it or accept it or don't accept it. It's still all there, all mine for the taking or for the destroying.
But this is what other people see. My eyes and jawline and receding hairline, etc., define who I am to others. They look at me and that is how they identify me. That's what Brannon looks like. That is his body. That is his face. This is the vessel that I move around in, express myself in, communicate with others in. And it's surreal to me. This is it. It will never get better than this and it hurts because it's not very good to begin with.
But I can take myself out of myself and put my head somewhere else where I don't have to deal. I can eat away the shame and think about how I could look if I could just get myself together and it's a momentary comfort. I disconnect again, lie again. I can separate myself from my body and fantasize, dream, hope, envision something else.
And that will get me by for now.