I didn’t know that I was sad before I lost 135 lbs. But when I took away that numbing agent, the one that came in a two pack with cream filling, I was alone with myself.
I was exposed. I was left with emotions I’d eaten for twenty years. How I wished I still had a layer of marshmallow and a dark chocolate shell.
When I came back from Italy in 2006, I was the smallest I’d ever been. Not obese for the first time in my entire 21 year life. I had found health and befriended her. I should have been rejoicing an accomplishment. The world was supposed to be my oyster; I wondered if I had eaten that oyster.
I suppose I thought I would wake up on the morning of my first day in a new body and life would exist in day glow. Neons, brights, music booming and boisterous, faces all smiling, doors unlocked and opening, a fan blowing on me like the ones you see in photo shoots, a sense of purpose, a lightness of spirit. Happiness.
Instead, it was rain. Nothing of what I imagined. Life was not quite the California Gurls video I’d hoped for. Unfortunately.
The sadness, the isolation, the loneliness that existed even wrapped in a hug, the dullness in color palette, that heaviness of being.
To say that that period of my life, that year after the weight had left me, was difficult, is a grave understatement. I found myself sitting in a corner of my bedroom once, feeling a kind of hopelessness that I’d never known before. A lump in my throat, eyes like a glass filled to the brim, just teetering on spilling over. I said to my mother that my heart was breaking. Twice. I’d meant it. Because even when my father died seven years earlier, though my heart did shatter, the food was there. A way to not feel.
Like all beings, I have sadness. I use ‘have’ because it is part, but not all of me. Like brown hair. Some days life seems to be painted in gray tones. And on others, the vast majority of my life, I feel a sense of contentment, a deep-seated happiness that can’t be traced nor contained. The swings and dips of each are not extreme, they just occur like anything else. They flow freely.
The point is, life is not better now that I am thin. It’s not easier, more secure. Sadness, happiness, fear, doubt- they are not simply parts of life; they are life. And each is beautiful because it means I’m feeling; it means that I’m alive.
I have always been introspective, always looking at faces and eyes and questioning integrity, wondering intentions, listening keenly to hear someone’s truest voice. I am deeply aware. Of myself and others and experiences. I feel intensely. Love and lose and live passionately.
I have become myself in these years of awakening from a food coma. Had I not lost the weight, I would not have found so much of myself.
Sadness is not dire. Happiness is not always on tap. Yes, life means struggle. I will cry an infinity pool of tears. I will tight rope darkness and light. I will laugh so hard that I stop breathing for an unnerving number of seconds. I will smile so wide that my cheeks spasm.
So when joy’s away I look for her, when she comes I open my arms to her, and when she leaves I know she’ll be back again. And always, humor abounds.