It’s pretty safe to say that the first half of 2013 was not a good time for me. I felt forced into taking voluntary redundancy from the TUC after an appallingly managed, highly damaging process that left me incredibly demoralised. 5 days later, my husband, who I loved with all my heart, left me for another woman.
This is not a post about that (for more information on how I survived my marriage breakdown, look out for my forthcoming (though long distant) book The Bad Wife’s Guide to Divorce).
This is a post about a decision I made before my husband left, before I lost my job. A decision to change my life. On Tuesday, I will be going into hospital to undergo a Roux en Y gastric bypass operation.
Anyone asking why, should read what I have written before about the daily experience of living with obesity. this is not a decision I have made because I am suddenly single and ready to be more attractive to catch a mate. It’s a decision I have made because I am tired of being in constant pain. It’s a decision I have made because I am tired of constant social humiliation. It’s a decision I have made because I’m tired. It’s a decision I have made to save my own life.
It is not a decision I have made lightly. I am afraid of many things. The most obvious being the small but very real risk that I might die in surgery. If I do, I want my darling family to know how much I love them. They have been my saviours and my saints. I owe them a debt of gratitude than cannot possibly be repaid.
There are other things I am afraid of too. Other, less tangible things. Being fat is no fun. It is a horrible existence that those who simply worry about gaining a few pounds here and there will never really understand. But it has forged so much of who I am today.
I am funny (and I am very funny) because I am fat. Being funny, being quick and witty and ready with the joke before anyone else can get in there may be a defence mechanism, but it is one I have owned and honed. It has given me the creativity to play with words as I do. I am a better writer for having been fat.
Will I lose this personality? Will greater physical confidence rob me of my sense of quirk? Will my longing to blend in physically bleed over into a longing to blend in intellectually, to beige my personality and smooth down my proud rough edges? I hope not, I do not know.
I don’t know who I am thin. I have never felt thin even when I was thin. Or thinner. Maybe I will never feel thin. Maybe I will undergo the surgery, lose the weight and still feel like everyone is pointing and laughing. Maybe they will be. Am I pretty under all this? Does it matter? Should it matter? Maybe it is not just the fat they are laughing at. Am I losing my last and best excuse for failure? What then will I do if I fail?
Sometimes my fears overwhelm me. Sometimes they stop me dead in my tracks on the street. But I have to keep going. I have made a choice to be a new me. I will try hard to ensure that I like the new me. I hope she’ll be quite like the old me, but capable of walking 100 meters without crippling back pain. I have fears, but more than this, I have hope.
I hope my new life is going to be one where I understand my own worth and value. Neither over nor underestimated. I hope my new life is going to be one where I skip. I hope I can wear heels again. I hope I can shop on the high street, and understand the joy of TK Max. I hope I will be able to buy slinky, sexy underwear just for the sheer hell of feeling sexy. For someone else, and for me. I hope I will go for long walks on Walthamstow Marshes and through Central Park. I hope I see you all on the other side.
The second half of my life is going to be a sight to behold. I hope.