The second half of my life

By Emma.

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.



8 comments to “The second half of my life”

  1. Comment by kathyb:

    Good luck Emma. You can change your look but please don’t change who you are inside. Take care of yourself x

  2. Comment by LucyJane:

    Wow, Emma. There is something amazingly powerful about having one’s own deepest fears reflected by someone else! Congratulations on this incredibly brave decision. Good luck with the operation, and the second half. I’ll be following with love and interest xx

  3. Comment by Rachel:

    Good luck, I had a sleeve gastrectomy in January 2012. 9 stones 11 lbs down with a BMI of 22 and my life back. Best decision I have ever made I truly hope it works for you. Xx

  4. Comment by Carrie (Vicky Prior's mum):

    Hi Emma,
    All the luck in the world to you. You will come through smiling! We are rooting for you. Don’t worry about “who” you will be, to us all you are a wonderful, loving, happy human being, and you will continue to be so. So put the fears aside, give yourself a big pat on the back for making such a brave decision. Looking forward to your lovely smile afterwards, and continue to be YOU! xxx

  5. Comment by Nicola:

    I’ve gone down 2 clothes sizes this year. I remember reading that large women don’t like losing weight because they feel they don’t have the presence they used to have.

    I can happily report that is BUNKUM!

    I think you will feel more confident, more happy.

    Definitely the second half of your life – I love that thought – I shall try to apply it myself… cos now the challenge is to stay slimmer!

  6. Comment by Dan McCurry:

    Good luck.

    I promise to point and laugh at you for being so thin.


  7. Comment by Fiona:

    I’m sure you won’t regret your decision, Emma. I wasn’t as brave as you and after a lifetime of battling with my weight at the age of 55 I decided enough was enough. Since then I’ve dropped from a size 28 to a size 10 and kept the weight off. I still can’t wear sexy underwear because of the excess skin on my stomach, and my blood pressure didn’t come down or my mobility improve because as it turned out they were caused by other factors. However I feel at least 20 years younger, I’m a lot more comfortable and I have more energy and fun. My biggest regret is the years I missed out on and not having tackled the problem sooner. Best wishes for the operation.

  8. Comment by Tracy Carty:

    I love your honesty Emma. And your jokes. Thank you for sharing these hopes and fears. All the very best with the surgery. Xxx

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