Friday, November 7, 2008

Someone Else's Pants

I maintained again this week, in case I forgot to mention it. (I think the 20 pounds I had wanted to lose by Christmas are not going anywhere, because I have 7 weeks in which to lose 11 pounds, and at the rate I've been losing recently, I don't think that's at all probable. At best, with the average loss of 1.3 pounds per week, I might be able to shed another 9 pounds by Christmas, but my rate of return has been slowing down enormously.)

I'm not entirely sure why, because, once again, I've stopped journaling consistently. Which is to say, I know why I didn't lose. Because I stopped journaling. But, I don't know what it is I ate or did that might have caused me to not lose. Or something like that. Pardon me, I'm horrifically undercoherent today.

Sometimes I think I'm trying to do too much with too little resources. I clean house (which sometimes consists of wanting to murder both my husband and my child, who cannot seem to do anything other than leave their socks in some strange location!). I write NaNoWriMo. (And while I wrote yesterday, I ended up scrapping all of it because it was crap beyond the pale of normally acceptable crap, which is why I'm doing NaNoWriMo unofficially... so I can throw out crap writing and not worry so much about keeping up.) I write and read blogs. I write and read Twitter (and honestly, I think I'm following more people than I can reasonably keep up with. I want tabs for Twitter, so I can divide people into groups; my friends, political, writing, sci-fi/fantasy, weight loss, and mommies.) I'm planning an outline for a dietbook lifestyle change memoir. I fix all household meals. I pre-pack lunches for my husband. I game. I write emails for another game (which I am sadly behind on, so if you're in that game, don't feel the need to nag me, please. I know I'm behind. Believe me.)

Slowly, very slowly, I'm coming to an acceptance of what it is I've done this year.

I have lost almost 60 pounds.

I have dropped from a size 24 to a size 12.

Which brings me to the pants I'm wearing today. Don't ask me to explain it, but it's been sort of weird that I can't really seem to wrap my head around what size pants I'm in. I got a 12 from Target about a month ago... They were a leeetle bit tight, but I bought them anyway. And then I got another pair from Kmart, which were a leeetle bit tighter, too (I think Target and K-mart run at slightly different size margains). Slowly, I'm kind of accepting the fact that clothing that actually fits is... a bit clingy. What I percieve as being too-tight is actually a correct fit. And yet, despite the fact that I've been pulling these two pairs of pants on every day for the last few weeks...

Let me back up to Monday. We saw Leslie at the meeting, same as usual. She had for me a small gift of two pairs of pants she'd bought last year at Old Navy. Mind you, I've never, ever shopped at Old Navy. When the chain first came to my attention, the advertisements for it completely and totally revolted me. By the time I'd gotten past that (or, at least, haven't seen an ad for them in a long, long time) I'd heard that they changed their profile so that if you were an overweight lady, you could only buy their clothing online. Because, you know, god forbid they actually have fat people in their stores, what is the world coming to that fat people think they can just walk into the store like they were normal citizens with full rights to act and be treated accordingly. No shit, sherlock, this particular move offended the crap out of me.

Anyway, she gave me these two pairs of pants, both marked as size 12.

I was convinced they wouldn't fit.

I held them up, looked at the waist, thanked her for her kindness... but knew they weren't going to fit. Couldn't. Possibly.

I haven't worn a 12 since my sophomore year of college. That was 1992, for those of you doing the math. (Yes, I'm 36 years old, On the backside of thirty, short side of time / Back on the bottom, with no will to climb... sorry, I do get a little depressed from time to time about my age recently. Hah! And I remember when I was so worried at 26 that I was running out of time to get a family and have children... I clearly remember that conversation... I also remember my friend laughing at me about it. I guess he was right, since I have husband and child now and everything's pretty much peachy... but still. I feel old. I was talking to a girl at a party last week, making a joke about a song that came out in 1984 and said "What were you, about 4 then?" And she looked at me oddly and said "No, I was just born in 1984." OLD. OLD. OLD.)

Thomas and I came home from the meeting and I shucked my jeans to try on the pants. Many jokes were made by Thomas on my finally getting into Leslie's pants, until I finally told him to fuck off kindly be quiet.

They fit.


My general math goes this way: ~60 pounds = (24 - 12) 6 pants sizes (speaking of which, does anyone have any freaking clue why sizes go 6, 8, 10, 12? And further, why there's a shop in the mall called 5-7-9? What is this random number generation system and how did it apply to women's clothing? And further, why is M sometimes classed as size 6 - 10 and sometimes as 8 - 12?) with anther 36 pounds to go, which should equal about another 3 sizes, taking me from a 12 to an 8.

An 8?

I'm experiencing a strange and slippery sort of... loss of self. And not just in the physical weight that I'm shedding. But both more and less and feeling of losing my place in the world.

I have a friend - haven't seen him in a while, but we'd great each other with smiles and hugs if we happened to meet again - who used to hide behind his long hair and his head-banger music as a reason why people didn't like him. Which I always thought was strange, because I can't remember ever really caring what sort of music people liked, as long as say, they didn't force me to listen to something revolting bagpipe music, it wasn't important.

Eventually I came to understand that he was using this as a shield. That when people didn't like him (and some people didn't. I mean, really. No one has universal popularity) he could say to himself "Oh, they're just close-minded, and they don't think men should have long hair, and they've heard all sorts of bad things about people who like heavy metal music, and so it's not really me that they don't like, it's these perceptions of what people should be, the round hole/square peg problems."

Have I been using being a fat-girl in the same way? Have I been hiding behind my fat, and saying to myself when people didn't like me, or when service was bad at a shop, that it wasn't me that was the problem, it was this bias against fat people? Because you know, prejudice against gays is on its way out of fashion, but hatred against fat people is, for the most part, still universally acceptable behavior, and as human beings, we feel some deep seated need to feel superior to others, generally in the manner of making those others feel as bad as possible. (Allow me to take a minute here to refer you to a truly wonderful post by Carla of MizFit and say very loudly There's Enough Room For Everybody!)

I don't really know. Perhaps not, to some degree. Most people who know me will agree that I say I do not suffer from the delusion that no one likes me. (I do not, and have not ever, gone out to the garden to eat worms!) I generally know that I have lots of friends, and while I do think some of them are quite derranged, I do not usually question their judgement. They like me, ergo, I must be likeable.

And yet... I find myself constantly looking in the mirror. Is this me? What will I be in six more months? Who am I? Where do I fit in? Do I still belong with the 'fat girls', or can I stay in that circle of friends, without offending or pissing anyone off? Could I join a group of thin girls, or would I feel that I didn't really qualify to be there?

I went to a costume party last weekend. Pretended to be someone else for a few hours.

It wasn't that hard.

I'm wearing someone else's pants today. And god only knows what I'm pretending to be.

I used to make fun of my friend who went to South Dakota for a 'discovery of self.' Of course, if you were to lose youself, I always said, chances are good that SD is a good place to start looking. I mean, there aren't that many people there, after all, so if you run into someone out there, there's a better chance of it being you than, say, if you ran into someone here, in Chesapeake.

And yet, I suddenly have more sympathy for him than once I did. Because I'm losing that sense of self, and I don't have any idea where to find it.

How does one redefine ones self, when suddenly, everything is different.

And then I think, am I really that superficial that I think my weight matters that much? Am I not still who I was?

So, you know... I'm out looking for my Self. If you should happen to see me before I get back, could you kindly hold on to me until I get here?


Ashley said...

Maybe this is just my opinion, but you are not your pant size. Sure, you've lost 60 pounds off your body, and you literally have a smaller body, but I don't think that should change your sense of Self. And we can say Self with a capito/al S because we're literature dorks, and understand that kind of discussion. I definitely understand where you're coming from, but I think it's a mistake that we (me, too!) wrap our identities up in our bodies. I wish we could more easily move past that.

ptg said...

Yup....While I've lost 45lb, and fitting into a size 12, I still generally think that "those pants can't fit" even though I've worn them for three, maybe four weeks. "They can't ift, they're a size 12 and I KNOW I'm not a size 12."

And yet, they fit. And I'm forced to look at myself in the mirror and figure out who I am and if I can still complain about eating too much candy and not running in the same sentance.

Hanlie said...

What a wonderful post! You touch on so many things that have been on my mind lately.

My friend who has lost a whole lot of weight and is now sexy and hot says that she is very insecure right now. Being single, she could handle it that men did not find her attractive when she was fat. The rejection was somehow acceptable, but now that she's thin and gorgeous, she fears rejection more than anything else... What if someone doesn't like her? She can't blame it on her fat anymore! She does lots of affirmations every day to convince herself that she is indeed worthy and acceptable... The work doesn't stop when we reach our goal weight!

You have done so well this year! Congratulations!

Vodka Mom said...

wow. that was an incredible post. I started back to the gym this weekend. I'll try to keep you posted- maybe that will help me stay honest about it. I am in awe of you.

Becky Fyfe said...

Congratulations on losing so much weight!

I think I have lost close to that amount. (I say "think" because I started my weight loss journey early in my pregnancy, before I'd put on any pregnancy-related weight, and I am now 43.5 pounds lower than my prepregnancy weight with only a little over a week to go until my due date. I won't know my actual weight loss until this baby arrives, but I can't wait to see the results!)

Anonymous said...

late to the soiree but IS IT too simple to say that you arent your pants size? and yet, at the same time, it's ok to be frustrated in that (FOR ME) many times it's that AAARGH which propels up forward.

keeps up working.

in all realms.



Regan said...

Great post! I remember when I was in college and a size 12. I am 5'9", and size 12 suits me, yet I felt fat. Now, at size 18, I dream of 12. Yet when I was down to 14, two years ago, I freaked out and regained the weight. It was because of this loss of self that you wrote about. I am determined this time to remember that I am who I am, no matter what my shell looks like. We'll see how it goes this time around.

Good luck at your WI today!

Anonymous said...

Just followed links to your great post. Wow! You've done brilliantly to drop to a 12 from a 24 and still be keeping on going. Me 'at's orff to the Duke!

Mind you, I know right where you are at with the 'no, no, that ain't me' when faced with the new (smaller) size and the scary 'who the hell does this make me now' question.

I'm in a similar position (from UK size 24 to 14 in about eighteen months) and I found myself getting really shifty and uncomfortable over the weekend when I talked to a friend I haven't seen for quite some time. She was amazed at the change and wanted to know about how I'd done it etc., but it just felt so utterly wrong to be having the conversation - it didn't feel like 'me'!

In a way, I felt guilty - can't yet figure out why, but I'm struggling a wee bit to keep on track at the moment so maybe that's a factor.

I just don't get it either, but maybe we both need time to settle into the new bodies we now inhabit. After all, it took some time (OK, years of diet/overeating cycle and no exercise) to get to my biggest 'lardy lass' stage and get used to that.

The whole mental process is hard to get to grips with - it isn't just the actual losing lbs bit. In my mind I still define myself as a 'fat lass' as I can't see 'me' as anything else - no matter what the tape measure or mirror may say.

We are still the same people somewhere in our heads - only the packaging really changes. A bit like going from brown to blonde to redhead maybe?

Enough of me babbling - just keep at it me dear, and I'll try to do the same. We'll get accustomed to our 'new' selves at some point I guess.

K @ Running Through Life said...

What a great post! Very truthful and full of insight and you know what, I am RIGHT THERE WITH YOU! I bought a size 8 pair of pants yesterday for the first time ever. I am wearing them today and still think that they must have been mis marked because I shouldn't be able to wear them.....even though I have lost almost 50 pounds, I don't see myself as the "new" smaller me. I don't see myself as the "old" bigger me either. So, what do I see myself as? I don't know. Where did I go?

45+ and Aspiring said...

This post has haunted me. I think how we identify ourselves is so key to how we live. So if we want to be thin, I think we have to stop identifying ourselves as fat.

Of course, I'm still fat... but I'm still working on changing my fat identity.

I'm fearful for you because you sound afraid and on a slippery slope. I challenge you, encourage you, to make a list (Ok, I'm a list person.) of at least 5 things you've changed for the better as you've lost weight (like maybe you are no longer a person who orders all fried food or who eats when they are depressed or whatever).

Next to that write down 5 things about yourself that you LOVE that have not changed.

They "are" YOUR pants. You are still you. Some ways better, some ways different, some ways improved. Maybe you feel lost not because of your size, but because of what you said when you started--you do too much focused away from yourself. . .

Also, maybe you might try to just maintain for a few weeks--maybe even through Christmas. That might help you get used to your new bod and help you live in the middle--not going up or down.

Anyhow, I don't want to put you off or be pushy or any of that. . . I tend to go into advice mode when I want to help someone.

Maybe I should have just said, "Hugs." Tell me if that's what you'd prefer next time!


Cammy@TippyToeDiet said...

As usual, you've captured so many things that have been on my mind lately.

People often see me, post-weight loss, and exclaim, "I almost didn't know you!"

My first thought is always, "I almost don't know me either."

There's such a sense of freedom in losing the weight, but at the same time, all the boundaries and parameters we'd established to control our lives (when they weren't so controlled) are out of play now, and we're left wondering and wandering. It's strange...and exciting...and scary...and wonderful.

I'll keep an eye for you. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm gonna echo your comment to my post - I've found you - you're right here. Cause, you sound so much like me that clearly, I must be you. :-)

I'm really excited to read this today because it brings something back to mind for me - the disorienting shock of discovering what size you're in (even if you knew already). It's like it sneaks up on you, despite the fact that you've been there for the whole process, and suddenly you're panicking and wondering what in the heck is going on...

You've done this. You've earned this. You're still you - but "you" changes. What makes it shocking is that we become accustomed to viewing ourselves in a certain way - as in, the "fat girl" - and we don't adjust that mindset as we adjust the waistline. Then, one day, when something makes it hit home in a particular attention-getting way, suddenly we're trying to rush those changes in self-perception to catch up with the changes to our outsides...

The good news is that eventually, it does catch up. I took a LOT of progress pictures during that stage, and spent a lot of time gazing in fascination at the mirror (how narcissistic!), and blogged about it ad nauseum, but eventually it got more comfortable. (But incidentally, I've made no progress since that happened. Hmm.)

And you make me laugh, even when you're being serious - I love the whole "losing yourself in SD" story. I'll giggle over that all day.


K @ Running Through Life said...

Your post prompted me to post my thoughts on this subject as well. So, thank you!

Jen, a priorfatgirl said...

wow...what an insightful post. I haven't met anyone who understands what I am experiencing. How I look in the mirror and see someone else looking back at me. But not all the time - only some days. Most days, I see the same person I was 85lbs ago. I know my pants are smaller, I can feel my hips are smaller, I can feel with my own hands that my waste is smaller. When someone hugs me, it is so weird to feel their hands go all the way around me and I mentally get stuck on this feeling instead of the fact that someone is hugging me. While loosing weight is a physical struggle, it is SO MUCH MORE A MENTAL struggle. Thank you for sharing!


Lainie said...

Wow, great post. You're really digging deep.

Also, just wanted to say I also completely hated Old Navy because of the old crappy commercials, but I've recently bought a few things there. It's a good place for a few simple basics and they don't seem to have those horrid ads anymore.

Also, ((((HUGS))))