In searching for the best “before” photo I could find, I discovered this one from June of 2007.
I can’t quite describe what exactly is significant about four years, but I will try.
Maybe it’s that four years ago, I was the heaviest I’ve ever been. Maybe it’s that four years ago, I was almost completely sedentary. Maybe it’s that four years ago, I was making a ton of money but also incredibly unhappy—and I couldn’t quite pinpoint why.
Four years ago, I had no real clue how to fulfill my own needs. I still relied on others to do it for me, which meant that the majority of the time, I felt more empty than full.
(Do I even need to mention that I tried filling that void with food?)
And of course, four years ago, I had no clue how I was going to begin changing my life—one step at a time, and sometimes, one giant leap at a time.
I didn’t yet know that I would take the trip of a lifetime to Murano, Italy in March of 2008. A trip that would re-awaken the artist within me, a trip that would remind me what happiness feels like, a trip that reminded me just how unhappy I was in my day to day life, a trip that ended up becoming a huge magnifying glass. When I came back home to Texas, I finally realized just how much I didn’t like my life. The life I had chosen, the life I had committed to, the life I had vowed to uphold.
I didn’t realize what a black hole my own home had become, until I came back from Italy in April 2008.
Up until that point, I had refused to acknowledge that my marriage was not in a good place. What’s worse—it hadn’t been, for years.
2008 began the confrontation of all that wasn’t working in my life, starting with why my marriage wasn’t working. He went to Pathways, and we did a little bit of work together to repair the deeply traversed ditches of damage, but after he finished the program, things pretty much went back to the well-established bad habits and patterns that we had practiced as a couple for the entirety of our relationship.
I held out hope that things would get better.
But in 2010… I finally realized that I was continuing to grow and change, and at that point in time, he really wasn’t. We had been moving in different directions, and we really began wanting different things.
But 2010 also marked the beginning of the major transformation that is so evident in me today.
If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you can probably recall at least a few of the changes. The most obvious is my weight loss. The next obvious is my divorce. Then, there are the less obvious things… grieving for losses from my past that I’d never grieved; allowing God into my life and then in April of this year, becoming a believer; and one of the most important changes of all… finally learning how to fulfill my own needs.
The biggest changes I’ve experienced in 2011 have been:
- Stepping out of the P-R-V (Persecutor – Rescuer – Victim) triangle in all of my relationships. I always played the Victim role, by the way.
- Recognizing that I still had codependent relationships, and working very hard to step out of codependency.
- Finally learning how to fulfill my own needs and fill myself up, without having to rely on someone or something else to do it for me.
These are significant and important changes, and I am proud of the work I’ve done. I’ve come a long, long way… and looking at those two photos side by side brings up so many emotions—of all that I’ve been through, of all the things I’ve willingly faced, of the accountability I’ve finally taken on, of letting go of old baggage and grieving losses so that they no longer weigh me down… and learning how to live on my own without feeling constantly lonely…
It’s so much more than “just” weight loss.
As my friend Carla said, I’ve spent the last year and a half shedding the person who pretended to be me.
It’s so true. I am no longer fighting so hard to maintain some image of perfection, or the life I thought I was supposed to live. I am no longer trying to live a life that was not right for me. I am no longer pretending to be real.
I am real.
It’s taken years to get to this place, and I feel like I’m brand new.
I recently saw this message:
Anyone can give up. It’s the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that’s true strength.
To me, falling apart isn’t about giving up. Falling apart is about dropping the mask, dropping the pretense, and letting go of the ever-important “image” of perfection.
It is only because I finally allowed myself to completely fall apart that I realized just how strong I am, how many amazing people love me, and how worthy I am of that love.
It is only because I finally dropped the façade that I was “ok” and I was truly vulnerable that I discovered what realness and authenticity feel like.
It was in those moments when people saw the real me, and much to my own surprise, they rushed towards me—not away. I witnessed true grace, love, and redemption when I finally allowed myself to fall apart and let people in.
I was taken care of, every step of the way.
And today, I stand before you as my real, imperfect self.
And when I look at that photo on the right—for the first time in my life—the first things I see are the positives.
I see a beautiful and happy woman. I see a woman who is secure, confident, and who feels worthy.
I am all of those things, and more…