Sunday, January 31, 2010

The change inside

The change outside is well underway. I've lost 118 pounds in all, with about 50 left to my goal and lifelong maintenance. Today I tried on some boots I ordered a couple of years ago. Even though I got the extra wide width, they did not fit at the time. I loved them so much I kept them. Now they fit! And they look good, if I do say so myself.

The boots are just the latest exterior things that have brought a smile to my face and a spring to my step. More coworkers and acquaintances are noticing my weight loss and giving my positive feedback. That's nice. I am getting second looks from the male of the species. Feels good! I have a bit of flappy flesh under my arms, but I have been pleasantly surprised by my 40-year-old body's ability to adapt to my new weight without too much sagging skin. Whew! (Thank you, water aerobics and good genes)?

Now for the inside stuff, which is more of a mixed bag. I don't have that feeling of, "I really should do something about my weight" hanging over me, which is HUGE. As this blog has shown before, I had a bit of depression late last year, wondering how come my life was still pretty much the same, despite the changes in my health and appearance. Now what I am grappling with is a sort of disconnect between the outer self and the inner, which has to be reminded how far I've come; how different I look to others and myself; how I no longer should be hiding out in my apartment; or dread reunions with old friends, family or flames who would be shocked at seeing me so heavy.

The other thing: men. I haven't been in a relationship or even gone on a date since my ex-husband and I separated in March 2006; that's nearly four years. I've had at least two fearsome crushes, both on persons who may or may not have been interested in me. I've always had a terrible radar for knowing when someone I am attracted to is attracted to me. I am going to go out on a limb and say that the two guys I was crazy over did not find me attractive, although I know they both liked -- and continue to like -- me as a person.

When I was bigger it was easy to tell myself, "He doesn't like me because I am fat." As a become more attractive, when I experience rejection there will be no easy ways to explain it away. I will have to face the fact that a given guy may "just not be that into me," for whatever reason. This was always hard for me to accept. Here I was: pretty, smart, nice, lots of personality, caring. And yet, dismal relationship track record. Always the dumpee, rarely the dumper.

So, what are my flaws? I can be too needy. I fall fast and hard and want things to progress quickly in the romantic sense. I misread signals. At the same time, I can be quite selfish and set in my ways. I need lots of personal space. On the one hand I want to fall in love and have a great physical relationship, which requires some stability. On the other hand, I get bored with places I live and jobs I have and so want to move and move and move.

I did what I called (to myself) an experiment with a person of the opposite sex earlier this month. I am not going to pretend it was just an experiment, though: This guy appears to be the goods. I met him in April 2009 at a conference. Turns out, we live in the same town and know people in common. I remember being surprised that he and I ended up talking for about thirty minutes just seconds after meeting. Plus he was -- and is -- tall, dark, and handsome. Cerebral, funny, self-deprecating but confident. Right up my alley. Funny thing was, despite being about 100 lbs heavier than I am now, I felt there was a genuine connection between us. We talked some more over the course of the conference. Color me smitten.

Flash forward to January 2010. I knew I was looking a lot better, so I sent him a message on Facebook inviting him to have coffee. He accepted! I found him already seated at the cafe when I arrived (on time). There is no way he could have missed the fact that I lost 100 lbs, but he didn't say anything or look surprised. We ended up talking for two hours. Throughout, I felt pretty and witty and happy. I learned he's single and he learned I'm single. Mission accomplished, right? Since then we've had a couple of occasions to meet, but he hasn't asked me out for coffee or anything else. He is 7 years younger than me, and has sought my advice in the professional realm, but that's about it. Over coffee he told me he wasn't about to fall in love for the time being, which I thought was an interesting thing to say to someone you're just having coffee with. Was this a warning to me? Perhaps. Of course, warnings such as this have little or no impact on me when I am feeling something about someone. I've been known to overestimate my ability to change a man (can't be done, for the record), change a mind, and will a relationship into being what I want it to be.

So all this previous baggage is colliding with the new svelter me. I have to remind myself that if this guy doesn't dig me or pursue me, there will be others. Still, I can't shake the fear that I will never find that great partner/lover/friend in life. Funny, this didn't bother much 100 lbs ago.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Getting on with it

I have to say that it’s great to greet the New Year without kicking myself for being overweight and wondering how the heck I was going to get rid of said weight. Instead, I am one hundred pounds lighter than I was on New Year’s Day 2009. Yesterday I found myself dancing around my living room to N’Sync and Beyonce! I wore a denim skirt, black tights, a black turtleneck, and my cute green shoes. It felt good!

A parallel transformation is my hair. Starting at age twelve or thirteen, it’s been an adventure in straightened, very short, medium length, cornrows, braids, and so on and so on. Now my hair is about 95% natural, just a little relaxed portion left to grow out. I wore it scraped back in an “Afro-puff” top-of-the-head ponytail yesterday and got a compliment from someone who never compliments me! I can wear it parted in the middle in a low ponytail, in a French braid (or two), or loose (after washing).

How come it took my so long to like my hair? I might as well ask myself how come it took me so long to like myself. I am forty and I spent most of my life – including when I was skinny, when I was Miss Belize, when I could have conquered the world – downplaying my gifts and my physical attributes. Why? I have tried to get answers to this question through therapy, my writing, lots of brooding. I don’t have much in the way of an answer, except that I had a deep-seated ambivalence about being attractive and smart. I felt undeserving and ill equipped emotionally to handle the responsibility. That old saying about to whom much is given, much is expected comes to mind.

I can’t say I have totally come to terms with all of this, or maybe I have? I simply don’t care as much about what’s expected. And who is doing all of this expecting?

Oh well… At some point, we just have to get on with life.

Happy New Year!