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Stuff on my Tummy

I just had a great weekend in LA where I participated in the Mixed Roots Literary & Film Festival. I was fortunate enough to be invited to read my work which was a huge honor. One of the other writers posted a picture of the event on Facebook and when I saw it I was like…. Ahhhhhh!! I’m hiding under my manuscript!!! Do you see that?? (click on it for a closeup)

For as long as I can remember, every time I sit down I have to cover up my (ginormous, bulging, incredibly HUGE) abdominal area. (I try to be anatomically correct and not say “stomach” which is the fist-sized organ inside) When I sit down on a couch, I immediately search for a cushion or pillow to hug. If that’s not available, I’ll look for a shawl, or a jacket or coat, or a book or a laptop computer or a small animal or child. ANYTHING. I feel incredibly vulnerable having my, er, abdominal area, out there. When I am at the beach or by a pool, you can bet there’s a giant beach towel the size of Rhode Island draped across my midsection. Even when I am DRIVING MY CAR, I will often fold up a sweatshirt or jacket and lay it over my seat belt. As if. As if what, I don’t know.

So imagine my surprise/not surprise when I saw this picture and what do I see? My midsection is basically blanketed in my bright-white manuscript pages. It looks ridiculous. But that’s just how instinctive and automatic that gesture is. I’m just not going to sit there without SOMEthing on top of me, and that’s all I had – six sheets of printer paper. Jeez.

Since seeing that picture I have vowed to try an experiment. I am going to try and consciously not do this. I feel like it looks stupider to have random stuff on top of my body than to just let my body be there. You know that website, Stuff on My Cat? (it’s really silly, where people lay various items on their cats and then take pictures of them) Well, I could start a new website: Stuff on my Tummy.

I’m going to try and let it all hang out there. I’m telling you it’s not going to be easy.

Putting On the Brakes

I don’t want to make it seem like I am complaining about something great that I have been hoping for, but this post is about the weird/unsettling side of losing weight, which I don’t see written about very often.  At the risk of seeming complainy or ungrateful, I want to write about some of the more unnerving parts of weight loss.

Today I went through my closet (again) and tried on a bunch of clothes.  I have a fun party for one of my closest friends coming up this weekend, and I thought, YAY I can wear something cute! Remember my nifty Cleopatra dress? I just bought that in April. When I tried it on this morning, it hung on me like a loose sack. The armholes are huge and it just doesn’t look right anymore. The only way I can wear it is if I get it professionally altered, which is what I guess I am going to have to do. I know, maybe some of you are saying POOR BABY, I WISH I HAD YOUR PROBLEMS! but this was the first time in my weight loss that I have felt weird and unsettled. It made me feel sad and suddenly like everything was shifting and that I was somehow not holding on to my image, or something. It’s hard to explain.

I feel in a way like things are moving more quickly than my psyche can keep up with. It’s like every few weeks I am a different size and while on one hand this is very exciting, it’s also strange. Like the ground is made of jello.

After I tried on the dress, I went to the kitchen and ate a little leftover bowl of mac and cheese that my daughter made a few days ago. I have not eaten any mac and cheese since January- it was my one go-to comfort food, and it just has a tinge of danger for me. But in that moment I was feeling like I needed to be grounded in something familiar, and I thought, I need to put on the brakes.

Let me say right out. I am not “skinny” by any stretch. I’m not like falling into anorexia or anything. I’m just venturing into a physical territory where I have not been in probably 20 years and that is disorienting and strange. Like I’m in some sort of Alice in Wonderland funny mirror shapeshifting place.

I do think it is time for me to halt the loss and maintain for a while. Maybe a LONG while. I need to get used to this, and stay here for some time. I can’t be buying new clothes every four weeks.

(NOTE: I almost deleted this post. I don’t want people getting mad at me for a “problem” they WISH they had. But I’m going to keep it up.)

This reminds me of many writer friends of mine, published writers who get flak for expressing a hard time they might have in the publication process – it’s lonely and hard to be on book tour. There’s “too much” attention. They have to deal with book reviews or readers who might not like their book.

The thing is, with any success there also comes some kind of loss: a loss of identity that has been familiar for a very long time. For a long time, I have comfortably lived in the role of Overweight Person. (as well as Unpublished Novelist, but that’s a different story) Even though I didn’t like much about it, I was USED to it. I am not used to this. I feel like I am stepping into the big unknown – exciting but also terrifying on some level.

BTW, it was good to have that little foray into the mac and cheese. It gave me a stomach ache, and didn’t really help me feel any better. A good reminder.

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