Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A year ago today...

A year ago today I was staring down the barrel of one of the hardest physical challenges of my life.  A year ago today I went in for my first reconstructive surgery (tummy tuck) with all the bravery and smiles a girl who had halved herself could muster!  I was the fittest and healthiest I’ve EVER been, I’d worked SO hard, I was mentally and physically ready - and I was determined to rock that surgery in every way possible!
A year later, and I’m sitting here with what feels like a fist gripping my heart.  It’s been THE hardest year of my transition, and part of me is just….  hurting/lamenting/questioning/dreaming/consoling… ?  I’m not sure how I feel at the moment.  Very mixed emotions.

Ofcourse, I had to contend with the physical issues post-surgery – there was dizzy spells and fatigue like nothing else.  Ofcourse there was the pain and swelling of cutting off a significant portion of your body. But it was the insane staph infection which totally messed me around for bulk of the months following (and even 12 months later, I still have a few slight issues) – and the biggest brain-messer-uperer was when I “burst at the seams” from the infection.  Scariest thing I’ve been through – there are just no words when you have a mass load of fluids streaming out of a wound in your body and you’re helpless to do anything about it...  It made me seriously question if any of it was worth it.
As the months rolled on, I realised there were other issues coming out of the woodwork that I hadn’t had to deal with before – nor had I been prepped or ‘warned’ about.  My anxiety levels skyrocketed – my heart palpitations were fit to send sonic shockwaves through all of Bathurst on some days.  I’d be close to heart-attack status with the anxiety, just trying to walk into a shopping centre to buy a few groceries, after numerous near-fainting spells over the first couple of months left some jagged memories in there that would shoot me with anxiety every time I’d attempt it.  Even trying to leave my house was becoming problematical – driving my car would scare me (I nearly fainted driving the car when I didn’t know I was infected) - and exercise… pfft.  It started scaring the life out of me – my body would ‘tighten’ when it was swollen with heat or movement, and most days it felt like the safest place for me was to lay on the floor.  Couldn’t fall any further if I was already on the floor. I became very accustomed to laying on the floor.

It hurt SO BAD in that first six months – I was shattered.  My surgery wasn’t the ‘be all, end all’ – it left me significantly scarred (not my surgical scar – that mofo rocks my world, it’s seriously bad arse from hip to hip!!).  No – my mental state was completely shattered.  I was fucked (for want of a better word…!).
My anxiety – untreated and undiagnosed – turned into depression over winter (one of my trouble points on any given year!) – but fuelled with the hurt and resentment of the swelling, issues, anxiety, and my distaste of my wonky, still “unattractive” body….  I forfeited into a spiral of self-hatred and ended up totally lost.
If you’ve read my previous (and very infrequent, very distanced) blogs this year – you’ll have probably caught onto the fact that I wasn’t very ‘ok’.  I thought I had it covered… hell, I’ve been through worse in the past (or so I thought!) – but this was a whole new kettle of fish.  I was in unchartered territory – again – and it left me completely lost.

I went in search of outlets and ‘help’ throughout different avenues this year – including the Brisbane and Sydney Emazon STAND conventions in March and September.  These taught me that there is far more to life than the ‘superficial’ (which I already knew) and pushed me to re-discover and re-connect with my Spirit – and work on finding meaningful relationships with everything in my world.  Including myself – one of my hardest tasks.   
Trying to piece myself together after a massive physical transformation, I was coming unstuck.  Literally.  The surgery – "I thought" – was going to help me feel better about myself.  To help me facilitate some awesome self-love that was still lacking.  Help me be brave and put myself out there – so maybe someone else could see past the exterior and like Amy (god knows my biggest fear is ending up completely alone for the rest of my life…!).   But there it was – in cold hard black and white (or in my case, black and blue!) – the superficial was NOT my answer.  The surgery had failed me in that respect.  My weightloss, therefore, felt like it had failed me too.
I was emptier AFTER surgery than I've ever felt before.   …. And it broke my freaking heart.  
I didn’t look how I wanted – I didn’t like what I saw – I felt rejected, dejected and foul.  It wasn’t “the best thing you’ll ever do Amy!” as I’d heard numerous times prior surgery –  I resented what I saw in the mirror – and even worse, resented the girl staring back at me who had DONE THAT TO ME!  I blamed her for my brokenness.  I hated where I was.
I was full of hate and hurt…. again.  Just like I was when I was twice my size.   THAT is what hurts the most…  How did I end up right back there again?!  

Twelve months later, and I’m still being asked about the surgery.  I went AWOL for a while – trying to deal with everything. I felt I couldn’t comment in a positive light, so I just stopped commenting at all.  People would ask me for specific details, and photos – and it’d take all my energy not to want to shake them and tell them ‘DON’T DO IT!!!’… but I knew that’s not how I felt entirely about it all.  I was just hurting.
There is still a wad of leftover skin on my belly….  That’s something they don’t tell you either – here I was thinking it was going to help rid all that, but NO – there’s only “so much they can take” because its living tissue / blood loss issues mean they can only do so much.   When I was carrying the amount of skin that I was, from having been the size I was, I was left with more skin than I actually realised…  I learnt that the hard way.
I’ve deliberately refrained from showing pictures.  I’m still struggling with body shame – and quite frankly I can see no need to showcase pics of me in my undies for public scrutiny!   I’m far too scared of the damage that may do… even though I’ve suggested in the past that I would offer those up “when I was brave enough”.  Truth is, I’m just not.   I’d love to show the difference between the before and after- it’s quite significant (or at least, moreso at the beginning of the year before my self-sabotage stint) – but I don’t think it’s ‘show worthy’ (my stomach isn’t flat – my body is bumpy and lumpy and I still carry wads of skin in other areas that upset me…).  So it’ll remain private – and as it is, I can barely look at those photos myself without ending up upset.  Looking in the mirror now is hard enough – I haven’t even HAD photos taken in the last few months because of the decline in my mental state in relation to my body.  I feel as though we haven’t even been on speaking terms for bulk of this year.
That’s the thing right there.  The disappointment in the physicality has instigated a serious shift in perspective in my mental state – a very rapid, very dangerous decline.  It had taken me YEARS to like what my body was achieving – losing the weight, getting fitter, reshaping – I was actually starting to LIKE who and what I was!!    There’s one photo taken just a week or so before surgery in a dress at Finale, end of November, that I was totally in love with!  I was just radiant – super happy – and it showed in my face, in my  body, in the way I talked, laughed, looked…
Twelve months later, and I’m a mess.   My body gave out when my heart and head did.  I’m pretty sure I just gave up mid this year. It was just too much. Too hard.  I was over it.  I ached from tip to toe.  Physically and mentally.  I couldn’t breathe from the anxiety, and I didn’t care because my heart hurt so much.  
Add to that, I’d put myself ‘out there’ earlier in the year, hoping I was a bit more desirable (also mistakenly assuming I was more comfortable in my skin) – I’d been met with a string of rejections.  Having my heart ripped out of my chest when I connected with someone, when they chose someone else – well that was the last straw.  I don’t think I recovered after that – to me, that was the biggest confirmation that I was still unwanted – still not good enough.  I stopped looking, I shut down, I gave up on that too.  In my eyes, I was too hideous and foul – and at the rate my esteem was plummeting – too gross of a person, on the inside as much as the outside, to love anyway…  (I’m still fighting this thinking…!)

Lots of tears and lots of FOOD MEDICATING later – and a couple of months ago I’d had enough.  I was tired of crying, tired of hating myself, tired of fighting over and over again the same shit day in, day out.  I was pissed off that I was fighting depression-symptoms again, and I was TERRIFIED that I was heading towards self-harm territory like I’ve dealt with in the past.  Absolutely terrified – and totally fucked off.  I DID NOT WORK MY ARS E OFF TO GO BACK THERE!!!
I wasn’t getting anywhere on my own – I wasn’t winning.  The anxiety had turned festy, and I KNEW I wasn’t winning against that - everything upset me and every day I was contending with 'something'.  I was more inclined to eat my emotions, my body was aching even though I wasn’t training, and I was tired.  Constantly, utterly tired.  I had unexplained pain and fatigue – tendonitis in my arm, severe joint immobility and now a heel spur from seemingly out of nowhere!  My body was breaking down – right along with my head.   So I sought help.   I pulled in my stubborn Taurean head and went to the Dr…
Last couple of months I’ve been on low-dose anti-depressants to help calm the anxiety (and for the most part it’s worked, I don’t rock sonic shockwaves nearly as much now! I was VERY anti-drugs prior to this, so was a major decision for me to go down this path) – and despite my fear of counselling (for valid reasons from prior experience) – I found a local counsellor to go and talk to.  I was punishing myself with massive self-blame, and it was unravelling me.  She was pretty quick to pick up on that in the first couple of sessions – and her questioning me on why I was so adamant on taking the blame for EVERYTHING, and then sabotaging and hating myself for it (when it wasn’t always warranted or even my fault!) - was a key to helping me start turning it around.
I started implementing other techniques aswell - including positive meditation that I’d listen to of a night, and gave myself permission to step back from “the weightloss world” and look after myself for a while.  I hadn’t been able to do that before…  (I felt compelled to help everyone – but then I was hating myself for being a “failure” in the process, a hypocrite – who’d want to listen to the girl who couldn’t even sort her own shit out?!!).  And let’s not even mention the hideous jealousy…  Ohhhh dear god, green eyed monster for sure!    I took myself off dating sites, and I deleted a wad of people from my social networks that I just couldn’t handle ‘for now’ (sorry if that was you, ha!).   I sat on my arse, I ate whatever I wanted, I slept as much as I could and I tried not to let my head go rancid.   I put myself into a bubble for a while – it was time to heal.

So that’s where I find myself today.  Twelve months on from my first reconstructive surgery.  They took about 4kgs of skin off – and in 12 months I’ve put on 15kgs (was nearly 20) – became reclusive – regurgitated some serious self-hatred of times gone by – and learnt some hardcore home truths about being superficial!      My heart hurts for the life lessons I’ve had to endure – but in saying that, had I not gone through this, had everything been “peachy and beautiful” – I’d have missed some of my biggest turning points and experience.  I wouldn’t have found gratitude in other areas or learnt to take the hits the way I have. 

Was it the best thing I've ever done for myself?  Well no - but it has played its part in helping reshape me - physically and mentally.  There are benefits in lesser loose skin - although I spend bulk of my time pulling my undies up now because they keep rolling down over a belly that's out of shape to the rest of me!  I find myself with pockets of fat that weren't there before, with the sabotage-gain and lack of weight training muscle loss - I guess the fat cells have to accumulate somewhere else?!    But I can do pushups now without wanting to hang my head in shame because my gut falls on the floor - which is something that used to send me into fits of tears....  And when I run (if and when I can run these days!) - it doesn't hurt my belly as much as it used to or slap against my thighs  (that's not to say there aren't other issues though - thigh slappage of its own accord is still there!!!).   My body is nowhere near perfect - it's anything but - but it's mobile, and now that I'm back to looking after it PROPERLY - not fueled with hatred or wrong goals - I hope we can start talking again, and make some progress.  I sincerely hope the twelve months ahead can turn this experience into a positive learning curve, and help facilitate some real self-love and acceptance for what I am, who I am, as I am. 

Weightloss can no longer be my main focus.  It’s EGO based, and reflects badly against the person I am within.  It’s superficial and living off the Ego of weightloss success - without having created a tangible, meaningful esteem behind it - leaves you longing and empty.  Let that be my lesson to you all right there!!   My “success” is not found on the scales – it’s in my strength of character, my honesty in myself, my integrity in accountability.   Who I am is not measured on anything other than the heart inside – and as it stands, she’s pretty ok – even with the multiple hits this year that have taken a few chunks out of it.

Would I like a smaller arse?  Sure. 
Do I want to lose this gain and go back to my smallest size pre-surgery?  Yes. 
Will I surrender to quick gimmicks, shortcuts, self-manifesting diabolical obsessive body-smashing or unnecessary starvation to get the results I want?   Hell no.  
Will I have more surgery in the future?  I don’t know.
Will I overcome my twelve months of hurt?  Yes.

Will I be ok?  Yes.