I woke this morning. A good thing. As awareness dawned, my first thought was that something was missing, or different. In a good way. I felt lighter, brighter.
Smiling at my sleepy face in the bathroom mirror, I realized what it was. My first, second, or even third waking thought hadn't been about my weight and what I was or wasn't going to do about it. I am not proud to admit it, but for the past 40 years, I have ended each day assessing my progress in terms of a pound gained or lost, and begun each new day either vowing to do better or to stay the course, if I've discovered (again) the magic secret to moving the numbers on the scale in the right direction.
The absence of that singular obsessive thought, and of any desire to dash upstairs to weigh myself, or to my closet to see which pair of jeans I might be able to squeeze into today, brought an even bigger smile to my shiny, 65-year old mug. Frankly, it had become a pretty tedious, pointless and generally unrewarding way to spend my last and first waking moments, and far too many other moments during the hours in between.
Good riddance to a waste of cranial capacity and a load of emotional baggage. Not that I don't care about my health. But obsessing about weight and a lifetime of binging, purging, yo-yo dieting and the occasional pill or potion, can't have been doing me any good.
That was this morning's little/big dawning epiphany. I am fine. My body is fine. Overall, it has served me well. With that realization comes relief. For one thing, I don't have to consider my calendar in terms of future events where I'll meet new folks, or see people I haven't seen in awhile, and get all anxious about losing weight in order to impress them, or at least not embarrass myself. I have spent a lifetime presuming others would judge my worth or worthiness based on whether I were thin, within bounds, or in the fat zone. Which, I should have realized a long time ago, mainly means that was how I was judging myself.
In fact, and I know this from experience, reaching the magic number on the scale (which I've done half a dozen times over the past 40 years) has no broader bearing on personal happiness, satisfaction, certainly not 'success.' Not for me. Looking back at photos where I looked fabulous in some slinky summer number or (gasp) shorts or a bathing suit, I would also recall that I hadn't been particularly happy when the photo was snapped. Relationships were no better. Life no more rewarding.
During some of my lowest life moments, I have looked fabulous and have the photos to prove it. Go figure.
Where does this new state of body acceptance come from?
Age - Call it giving up. Call it acquired wisdom. Perhaps it's some of both.
Metabolism - Yeah, there's no question it's slowed down . . . and fighting it has become so much harder.
Reflection - I spent a year (2017) cogitating over why I wasn't happier (that old saw) when, logically, I had every reason to be. One huge 'aha' was that my sense of worth was tightly bound up with body image issues and absurdly low self-esteem.
Kindness - Practicing it, towards myself and others.
Family - I have to pinch myself; I'm so lucky to have my wonderful family. Seriously.
Writing - As they say, it's not therapy, but it can for sure be therapeutic (if you don't just pick at your scabs, so to speak.
Yeah, I know, gross.)
Not giving all that power and weight to my weight (see what I did there?) makes me feel lighter. Realizing that obsessing over it was never going to help me. In any regard. Getting that I am not defined by what I weigh, or by any other physical characteristic. Understanding that, for me, food has often been a drug, the good girls' drug, one that I abused then punished myself for abusing.
All tied back to body issues. It's a lot to unbundle. I'm working on it.
Bottom line, at 65, and well beyond the 'normal' weight range for my height, I'm not pretending this is something I can change by the weekend, or for the annual get-together with the in-laws. Nor do I care anymore.
I'll show up looking like me.
Dorothy, author of GRAY IS THE NEW BLACK, blogs about the challenges and opportunities of being a woman and a writer of a certain age in a youth-centric universe.