It’s just gone ten minutes to five on a Friday afternoon. I’m sat in the corner of my parents’ back garden, under the shade of the wooden canopy. The coloured glass bottle tea light holders that hang from its walls sway, their movement as gentle as the rise and dip of my chest as I breathe. There’s a slight breeze that whispers life into the trees that surround every side of the garden, but other than the subtle movement of the leaves and occasional birdsong, I appear to be the only living thing here.
For the first time in five years, I am alone.
Alone is perhaps the wrong choice of adjective. I have been surrounded by more faces in the past two months or so than I have been in years. I am detached. I have been severed from what I once knew to be my other ‘half’, and am now a worn-out soul, floating through the air, searching for the puzzle pieces that made me whole before I met him. There’s maybe a handful or two of them collecting dust in a corner somewhere, eager and desperate to be found and pushed back together.
I disassembled myself at the age of thirteen, when I was full of angst and a yearning to belong to something bigger than a secondary school education and the restrictions I always felt that my parents were trying to place on me. Ever since I met him, I allowed him to mend the pieces of myself I considered broken with his stronger, more resilient materials. He patched up all the cracks in me and reminded me daily that the part of the bone that breaks becomes the strongest bit once it heals.
The problem with letting someone hold parts of you together is that sometimes their arms get tired. And if they let go while the glue is still wet, the pieces might not be able to hold their own weight.
When we broke up, I reintroduced myself to my reflection as if I were a stranger. I’d never had to concern myself too much before with who I was or who I wanted to be, because my primary focus had always been being someone else’s. The majority of the fuel that powered my weight loss came from my goals of being a good wife, a good wife that would become a good mother. I wanted to be healthy, I wanted to be sexy, I wanted to be someone he would be proud to show off on his arm.
But suddenly, I was back to square one. Who, now, would I be a good wife to? How was I planning to be a mother? Whose idea of a perfect woman would I base all of my decisions on?
Why am I thinking like this?
I’ve written many times about the motivations I’ve had for losing weight, and up until recently I’d believed that each reason was born of a want to better myself, for myself.
Yet here I was, totally clueless as to what to do with myself now I did not have someone to answer to. I questioned my purpose, for it was no longer to be my fiancé’s dream woman.
And, as you can imagine, my weight loss swiftly fell from a high rung on my ladder of priorities.
Since my last blog post, I have struggled immensely to find the drive and motivation I had at the beginning of my journey. My diagnosis hit me like a shot to the stomach, leaving me unequipped to write the light-hearted posts I looked forward to sharing with everyone each week.
One evening in early April, I remember sitting down after a day at work and opening my emails to see an unfamiliar name.
A young woman, who I had probably passed numerous times in the halls of my secondary school yet had never had the opportunity to talk to, had reached out to me. After introducing herself and explaining how she had first come across my illustrations and writing, she went on to express her concern.
‘What prompted this email is that since you posted about the PCOS diagnosis, you’ve stopped with the weight loss blogs. I don’t know why, I don’t really know anything about you other than what you’ve shared on your blog. I can imagine any number of reasons – you’re still going but don’t have time to blog, you’re still going but don’t want to blog about it anymore, or maybe you’ve stopped focusing on it so you can focus on your diagnosis instead,’ it read.
My stomach sank with guilt. I hadn’t posted since late February, but besides the occasional comment from a relative or some likes on facebook, it was rare that I stopped to think that there were people who actually did read my blogs each week. There were people who were really following my journey. And I had vanished off the face of the earth.
‘Your attitude in your blogs is one of someone who will not be defeated. Every time you had a gain, you always said ‘well this is shit but I don’t care, I’m going to keep doing the right things, I’m going to keep exercising and cooking these dank ass healthy meals, and I am going to lose the weight’. It is so inspiring.’
It was an extraordinary feeling, reading through this email. When I started writing, I had tried to avoid thinking about what my posts had the potential to motivate people to do, so as to avoid disappointment if it turned out that nobody but my nan ever read them. Instead, I considered my posts nothing more than a method of keeping myself in check. I knew that if I fucked up, I’d have to face the embarrassment of telling everyone I know about it. It become a huge motivator to me, and being able to look back at my progress by reading old posts became a frequent pastime of mine when I was feeling low energy.
But here was someone who had gone out of their way to not only offer support during my unexplained online absence, but to share their own stories with me. Stories that really related to me, and that made me feel less alone. It was fucking powerful. I haven’t been reduced to tears by an email since I found out I had successfully bought Ke$ha tickets.
I responded to the email, trying to sound as grateful as I could for the effect it had had on me. I had promised a weight loss post that very next week, dedicated especially to the sender of the email. It was a promise I failed to deliver on.
From that evening, I placed more and more pressure on myself to pull myself out of this rut I was in as each day passed. The diagnosis had crushed me, yes, but that should have been all the more reason to carry on. It would have been the perfect opportunity to stand up and march on, despite the struggle I was having. But the pressure I was placing on my shoulders was heavy. It served only to push me deeper into the mud.
About a month after reading that email, my five year relationship disintegrated, I lost the home that I treasured, had to abandon the majority of our painstakingly selected furniture that I adored due to strict time restraints, and was facing moving back into my parents’ home for the first time in two years. I couldn’t eat at all, and then I couldn’t stop eating. I fell victim to a destructive cycle of self-pity, self-loathing, and complete apathy towards my existence in general. And there was me, naively thinking on that night back in April that I had hit my ‘rock bottom.’
It’s been a little over a month since that particular series of events, and the emotions and pain I’ve experienced in that time warrant a dozen or more blog posts of their own.
But I don’t want my posts to be saturated in miserable tears. Life is hard enough, and (as my Dad likes to remind me constantly) I have it fucking easy. Even now, I know that it could be worse. I could be homeless, jobless, and not have fantastic friends and family. I could be dead. I could have put back on all the weight I lost before.
But guess what! By some sort of a miracle, I only put 4lbs back on since my last weigh in back in February.
And do you want to know how I know that?
I got back on the scales.
That’s right folks: a month after my whole life was turned upside down I decided that now is a better time than ever to start oversharing again.
I’ve joined the same weight loss group that my mum attends every Wednesday evening. It’s a great source of support, and there’s no motivator like competing with your own mother to lose the most weight each week.
After my first week, I’ve lost 3.5lbs, putting me just half a pound away from where I was at my last weigh in. I’m back to feeling motivated, energetic and dare-I-say-it: happy.
And the best part is, I’m finally doing it for me. And I know it’s for me, because I’m on my own now. Who the fuck have I got to impress? Myself, that’s who.
And for the first time, that is okay. I’m becoming okay with being on my own.
My next weigh-in is on Wednesday, and hopefully I’ll have another weight loss that is worth sharing with you all. Either way, there will be a blog post. You can hold me to it.