Like most females in America, I became aware of the intense pressure to stay thin when I hit puberty. I wanted to be lithe & graceful & tall like the dancers involved in Drama with me were.
Instead, my breasts grew large, and I stayed short, at 5′ 5″. Still, I wanted to be rail thin, and I remember when stretch jeans first came out, and laying on my bed sucking my stomach in so I could zip them up. Skin tight was “in”.
I gained weight with my first child, whom I had at age 20. But I bounced back, for the most part. I was active, riding horses, tending sheep & goats, and gardening. I didn’t care quite so much and for a while was okay with being between 125 & 150#.
Then came ME/CFS, and with it hypothyroidism. I ballooned up to 200#, and then spent many years struggling to keep it between 150 & 170 pounds.
I remember being so excited to fit into size 14 jeans again, then size 12’s.
Two years ago, give or take, I started losing weight. For the most part, this seems to be from a serious lack of appetite, nausea from non-stop migraines, and eliminating soy, dairy & gluten from my diet. I’m simply not taking in enough calories.
Last Fall I was both excited and a little dismayed to fit into a Junior’s size 7 skinny jeans.
But yesterday, I left the dressing room at Target shocked & shaken to the core. I had tried on some Junior’s jeans, and now, size 5’s fit. I didn’t care for them, though, so decided to try on some Misses jeans. At 48 years old, there are many who would say I had no business shopping in the Junior’s department, anyway.
The Misses’ size 6’s were too big.
Then I went back & got size 4’s, and just for kicks, size 2’s.
The size 4’s were also too big.
And the size 2’s?
A size I never, ever, would have thought I could fit into again?
They were so loose I could take them off without unbuttoning them. I tried another “fit” in size 2, but they were the same. Too big.
I walked out of the dressing room and met Rhiannon, who looked at me with alarm, and asked what was wrong. I had a hard time even telling her.
24 hours later, I am still reeling from the shock. I spent roughly 35 years of my life wanting to be just one size smaller than whatever I was, and struggling to stay out of the plus size department whenever possible.
Now, I weigh a shocking 111#. And it has not been healthy weight loss. Muscles have faded away along with the fat. A few pockets of fat remain, here and there, and stretched out skin is struggling to tighten up.
Taking a shower, and seeing my naked body in the mirror, has become a traumatic experience.
I was never one to go to a gym, or work out. I didn’t need to, when I was healthy – I was too busy struggling to take care of animals that outweighed me, hefting 50# bags of horse feed, cutting & chopping firewood, riding horses & hiking.
But now, just looking in the mirror is overwhelmingly painful. The outline of bones show starkly in my shoulders and upper arms. Collarbones protrude & ribs are clearly visible on my chest.
And I keep losing, despite doing everything I can to stop it. I eat avocados and nuts and eggs, and drink coconut milk (high in medium chain fatty acids) and use coconut oil in lots of things.
I never, ever, would have thought I would look this way, or have a problem like this. Never.
I am weak & frail in a way I could never have imagined.
For the first time, I’m afraid. Not for me, but for Rhiannon. She’s nowhere near ready to lose me. But a quiet voice in the back of my mind keeps saying I need to get ready, and get her ready. Re-write my will, and clean the disastrous mess that is my house, so it doesn’t fall to someone else to do it. Given I barely leave my bed, that’s not likely to happen.
There should be tears. There ought to be. But I just don’t cry anymore. I think I’d feel better if I did.
There is a part of me that’s in deep mourning, for the lost strength of body I took for granted so long.
Another part of me, deep inside, has gone very still & silent. I don’t want to talk. I just want to stare out over the mountains, and let this sink in.
I feel like Alice did when she fell down the rabbit hole. All because I looked in the mirror, and tried on size 2 jeans.
This is so surreal.