Thursday, July 18, 2013

Forever friends

the beautiful Suzanne as one of my fab bridesmaids
There are a handful of people I can think of, literally I can count them on one hand, that I know no matter how much time or distance is between us they will always be there for me.  No judgment, no questions, just love and support.  I had no idea when I took a summer theatre gig 14 years ago, that I would meet someone who would change my life so much, my dear friend Suzanne.

When I first met Suzanne, we were both young, arrogant, chain smoking drinkers who were loud and loved to party!  We could stay up and out for hours and still roll out of bed the next day ready to function (some of us HOURS before the other <wink>), we laughed, we was like I found a part of my being that had been missing.  She is part of my heart and I love her dearly.  We have gone through relationships, children, self discovery, great jobs, has truly been a roller coaster of a friendship but NEVER have I questioned it.  Truth be told, Suzanne is the one friend I have never had a major fight with, never!  We may have been on opposite sides of the fence on issues...but never a knock down drag out fight.

I have been looking back over the past many years and realized how far we have come together and separately.  I am so proud of the woman she has become.  I am overjoyed that she is regaining confidence, and just love her dearly.  Suzanne has always been so strong.  I have had many times were I wished I could be more like her.  To be unafraid of change, to be adventurous, to have the unbelievably flawless skin and natural beauty that she has, to be well, just more Suzannelike :)

Over the past year she has been working hard.  She has been challenging herself, both her mind and body and has had amazing results....just 2 short weeks ago she crossed the 100 pound threshold.  She has lost over 100 pounds and I am SO proud of her.  I asked her to share some of her journey with you, my readers...I hope she inspires you a fraction of how much she has inspired me.

I do not remember a time in my life where I wasn’t overweight.  As a child you begin pretty early on identifying what it is about you that is different from the other kids, even though you’re mostly powerless to change.  At that age accepting who you are when you aren’t like the other kids is nearly impossible—fitting in is all that matters.  I remember all-too painfully one of the nasty girls in my 4th or 5th grade class (who some 20-years later “friend” requested me on Facebook) telling me that we didn’t win a basketball game because I was too big for any of the shorts the school provided.  Being different was never easy.

But somewhere around 6th or 7th grade I experienced a miracle of sorts.  I began to see past my weight and find my confidence.  I discovered a love of music, theatre, and performing that transformed the way I saw myself, which, in turn, made being overweight only a small part of who I was, and a part I could accept more easily. 

My new-found confidence developed and stayed with me for many years, all the way through my 20s.  I had a career that fulfilled me (even if I’d never be rich), travelled all over, made many friends, and was, for the most part, pretty secure with who I was.  I was still overweight, but when I walked into a room my confidence was what people saw, not my size.  And if it wasn’t I just didn’t care.  I thought I was beautiful.

The reversal of my confidence and self esteem came at the end of my 20s, when a succession of painful relationships ended, I lost my job, and I began caring for my ailing grandmother.  My career, which had always been a major part of my identity, was put on the back burner for nearly two years, and I slowly began to lose what it had taken me over 15 years to build.  I cried all the time, lost more friends than I can count, and began to see myself as utterly deplorable.  After a year of caring for my grandmother I had gained 100lbs.  I could no longer walk long distances without horrible pain in my feet, I went out of my way to avoid stairs, and I stopped wanting to go anywhere because I was so embarrassed.  Food became both the reason for my misery and the only thing that made me feel better.  It was an absolute nightmare.

In October of 2011 I finally broke through the pain and got off my ass.  I was hired to work the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, something I had always wanted to do, and I was determined to use that opportunity to turn my life around.  The week before I left for Utah I went to my first Weight Watchers meeting.  I am not exaggerating when I say it was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done.  Committing, truly committing, to do something that hard physically, mentally, and emotionally, is incredibly scary, but I knew I would die if I didn’t change.

People will always tell you how hard losing weight is, and it is, but not for the reasons you might think.  Adjusting to new eating habits is difficult, to be sure, but what I found (and still find) to be the most gut-wrenching part of this whole experience is that constantly, from morning to night, I focus on what I eat, what I look like, and what it all says about who I am.  Some of this is good.  I am a far healthier person that I ever thought I would be, and care very much about what I am putting into my body.  But I also care more about what other people think when they see me.  I beat myself up if I have a bad day.  I’ve lost over 100lbs and still struggle with regaining a fraction of the confidence I had when I ate whatever I wanted.  Going from being someone who thought she was beautiful regardless of size to someone who thinks about size nonstop is exhausting.  I wonder if I’ve betrayed who I was all the time, even though I know that what I am doing is incredibly important.  I know I’m on the right track, but figuring it all out is incredibly difficult, which is one of the reasons I am happy I’ve decided to do this the hard way instead of through surgery.  I need this time to work it all out on the inside, too.

Losing weight isn’t just about eating less and working out more.  It’s about finding your inner strength, confidence, and love.  I miss deeply the relationship I had with myself before, and continue daily to search for a middle ground.  I still have a long way to go, and sadly my genetics likely mean that this will be a lifelong struggle for me.  But I can’t deny that it feels wonderful to be 33 and in the best shape of my life.  Once I found what worked for me (spin) working out became a joy.  I love finding new recipes for healthy food, but I still allow myself pizza or french fries once a week.  My life isn’t perfect now, and I still have a lot of self-doubt, but I am on this journey to rediscover who I am, and to once again know that I am beautiful inside and out.  And I know I can do it.  I’ve come this far, right?
love you Suz and am so proud of you!
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