I miss the nonstop dreaming.
I miss throwing myself into everything I did because I’d be goddamned if you said I couldn’t do something because I was fat.
I miss going to Store 24 after rehearsal and buying out their stock of Pepperidge Farm cookies and plowing through it with unmitigated glee.
I miss 12-inch Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki on Parmesan Cheese bread from Subway. And Ben and Jerry’s Oatmeal Raisin Cookie ice cream. And a Diet Coke. For lunch.
I miss when Mexican restaurants were an excuse to eat something called a ‘chimichanga’ just because it was there and the description said it was ‘deep fried’.
I miss ‘deep fried’ being a part of my vocabulary.
I miss trips to the movies filled with large buttery tubs of popcorn and Sno-Caps and Goobers and Twizzlers. And a Diet Coke. Eaten before the movie started.
I miss always having room in my stomach for dessert, whether it be my first or my fifth of the day.
I miss not giving a shit. About anything.
I miss staying up until 5 in the morning talking to my friends online, housing ice cream.
I miss coming back to my dorm, seeing my roommate had bought Jonathan’s chicken tenders, and smothering them in mayonnaise.
I miss eating out of defiance. “They called me fat but this Toblerone Bar LOVES ME.”
I miss snacking on entire bars of Lindt White Chocolate during lectures.
I miss having something huge to prove.
I miss when Rice Krispie Treats Cereal was a balanced breakfast.
I miss not caring about calories, fat, sugar…only that it was good.
I miss working on other parts of myself, developing my character, so that people would appreciate me for something more.
I miss looking forward to some lofty, unattainable goal and knowing it just took some will power and I’d get there.
I miss being invisible to men so they didn’t get a chance to objectify me.
I miss food always being the best option.
I miss people looking at my brain first.
I miss getting this picture taken In May, 2005, and promising myself that a new and glorious me was just around the corner.
I don’t miss the unrelenting guilt.I don’t miss the look on my friends and family’s faces when they saw me after long absences. the look of pity and judgement.
I don’t miss waking up at noon and realizing I wasted an entire day.
I don’t miss the kids in school laughing at me. Every day.
I don’t miss the numb feeling I’d get after stuffing myself with food because temporarily the pain had stopped.
I don’t miss eating everything in sight and feeling so guilty I’d work out three times in one day.
I don’t miss overhydrating and nearly passing out.
I don’t miss being afraid to tell the love of my life in college that i loved him because I knew he would reject me on account of my size. He didn’t (nor would he ever do such a callous thing) but my own self-hatred was enough to stop me from telling him. I wish I had told him.
I don’t miss laying on the floor of a Gap trying to yank on a size 16 pair of white pants and realizing I had ‘outgrown’ my favorite store.
I don’t miss my mom buying me those 16 jeans and calling them ‘incentive’ when I told her they were too small.
I don’t miss the huge hole in my gut that no amount of food seemed to fill.
I don’t miss looking at fashion magazines and being filled with shame because I didn’t look like that.
I don’t miss the looks of disappointment, the interventions, the diets, the fitness regimens.
I don’t miss doing situps to Britney Spears videos. (…actually…i still do that.)
I don’t miss my acting teachers telling me I’d be ‘more castable’ if I lost weight.
I don’t miss the pain. the permanent curve in my spine, the neck pain, the headaches, the sleep apnea that always threatened me.
I don’t miss being forced to wear a prom dress I didn’t like at my junior prom because it was the only one in the store that fit.
I don’t miss feeling ugly.
I don’t miss looking at my fellow acting students and hating myself for not looking like them.
I don’t miss eating all of those candies/cookies/chocolates at night and thinking to myself ‘what have I done?’.
I don’t miss the stretch marks, big and purple and red, the way they wound down my stomach like Lucifer was trying to escape through my hips.
I don’t miss sugar crashes.
I don’t miss wearing all black because I wanted to disappear.
I don’t miss feeling ugly every single day.
I don’t miss only owning one pair of jeans and feeling terrified of going clothes shopping.
I don’t miss going to bed feeling like a failture.
I don’t miss “bacne” so intense it would leave me bloody.
I don’t miss my thighs rubbing together in a bathing suit until they were raw.
I don’t miss trying to diet on skim milk and turkey and then binging until I was sick.
I don’t miss watching people dance at bars and being too afraid to because my stomach could show under my shirt.
I don’t miss looking at pictures and thinking “What has happened to me?”
I don’t miss being at bars and feeling horrifyingly ugly.
I don’t miss bingeing.
I don’t miss waking up and wishing I hadn’t.
I don’t miss being out of balance in my entire life and food being the symptom of that imbalance.
I don’t miss never feeling full.
I don’t miss trying to win people over with my brain because it was the only thing in my mind that was worthy of someone’s attention.
I don’t miss the pain of realizing he’d never love me because I hated myself.
I don’t miss watching romantic movies and truly believing no one would ever love a creature like me.
I don’t miss the terrifying chasm you fall into when you are all alone. Truly all alone. And the food turns against you.
That size 16 girl and this size 2 girl…are exactly the same.
Yep. You heard me.
I used to distance myself from 202-pound Ally. I would laugh and say “I don’t recognize that person anymore. She’s not me. I could never be that person now.”
When you were someone for nearly 23 years…it’s kind of disrespectful to erase that person away. You can’t blot out that amount of time in your life without a palimpsest.
The 202-pound Ally is a little more introverted, a little more reclusive. More likely to simply dive into a crush and get her heart broken. More likely to not give a shit what you think about her intelligence or singing voice because give her a stage and a microphone and she’ll rip your heart out. More likely to waste a day dreaming. More likely to back down from a fight. More likely to hide her tears. And when I’m reaching for my second helping of chocolate cake? That’s 202-pound Ally coming out to play. Watch out.
The 135 girl is a little more coquettish, a little louder. Quicker to say ‘yes’ to things. A little more vain. A little more calculated and fearful of love. A little less reckless. A little more likely to stand her ground. More likely to show her full hand.
There are a few things that have not changed.
Being fat taught me honesty. It taught me humility. It taught me decency. Being in shape taught me to take care of myself. It taught me to be strong. Taught me to be in balance.
I like to look put-together but I would never refer to myself as ‘pretty’ or ‘beautiful’. Looks are ephemeral. I spent far too much time wishing to be pretty, starving to be beautiful. Skin is just an organ. Your soul has no jeans size.
I am still nerdy. I am still a goof. I am still that person who laughs way too loud. I am still that person who makes funny faces in the mirror. I am still that person who likes to pretend she’s a synchronized swimmer in the pool. I still quote Shakespeare and choreograph routines to Coldplay in my bedroom and sing loudly in the car with the windows down. I still like the same indie bands I liked in college. I still believe there is a man/woman out there for everyone and that my person is out there someday and will be there when I am ready for him.
But my life doesn’t start 30 pounds from now.
Nor did it start at the end of the Lindt Chocolate bar.
I am enough. I am all right. And I am perfectly good enough.
I have the confidence of someone who has been through the ringer. I have the toughness of someone who had to go it alone a lot. And I have the grace to receive blessings with love and gratitude.
And I would never be any of those things without the life-and the 70 pounds-that came with them.
(ETA: I gave her credit in the following post to this one, but I was inspired to write this post by Andrea of Can You Stay For Dinner. I was so enthralled by her series that I wondered to her if I should do the same. Andrea, who I can now call a great friend, told me to go for it. The first comment on this post is from her. I love you Andrea!)