Bands and Ties and Other Things Which Bind

24 Jan

Suzanne’s Perspective

At the end of last year, my big sister (in all the ways that count, and some that don’t) underwent a surgical procedure, and had a weight loss device – a lap band – inserted.  She now has a teeny little inner tube circling her stomach, which when inflated will squeeze tighter and more efficiently than any iron-fisted willpower she has been able to summon to date and limit the amount of food she can comfortably eat in one sitting.

Inside my 15 year-old sister (pictured here) was always a fat person, fighting her way out. Slim and pretty, but in her mind fat and clumsy. Hiding under bulky shorts, arms covering a belly she didn't have. Eating until years later, her outside matched her inside.

Two earth-shattering, conscience jarring, where-the-hell-do-you-stand-on-anything-actually parcels of life found their way to my door step at the end of last year.  Both of them, in terms of my contribution to this blog, struck me dumb.

The first parcel was a gift with a value I did not expect.  I completed my life-coaching training and workshops, and the process left me rejuvenated and inspired.  It is difficult to describe how life-changing I found the program.  I could compare it to finding that the missing jigsaw piece, which I had long ago assumed my particular puzzle would always be short, had been in my pocket the whole time.  By refining techniques to help others steer a positive course past trauma and conflict in their lives, it had been impossible not to deeply reflect on my own issues in the process.  I left feeling a giant weight had been lifted off my soul.  My mind bubbled and sparked with new information, with one thought pulling ahead of the pack like a golden haired Olympian – “rethink EVERYTHING”.

So there I was.  Rethinking EVERYTHING.

Reading back through a couple of posts on this blog, I had to resist the urge to delete almost all of my contributions.  No.  They needed to stay.  Negative, self-defeating, passive aggressive monologues they may be, but they are authentic.  I remembered my promise at the start of this journey of mine, hers, ours.  To never self-edit.  Instead of deleting anything, or the born again optimistic kneejerk opposite of that – posting a smug manifesto of my new world view –  I decided to shut up.  Shut up.. just for a bit, and let things settle, before returning to posting my thoughts here.  A temporary muzzling and chance to curb my enthusiasm, so when I choose to unveil my revamped attitude to old friends here, I can stride into it confidently, without the flat-footed puddle fear of a child in new shoes.

Just days after receiving my certification, and already starting to see clients, I discovered I was not the only one with a weighty burden ready for disposal.  My sister had got the go-ahead for the weight-loss surgery she had been seeking and discussing (with a chosen few – myself included) for most of the year.

When I first got the news and experienced mixed emotions, I thought to myself – “you should be posting on this”.  When Heather posted about being a helpless addict, about this being her only solution, and weeks went by without a word from me I thought.. ‘why aren’t you posting on this??”  I would sit down at the key board.. write a few words.. then shake my head, stand up and walk away.  I felt conflicted.  I couldn’t think of a way to express what I felt – a combination of unconditional support and sadness – without appearing to be either a hypocrite or an idiot.  I couldn’t dance tight enough jigs around the bits I felt most strongly about, and still get my thoughts across in any sort of coherent way.  So I have set it aside, until now.

I love and respect my sister.  I would wrap her up in cotton wool if I could.  I can never coach my sister.  As any coach understands, I am part of the problem.  What I can do, is be true to this blog, and take an honest position, one which I have discussed with her in person in the past few weeks, which has helped me to step up and voice my point of view.

My Dearest Sister,

I think you deserve to start living your life now.  Loosing weight now.  I think you deserve a happy active life.  I do not however, feel for one moment your journey will end when the lap band has done its job, and you have reached your goal weight.

I think a lap band is a tool, an aid, like the medication given to drug addicts, or the tube put up the nose of an anorexic.  No one would ever see an anorexic keeping a tube up their nose as a lifestyle solution.  No one would see taping the mouth of an alcoholic shut as a solution, or stapling shut the nose of a cocaine addict.

I don’t think you love food.  I think you hate it.  Look at your fridge.  Look at your grocery list.  Look at how you distract yourself while you eat.  The taste of food is transient.  It cannot be the taste you are after.  What is it?  I suggest it is a feeling of fullness.  The comfort of a belly full – the comfort of never feeling a twinge of emptiness.  You like the lap band because you know it will give you this, and you will never have to face what you fear, feeling empty.  Perhaps you will discover that the empty space you have been filling does not reside in your stomach after all.

Studies show weight loss surgery patients find other ways to self abuse.  I am afraid for you.  I am concerned you will find another way to build a wall around yourself, once the weight is gone.

I think telling yourself you cannot achieve your goals without relying on a weight-loss device for life is not self loving.  By saying this, I am not saying you cannot start living your life now, with the use of this device.  You look to a life after the lap band.  I hope for a life after the lap band for you too, but I think our understanding of this is different.  Like a cast which helps a broken leg to mend, I understand how modern medicine, when used right, can help us to heal.  But casts come off, and when they do, those who wore them are not just healed, but are finally free to run.

I think saying you have lost more than your body weight several times in your life-time is not giving full recognition to the power of your self-sabotage and negative self beliefs, although I do not dispute this is true – I have witnessed it!  I cannot say I climbed a mountain if I took two steps up, then two steps down… climbed half way up, then half way down again and again.  People would think me ridiculous if I claimed that victory.  I have not spent a lifetime climbing mountains.  I have spent a lifetime reminding myself and showing myself, that I cannot climb mountains.

I wish a life for you where you realize one day, when your ‘cast’ is off, you are capable and self sufficient.  I want you to never doubt your ability to summit any mountain of your choosing.  I wish this sort of self love for you.  I wish it a million times over.

I think people can and have lost large amounts of weight and kept it off without surgery using healthy eating plans, not silly diets and schemes.  I do not think these sort of heavy handed justifications are self-loving, and your use of them in your posts prior to surgery is a little disappointing.  Did you really think we would all be so unkind and hostile that you needed to have your defense so well prepared?  Why would you think that?  We project that which we personally feel.  I am sad because you needed reasons to talk yourself into it, with ‘it can’t be done any other way” arguments, when “I deserve to be happy now” should have been good enough.

I look forward to you being a healthy weight, but I want more for you than that.  I have ALWAYS wanted more for you than that.

Your Sister Soo

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2 Responses to “Bands and Ties and Other Things Which Bind”

  1. Cuzin January 24, 2011 at 9:20 am #

    very powerful stuff – makes me dig pretty deep too…xxx

  2. karen February 16, 2011 at 7:50 pm #

    My dearest cousin Heath….WOW! I am SO very proud of YOU! We would never judge u for juSt wanting happiness…..wanting freedom…..wanting health…..wanting a better quality of life. U are a beautiful soul and are an inspiration. You have given me something to think of for my own life….you’ve made me look long and hard at myself! (We need to chat!)

    To Soo…..if I had a sister, I’d want her to be just like you!!! U are both incredibly special ladies xxx

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