I was a bridesmaid in my best friend’s wedding last month. The work up to the wedding was very hard on me with dresses and fittings, dinners and everyone around me losing weight. I somehow survived it all and made it to the big day; I bought spanx, continued eating according to my meal plan, did my makeup, got my hair done and had a truly wonderful day! My only worry was the photos that would come out after the wedding.
I try very hard to avoid mirrors and all other reflective surfaces. I check my outfit in the morning and my hair in the bathroom a couple times a day and that’s it. No more car mirrors, shop windows, monitor reflections, physical body checking, photos or any other ways of checking how I look. But, being in these photos was something I had to do, because I love my friend no matter how much a hate the way my body looks.
When I saw the first picture that had me in it I was terrified. At first I didn’t recognize the girl smiling in the photo, then I was shocked because I saw my face underneath all the extra face fat and on top of shoulders that must have been mine but that I didn’t recognize. In the picture I looked soft, puffy, strange and… happy. I looked happy. I sat there looking at the photo, I stared at it and analyzed it until I was sure that what I was seeing was really happiness! I have only seen this expression on my face a few times and it still remains a mystery to me.
On my own wedding day, just 17 months before my friend’s wedding, I was over the moon with happiness. I was experiencing the most positive emotion that I was capable of feeling at the time. The only problem was that my wedding was only 2 months after I decided to really commit to recovery. I had done a lot of hard work in those 2 months, facing my own issues of ambiguity and starting the weight restoration process. I was able to gain 10lbs for my wedding and 18 months later had gained another 70lbs; all while eating normally, exercising regularly and being watched carefully by doctors.
These two photos shown side by side show not only my progress through recovery but my journey towards happiness. My therapist has even said that over the last few years she has had the pleasure of not only seeing me live a life with the absence of depression but the presence of happiness. There is such a huge distinction between those two states, but I never thought I would experience true happiness. Seeing this photo; yes, I have gained weight, I have even quietly called myself fat in that mean spiteful tone of voice – but I am happy so I’m ok with being fat. I don’t like it but I’m ok with it and for now, that’s enough.