Monday, February 9, 2015

I've Been Sarah All Along

I’ve been incredibly humbled over the last several days with friends, co-workers and acquaintances saying how inspirational the blog and I am to them. It’s sometimes surreal that people can relate to my life and past so easily. I forget that while journeys are different, individual experiences can align for those of us who have struggled with weight. A few weeks ago, searching for inspiration myself, I stumbled upon a weight loss and food blog written by the very talented Andie Mitchell, which can be found at canyoustayfordinner.com. The day after finding Andie’s blog, I was at the bookstore buying her memoir. Released in January, It Was Me All Along is a winding road of Andie’s coping with food addiction, binge eating and losing 135 pounds. Andie’s journey is vastly different from mine but our experiences and feelings parallel in a way that left me Post-it marking the book of my favorite phrases, stories and thoughts. I cried at Andie’s pain and cried when memories of my own flooded my mind and brought me back in time. It's hard to see in the photo but I didn’t really mark up the beginning of the book and that’s because it’s here where Andie writes of her childhood and I, thankfully, cannot relate. Andie grew up with an alcoholic father who was verbally abusive to her mother and brother. She used food to comfort her and fill the voids. Her dad becomes absent and eventually passes away. I started writing a post about this book after reading about half of it and have since deleted it entirely. I wrote about how disappointed I was because I couldn’t relate to Andie at all. I grew up in an extremely loving house that was FULL of laughter and hugs. For the past year, I’ve struggled with somewhere to “blame” my weight. Thankfully and blessedly, I don’t have a tragic past that led me to turn to food. I do, however, have an unhealthy relationship with food. Food is there when I’m sad, it’s there when I’m happy and it’s there when there’s nothing else. I love food. The taste, the texture, the way it makes me feel. I was uneducated on nutrition and lived a really inactive life. You can’t do both as a child and grow up without food and body issues. Over the weekend, I finished the book and found the place where I belong in it. The middle of Andie’s memoir, where she loses weight, goes through a period of binge eating and has anxiety over maintaining, is my present day. There are so many thoughts and themes I relate to that I cannot write about them all in one post. The next series of posts, coming this week—or more depending on what else I can come up with— were all inspired by this book.

I will leave you with a perspective on weight loss I hope everyone has, which is where the title of the book comes from. Andie writes, “But here’s the truth I’ve come to know: fat or thin, it was me all along.” I’ve said this in a previous post, I don’t regret who I was or look at past photos of myself and wish I would disappear. Regardless of the weight holding me down, it was me all along. That life and girl formed me into who I am today. I used to plead to God, “Why me?” Why did He choose me live life that way? Why was I born and raised with this flaw? The worst to admit is that I also wonder why He finally granted me the strength to change. Why did He lay out happiness in front of me and tempt me with a better life? There could be 100s of reasons, which I’ll save for my own memoir, but for now I will celebrate that I have always been Sarah. Self-conscious, depressed, 291 lbs., self-aware, weight TBD, happy— it was and is, beautifully, me all along.

Andie, if you’re reading, thank you for this memoir. Thank you for showing me that I am not alone and sparking me to get through this upcoming week. You write emotions I struggle to find words to describe. Thank you for your bravery and for sharing your story with all of us. I encourage anyone struggling with weight and food to read this book. If you’re local, you can borrow my copy as long as you don’t mind my numerous pink Post-its.

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