It’s really tough when you don’t know who you are anymore or even who you’re suppose to be. The things that once defined you now elude you and it gets very heartbreaking at times. I’m not talking about the core things, your moral values or beliefs; no I’m talking about what you see on the outside.
This last year has been one of many many changes for me. On May 23, 2011 I weighed in at 231lbs before having a major surgery that would change my life in more ways then I really knew or understood. The year leading up to the surgery I lost 24lbs, putting my starting weight on the road to it at 255 lbs. It wasn’t attractive in the least little bit, but I still made it work. My husband fell in love with me when I was overweight, and told me all the time how unbelievable sexy he found me. I never understood why he did, or anyone did for that matter but the truth is I never had a problem finding someone to be with. Yeah, sometimes it wasn’t the man I had my eye on, but there was always someone. I hated being fat, but I fit in my skin and I knew how to work it, even with all my insecurities and self-hatred. I had long thick beautiful hair that men absolutely loved and women coveted (and no I’m not being full of myself here, I was told by women all the time how much they wanted my hair. In fact I was called a bitch several times when I would say it was naturally curly when I was younger and then accused of having extensions when I was older). I had great cleavage and filled out a C cup nicely. I had curves (although I’d say way too many of them) and a butt. I knew what I had and how to work it. That’s not the case anymore. This is a picture of me before surgery.
Fast forward almost 1 year exactly. I’m down to my goal weight of 150lbs, well I fluctuate between 150-154 lbs. I wear a size 7-9. You’d think I’d be ecstatic now wouldn’t you? I mean that’s what this country tells us daily that we should be to be happy. It’s impossible to be happy if you’re overweight, right? Well as happy as I am to be able to squeeze into those sizes, I’m just as unhappy at so many other self-image issues. I knew going into this surgery and road after that I would have body problems. There was going to be excess skin, it’s inevitable. If you stretch your skin out to 100 + pounds more then you should be that skin is ruined, there’s no way it will shrink back to perfectly smooth. I knew this, they tell us and face it, it’s common sense too, but until you see the skin on your own body your mind doesn’t fully comprehend it. At times you find yourself playing with the skin, stretching it, twisting it, whatever. I think this is the brains way of lessening the stress of seeing it and knowing it’s your skin not some horror movie make up. Other times you just cry, that’s all you can do.
The next thing is the girl’s. They are gone. I have gone from a full C cup to a full A cup. It could be worse; I know that, I’ve seen pictures of people going from D, or DD down to A or less. All of us looking deflated, like we were balloons at one time and someone decided to pop our boobs for fun! Well guess what buddy, it wasn’t fun it was cruel.
The next thing is my hair. Oh how I miss my hair. I miss it more then I do my boobs. When I had my surgery they told me there would be hair loss simply because of the nutritional issues I was going to be facing. I had no clue it was going to be this bad, this severe. When I woke up from my surgery I noticed 2 things, my feet hurt and the back of my head hurt. I found out it was because I was laid on the table wrong and since it took 5 ½ hours to do the surgery it put great stress on those two areas. About a week after surgery I noticed my head was peeling, kind of like cradle cap. It was disgusting to say the very least. After a couple of weeks of this gross stuff peeling off I washed my hair one day and when I ran my fingers through it I realized it felt weird in that spot. I grabbed my hand held mirror and with very scared hands I pulled back the hair on the back of my head to reveal a spot about the size of the palm of my hand that was completely smooth. Not a hair there, not even baby fine peach fuzz. I cried. I was told that I was lucky because I had the hair on top that covered the missing spot, which may be true but it didn’t help my hair look any better or healthier. In fact my hair got so weak and so thin and scraggly my boss started calling me chemo girl, harsh I know. But the fact is the name fit me, I looked exactly like those people who are loosing their hair due to chemo. Mix in the hair loss with the ever-shrinking body and face and I truly did look sick. Yesterday I went to my hairdresser, who bless her heart has been trying so hard to do something with this crap on my head to the best of her ability. She doesn’t like to over style it, damaging it more then it already is, so she put me under the dryer after coloring it. My hair dried straight and flat, lifeless. I tried to pull it off, to rock that look but I couldn’t. By time I got home I was near tears and told my husband to not even look at me as I ran through the apartment straight to the bathroom to wash it and blow dry some life into it. When I turned the water off and wrapped a towel around it I heard the knocking on the door. “Baby, what’s wrong” Robbie asked me, “why are you washing your hair you just got home from the salon”. I opened the door and lost it. The tears washed over me. I stood there with a soaking wet face, heartbroken telling him how ugly I felt and all he could do is hug me and tell me how much he loved me and how beautiful he thinks I am. He said all the right things, and holding me was exactly what I needed. But now I’m trying to sort all of this out in my head. Where did Shannon go? I don’t know who I am anymore, or who I’m suppose to be. I’ve lost my signature locks, my boob’s are MIA and although I am thin now I cannot wear mini skirts or shorts or anything showing my stomach because of the excess skin. I’m lost and I don’t know what to do.
Now before anyone tells me that these are all superficial issues and I should be thankful that I am healthier now then I’ve ever been, I am and I know this. Until you are put in a place that you’ve lost your looks and everything you’ve ever known about yourself you won’t understand this. I know whom I am on the inside that is something that has never changed. I just now have to find out who I am going to be on the outside. My hair is growing back, but after loosing approximately 85% of my hair, it’s going to take time. The excess skin will hopefully be removed in August. I know there is going to be a happy ending to all of this, but right now I just feel ugly on the outside. I’ve never thought I was beautiful, I’d say I’ve always thought I was average (except for my hair, that’s always been extraordinary) now I think I’m just a 40 year old ugly woman who has seen her best days.
This one really shows just how thin my hair has gotten.. and all the little hairs sticking up are the new hairs growing back.