I am currently in my hometown, caring for my mother following her knee replacement surgery. This has been confronting for a number of reasons, only one of which is caring for my aging parents in a way that a child never should have to experience!!
Nevertheless, the most difficult thing I am faced with each time I come ‘home’ is my lost youth. Like many in their 40s I am regularly horrified at my age. For some reason it often surprises me, as if I have not taken any part in the last 20 years, but suddenly awoken to find myself nearing middle age and having missed out on the intervening years.
On top of the usual aging angst experienced by my contemporaries, my current size and shape adds to my antipathy. As a result, being here in my hometown makes me ponder not only what I have achieved professionally and personally since I left for university at 17 years of age, and the loss of my youth, but also the superficiality of my lost ‘looks’.
Coming across people who have not seen me since I left my hometown for University is the most confronting. This visit alone, I have come across a number who last saw me in 1985 at which time I weighed about 50 kilograms, was in State-level basketball squads and doing some modeling.
I now weigh about 125 kilograms. I can’t walk without getting shin-splints and when I look in the mirror the face staring back at me is puffy and weathered.
Last week my mother relayed a conversation she had with a hospital staffer and mother of a fellow (former) student, which went something like…. “my Anne is very big too, and ….” Obviously I was the ‘too’ to which she referred!
Then I was on a short walk yesterday when I came across someone I vaguely knew from my school days. She was leaving the local hockey fields with a teenage daughter. We stopped and talked briefly. I tried really hard not to feel self-conscious about the way I looked and contemplated the idea of making some throw-away comment about a recent injury which would explain (at least) the most recent 25 kilogram weight gain.
I have recently become re-connected via Facebook with some University friends. Although I started putting on a bit of weight by 1990, I was still under / around 70 kilograms when I graduated. A couple of friends have suggested catching up in person and – for the same reasons I avoid my hometown and those from my youth – I have made a number of excuses to those (particularly male friends) who suggest meeting.
Again I am surprised that, although I am too embarrassed for people to see me like this, that shame cannot motivate me to commit seriously to dieting or weight loss.
And, here in my hometown as I come across people I haven’t seen for over 20 years, the worst part is imagining the ensuing conversations; those between the people I have seen with other friends and counterparts I once knew…. Commenting on my weight. My size. What I have become. It makes me wonder what is worse: my own disappointment with my weight and wasted life; or that of others.