A Cautionary Tale

Female, 46

As a young child I grew to hate the word “chubby.” It didn’t help matters to have a younger sister who was cute and very petite. Every adult gushed over her; they smiled and called me “The Campbell Soup Kid”. One of my earlier memories was at the swimming pool at age 10 years and a friend calling me over and telling me to shake my legs. I didn’t know why until she started laughing with another friend and pointed to the fat on my inner thighs shaking long after I had stopped.

My Mom used to look pointedly at me as I would help myself to another helping at dinner and would say “Are you sure you need that”. The guilt would play and I’d meekly put my fork down and leave the dinner table, only to sneak back later and eat twice the amount of whatever I was going to have that second helping of.

During college years I lost the weight, dated a few guys and met my future husband at the age of eighteen years. Someone was interested in me. I settled. Two daughters later and a husband who worked a lot of late hours, I was lonely and had some depression. Ironically my weight was the majority of the problem. I remember joining Weight Watchers for probably the third time and announcing it to my husband. His reply to me “I hope you actually do something this time”. Pretty crushing words.

I finally figured out he was having an affair and it’s funny, I was devastated. Panicked…tried to save the marriage and went for counseling. Just one problem stood in the way..well more than one. He would never admit to having an affair (or affairs I should say) and two…I panicked more out of a need for security. I knew I could not stay in a marriage without trust and so I told him to leave. I cried on the living room sofa for a week, as my young daughters tried to make “mommy” feel better by stroking my head, cuddling with me and trying to make soup for me. I put my own grief first and did not allow myself to think of their grief and for that I will always feel so bad. I finally sat up, thought to myself that I had better do something besides wallow in my grief and so I joined a gym.

I never looked back. I grew to love exercising and with that love, my body transformed from one of no shape to a firm, toned body. I dated and dated and settled once again, though I was smart enough not to have him move in with me. I broke it off after a number of years and joined the dating pool again. Funny though, deep down I struggled with my body image. I knew I was attractive looking but I felt like a chameleon who had just happened to jump on a rock of a different colour for a while and would have to go back to the old rock sooner or later. I felt like I was keeping a huge secret from anyone I dated.

I did meet a wonderful man and figured I had found true love. Then six months into the relationship something happened. I was at work one day and noticed that when I turned my forearm a certain way it created extra skin and wrinkles. It set off a small alarm inside my head but I continued on with my day. A few days later I had my arm stretched out and felt the underarm, just above the elbow. My skin wasn’t as tight as it had been a few days ago. More alarms were going off. I went to doctor after doctor, dermatologists to plastic surgeons and the answer was the same. “Sorry, yes, it does happen to some people”. My skin had lost a portion of it’s collagen (elasticity) at a very fast rate. What normally takes years for most people happened practically overnight on me. It ran it’s course throughout my body. When it first started I told this wonderful man that I needed to talk with him. I told him everything and then waited for him to find an excuse to leave the relationship. He didn’t. He said some very simple yet powerful words. “I love you inside and out”. He has been supportive of me. I do not like to talk about it and he does not force it.

Now, forward a year, and I was still so emotionally devastated over what had happened with my skin. I decided on a tummy tuck, a leg lift and lipo on the inner thighs. A major operation. My fiance (yes, we became engaged) told me that he did not notice changes to my skin and that he loved me the way I was but that if I was unhappy he would support me. It is now almost three months post op. What should have been a two week period of recuperating time turned out to be over two months. My legs have not healed. I have pain, my legs are hypersensitive to any type of touch. I cannot wear pants or shorts. At this point I constantly wear dresses. An MRI is booked to see if there is nerve damage from the liposuction. That is what they are suspecting. Nerve damage can take over a year to regenerate or it sometimes does not regenerate at all. So now a different kind of guilt? That I was so vain and in the end karma dealt me what I deserved? That I spent this money frivolously and without thought to anything else? I don’t know. Yes, of course vanity plays a role in all of this. I did sacrifice while raising my daughters, as my ex husband and his new wife (yes, the one he cheated on me with but denied all wrongdoing) decided not to pay child support. I am in pain everyday, my legs still look loose and soft (the plastic surgeon said my legs would not make a huge difference as I didn’t have a lot of fat on my body) and am I feeling better about myself? No.

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Copyright Ark Stories 2011


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