I started this blog post over a year ago, but I never got the courage to publish it. I just couldn't bring myself to post something so honest and revealing. Though I haven't lost a pound in the year since this post was originally written, I have found a lot of peace with myself, through praying, reading, writing, and going to counseling--and even though it is still scary for me to publish this, I hope that by sharing some of my journey, I can help other women who struggle with this issue as I do.
What I’ve Gained Since High School
Last night, I went to the baby shower of an old friend. While I was getting ready, a nagging worry kept popping into my head: “What will everyone think when they see how much weight I’ve gained since high school?” The familiar ache, dread, and embarrassment stung in my chest, as I picked out the longest sweater in my closest, an effort to hide what cannot be hidden.
See, I’ve gained a lot of weight since high school. Sixty pounds to be exact. Sixty pounds that weigh on my heart and my mind like a ton. I am always aware of it, always worrying about it. Now that I live in my hometown again, I worry about whom I will run into who knew me in my former life—my “skinny life”—and what they will think when they see me.
“Man, she’s really let herself go!”
“Wow, she has gained a lot of weight.”
“I never thought that Rachel would let herself get fat.”
Just thinking about it makes me want to cry.
Though I am a very open person, this is not something that I often talk about. I have never blogged about it, and I honestly can’t believe I am blogging about it now. It’s one thing to blog about my struggle with infertility, which is not my fault and everyone knows that. It’s another thing to blog about my struggle with weight gain. It feels like such a personal failure, and somehow I think, “Maybe if I don’t say anything, no one will notice.”
But how could they not notice? Of course they notice.
As human beings, we are always sizing each other up, comparing. Who has gained and who has lost. But I’ve been thinking today that while it’s easy to see when people have gained weight, it’s not so easy to see what else they have gained along the way. The most important gains and losses in life are not visible.
And the more I thought about that, the more determined I became that I am done being ashamed of what I’ve gained in the last ten years. Because I’ve gained a lot more than just sixty pounds.
I gained a deep love and respect for persons with disabilities as I worked three summers at an Easter Seals camp in the mountains of Colorado.
I gained a closer relationship with my Heavenly Father as I took care of my mother who was dying from breast cancer and then had to tell her goodbye.
I gained a college degree in a field that I love. During my five years as a teacher, I taught 600 teenagers how to read more critically and write more analytically. I gained invaluable knowledge and skills that I will use for the rest of my life.
I gained a husband whom I love more than anyone on the planet. He makes me happy, and I make him happy, and he loves me unconditionally, +60 pounds and all.
I gained immense gratitude for my family, my health, my opportunities, my warm shower, and my washing machine as I lived in an orphanage for persons with disabilities in El Salvador. I gained relationships with the beautiful children there that have continued to bless my life as I’ve visited them almost every year since.
I gained incredibly meaningful, life-long friendships--first in my college years at BYU and then in our dental school years in Buffalo, New York.
I gained strength, faith, and empathy as I endured years of fertility treatments and adoption disappointments. And then--miraculously and mercifully--I gained a son. A precious perfect little boy whom I waited for and hoped for and fought for.
The most important gains and losses in life cannot be measured by your pants size or gauged by the quick glance of an outsider. And it is that knowledge that helps me realize that I don’t need to be embarrassed anymore.
Because a number on the scale will never be able to quantify everything that I have gained since high school.