Saturday, July 3, 2010

Dem Bones

Several nights ago, I was lying in bed and placed my hand on the upper abdominal area. I didn't think about what I was doing, but I was shocked to find that I could feel the entire lower ridge of my rib cage. It has been a very long time since I could feel these bones from any position. I will hasten to add that I'm still very fat and it's only my disproportionate upper body loss and the prone position I was in that allowed me to feel my ribs at this time and weight.

There are many women who are losing weight who are absolutely thrilled when they discover their bones emerging under their skin. Some of them have an almost pornographic fascination with fondling their newly palpable collar and pelvic bone ridges. More of my bone structure is starting to emerge and it's pretty much something I'm indifferent to. In fact, my tailbone is actually causing me difficulty because it's becoming more uncomfortable to sit as the padding on my posterior thins, so this whole bone thing isn't exactly part of the scenic wonder I enjoy on what many people refer to as the "weight loss journey".

Seeing and feeling my bones isn't something about weight loss that I have found particularly meaningful, but suddenly discovering that I could feel my rib cage had a strange emotional impact on me, and it wasn't a good one. I had a strong feeling of vulnerability and exposure. It was probably more shocking to discover my rib cage area because this is where my heart and lungs are located, and the sense that they were so much nearer to the surface made me feel uncomfortable, as if they would now be easier to reach and harm.

A lot of people reject the psychological notion that people gain weight as a physical or emotional shield. The reason they feel that way is that it seems too abstract. After all, being fat doesn't really protect you from being hurt. Several nights ago, I had an experience which was profound and palpable which told me that weight very much can feel like added protection from harm. That doesn't mean that I'm going to stop trying to reduce my weight, but I think there is value in being aware of what I'm losing along with layers of padding. I'm losing something that made me feel protected and secure on some level, and I'm going to have to find a way to compensate for that loss. If I don't face this aspect, I'll be more inclined to regain weight in the future.


As an aside, this sudden ability to feel my rib cage inspired me to weigh myself prematurely. I weighed myself last 16 days before this incident and weighed 260 lbs. I thought that this change was odd and sudden, but my weight was 255 at the time of this incident so there actually was no sudden drop precipitating the ability to feel my rib cage.

I note this in part because I feel grateful that my weight loss is so relatively steady, linear, and has gone "as expected". That is, I continue to lose about 2 lbs. a week, which is pretty much what my goal is until I approach 200 lbs. (at which point, I expect it to drop closer to 1 lb. per week). I'm grateful that my body has been so cooperative, especially when I read so frequently that others have far less fortune.


Colleen said...

Weird syncronicity. Just a few days ago, I also discovered my rib cage, and I also found my reaction surprising (though in a different way).

Joy, excitement, even indifference... I would have understood more than what I found.

Fascination, but a detached almost morbid fascination. As if I were exploring a body that didn't belong to me.

And I guess that's closest to the truth. The body that is emerging is very different than the one I've had (and even the one I hoped to have when I was younger).

It's like finding myself living in a strange, new house (one that I didn't pick out).

There's nothing wrong with this house, my rennovations just aren't always turning out as I expected them too (I didn't really expect to lose 12 inches in my bust, 5 inches in my waist, and only 2 inches in my hips). It's like intending to add an extra bathroom, and discovering that you instead have a second kitchen - who needs a second kitchen?

I can relate to the unprotectedness, even if I haven't yet experienced it with my body, but I have experienced it in new homes. It takes a while to feel safe in a new home. I never sleep well for the first week or two in a new apartment. All the new sounds, the different smell, the disorientation of having my stuff in a "different" arrangement.

Weight loss is like moving into a new home every few weeks. Just about the time you start to get used to things, everything has changed again.

I am looking forward to true maintenance, so that maybe I can have a body long enough to be comfortable in again.

screaming fatgirl said...

Hi, Colleen, and thank you for commenting. :-)

It is quite the coincidence that we both "found" these bones at the same time. I haven't felt detached... at least not yet. I have actually tried to form a stronger mental bond with my body throughout this process because I want to stop "disowning" it as I have for so long. In many ways, rejecting it and seeing it as something alien and combative has been with me for most of my life. I always felt my body betrayed me rather than my betraying it. "Owning it" is part of my process of seeing the stronger connection between my actions and the consequences.

Your analogy about a new house and renovations is a very good one. I think it illustrates the feeling you're conveying very well, and I'm sure many people share that feeling (and I may yet have that same sense despite my efforts).

If it makes you feel any better, I'm losing in a manner which is quite proportional to how you are - mostly on top, then the middle, and last the bottom. I'm starting to feel like a teardrop. :-p

NewMe said...

When I was in my 20s, I briefly reached a weight I was really happy with. However, I remember looking in the mirror and thinking that my arms actually looked too thin and weak. I was never afraid for my personal safety, though.

Fast forward 30 odd years and I am both heavier and a lot more vulnerable, due to arthritis, not weight. I can now no longer run, no matter how dire the situation. I almost never go out alone at night, even though I live in a "nice" neighbourhood in a relatively low-crime city. This makes me really sad.

screaming fatgirl said...

I never thought about running, or being more vulnerable due to infirmities, but I've also been fat most of my life and never could run worth a darn anyway so the idea of "escape" isn't really in the front of my mind. Of course, any sense of being fatter (and therefore being bigger) being more secure is not real, so the logic of not being able to run away would never enter the picture for me.

When I was in my early 20's and lost a lot of weight, the main thing that happened was that men started to say things they hadn't before about my body. I really did not care for that and it made me feel strange. I was never hit on much though, because even at my thinnest, I was still fat, though not nearly as fat as I thought I was.

For me, I think that a lot of this relates to the vulnerability I had to emotional attacks as a child, and the way in which my mother heaped responsibility on me from a very young age. I think it was she who I was trying to get bigger and gain protection against by gaining weight since she was the first one to start attacking. I've also read that children of alcoholics (my father is an alcoholic) also often are overweight because of the instability they face everyday. Frankly, this probably relates to why I am more afraid of change than the average person.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I really appreciate it!

Dr Eric Berg said...

thanks for sharing your thoughts. its worth reading. hope to read more from you. goodluck