It Was Never Enough...
As we enter into a new year, I have been reflecting on my life, my accomplishments and failures. One of my accomplishments was being able to lose 220 pounds and successfully maintain my weight loss for nearly eight years. In 2017, I decided it was time to remove all of that extra skin hanging around so I elected to have a lower body lift along with a male breast reduction which I often refer it to as my chest reconfiguration. Until recently, I was feeling pretty good about myself. Everyone said I looked great and was praising me for my determination and commitment. Then one morning as I was looking in mirror, I did not like what I was seeing. Things did not look right. I admit that I gained a few pounds- ten to be exact- but I just did not like how I looked. I even met with my plastic surgeon to discuss some additional procedures to consider. Why was I feeling this way? Why is it never enough?
A few months ago, I got hooked and began binge-watching Feud. Feud is a cable TV series about the lifelong love/hate relationship between screen legends Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. In one particular scene, Davis asks Crawford, “How did it feel being the most beautiful girl in the world?” Crawford replied, “It was wonderful! The most joyous thing you could ever imagine but it was never enough.” It was never enough. For some reason, those words stayed with me. Why?
In 2011, when I decided to have my weight loss surgery (RNY), I had several health issues: sleep apnea, high blood pressure and lymphedema along with a few others. I was 42 years old and I knew if I did not change my lifestyle, I was going to die prematurely. I took the classes, met the doctors and had my physiological evaluation. You don’t have to be Eisenstein to know not to go into the evaluation and say you want to have surgery to look like Taye Diggs. You have to say that you want to get healthy and life a longer life, B#llshit like that. Moreover, for me, all that was true, I wanted to get healthy and live longer but in the back of my mind, I did want to have a body like Taye Diggs and I thought that at the end of the road I would have one. Alas, I now realized I was living in a fool’s paradise. Not only did I not have a body like Taye Diggs, and I did not have other things either. I had the expectation that after the weight loss and skin removal I would also find the love of my life. Dating would be easier and I would meet more people then eventually enter into a long-term relationship. Again, I was not being realistic. I realized it is actually harder now because I have raised my standards higher. Raised my standards higher? What is that all about? A friend from high school told me that there is nothing wrong with that. He said that I eat right and workout so I deserve a person who does the same. So now, I am the person who does not give the nice overweight person the time of day? That doesn’t sound right to me either.
So back in my plastic surgeon’s office – I am asking about what I can do about this and that imperfection. He explains to me what he could do and what to expect. I am considering doing my legs and arms in efforts to complete my journey. Many people have told me that it may take several procedures to finally look complete. When I discuss the matter with some of friends, they look at me as if I am a crazy man. They tell me that I look fantastic. I don’t need any more work done or to lose additional weight. Well, they have not seen my naked. Even those who have had the opportunity to see me nude tell me that I look fine. So what is my problem? Therefore, as I struggle with my issues, guilt and a feeling of ungratefulness comes to me. I was fortunate to have been successful in my journey and I did not experience any complications. I have done everything I was supposed to do but I still feel there is a missing piece to the puzzle. Why is it never enough?
Seeing Through the Fog of Blind Expectations
Well, I believe it is the expectations we create as we begin the journey. We need to be honest on what to expect as we go through this transition. Therapist tells us over and over again that the issues we had as an overweight person do not vanish once we are thinner and we must try to resolve these issues before or during our weight loss. Back to my own expectations: I was expecting too much. Nothing comes easy. It wasn’t easy losing the weight. It wasn’t easy going through my plastic surgeries. It definitely is not easy maintaining my weight. All this requires hard work and the ability to forgive yourself. Acceptance, you need to accept who you are! Nobody is perfect and nobody ever will be. Patience, patience has always been my enemy. I want results and I want them now. I want the perfect partner and I want it now! Etc. I know that just like losing and maintaining my weight takes time and hard work. I understand that I must be happy with myself before I can make someone else happy. Realize that there is a good chance you are not going to look exactly what you wanted to look like at the end of the journey but remember that you are a much improved and healthier version of the person before your journey. Then maybe unlike Joan Crawford, you will come to realize that “it was enough.”
Question for the WLS Community: Have you had - or are you having - similar experiences as Kevin describes in his blog post?
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About the Author - Kevin Stephens
Kevin was born and raised in San Bernardino, CA, and currently reside in Riverside Ca. He was awarded a BS in Public Administration from the University of La Verne. Kevin has been working for Riverside County for twenty years. He loves to travel around the County and make new friends along the way.
Kevin Stephens had RNY surgery in 2011 and lost 220 pounds. He shares the story of his journey during bariatric support groups at his local hospital. He is now into fitness training and aspires to complete a 5k walk and/or run in the near future. Kevin is a member of the National Lymphedema Network (NLN) and the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC).
Highest weight: 417 Current weight: 209 Surgery date: 2/8/2011 Gastric bypass RNY Surgeon: Dr. Suh