My mom told me that when her and my father got engaged, she was a little nervous about it. So she milled it over in her head for a while and told me that the way she looked at it, as soon as she told her friends and family, it would become real. You can’t backtrack after you drop major news, right?
So I’ve taken this mentality about my surgery- even though I haven’t had an official consultation from a surgeon yet, I am absolutely 100% positive that I am going through with this surgery. I don’t care if these surgeons end up telling me they don’t have room for me, I’ll go somewhere else. Barring some kind of medical catastrophe to keep me from it, this surgery is mine.
The first person I told was my sister. I was watching TV with her and every time I tried to make the words come out of my mouth, I felt absolutely sick. I probably sat there a whole hour, forming the words with my mouth, trying to force them out. Sweaty nauseous and dizzy, I finally uttered the phrase that I had never said out loud before: “I’m having gastric bypass surgery” I couldn’t believe myself- why was I so nervous to tell my own sister something that I’m happy about?
Because telling people makes it real.
Every time I’ve told someone since then, the prospect of my surgery becomes closer and closer- not in time, but perhaps closer to my heart; more a part of myself. This IS happening.
I went for coffee at my grandparents’ house the other morning, and as I stared down at my cup during a lull in conversation, the same feeling worked its way up inside of me that I had felt the day before with my sister. As my mom stood out of view, wide eyed, prompting me to spill the beans, a smile grew on my face. I love my 90- year- old grandparents like second parents. Or maybe I love them like children. They have been through so much in the past ten years- my grandma had breast cancer when I was thirteen and just last winter my papa had emergency open heart surgery. My first instinct is always to protect them, as they have spent their entire lives doing for us- my entire family. They care so much about all of us; I think they really see us as pieces of themselves that will live on after they’re gone. As much as I knew the news of surgery might worry them a little, I know that they’re ultimately concerned with my health and my happiness and my hope and ambition for the future. At first when I told them, they were a little confused. But when I explained the process and the effects it will have on me, the same smile emerged on their faces. Honestly, it was the best I’ve felt since I began my process last week. It’s weird because thus far, I’ve wanted reassurance as a confidence booster for myself, but with my grandparents, I wanted to give them confidence in me.
I told my best friend Liz next. She’s not tiny, but hardly as overweight as myself. She acted puzzled when I told her. “Well aren’t you gonna have to like, work out?” was the bulk of what she had to say about it.
It’s not a really great feeling to get doubt when you’re expecting support. I don’t know what about my personality would make my friend think that I’m not capable of achieving a task I set my mind to. Maybe it’s something about her personality; that’s all I can hope. After this talk with Liz, I concluded a few things about telling my friends and family about my decision:
Not everyone is going to give me the reaction I want, but It’s important for me to remember to be patient with my loved ones. They haven’t lived my life as a 300+ pound person, and they haven’t been to the doctors with me, or done the research I’ve done. They may not realize the far-reaching impact this surgery is going to have on so many aspects of my life. Furthermore, they may be puzzled by my news for a number of reasons. Turns out Liz didn’t actually know what gastric bypass was, and assumed that I was referring to liposuction. In that case, I can hardly blame her for her reaction. My mom told me that she’s had a few friends who have undergone the surgery, and she admitted that she was unsure of how to react to it. She said that she hesitated to act overly excited, not wanting to make the person feel like this was such an improvement from their disgusting past image. On top of that, a lot of times people have this surgery in the wake of a lot of bad weight- related news. You’re not exactly throwing a party when you find out your diabetes and blood pressure are out of control.
But I’m 19. I’m healthy. I have a bright future, and I AM throwing a party.
Just this little encounter with Liz has opened my eyes to reactions I could face when everyone i know finds out about my surgery. But This is MY journey. not theirs. I am responsible for myself, my actions, and my future. I am capable of facing down a challenge. I do not need approval or reassurance that I am making the right choice from anyone besides my doctors. I am strong, and I have the support of my family. That is enough for me. People may not understand what this surgery is going to entail. They may jump to conclusions, or even say hurtful things. They may think that I’m copping out by having surgery instead of just relying on diet an exercise. I can’t make everyone understand what this surgery means to me, and I can’t convince everyone that I’m doing the right thing. I am going to have a lot to deal with over the next year and for the rest of my life, and I don’t have enough time or energy to care about everyone’s opinions. It’s not my burden to change everyone’s opinion- my commitment is to myself.