In the Eye of the Beholder?

Reclaiming beauty is a strange idea for me. I have thought about this for a long time and I have to wonder if I ever will be able to reclaim what I have searched and have yet to find within myself.

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder…”  even as the beholder I do not consider myself beautiful in anyway.

I never learned to accept myself. It was never taught to me, is beauty taught? I firmly believe, yes it is taught.  In my heart I believe beauty is both taught to us through loving relationships we have with parents and through what society deems is acceptable.

The first idea - through loving parents - I had very little knowledge of; I was the outcast of my family. I was always told I was not wanted, needed, or would amount to anything. All of these words haunt my very being. After many years of getting these types of negative messages our brain learns to accept what may or may not be true.

The second, through what society deems acceptable, is splashed everywhere we look, things we listen to – words of songs, television commercials show society many ways in which we are “suppose” to be beautiful. Also there is a more direct way society shows us what is acceptable; that is with glances, whispers, pointing, and blatant comments.

I weighed 525 lbs – not due to a physical condition. But because I never learned to care about myself, in my mind I was never worth caring about. So more of a mental acceptance of myself.

My life was to the point where the basics in life were impaired; walking, breathing. I was having a very hard time participating in my children’s lives. This of course had a huge (no pun intended) impact on my own life. I was told I was morbidly obese.  Oh the times I heard that statement from doctors…did they not realize I saw how big I was?

It was diet after diet, fad after fad. Until it became so apparent to me that if I did not lose weight I would die. But a large part (again no pun intended) had already died.

I was offered to have a medical surgery to make my stomach smaller. However I had to, on my own, lose 100 lbs. go through psychological testing and counseling. The surgery was a major decision; I knew I wanted to be that smaller person that I had deep inside of me screaming to escape with every breath I took.

I lost the 100 lbs and went through all the testing. That was many years ago and I have lost much weight from the surgery. I still have weight to lose. I have lost so much weight that the access skin hangs in the front, almost down to mid thigh. This has caused many problems: back problems, rashes and again acceptance. Why acceptance? Because I still do not meet the definition of beauty in my eyes. All I see is the grotesque way my body now looks.

Why not be positive? I offend ask myself. The answer is simple; the stares, the glances, the comments. Why can’t I look at this part of my body as a trophy of what I have accomplished? I have yet to accept myself as ever able to be beautiful or anything close to that.

I have been approved for another surgery. This time to have all the excess skin removed. Which means an incision that would start from about 4 inches past my hipbone to my back side all the way across my entire abdomen to my other hip and 4 inches to behind it. It wouldgo from above the navel in one cut and down to pubic area with the second cut. That would be stitched/stapled with 100’s of stitches and or staples. So I went to two plastic surgeons for opinions and advise.

Neither would consider the surgery, not because they didn’t think I needed it, but because my body would most likely not survive the surgery. The 1st doctor said 80% complication rate including death. The 2nd dr had a different opinion; he said 100% complication rate. Both agreed that if surgery were to be done I would have to go to a nursing facility for up to 6 months to heal. The reason for such a high complication rate is because due to a real physical medical problem, adrenal insufficiency, I am on large doses of steroids. These steroids are so that my adrenal glands, located on top of my kidneys work properly to give signals to other body organs to produce chemicals that my body needs to survive with.

Ending hopes that I would ever be rid of the unwanted trophy I had acquired. The very trophy that reminds me each moment how ugly I am. Even to myself to the point where I use the bathroom in the dark. Hope forever gone that I would be beautiful. In my own eyes as well as in societies eyes. Because no matter how we say it may not matter it does matter how we are perceived or not perceived.

I worked with my doctor for over a year to try to ween my body off the steroids to see if my adrenal glands would start to work so that surgery could safely be preformed. Without the added complication rate of being on steroids. The dosage was lowered ever so gradually to only end up being raised again. Due to my body not being able to produce the chemicals it needs. I am now back on highest dose I was originally on.

The ending of this story is hard. Because if I had a true choice even knowing all the complications I would have the surgery. To try to achieve the body image that is acceptable and beautiful to me and those around me. I dream of what this would be like. So when approached about the #ReclaimBeauty project I wanted people to know my story, that to me beauty is indeed in the eyes of the beholder but how do we learn to accept what in our own minds is unattainable?

- Deb