For me the photo was a reminder of just how far I’d let myself go. Yes, it’s wonderful to measure how far I’ve come, but denial is very much a part of weight gain. If I had been facing up to how much I was eating or that my excuses for not exercising were lame, or that the dress I bought had become a generous size 20, I wouldn’t have dug myself in so deep. As I looked at the picture I found myself wishing someone had tied me down and duct-taped my mouth shut.
That day I realized that as a result of my past self-editing, when I come to the end of this journey in February 2013, I will have problems finding "before" pictures of myself. But even worse: I can’t go back and put myself into all those photographs of my son growing up. I suppose I could Photoshop myself in, but talk about pathetic.
If I had it to do again, I would want to be in the pictures of my kid’s childhood photos, no matter what my size. At the baseball game, the birthday party, even the beach. Some things matter way more than physical appearance, but really my invisibility wasn’t just about my weight. I was clearly in pain and I hated being reminded of that. My eyes were so weary and I looked so…old.
Even with the 47 pounds I’ve lost I’m still not completely comfortable with having
my photo taken. I still fight not to focus in on my faults first, or how far I have to go still. But I like my smile, and the jowls beneath my jawbone are gone. This past Halloween, for the first the first time in a long time, I handed my camera to someone and said, “Can you take a picture of me and Julia in our costumes?” Yes, this is an everyday occurrence for some people, but a miracle for me.
And most important, I’ve reappeared in the photographic history of my son’s life, and not just hiding my bulk behind him but standing next to him. Two years from now, don’t be surprised if you see me inserting myself between him and his prom date in their formal portraits.
“Carlos, who’s that old broad in every photo?”
“Oh, that’s just my Mom.”
Ain’t no stopping me now, gente.