More Than a Before
I lost the weight before,
100 pounds shed.
Forgotten were my adolescent days of starvation,
Purging myself down to 89 pounds; wheelchair bound.
Adulthood is different,
Fat is shameful, unhealthy.
Fat is sweaty, lazy, disgusting.
Fat is funny.
Because I was fat,
And lost 100 pounds,
People were proud.
I was a success story.
I made public my journey.
I was in the fucking newspaper.
For being fat and stopping.
As if I had won an award.
The letters came, begging for advice,
Which I handed out like Halloween candy.
It’s easy, I responded.
Just work hard, eat right.
You can do this if you try! Love your body.
I never loved my body.
I hid inside well-being.
Obsession concealed behind a thin veil of health.
Always worried about the next morsel.
Addicted to the drug of… health food?
I crossed the bridge into fear.
Fear of failure and disappointment.
No one had ever been so proud of me,
As they were when I was shrinking.
Swimming in accolades,
Praise fueling my journey.
My story became boring,
The applause faded, have I failed?
Stay where you are, my mantra.
I searched for satisfaction in thinness,
In flesh that felt foreign.
My doctor said I was not thin enough,
I needed to disappear a little more.
A stranger at church said with certainty I was 30 pounds away,
From a goal she deemed appropriate,
Apparently 130 pounds is the magic number,
For those of us with vaginas.
Then hormone treatments started,
And the baby didn’t come.
And the binge eating started,
And the weight poured on,
Rubber cement inside my skin.
And I stopped giving a damn.
The pleas for advice stopped cold,
I was worthy no longer.
My knowledge had slipped away,
With my thinness.
I lament about being fat,
You’re not fat, you’re beautiful, they say.
I want to scream,
WHY CAN’T I BE BOTH?
I compare myself to where I was.
To an ass that was once firm and high.
What body dysmorphia had hidden from me,
Appreciated in hindsight.
Now my portions are judged,
Food taken from my hands.
Health and thinness have been married,
Though the two are not mutually exclusive.
You’ll get back there, they say.
But what if I don’t want to go?
What if I lack the desire
Or the energy to re-walk that path?
I am tolerant of the idea of being big,
Acceptance far removed from complacency.
I want to stop apologizing for my body,
To stop needing to tell my story.
A story that says, this is only my temporary body,
I used to be better than this.
To quit using self-deprecating humor,
To beat to the punch of hurtful words.
I wish to be proud of my heart,
Of my mind, soul, and creativity.
Pride in those alone,
Should be enough.
I want to exercise without the expectation,
Of weight-loss goals.
I want to shed the shame of buying plus-sizes,
An offense I once felt punishable by death.
I want health.
Not anorexia, bulimia, or orthorexia.
Not body dysmorphia, binge eating disorder, or shame,
Not torture to have a body not meant to be mine,
Not sacrificing mental health for thinness.
I am more than my body.
I am more than a before.
©Kelsey Butcher 2017