Lest We Forget
I used to cringe when I saw photos of Fat Jean, but now I want to hug that unhappy girl and tell her that life is good. When I look in the mirror now, I see a "normal" sized woman who strangers would never guess had once been morbidly obese. I think we all need to remember where we came from, and to forgive ourselves for our pre-op weight loss failures. But halfway through the first sentence of this article, I thought of an equally important aspect of Memorial Day that turned this article's theme upside down.
The meaning of "lest we forget" is more complicated than you might think. It represents more than three sappy words and planting a flag and a geranium on your grandfather's grave. It expresses an important message for a bariatric patient like me and you.
The phrase "lest we forget" forms the refrain of "Recessional," a poem by Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936). It warns about the perils of hubris and the inevitable decline of British imperial power. After World War l, "lest we forget" passed into common usage as a plea not to forget past sacrifices and was often used on war memorials and as an epitaph on tombstones. So it’s an appropriate title for a Memorial Day article.
Hubris is the extreme haughtiness, pride and arrogance that makes us think we're as invincible and all-powerful as Great Britain thought it was back in the days when it was taking charge of big countries (India) and small (Singapore) all over the world. One of my jobs in life is to resist the urge to be conceited about my weight loss success and to remember that I’m not invincible. I don’t ever want to lose sight of the fat girl deep inside me who's just waiting to get out again.
Losing 100 pounds is such an enormous accomplishment that at times it seems like the most magnificent and significant achievement of my entire life. I'm justifiably proud of that achievement, but having weight loss surgery is not a guarantee of continued weight loss and weight maintenance success. As a boss once told me on the occasion of my promotion to management, "Remember, you're only as good as your last act." In other words, my great performance won me a place on the stage, but I'm going to have to repeat that performance over and over again in order to stay on the stage. WLS is a wonderful tool that will improve my ability to manage my weight for another 30 or 40 years, but it doesn't make me bullet-proof.
Weight loss is no longer the centerpiece of my life, and I think that's a healthy thing. Some days I even ask myself why I'm still writing about eating, obesity and weight management. Why can't I let go of it? What will happen to me if I run out of things to say about it? But while I'd like to know the future, or at least know it will be a happy one, a long, straight road with the same scenery for mile after mile sounds boring to me. I'll stay on this road, with its twists and turns and steep hills, and trust God to keep me from getting too far off course. Writing about obesity is one of the things that keeps me going in the right direction. When other bariatric patients ask me questions about how to live and succeed with the adjustable gastric band, it forces me to think, and being forced to think is much healthier, and more interesting, than switching on the cruise control for the rest of my life.
Along the road to your weight goal, I hope that you, too, will be able to acquire new interests and activities that you can take with you into your new life as a "normal" weight person, but don't forget to look backward every now and then. Don't throw out all the fat photos and fat clothes. They're memorials to your past obesity.