I am jealous person and a terrible frenemy. I am not proud of myself. It has always been important to me to lift up other people, to support them in their efforts and encourage them. A friend of mine has been on an extremely successful weight loss journey this year and, as I have watched her progress and applauded her success, deep down I have been troubled. I am feeling envious and thinking spiteful thoughts. This negativity is not only uncharacteristic of me, it is shameful. Wanting to understand the root of my jealousy – I know it lies 100% within me and has absolutely nothing to do with my friend – I have been doing a good deal of soul searching. Over the last few months I have been paying attention to my thoughts and emotions, making mental notes of the things which trigger my strongest negative reactions, and believe I am understanding my own feelings of jealousy better.
Most of the people currently in my life – my boyfriend, my coworkers, all the people I see on a regular basis – never knew me at 290 pounds. The people who did know me at that size have all adjusted to the way I look now, having not seen me at my largest in many years. I still have quite a bit of weight to lose but that change won’t be as dramatic as the changes my friend is seeing. It won’t be as dramatic as when I dropped from 290 to 180 pounds in 2010. The days of people being truly astonished by my progress are mostly over. People may still occasionally comment on my weight loss but I’m no longer going from morbidly obese to healthy. Furthermore, my nearly constant ups and downs over and my struggle to reach my goal has left me with the feeling that nobody (least of all myself) has much confidence in my ability to truly succeed. As a result, I feel like my weight loss journey is yesterday’s news.
In the early days of my weight loss, it was such a thrill to hear people comment on my transformation. My metamorphosis was remarkable, garnering a lot of positive attention. I didn’t want or want to need accolades or validation from other people but I would be lying if I didn’t admit to fantasizing about it long before I actually started losing weight. I imagine that’s common – envisioning people’s ecstatic and awestruck reactions, being showered with praise and adulation. When it happens, it feels amazing. It is almost addictive and, while I didn’t realize it until now, I grew to need it. Watching my friend get all of that positive (and well-deserved) attention, reading the comments on her social media posts expressing awe at the change and congratulations on her success, I am seething with jealousy.
I will never have that again and I have realized, through my friend’s success, just how much I will miss it. It is painful, hurting my heart in a way I never could have anticipated. In so many ways, my weight loss journey has defined me for the past eight years – it was the single greatest personal accomplishment of my life. Now it feels like no big deal. Watching my friend experience all those amazing firsts, earn the supportive praise, I have realized just how important those things were to my positive attitude and determination to keep going.
I have had my heyday. I have had my attention, my accolades, my awe and congratulations. That part of my journey is behind me. I have to make peace with that and I can not allow it to bring out the worst in me, to make me someone I never wanted to be – a bitter, envious and catty person. I have to find my positive attitude and my determination elsewhere. Deep down, I want my friend to experience the happiness she is no doubt feeling now. I know what that happiness feels like and I would want that for anyone who has had to be made to feel subhuman because they wore their pain and trauma on the outside, in the form of fat, for all the world to judge and criticize. I would be ashamed of my jealousy if I didn’t take the time to understand it. Having insight into its source; however, I realize I need to be gentle with myself and understanding. As much as I wish I didn’t feel this way, I have to own these feelings, see them for what they are and be accountable. I also realize the need to encourage myself, to recognize the changes I am making and celebrate them even if I am celebrating alone. This is another phase of my journey, possibly a quieter and more personal one, and that’s ok.