Letter to a Friend

Hey,

Your mother asked if I’d write you a letter to encourage you to start making some changes. Don’t be angry with her. I know that feeling of rage and embarrassment that bubbles up when those who care about you the most want to talk about your weight. After all, aren’t they supposed to be on your side? Love you unconditionally? Isn’t it with them that you are supposed to feel safe and protected from the rest of the world? Against the people who can’t see past your size?

Their silence would be a death sentence though. It might not feel that way now. You may think they are no better than the people you feel staring in public but behind their words is love, hope, and a desire to see you live a full, long life. It’s not hate. It’s not judgement. It’s concern. It’s a concern that everyone who cares about you shares but only your mother has been brave enough to talk to you about. And now me.

I’m not writing because your mother asked me to. I’m writing because I want to find the words that will change your life. The words that will light a fire within you. I want to find the words that will let you know you’re worth it.

When you think about changing your life does it just seem too big a task? Is there a voice inside you that says “This is it. This is what you get. Other people have other lives but this is all that you’re getting. It’s all that you need?” I let that voice control my 20’s. I settled for so much less than I’m worth. I think you are too.

I can’t be sure though. Only you really know. When you lay in bed at night, right before you fall asleep, there is an in-between moment where in spite of yourself your thoughts are completely honest. For ten years the last thought that went through my head before I’d fall asleep was always the same: ‘God, I wish I deserved better than this.’

Every pound I had/have on me I put there because it’s what I thought I deserved. I thought I deserved to be saddled down, to be held back. I thought I was supposed to live a life different than everyone else. I thought I deserved to be unhappy and to be without dreams.

This week I was asked to make a bucket list of all the things I want to do now that I’m down 140 pounds. I set out to imagine my self at my goal weight. What things would I want to do then?

I couldn’t do it. At first I didn’t understand why I was having such trouble coming up with things to put on my list. I asked on Facebook and the page was full in an hour. People wanted to travel, and skydive, and do all these wild things. Why was it I couldn’t imagine myself doing any of these things?

And that’s when I learned what obesity has really cost me. It’s bigger than all the stuff I’ve been blogging about. It’s not just fear and all the doubt it brings. Obesity cost me my dreams. Worse – it cost me my ability to dream. Over ten years I trained myself not to set my sights on things my size would prevent me from accomplishing. I learned to stop dreaming so I could avoid disappointing myself. In an effort to protect myself I just stopped.

And even now – with my feet planted firmly on the road to recovery, I find it hard to admit to myself that there are things I want to do. I’m hesitant to acknowledge my goals. And because I have spent so long not really dreaming, and just accepting reality, my dreams aren’t as pie-in-the-sky as I thought they would be.

I dream of being in a relationship and feeling like an equal, rather than a guy who is just lucky that someone loves him.

I dream of challenging myself to grow – personally and professionally – to heights I’ve never imagined. I want to accomplish things I had long ago written off.

I dream of having the strength to see this challenge through. To come out the other side and know that everything I learned, all the friends I’ve met, all the sweat and tears were worth it.

I dream of falling asleep at night, and in my moment of honest thought, believing that I am actually worth everything I’m achieving now.

I dream of being free of doubt.

I’m not there yet. I’m just putting in the work, enjoying the journey, and waiting for the day all the pieces just click together and I feel whole.

I’m not telling you I think you need to lose weight. I’m telling you I think you’re missing out on more than you know. I’m telling you that I think you’re worth more.

Jay

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