The Weight in the Mirror

Letting Go #16

I look in the mirror these days and see a stranger. Cliche, I know. The twist is that I see a DIFFERENT stranger every day. Sometimes I’m bloated so much that I’m reminded of Graham Greene’s Toad. Sometimes I’m dehydrated enough to have lots of wrinkles and lines from where I slept the night before. Before you think that I suffer from mental delusions, let me just say that although therapy might still be a good idea, I’m also knocking on the Crone’s door of the big M, and my mafia immune system has put out a hit on my thyroid.

And nearly fifty years spent loving food and drink doesn’t help, either. I grew up in a family of foodies. We may not have enjoyed much else, but we always indulged in the best and freshest food we could find, much of it homegrown and homemade. I was lucky to have a very high metabolism as a kid–there are pictures of me in miniskirts with toothpick legs. In fact, I was painfully thin at times. Since I’m 5’8” and like to breathe when I wear clothes, I could camouflage from myself a good deal of the bloating and weight gain during bouts of depression and the postpartum polka.

I had a wake-up call in my mid-thirties that motivated me to join a gym and take up running. Then I moved to the country to work a 3,000 square-foot garden and maintain three acres of very healthy weeds/grass with a walk-behind mower. All was undone on the eve of my fortieth year when the first vague symptoms of my thyroid disease reared their ugly heads. It would take years to diagnose, but after dutifully chugging down my thyroid med every morning, I’ve been comfortable with my weight, although it’s been steadily creeping up every year.

Unfortunately, avoiding mirrors and photos won’t work anymore, now that I’m video chatting with my college daughter every week and taking my own profile photos for the internet. The camera (and webcam) doesn’t lie. A recent high school reunion that I couldn’t attend had me wondering whether anyone would look in my face and recognize that painfully thin teenager from thirty-one years ago?

I’m always shocked at how different my mental image is from a real good hard look at myself in the mirror, or on the computer. Is that really me? It’s a puzzle. The answer, I suspect, is once again the theme for the blog this year. I’m working on letting go of the old images rattling around in my head, and embracing the baby steps of self-care and healthy habits. If I can stick to it, we’ll have to see what I look like as a healthy person. I hope I’ll recognize me.

Something about the eyes, perhaps?