Monday, August 20, 2007

My Lovely Wife Weighs In . . .

When I first met Sean on August 2nd, 2003, there was no hiding the fact that he was a big man. He was a big man in every way though – big man, big smile, big laugh, big heart. I count my blessings every day that we happened to meet and that I have always been able to see him for who and what he is and not just what size he happened to be at the time.

Truth be told, I never really thought his weight had ever really complicated our lives much outside of choosing a table instead of a booth at a restaurant and sitting really close on planes. Even on an intimacy level, our mental and emotional connection always seemed to make up for what our physical life was lacking. It wasn’t until the outside world reminded with a dirty look or a completely inappropriate question or comment that I realized that we weren’t the “average” couple.

When Sean asked me to share with you the changes I have felt either indirectly or directly due to this life change, I thought I didn’t really have anything to share. Our relationship has never really focused on or been centered around food so, I don’t have the typical complaints that I hear from other spouses about not being able to eat this or that together or having to prepare two separate meals. In fact, anytime Sean needs something different than what Ava and I are eating, he prepares it himself. Actually, he does most of the grocery shopping for our household. I don’t have a single complaint as relates to meals or meal planning and preparation. Our relationship also hasn’t changed the way most people assume it would with such a huge weight loss. I don’t suddenly find him sexier. We are not like newlyweds again. I have always found Sean sexy regardless of his weight.

Since Sean’s gastric bypass five months ago, Sean has experienced a world of change that I can only try to understand and relate to. I, Sean’s wife and partner, have only really experienced major change is two areas.

One, the way we deal with stress and two, watching the world catch up.
Food has always been Sean’s best friend and shoulder to cry on when the life was stressful. Food meant comfort. Falling in love, getting married, joining households, starting a family, those are all things that while they may bring great joy, they also bring great stress. I remember days when Sean would work a twelve hour day, commute over an hour and then try to race home to be a husband. On those days, when life just really got to him, he’d walk in reeking of fast food and ask “what’s for dinner?” like I was somehow oblivious to the fact that he needed that french-fry fix to help shake off the day so he didn’t bring it home with him. That’s just the way it was. It was something he learned and something that stuck with him into adulthood. Like a drug addict needing a fix, he needed food to soothe him. He’s worked so hard and come such a long way and I am so very, very proud of him. However, he never really learned how to deal with the inevitable stress that is life. So, it’s a struggle, for him and for us to try to find a new way….and we’re getting there bit by bit.

Outside of figuring out how to deal with stress, the biggest change that I have the privilege of witnessing is the outside world finally seeing Sean the way I’ve always seen him. I wouldn’t believe it unless I’d seen it with my own eyes, but Sean has been treated so differently because of his size. People used to look through him. People used to make the most insane assumptions and feel free to make the most hurtful comments and ask truly insensitive questions. It really would not be tolerated if Sean was being treated this way because of his religion or ethnicity. At times I’ve been struck speechless and at other times I’ve just wanted to strike someone speechlss. Sean learned to just ignore it and somehow always be the better person. I’m not that strong. I can say that after the 140 lbs. plus weight loss that he’s experienced, the world is finally treating him like the kind, sensitive, intelligent man that he is. I am both angered and delighted when people now ask if he’d like help in a retail store or when someone actually looks at him enough to realize that he’s gotten new glasses or a different haircut. People no longer look quizzically when I say “we’re together” while waiting to be seated. It’s about time.

I know I shouldn’t get so angry, but if you’re lucky enough to know Sean, you know that your life is richer because he’s in it and to see him somehow discounted simply because of his size….well, it just breaks my heart.
I know that every person’s struggles are different, that vastly different life events have brought you each individually to this place. But, the one thing all who have undergone gastric bypass and the people who love them can collectively celebrate is that somehow, someway, you’ve made it here. You’ve hit reset. You get the chance to dream bigger and better. In spite of the struggles you may encounter along the way, write this new chapter in your life as a love letter to your mom, your dad, your children, your spouse, but most of all to YOU.

Having the chance at a long, healthy, happy life is worth every minor inconvenience you may have to endure.


Giuli said...

Nice to hear from you, Joy!

from your fans at Plaid...

Tom said...

A very lovely and well written letter. Congratulations to you and to Sean! Donna D.