Monday, May 18, 2015

Please Don't Live in Fear

Please don’t be ashamed of yourself because of how you look. Don’t let your weight or other perceived imperfections keep you from living the life you want. Don’t be embarrassed. Embrace the person you are, right now, and love them. Show yourself some respect, have some dignity. Don’t live in fear.

Why do I say all this?

Let me tell you a story.

Growing up I was never skinny but I really was never too heavy either. I was average, or at least that’s how I perceived myself.

Growing up I was also very lucky to have the most amazing group of friends. Thick as thieves, we shared the best and the worst of our lives together.

I moved away from my hometown area in 2000 and then moved even further away in 2002. It was sometime around 2003 that I really started gaining weight. I would say between 2003 and 2008, the year I moved back to the area I grew up in, I had easily put on at least 100 pounds and was gaining by the day.

Between 2003 and 2008 I was only coming home maybe once or twice a year. I would visit with some friends but not many, usually opting to see my family mainly during those times. By 2008, however, Facebook was now open to everyone and people I knew from my high school crew were not only aware that I was moving home, they were excited. I was excited too. I was ready to be home, see my friends again, excited to be back with those that knew me best. Hell, my high school best friend that I had known since I was 8 years old not only lived in Philly at the time, she lived like half a dozen blocks away. It was going to be awesome.

But do you know what happened when I moved back? I hid. I was so embarrassed and ashamed of what I had become I couldn’t face my old friends. Even though these were people that had gone through hell with me and I knew they wouldn’t care, I cared. I couldn’t do it. Out of the dozens of people still living back home when I moved back I only reconnected with two of my friends. And even then my time with them was limited. I made new friends. Friends that didn’t know the ‘old Dacia’, friends I felt wouldn’t judge me for my (perceived) failure.

Two years later I was off again, this time to Texas. Away from the city I loved. Completely missing out on reconnecting with people I loved. Intentionally.

I am not sure I ever admitted it, or at least not to many if I had, that I was so ashamed of the person I had become.  So much so that I missed out on years of time I could have spent with some amazing people. It was so silly. I look back on those times now and wonder what the heck was wrong with me? How could I just hide away like that?

It has been a long time since I lived in Philadelphia. When I travel home now I still mainly focus on time with family but now I also try to reconnect with anyone willing to spend some time with me. There is never enough time though. And there are people living back home that I haven’t seen in at least a decade if not more.

And that makes me sad. Utterly and completely sad. 

Especially when you find out that one of your close friends from high school is dying.

Especially when you find out that he died.

I missed out on a lot of things in my life because of my weight. I made a lot of bad/stupid decisions because of my weight, too. Honestly, I could write a book just on this subject. Now that I am at peace with the person that I am (I may have lost weight but I know I am far from perfect, and that is ok)  I try to not miss out on these chances and opportunities when they arise. But sometimes, it’s not enough.

I can’t go back to those years I hid from you Erik, those years I felt ashamed. I cannot tell you now how sad I am that I won’t get to see you again. We won’t get to drink a beer together or fight like brother and sister again. I can’t change how I wrote my history. And today, knowing that you are gone, that is a tough pill to swallow.

I am sorry for the years that passed between us. I am sorry I took for granted (with any of you) that our time together is limited and that the end point is unknown.

I can only move forward trying to be a better person, friend, daughter, (soon to be) wife, and take with me the many memories we have all shared. I will remember you fondly.

RIP Erik, my favorite Viking. 

I can't believe you still had this after all these years....

Love and hugs,