Submitted by My Bariatric Life on February 26, 2015
When I had my gastric bypass in 2003, there weren’t the multi-faceted treatment teams that there are today to take patients through the journey. My bariatric surgeon said, “I do the surgery. The rest is up to you.” I did the physical work but never did the mental work. I never even knew it was something I had to consider.
In 2013, I underwent a series of plastic surgeries on my body and face. The physical transformation was dramatic, much more than I had anticipated. In less than a year I went from a size 14 to a size 2, and my face looked about 15 years younger. In some ways I looked like a different person, and over time I also felt like a different person. The emotional change however was unexpected and I wasn’t prepared for it.
In part, I felt like the person I was when I was thin. But that had been so very long ago and I was just a “kid” back then. So I could not fully identify with that “version” of me, I certainly did not identify with the “obese me” before gastric bypass weight-loss surgery, and neither did I identify with the “overweight me” after gastric bypass, before plastic surgery. In addition, I went through a very challenging time between 2013 and 2015. A series of catastrophic events brought me to my knees and I asked, “What is the meaning of all this? What am I supposed to learn?” So I set upon a journey to find myself. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, in hindsight, I see I was going through an identity crisis.
So how is it that I found myself? It did not happen by chance, and took work. I have been doing the inner work since completing my plastic surgery, work I guess I was supposed to do 12 years ago when I had my weight loss surgery. So I stumbled a lot at first.
Jen, a weight-loss surgery/plastic surgery friend, during our interview about love after obesity told me “change requires being open to being guided and looking for the lessons and messages in that guidance.” I remained open to the messages the universe was sending. I made a firm commitment to learn and grow. Little did I know that finding myself would be a spiritual journey, that finding myself meant finding my soul, my true self.
In order to find myself, I sought to answer these questions: What makes me happy? What is my life’s purpose? What are my values? What will I accept and not accept from another person? What behaviors/habits do I have to stop? What new behaviors/habits do I have to start? What tools can I use to grow spiritually and emotionally? How do I receive the “gift” of Spirit?
What did I do and how did I do it?
- Worked with a mentor as a spiritual guide — Rev. Mark is a metaphysician, my friend Jen went to church, some people use a therapist; find what works for you
- Read books such as A Return to Love and A Course in Miracles
- Watched documentaries such as Love
- Online research into spirituality, consciousness, awakening, esoteric astrology, philosophy, religion, nature of existence, soul relationships, love, etc
- 7 Steps to Self Love course on YouTube and journaled
- Guided meditation and visualization; Jen highly recommends a silent retreat
- Reiki and tuning forks
- Created a small sanctuary where I immerse myself in solitude and say positive affirmations each morning
- Shielded myself from toxic people and negative energy
What did I learn? I learned to love.
As Jen pointed out, I opened myself to the message the universe was sending. I had a rise in consciousness and became mindful of synchronicities. I had a spiritual awakening and that’s when the miracles began to happen. I’ve learned that I have to rely on myself and that I am strong. I’ve learned to trust my heart and inner knowingness and silence ego’s negative voice. I think, speak and write only positive thoughts (what you manifest is what you attract, negative thoughts bring more negativity into your life). I pray for Spirit to allow me to see only through the eyes of love, and I act only through love. I learned unconditional love and forgiveness, for myself and for others. That is the essence of my growth. I have looked at many of the world religions and many philosophies and spiritual beliefs. They all have one unifying message at the core: they teach us that our purpose here is to love, and to do that we must learn and grow.
Crisis is the prelude to growth and transformation. Coming out on the other side feels very wonderful. I wasn’t aware that I did not love myself until I finally loved and accepted myself unconditionally. Only recently was I able to love the person who was – the obese me I see in photographs from more than a decade ago, or even the overweight me I see in photos from 21-months ago. And once I loved that person who was, I loved the person who is, my true self.
To me, this is more a journey than a destination. So I am still on my wondrous path. What have you done to find yourself after weight loss? Have you had any transformative experiences?
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Kristina Brooks is a gluten-free digital editor at HealthCentral, with a background in animal biology, ecology, and health science. While studying broadcast journalism, she discovered the great need for health reporters that could translate research to the public. In her work, she hopes to use research to help consumers make smart decisions about their healthcare, and empower patients to stay confident and in charge of their chronic conditions. Kristina works on the HealthySelf newsletter, as well as HealthCentral’s MythWeek.