So, yesterday I tried on every item of clothing I own and made a huge pile of stuff to give to Good Will. The clothing I had that was too small was weeded through, some of it went back in my closet because it fits now. Some got thrown away because I’m ready to move on. Some got put back in the box because I’m maybe 5 pounds away from it fitting and I’m not ready to give up on it yet.

The box of too small clothes is much much smaller now and I’m not feeling quite so haunted by it.

The vast majority of the too big clothes, many of which were in my closet, got piled up for donation. Most of it was just too big for me to want to keep around. Pants that I was wearing in March now wouldn’t even stay up by themselves. That felt good. There were several things that were too big but only by a tiny bit and I can imagine myself wanting to throw them on some day because they are just comfortable so they stayed; although I did pack them away.

I even realized that I needed to add a new category for the sorting: clothes that fit but I don’t like and don’t feel good in. Holy cow, why didn’t I realize that sooner? Yes it fits, but I don’t like it, so I don’t have to keep it! That felt good.

From this experience I learned three very important things:

  1. Clothing sizes are irrelevant.
  2. Regardless of weight, my body is shaped differently than before.
  3. I have no sense of my body without using objective measurements.

Regarding item number one, I find the whole thing strange to the point of absurdity. Now that my closet has only things in it that fit it seems bizarre to me that I have pants that are a size 10 that fit, pants that are a size 8 that are too big, and pants that are a size 6 that fit. There are sweaters of every size between XS and XL, all of which fit in their own way. The same with shirts. I am utterly confused about the purpose of sizing if the variation can be so dramatic.

Item number two was something of a shocker to me. Despite being fat most of my life my body was always basically evenly balanced with the weight evenly distributed. But now, after two pregnancies, two c-sections, and a lifetime of yo-yo dieting my waist and thighs have not been able to retract as easily as my shoulders, arms, and upper torso. If I can pin-point a size in tops now it’s basically a six. But I’m stuck hovering about a size larger in pants. There’s not much I can do about it other than observe it and accept it.

As for number three, well, I found in the box of clothes that were too big something I’ve been saving for the past 7 years. I found a pair of jeans I used to wear 7 years ago. They are a size 20 and they are left over from when I weighed 246 pounds. I save them as a reminder. Oddly enough, I always forget that they are there and give a little gasp of surprise every time I find them again.

I always do the same thing: I put them on. Of course, they don’t stay on, I have to hold them up. I stare at myself and turn from side to side and gawk. I realized yesterday that I’m gawking because I don’t remember what that felt like and I imagine that I felt exactly the same as I feel now. Not quite comfortable in my skin because I have a roll around my waist, and cellulite on my thighs, and stretch marks on my arms. If I don’t look in a mirror, or at the size on my clothing label, or at the scale I don’t know that anything is different.

I need that number from the scale or from my clothes to show me that I’m not that morbidly obese person anymore.

Inside, I’m still just me.

Finding those size 20 pants helps too. But also, it doesn’t

I can’t imagine that my body actually filled them out. That I would have to unbutton my pants from time to time because the button cut into my stomach astounds me when I look at pants that are big enough that I can fit my whole body down one leg of the pants.

So for today I have to trust in the numbers.

I discovered I was down to one pair of jeans that fit; they are a size 8. I went out today and bought a new pair of jeans at Target; they are a size 6.

Whatever.

For today I trust that 159.5 is not 246 and that will have to be enough.

And it is.

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