Monday, July 19, 2010

Coming Clean

Last week I finally did it. I let my past life and my current life co-mingle. You see, I’ve done my best to not let old friends know what I had become. Luckily, I didn’t join Facebook until I started losing weight, so my profile picture wasn’t me at my worst. I live 1500 miles away from where I grew up, and whenever I went back to my hometown for a visit, I never got together with any of my old friends, except for Barbara – she’s known me through all of my incarnations. Every visit, she would always offer - “do you want to give so-and-so a call?” And I’d say no. A big reason was because I really wanted to spend the most time I could with Barbara on these all-too-short visits, but I could have spared an hour or two. Except that then my secret would be out…and the shame and embarrassment at what I’d let myself become would be too real. I am quite the expert at pushing feelings into the deep dark recesses of my mind, where they stay just under the surface 99% of the time. That’s what made it possible to get up and face each day – avoidance and denial.

But it changed last week. Reconnecting with my old friend Matt, sharing memories of our childhood – it brought me back to such a good time in my life. And honestly? It felt wrong to not be open with him about my life and what I have been doing the past two-plus years. So I sent him the link to my blog. Admitted my embarrassment that I had let myself go so badly in that email, but strangely enough, felt ok about it. The next morning, I logged onto Facebook to read this email from Matt:
Shelley Thank you Thank you Thank you for sharing your blog/website with me. That is completely amazing. What you have done is unbelievable. You are beautiful. I am totally inspired. I am going to go back and read more of your amazing work. You made me cry and laugh. I love it. Your writing is very real and appealing. I see great things for you in the future. I am so so so so happy that we reconnected. Really looking forward to seeing you in person.
Wow. I was stunned - and a little teary, I'll admit. Who knew honesty could bring about such a neat result?!? I could have very easily pretended to him that I never got fat…this is strangely liberating and I feel like I've broken out of a secret life. So thank YOU, Matt - I'm walking a bit taller and I haven't been able to stop smiling. My world feels a lot bigger now.

30 comments:

  1. LOVE IT.
    strangely liberation and the smashhhhing colliding of the two worlds.
    In my experience (you know :) all 41 years of it) the colliding is never ever a bad thing.

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  2. I'm not crying but I'm deeply touched by these kind words of Matt!

    It's a good thing that you've searched and found him because we all can use such a friend!

    Go to California, show your figure to your old friends and be proud of who you are. I know I'm proud of you!

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  3. First time I read about this problem, and I thought I was alone. Not ready yet, you are far more brave. Maybe sometime soon... Great stuff

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  4. Shelley I too have held off on some reconnects over the years for fear of the feelings of shame and embarrassment at what I’d let myself become. I've done better over the past few months caring less about such things and more about being true to myself, family and having fun along the way.

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  5. Thanks for posting on this topic. I have lived "in hiding" from many old friends for much of my adult life. I have been too ashamed to let them see me many pounds heavier than I was in high school or in my 20's. I'm working on it now (the weight),and I hope I can get up the courage to come out of the boundaries that I have defined as "safe." My new blog is helping, but it's small steps, day by day.

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  6. That's exactly how I felt when I met up with my high school friends for the first time after 15 years. I was so ashamed of my past, that I thought for sure that they would have nothing to say to me. And well? My experience was much like yours. Relief, love and renewed friendships.

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  7. Okay, even I got teary reading Matt's comments, but he couldn't said it better!

    You should always walk tall Shelley! :D

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  8. Why do we feel such shame about having gained some/a lot/a ton of weight? I know I did the same thing - hid from lots of people. And it was an upcoming high school reunion that was the impetus for the first 75 pounds of my weight loss. Why do we judge ourselves so harshly? Do we/would we judge others in that same way? Yes, we would probably notice, but not really judge. I just wish we would all go a bit easier on ourselves. Yea, we might have gained some weight, but it's not like we've been out clubbing baby seals for breakfast.

    Which is not to say that we shouldn't celebrate our victories and hard work. You've done life-changing work and you are going to have such a great time in CA.

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  9. I've hidden and hidden and hidden but I'm not going to anymore. (Saying that because I totally understand where you were coming from!) I think we are so harsh on ourselves at times that we actually end up robbing ourselves from really good things and people who could be in our lives. Glad you worked through this and made the connection and found the freedom! Just another step in your journey, huh?

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  10. Yay! In my blog, I did the same thing. I posted an entry about "coming clean". I wanted my friends, near and far, to know what I had been doing and how my health was going to improve! So many people responded with good vibes! It was awesome! I can't wait to get home to see all my old friends and family at my reunion in a couple weeks!
    I'll be going home to Santa Cruz, and this year, by God, I'm riding the Dipper! No worries that I might not FIT! :-)
    I might just ride it a few times!

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  11. Congrats on coming clean and this has inspired me to send a link of my blog to some old friends.

    Matt sounds like a really great friend.

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  12. I always find life works out best when I'm real, honest and genuine. Great story!

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  13. I live 1800 miles from where I grew up, and haven't seen certain family members or friends in almost 10 years, although I've been back several times. This coming November will be different. No matter what. Thank you for your post. It's inspiring. Vee at http://veegettinghealthy.blogspot.com

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  14. What a great story!
    Doesn't it feel good to come clean?

    Are you taking friends on facebook?

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  15. How wonderful that reconnecting with Matt turned out so well. I know what you mean about keeping things secret, my blog is only known to my husband, sister and 2 friends. Others have linked to me via Lynn's Weigh or blog comments like this but they don't exist in my everday life so it's easier somehow. Just not ready to have people commenting on how I'm going. Maybe one day.

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  16. I didn't know you before Shelley, but Matt's words do not surprise me. You are beautiful and amazing. You just never know who you are going to inspire!

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  17. That's so cool, Shelley! I'm glad you reconnected with such an uplifting old friend!

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  18. I can totally relate to this post. While I only live 2 hours from where I grew up, whenever I would go home to see my family I would avoid going out. I would dread the supermarket, the mall, etc for the fear and embarassment of running into someone I knew. My high school class was over 400 per class so there are lots ofpeople to run into. And I didnt want anyone to see what I had become over the several years since I had seen them last. Now that I have lost some weight, most but not all, it feels like a weight lifted off my shoulders. I dont walk around in life feeling embarssed and hiding.

    It sounds like you have learned so much along your journey! Congrats.



    Jennifer
    http://wecanlosethepounds.blogspot.com/

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  19. I've been a recluse for a long enough time not to have too many to bother to reconnect with...there is always time...and you have so much to offer.

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  20. I can relate on so many levels. I live in the same area I grew up in so I run into people often and have posted plenty of "fat" pics on facebook. I have also facebooked about my journey and have received nothing but support and encouragement. I think, too often we let our own insecurites cloud our judgements about others and wrongly assume they would judge us or have negative thoughts about us. I'm glad you were able to come clean and that your friend was so kind and honest.

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  21. Girlfriend I want to run that half without walking too. So going to work on that, can't stay behind you can I? :lol:

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  22. Wow, that is really amazing. Good for you! I love that you had such an amazing bloggy experience. I don't share my blog, and I really don't think I ever will, and I guess I'm just too concerned about what people (work, friends etc) would think.

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  23. Ok, I got a bit weepy reading Matt's comment. He was so dead on! Be proud of all that you have accomplished...and I will take your post to heart and do the same!

    And Matt, if you are reading these comments...you are one heck of a nice guy! :-)

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  24. Is Matt a youth minister? Or maybe he's that Chinese lettering person?

    Do you think he's going to want to really "get together?'
    Did you see that episode of Louie? He contacted his first "experience" in high school and she was chubby and they both went nuts for each other. IT was a bit embarrassing to watch.

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  25. You totally struck a chord with me with this post...mainly because I'm in denial and avoidance as well. I still see myself (mentally) as my "old" self, even though it's quite noticeable that I'm much "shinier" and "newer" now. When I see pictures of myself from before it's a total slap that I could have ever gotten like that...so I don't look at them, don't think about them, don't go through them.

    And then I wonder WHY when I actually see people from "back then" (like you, I live 1000+ miles from where I grew up)they say I look different...

    Good for you though - that's awesome that you've "come clean". Your friend Matt sounds wonderful!

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  26. Hi, Matt here. Wow, I got teary eyed reading all the nice responses. You know, I felt totally honored that Shelley shared her blog with me. After reading other peoples reluctance to share I feel even more honored. I think though that any true friend would respond in the same manner after seeing what Shelley has done. Truly amazing. and no I'm not a youth minister.

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  27. I'm back from vacation and see you are on yours. I am catching up and just love your sharing with Matt and his response. Have a great day shopping, get some cute skinny clothes. I missed you.
    Btw, I had a really nice trip, I'll post it soon.

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  28. Sniffle.

    Reconnecting with longlost friends is the best. You have history, but then there is so much new between you too. Reconciling those two pieces is an unforgettable experience. So glad you are getting to do so with Matt!

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