We all hear about inner beauty our whole life but most of us never really understand what that means until we discover our own inner beauty. This is the story of how I found mine.
In my family growing up, happiness was a costume we put on and love was conditional. We received love IF we wore our costumes well. This meant successfully hiding the trauma and sadness we endured daily. As you can imagine, this type of masking built me into a miserable, cold, confused shadow of a human being. My misery was suffocating me and the only way I could survive was by letting my misery out and putting it on others. I put my husband and children through a war of their own. It wasn’t until the tragic death of my father in 2010 when he lost his battle with depression that I was able to see that the promise I had made myself to make sure my family had a better life than I had experienced was being broken. It was this tragedy that would forever change my life.
After many years of medication, therapy, and relationship repairs, I was finally in a good place. I was happy and enjoying life and truly loving people, but even though my pictures contained a beautiful smile there was sadness still behind my eyes and you didn’t have to look very far to see it. Though I had knocked down many walls of protection caused from years of abuse and trauma, after peeling back layer after layer of sadness and misery, I still could not find true joy. I had learned to love others but still had no idea how to love myself. I could not see past all of the physical things I saw in the mirror reminding me of the past causing me to despise myself and be unable to know who I truly was.
In 2015, my cousin approached me with “the next big thing to battle weight loss”. The difference with this program was that it allowed me to take the focus off of my own insufficiencies and put it on to others. This company had a program in place to feed needy children for every 10lbs you were able to lose. I thought this would lead to my own personal success for sure, after all I care for others more than myself! I gave this program time, just like I had all the others, and though I was very successful initially and felt amazingly warm inside with all the help I was providing others, I had failed myself again. The sadness and misery began to start in again, and I could feel the walls building themselves back up slowly. I knew I had to do something drastic to change my path.
Out of nowhere, and like the miracle I now see it for, I was presented with a new job opportunity. In April, 2016, I accepted a position as Case Manager for The Bariatric Center of Kansas City. I figured even if I wasn’t skilled enough to lose my own weight or lucky enough to even qualify for weight loss surgery, I would be responsible in helping thousands of others do so.
After doing this position successfully for many months and learning so much about the disease of obesity, my mother experienced a heart attack. Since my mother is only 15 years older than me, I was terrified of my future with obesity. I approached Dr. Hoehn to discuss my desire to proceed with bariatric surgery. I was both excited and scared to learn that I was “an ideal candidate” for bariatric surgery. Am I being vain? What will people think? Will I fail again? After a lot of praying and communication with my husband and children, I realized I DESERVED this opportunity to obtain the most relevant tool of our time to fight my obesity. Within weeks, I cashed in my 401K from my previous employer and scheduled surgery. After all, what good is a 401K if you don’t survive long enough to need it.
I was “sleeved” on August 17, 2016. My starting weight was 243 lbs. At my highest weight I was over 265 lbs. I have lost 113 lbs. since surgery, and now weigh in around 130 lbs (my weight fluctuates up and down between 130 and 135). The two years following surgery has contained ups and downs. Since I didn’t disclose my decision to have surgery to anyone other than my husband and children, this road was very confusing and lonely. If it hadn’t been for the staff/my co-workers at The Bariatric Center of Kansas City, I would have been isolated. I am thankful every day for the dietitians and doctors here who helped me by answering all of my every day silly questions regarding what I can eat and what is going on with my belly when it makes all these silly digestion noises. I am especially thankful for the Dr. Sabapathy who, as my psychologist during this time, helped me figure out how to cope with emotional stress and every day problems without turning to food. I know it was because of this program that I was able to be successful and now have a healthy relationship with food.
As the case manager for revisional bariatric patients (repeat bariatric surgery patients) at the Bariatric Center of Kansas City, I am even more grateful that programs like ours exist to educate and equip patients in a way that allows them to learn to be successful long term. I can’t tell you how many repeat bariatric patients tell me that they wish a program like ours would have been available to them at the time of their first surgery so that they may have been more successful.
As the weight began coming off, I began to feel worthy of love, life, victory and joy. Since reaching my goal weight about 1 year after surgery, I have been seizing the day! Losing the weight has not made me a better or more successful person, it has only allowed me to shed all the ugliness that existed from my past, and open my eyes to the true inner beauty inside me. People tell me all the time now that I have a glow about me and I tell every single one of them that this is me allowing others to finally see my inner beauty. Living this life as me makes me truly happy. I am enjoying squeezing every drop of joy out of every single encounter. I have tried many new and exciting things along the way and hope even more to push the limits on my own personal boundaries of new experiences.
Another great blessing that has come from this life changing decision is that while I was improving my quality of life, I simultaneously impacted my close friends and family. I have renewed old friendships from high school and built strong lasting connections with new friends. My marriage of 24 years is experiencing the same glow of inner beauty. I can honestly say that though it took some adjustment and compromise on both sides, we are more in love than the day we met. My children finally know what it is like to have a mother who is beautiful inside and out and is aware of what she is worth so that she can help them to find their own beautiful selves and go after what they want in this life and make it possible to achieve it. My son has been working with a personal trainer for more than 6 months to lose over 30 pounds through the hard work of diet and exercise!
Additionally, after seeing my success, my younger brother, Adam, decided to have surgery in 2017 at The Bariatric Center of Kansas City as well. He has lost more than 120 pounds and has found greater power within himself to obtain the things in life he wants to achieve. He is finding happiness and self-worth in everything he does. While I still experience hardships of life, like we all do, knowing my decision has not only improved my life, but those closest to me makes those hardships that much easier to cope with.
I know that I will face adversity in the future and may fail from time to time, but I will continue to live my life by this quote from Albert Einstein “learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” I will continue to ask myself, “can I do better? how can I be better? What other great gifts within me am I hiding from the world?”
This surgery has changed my life, changed my husband’s life, and has changed my children’s life and I will forever be thankful for that. Surgery can be a scary thought, but just remember “ultimately, know deeply that on the other side of every fear lies freedom!” *Mary Ferguson