May 2, 2012

Exposure

Yesterday, I was the featured runner on the official Facebook page for the Ragnar documentary film project.


This whole experience is kind of surreal, in many different ways. I can't believe I'm going to be running a race in Florida. I can't believe I'm going to be running a race in Florida as part of a team. And I especially can't believe I'm going to be running a race in Florida as part of a team while a film crew follows us and records the event.

There are so many wonderful things to be said about these people, and about this project that I am so amazingly lucky to be a part of. But at the same time, a few things about it make me a little nervous.

My initial concern was weight-related: with the exception of a few days earlier this month, I haven't left the 190s since leaving Chicago. I know that with marathon training - and once I get out of California and back to a place where I feel more at home - things will be better. I have done a few races since moving, but haven't trained (properly, or really, at all) for them - that simply cannot be the case for the marathon. I have my sights set on a 4:30-4:45 finish, and I'm determined to make that happen. Along with proper training, continued weight loss will help with my speed.

My biggest anxiety, though, has come from the notion that my online and offline support systems would finally collide. The page and the photos have received "Likes" from my siblings, the boy I love, my colleagues/former students from Chicago, childhood friends ... even my high school Spanish teacher. My family and some of my closer friends knew that I have a blog, but for the most part, I haven't allowed them to read it. Now, though, the link is out there, and knowing they're a few clicks away from some of my deepest secrets ... it's a little nerve-wrecking.

Needless to say, the finished post about the specifics of the Justin situation/my anxiety about letting down my father because my happily-ever-after with the handsome psychologist didn't turn out quite so perfect ... taken out of the scheduled queue and back into the graveyard I'm accruing of undeveloped posts.

I'm perfectly alright with spilling my guts to strangers.

But being honest about my struggles with my friends and family is a whole nother story.

When I hit rock bottom, I didn't want to talk to anyone - family and friends included. I was so ashamed of the extent to which I'd let myself go, how deep I'd dug what I assumed to be my grave. Plus, everyone I knew had the usual 10, 20, 30 pounds people say they want to lose - no one could possibly have understood what I was facing - needing to lose 200 or so. Having to let go of more of myself than I intended to keep. I eventually started writing this blog because I knew I couldn't go through this alone. I needed to know my struggle was common, even if the specifics were unique.

At 345 pounds, it may have seemed obvious that I was battling with something. What was less apparent, though, is what exactly I was struggling with. Everyone's demons are different. There are some people who become overweight or obese because they like, or even love, food. I was not, and still am not, one of those people. Food was the drug I found myself medicating with in order to cope with my parents' divorce. It was my coping mechanism, and as my life carried on and my struggles changed - college stress, then grad school stress, and all of life's issues in between - it was the one way I knew I could find comfort.

It's hard to let the people you love know you're struggling.

And it's especially hard to "come out" to them as an addict, as someone in recovery from an eating disorder - particularly after a month that can only be described as a complete relapse into my old way of life.

So, in a way, I'm glad for this experience for giving me a means to expose my struggles to my offline support system in a way that makes sense to me. Writing has always been a strong suit of mine, and it's the easiest way for me to facilitate conversation. And I'm so lucky that the response so far has been nothing but supportive - both in one-on-one interactions, and their online comments:
So proud to be able to say that Mary is my older sister. She's such a great inspiration to our family and to so many others too...
can't be more proud of my daughter... 
... So proud of you and your accomplishments!!
Even if nothing comes of the film, I'm already grateful for this.

19 comments:

Frickin' Fabulous at 40 said...

Right there with you Mary! I STILL haven't told Charlie about my blog. It's not even that he'll get on the computer and read it, it's just easier to pour out honesty in little black letters to complete strangers than saying something directly to someone you know. The funny thing is, that other than a few rants about a couple things I haven't said anything that would piss anybody off, I think?

I LOVE reading your blog and I'm glad more people you don't know will be touched by your story. That's the GOOD part.

Tim said...

My blog has always been private from my family and friends. It was my chance to be honest without holding anything back. I then accidently left a link to my blog where family could see it and my worst fear happened. They found it and read it ALL. Argh!!

My friends still don't know about my blog but it's a sort of relief that my family know. All their comments have been positive and supportive.

You're an amazing person and a fantastic writer. Your family will always be so proud of you for everything you do. I'm so pleased the response has been very supportive so far and I can't help but feel that the support towards you will continue to grow as more of your family and friends see you take part in this film.

Joan said...

The merging of the two "yous" can only be therapeutic, and create a stronger "whole". I admire your courage. xxx!

Bailey @ Onederland or Bust! said...

I can't wait to hear more about the film and to watch it!

You are such an inspiration and it's no wonder that your family and friends are so proud of you!

Jordan said...

I've also kept my weight loss online stuff away from my family and real world friends. I lack the strength (and desire) to raise issues from my childhood with my family. Fixing future me doesn't require fixing my family - I'm gonna let those dogs lie sleeping where they are.

I was nervous about starting a blog that could be found, but felt that I wanted to shine light on my "stuff" - and that that happens best by sharing, and realizing that there's nothing secret or shameful in a child taking care of herself the only way she can when the parents don't do it.

Stacy said...

I cannot begin to tell you how much your blog is such an inspiration to me. I weigh 318 lbs and often find myself dealing with some of the same conflicts you have mentioned in your blogs. I just started following you a couple of weeks ago, but am so glad I did!! Please continue your story through your blog. It inspires me.

I recently started a blog because I felt I had to finally become transparent about my struggles and in doing so, would hopefully find some commonality in some friends and inspirations from others. I completely identify with your blog today where you talk about having to lose over 200 lbs and people around you need to lose 20,30,40. I feel like I have nothing in common with them. Thanks for making me feel like I am not the only person who feels this way.

Good luck on your run and on your move back to Chicago.

that TOPS lady said...

I know what you mean about letting your blog be "found". I can tell a stranger anything because really, who cares--they don't know me. It is a whole other thing when it is people we love and see in real life. When I made my link available (although I still don't publicize it) to people I know, I did go back and delete some posts because although those are part of my story, they are things I don't want certain people to know.

I was looking at your beginning weight and your current weight, etc. I started at 331, so it is in the ballpark of your beginning weight. My GOAL weight is 190. I'm currently 269. So...I was just wondering, since I am comparing you and I, how tall are you? I am 6 feet tall :)

Hungry Girl Fan said...

I totally know how you feel about sharing your blog! A lot of my friends and family know I write a blog, but I have yet to share the link. I feel fine sharing some of my history with strangers, but I don't want those who are close to me to read it.

Also, I'm so excited for you to be a part of the running documentary. Hopefully that is the motivation you need to kick-start your weight loss. I finally gave in and registered for a half marathon, and that has helped me a lot with getting back on track after what seems like forever. Good luck to you! You are an inspiration!

marisol said...

Some of my family (they live in Mexico & Spain) and IRL friend (in Florida) know about my blog and read it. They don't always comment so I don't know how often they see what I write but they do know that what happens on the blog, stays on the blog. I have at times thought of censoring myself and then I realize that it's my blog & if someone doesn't like it, they don't have to read it. I don't know what I would do if my mom and sister read it though. It's my place to be me and write what I feel or have experienced.

I think it's easier to blog for "strangers" since most people who read weight loss blogs are on the same journey and understand what you are going through. My sister is a size 4 and she has been trying to lose 5 pounds. I am sure that for her it's an issue but she will never understand what it is like to be over 300 pounds.

Kelliann said...

You are so amazing. When I first started blogging, I allowed whoever wanted to check it out... friends, family, strangers. As I started to reveal more and more about the deeper issues, I stopped posting the links to my blog for all to see. Technically, it could still happen... and that does make me a little nervous.
Your pics are seriously awesome. Yes, you've had some bumps, but you are strong and you are able! You will do whatever you set your mind to! Inspiring!

Ann said...

It's hard to "come out" so to speak, to make your blog public where family, friend, and anybody (co-workers? AWKWARD) can find and read EVERYTHING about you. I commend you for your honesty, your bravery, and most of all - your progress. What you've changed on the inside is apparent on the outside and I couldn't be more proud of happy for you. You deserve it, my friend.

Jen said...

I can totally relate too - even though I've elected to also put myself out there, I've always been the girl 'behind the camera,' 'behind the scenes' and telling other's stories.

My family knows of my blog but none of them, my sister, parents, husband ever, ever read it. Not sure if that'll change but it both bothers me that they've never taken the opportunity to know me better but comforts me to know that I can bare my soul without their connection to it.

Thank you, Mary for being a part of the journey and for being brave and generous in allowing us to help share your story and the team's.

Ashley said...

It took me a long time to let friends and family know about my blog. It really freaks me out when I see on Analytics that people from areas heavily populated with my friends and family are spending 10-20 minutes on my blog. But for me, it opened up a whole new world of supporters that I didn't know I have. I hope you only see positives out of this :)

I'm really looking forward to reading about your training. I love that we have the same goals in mind (well, mine are only half as crazy as yours! haha).

Sarah said...

Isn't it weird how it's easier to think of stranger reading our blogs than family or friends? It's the ultimate of a 'worlds colliding' scenario and I don't like it!

It is hard to let people know when struggles happen. I tend to think people don't care about my issues. Then I remember that we all have them so I try to be more open.

Denise said...

On a completely unrelated note: running in Florida is bullshit. I did it for a while when I lived there and it's so hot and muggy it feels like you're swimming or something. The humidity is a gigantic buzzkill and can wear a person out very, very quickly.

Are you going a few days before the race to adjust to the weather?

Tammy said...

You look AMAZING!!! I'm so happy for you and what you have accomplished!! I'm like you, it's easier to bare my soul to strangers than it is to my family and friends. Thank you for being there for me. Know that I'm here for you too.

Joy said...

Wow you have come a long way!! You look amazing! I too am fearful to let my blog be known. Really scary!!

Keep up the great work and stay focused!

Jitterfish (WJW) said...

Its a lot easier to be open and honest with strangers, especially ones that share the journey of struggle. At my heaviest I would never ever have told anyone how much I weighed, yet online I would.

You're amazing.

Amy said...

I've been off travelling, but Mary you deserve this and you should be SO proud of yourself!