The fear of failure

Yesterday, Husband and I needed to do some domestic errands around the house. Living in an urban apartment, as well as being our first home, we needed to borrow some tools from the parents-in-law. Now, for the record, I have pretty amazing In laws, so a trip to see them is nothing stress inducing. So we went over, and chatted a bit before husband and I go to the hardware store to pick up the rest of of needs.

During the conversation, the topic of my weight loss came up, but in particular, my clothes. I mentioned that pretty much everything in my closet is now too big for me, and that I am slowly rebuilding my wardrobe. My Mother-in-Law said, “You really should just throw those clothes away, and start fresh!”

This is not the first time she has brought this up.

I tell her that I am planning to, and that most of them are sitting in a big duffle bag in my closet. I file it in my mind, and a few minutes later, we are off.

*Flash Forward to this morning*

I am searching for some socks and something to walk in.  I go back and forth between my closet and the clean clothes basket. As I am going through my things, I keep going “Too big, Too big, Too bulky…” and it is the same refrain I have said for the last couple of weeks now whenever I am trying to get dressed.

“I really should get rid of these clothes” I think to myself.

But then, I hesitate.

For anyone who has done the diet cycle, you know that the clothes you have may not fit you in 3 months time. You may be bigger, you may be smaller, but rarely do you stay the same weight for very long. Since 2008, I have experienced over a 55kg/121lbs swing in my weight. This covers four major weight loss periods (including the current one). I have pants that range from 36 inch waist to 46 inch waist. Shirts that go from XL to 6XL. This vast coverage of clothes is a line of defense in many ways. It means that I have clothes that will fit me wherever I am in my cycle. If I am big, I have big clothes, if I am small, I have small clothes. It works well… if you cannot control your weight.

It is a defense against my fear of failure.

In so many ways, my big clothes is my insurance plan. That *when* I fail, I will have clothes to cover me. It is not so much a question of *if* here as well. In the past, I always held onto my clothes because in the back of my mind, I felt my willpower was not enough. I knew that the weight loss was through extreme methods, and that the current cycle of weight loss couldn’t sustain itself. I would get to a point, and I would start to gain weight again, it was inevitable. And to give away my clothes would be arrogant, because it means I don’t think I will fail when history has proven that I always did. It would be hubris to throw out your clothes, only to buy more when you gain weight again.

I have a closet full of clothes that don’t fit me because I am afraid that they will fit me in the future. And when I step back and think about that… that needs to change.

With the surgery, and with The Journey, you have to confront a lot of things emotionally about how you look, view, and treat yourself. You also have to come to terms with the fact that paradigm of how your body works has fundamentally shifted. While I am now 4.5 months into this Journey, and 5 months from my peak weight, things are starting to shake out in important ways. In the past, when I lost weight, I usually ended around this time. My body would be in an all out war against my mental and emotional willpower to lose weight. I would crave food constantly, and I would be so obsessed with food and weight that I would think of nothing else. Once I have hit that new “lowest weight,” (or nearly there) I stop.

Not this time however. This time is truly different.

Holding onto my clothes is security, security I don’t really need anymore. While I have always loved to lounge in baggy hoodies, I don’t need 6 of them. While I fear that one day, I may gain weight again, holding on to clothes I bought a decade ago will not make me feel better. And letting those clothes go, says to myself that I am no longer afraid that I will be that size again… I am breaking the cycle.

I wish I could say it is empowering to think about, in reality it is terrifying… but that is not a reason to not do it. Too often we let fear of failure guide us into doing nothing. We fear change and failure so much that we would rather do nothing and continue the cycle, because it is something we know, and we have dealt with that before. The fear of “what if” can often paralyze us. For me, I can’t stand it. I cannot stand doing the same thing over and over and hoping for a new result. So when I see myself in a cycle, a negative cycle, I do my best to break it and do something new, even if it is terrifying.

So, very soon, the clothes are going to go away. Given to a consignment store or to LGBT organisations, or somewhere that someone can use those clothes (and believe me, in this country, these clothes would be a god-sent to someone who is bigger but poor). The closet will be emptied out for the most part, and I will need to rebuilt, slowly but surely.

I will still keep an over sized hoodie (or two), and a couple of my all-time favorite shirts… because every mid 30’s guy has that shirt he has kept for way too long to the amusement of those around him.

But it is time to let go… and embrace the new me.

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