Friday, December 10, 2010

Answer: The reactions of family, friends, and strangers to my surgery....

Are you experiencing any change in how your family or friends treat you? How about strangers?

In general, being a skinnier person has totally changed the way people treat me.  I continue to observe it and addressed it in a previous blog entry called "Polite wisdom..." But, I think your question was more about how people treat me once they know I have had a gastric bipass.  So I'm just going to go with that.  

The way strangers act when I tell them I’ve had a gastric bypass is just plain weird.

I get a variety of responses from them.  There are the people who are shocked…the people who feel sorry for me…and the people who know someone who has had this surgery and want to tell me their whoooole story.   

In the beginning, while I was still a bigger person, there was a lot of “Oh…you didn’t NEED to do that!"..."You weren’t THAT big!”...or “I would never do anything THAT DRASTIC to lose weight!" from people.  But I feel like, back then, I had a lot more explaining to do because of the way I ate or how I was feeling….etc etc.  Currently, it doesn’t really come up much, but when it does people usually look at me and just say “Wow. You look great.”  

From the beginning I decided to be open about my decision to have weight loss surgery, and not to try and hide it or be ashamed.  I usually just take people's reactions in stride...good and bad...and chuckle about it later.  

The way my friends and family reacted to my decision to have this surgery can best be described as “concerned.”  I think this was normal, since this is a major elective surgery that can have some unfortunate complications and has had some negative press. 

Not everyone I told beforehand agreed I should have the surgery done.  In my mind, I just knew it was the best decision.  So, I tried my best to assure them that everything would be OK and proceeded on.  I haven’t regretted that decision once. 

Now, after my extremely successful recovery, most of my friends and family are really super supportive and impressed with my new healthy lifestyle.  But, despite what I do or say, some of them still aren’t and (even though it was one of the main issues I have dealt with post-op) I have chosen to keep that issue off this blog for almost a year.  This is mainly, because I didn’t feel like stoking the flames of this ongoing issue in my life. 

But, since you asked I will tell you…as honestly as I can. 

Some people still cannot deal with the fact that I chose to have surgery to lose weight.  They think I am lazy, self centered, and just taking “the easy way out.”  They can’t handle the fact that I am a smaller person, looking great, and have more confidence and self esteem than I have ever had before in my life.  And, you know what?  That is just fine with me…. Now. 

But, when I first had this surgery, the lack of support from some of these people was debilitating.  I had a lot going on mentally and had a really difficult time dealing with this particular issue on my own. 

I searched all over the Internet to try and see if other people had had such a negative reaction from people close to them.  After weeks of looking for help on message boards and on other gastric bypass support group websites, I gave up.  There seemed to be no easy solution to this problem.

So, I just cried about it.  A lot. 

In the end, I succumbed to the distance that was established between these people and myself.  It was a difficult decision, but I felt that I needed to do this for my mental health and to facilitate my recovery.  

Was I happy about it?  No.  Was this the right decision?  To be honest about it, I'm still not sure. 

I am not angry, just hurt by the actions of these people.  In a way, I can understand how difficult it can be to see someone so close to you change so drastically.  But, what I have come to believe is that no matter how hard I try, I can’t change how these people feel.   And at this point, I realize that it’s not my job to do so.   They are the only ones who can change their minds and accept the transformation that has happened in me.  And when they do I will be here to try and fix things.  

So, to answer your question- Yes...people do treat me differently.  Sometimes it's just because I'm skinny.  Sometimes it's the negative stigma associated with the surgery.  And sometimes it's just the way people are dealing with the way I've changed personally. 

But, I have come to peace with it all.  Hopefully, someday, they will too.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you. Thank you! I am three months post gastric bypass I've lost 63 lbs I went from a size 24 to a 16 and still moving down. I work out 6 days a week i am generally happy about my decision but yesterday my husband's family broke me down.

    I went to a family function and they treat me as if I had a disease they did not address the weight loss. They were cold. His mom congratulated my husband on losing 10 lbs but ignored me sitting next to him. It was a painful cruel time.

    I will continue my journey and it is good to hear that others have experienced this too.