We have all read the facts, we have lurked the forums, we have listened to stories friends have endured. Cross addictions happen after WLS. Can’t stuff the face with food to drown sorrow, so drink to numb the pain. Can’t eat when stressed, so shop to make yourself feel better. Have a new body, sudden attention, and suddenly sex fills a void you never knew you had. Right? Shopping, Drinking, Inappropriate sexual behavior. Its out there, its discussed, its hard to come to terms with, and difficult to understand what makes us tick.
I think there are more cross addictions or behaviors than those that are commonly pointed out. Personally I think we all deal with behavioral issues post WLS that were probably lurking under the surface pre-op. I don’t think that we were all addicted to food, but we did have behaviors that landed us in fat camp. Now that we are post op, there are behaviors running rampant, and because they don’t make many people raise an eyebrow, we don’t pay much attention to it, or ask ourselves why.
Some people never really had a social life. As obese children, grown into obese adults, very many of our peers were wall flowers. As the pounds shed, the “normal” sized person is not only seen, but is glorified for all that they have lost. Showered with compliments “You look amazing!” “You are incredible!”, the wall flower begins to peel off the wall and is willing to throw caution to the wind. Suddenly the social butterfly, they may measure their value in the praise of others rather than for the incredible job they have done themselves. Despite all of the positive responses from friends and family, its still difficult to love themselves, unless of course, other people are telling them they are worthy. This is a COMMON behavior.
Other people shed the pounds, and suddenly find themselves surrounded by friends who are unsatisfied with parts of their life. The constant flow of discontent that they hear from their peers weighs heavy on them, and they become sympathetic and hopeful that they may be able to breathe some positivity into those friends who struggle. The savior complex is born. Poor savior is going to be emotionally drained by their friends. We are all broken and flawed. The person who hopes to save the others, has not yet begun to save themselves. This is just another behavior seen through out.
Fallen angel, first we must save ourselves.
It has been said time and again that WLS may fix your gut, but it doesn’t fix your brain. What we don’t really prepare for is all the issues losing weight reveals with in us. We had ideas that losing weight and being “normal” would suddenly fix everything. While it may fix physical health issues, and it may boost self esteem, it also reveals years and years worth of insecurities that we didn’t even know we had. What do we do to deal, when we have never had to cope with them before? What happens when our new behavior affects other people, and with out knowing it, we leave a trail of hurt behind us?
WLS should come with a mandatory year of therapy. Really it should. And although we all seem to admit that the post op journey is a roller coaster, that we are learning more about ourselves every day, that we don’t know how to cope well with, uh.. anything… the majority of us, myself included, do not seek therapy.
Personally, I know I SHOULD find a therapist. I know that while my support system is phenomenal, they can not give me the tools I need to cope, nor should they be expected to. But, I struggle with the
ability willingness to open up to somebody who has not lived the life. Who has not walked the path. How can somebody help me, if they have no idea of the mind blowing reality that losing 140lbs in 10 months can be. THEN… if I DID find a therapist who was a bariatric patient… would I believe that they could be objective enough, did they deal with all of their own crap?
Oh post op life, you really are a great big conundrum.
I am flawed. My friends, my support love me despite my flaws. I adore and love my friends despite their flaws. But boy oh boy, we are quite the community of flawed, scared, screwy folks. Don’t worry, come on, bring your flaws, you will be loved anyway.