79. The Weight of Laughter

79. The Weight of Laughter

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Curvy & Confident

The Weight of Laughter

I finally realized that being grateful to my body was key to giving more love to myself.

~Oprah Winfrey, O The Oprah Magazine

I overcame my eating disorder five years ago. Since then, I have avoided scales. At regular doctor checkups, I would close my eyes or gaze at the ceiling when I got weighed.

I ate healthy, hiked often, and indulged in foods I loved. On the outside I was completely recovered. But secretly, I still feared the scale. I feared its power over me, and its crippling ability to steal my desire to eat. I feared who I would become if I knew how much I weighed. I feared my husband would no longer be proud of my strength and determination if I got upset about a number.

I bought a scale. I wanted to keep it a secret, hidden under our bed, but I knew I had to tell him. Our marriage is based on trust, and that little purposeful lie of omission would gnaw at me. I had to tell him to keep myself accountable.

But lately I felt stronger. I felt curious about my new body, with its strong muscles and soft edges. I felt as though weighing myself might destroy the last barriers of my eating disorder, despite the risk of sending myself spiraling into a black hole of despair. I needed to know how much I weighed to accept myself. It was a way to prove my recovery — the harshest test of all.

I stripped off my clothes and prepared to step onto the scale. After all, every cotton fiber adds up and the old habit lingered.

I closed my eyes and heaved a deep breath through my nose and out my mouth. I stepped onto the scale. My stomach rolled. I opened my eyes, and registered the black numbers glaring up at me.

I laughed. It was not a hysterical laugh, the type that gurgles from my throat, making me feel oxygen-deprived. It was a laugh of pure joy. I was staring at the heaviest weight I had ever seen, and I was surprisingly okay with it.

The immense relief stemmed from living years defined by a number.

I gained 20 pounds and still my husband loved me and kissed me and gazed at me in awe.

I had gained 20 pounds, and still I could read, write, jump, and play. I gained 20 pounds and still my husband loved me and kissed me and gazed at me in awe. Twenty pounds and still I hiked mountains. Twenty pounds and still I painted Disney characters, savored ice cream, rode horses, and laughed with friends. Twenty pounds and my life was not over. In fact, it was more joyful than ever, probably on account of the ice cream.

I stepped off the scale, contemplating my newfound freedom. Free from fear of a number, free from fear of a relapse. I felt healed and whole.

The number did not define me that morning, and it never will again.

~Shelby Kisgen

More stories from our partners