I’ve tried to start this letter several times, and each time I keep coming back to the word “OK”.
OK. I’m going to drop a truth bomb on you: tomorrow is going to suck. In fact, it will go down in the history of your life as pretty much the suckiest day there was. And the days after aren’t going to be much better, either. You’re going to cry, a lot. The balloon of self-hatred you feel is going to inflate much, much bigger than you ever thought it could inflate. You’re going to feel scared, and insulted, and guilty, and ashamed, and awkward and useless and gross.
And you’re never going to get this back: this, this feeling that you don’t even know you’re feeling right now (that’s actually the beauty of it): this feeling that your body, for all its flaws and fatness, for all its grossness and hideousness, is reliable.
I wish I could tell you to enjoy it in the last few hours that you can – isn’t it nice to be able to rely on yourself as you do? To trust that when you tell your body to do things – walk, sleep, function – it just does them. Despite all the reasons you hate your body (and trust me, those reasons are real and I’d never suggest otherwise), your body is perfectly dependable. You can do things now like wake up or go to sleep, like eat food or take a walk or dance or skip around or go places. You can do these things instantly and without a second thought – you’re a Queen, a Goddess of self-reliance and agency. You want to order dinner? Do it, bitch, and do it good. You want to ride the subway? Go ride. You want to dance all night? Dance.
The beauty of this feeling, this feeling of knowing you can ask your body whatever you want, and it will just obey you, is that you honestly aren’t even aware you’re feeling it. It’s just a shimmery inner confidence that, even in those of us who are the least confident humans there are, is there. Buoying you. Lifting you up. Sustaining you. And, like a good love story, you won’t know that you had it until it’s gone.
I have bad news: it’s already gone. You just don’t know it yet. So if I could make any wish for you, it would be that you enjoy these last few hours of ignorance. Enjoy this false feeling of being perfectly independent. Of not having to check in with your body every goddamn minute and asking its permission before you do anything.
You’re living recklessly now, of course – you’re sick as hell and you don’t know it, so you’re treating your body like you always have, demanding things of it left and right, expecting obedience without a second thought. And, unfortunately, it will have its revenge. In the coming weeks and months, it’s going to punish you for this disregard – there will be shaking and panic and headaches and hair falling out and brain fog and plans cancelled at the last minute because you just can’t do it anymore, can’t do basic things like go places and see people.
But you know what. Human beings are, more than anything else, adaptable creatures. And you will, you will, adapt. It will take much, much longer than you’re comfortable with. It will be hellish. At first, you’re going to do nothing but survive, and that’s OK. Surviving is better than not surviving, after all. But as time passes, you’re going to start to figure it out. As much as it can be figured out. And soon, you’ll be living again. And soon, you’ll start to be grateful when your body does things for you. You won’t be able to just command, and to expect instant obedience. Those days are over. But you will be able to ask. And if you ask very, very politely, your body will do its best to accommodate you. (After all, it’s got plenty to deal with at this point, too.)
I have some more bad news: people are going to be lousy. Some of them won’t mean it, and others will. It’s because of how you look. Your worst fear – that people judge you for your fatness, assume lousy things about you because you’re overweight – will come true. But the thing about your worst fear coming true is that when it does come true, and you survive it, it stops being your worst fear. It becomes an annoyance, a hindrance, a tragedy, even. But its power deflates.
Tomorrow will be hellish. And I know today isn’t that great, either – you feel bad, I get it. But you will survive. You will survive. You will survive.
And I want you to know one thing: one thing that I wish I could tell you, I wish you could keep with you when the doctor says “It’s diabetes” and on your way to the ER, and in the ICU, and the long, agonizing weeks afterwords as you struggle with highs and lows and being totally out of your depth, I want to say this:
I know that you don’t love yourself right now. I know that.
But I love you.
2015 Jessie loves 2014 Jessie very desperately. And not just because I feel sorry for you. Because I love you. I miss you. I mourn you. I wish I could give you a hug – not just because you’re going to need one for the days ahead, but because you’ve needed one for months. One from me. Yourself. I want to look you in the eyes and tell you that you’re perfect, because you are. You really are. I promise.
Oh, and one last request: before you make a doctor’s appointment tomorrow, could you do me a big favor and order a pizza?
Eat the whole thing, because soon you’re going to know better. Get some garlic knots while you’re at it. Just sit on the floor of your living room, eating your pizza. Enjoy the hell out of that pizza while you can.
Now call the doctor, you idiot.