I was fat from a young age, certainly by 5 or 6, and it (I) really exploded around age 12. I was over 300 by age 15 and I stayed up there — except for three 130-pound-plus weight losses (and almost immediate gain-backs that were even bigger) — until I was 34 years old. From those years I have innumerable memories of rejections and humiliations, from 7th grade square dancing in PE class to having to purchase two seats on airplanes. And yes, I took both meals sometimes — because I was angry and I had them coming. Was it the airlines' fault that I needed two seats? No, of course not, but I was angry anyway.
Only in retrospect do I know that my weight was a (very loud) symptom of other problems, rather than the only problem. I was childish and self-centered in the extreme, sometimes sweet and happy but just often enough sullen and acidic that I was really dangerous, like the chained dog who let you pet him the last time. I experienced some success at work — I was a daily newspaper journalist for three decades — but was busted in rank more than once because I couldn't get along with others.
Even so, it was at work, at the Hartford Courant, that my recovery from obesity began. Concerned bosses and colleagues urged me to seek therapy of some sort, and although the first couple efforts didn't work out, I eventually met a therapist who I was willing to listen to. Over time, he unraveled some of my outer layers, which made me pliable to his eventual suggestions that I attend support groups and, later, eating-disorder rehab. I still weighed 365 pounds on Oct. 21, 1991, the day I entered the EDU of a Long Island, New York, psych hospital. I lost weight while I was there, but I also lost a good chunk of my assurance that I knew what was best for me, even though the evidence of my self-stewardship spoke loudly of the opposite.
I've now had almost 20 years in a normal-size body, which is an incredible, delightful freedom. But my life has flowered in so many other ways as well. I met my first girlfriend at 36, got married at 46, and became a father at 52. I can still be childish at times, but I can also be childlike, which is how I believe God wants us, full of wonderment, curiosity, and love. I didn't even know that those were desirable traits, let alone ever possess them. I can still be self-centered, but rarely to my former extent, and I work at being present for others, especially for my son, who's now approaching his first birthday. I feel like a prisoner who, by shutting up and heeding others, found a way out, and now wants to share that way with others.
We are moved by Michael's painful but triumphant story. Click Here for more info. on Michael and his new book.