I have spent a lot of time thinking about John's question and about my answers to him. The most honest answer I can give right now is I don't trust my own perceptions. It's ironic for as much as I now see all I have accomplished and am prouder of myself physically than I have ever been, I am probably at my lowest point in trusting what I see as real as I have ever been. And the result is feeling like I do require a lot more validation than ever before.
Unfortunately I think that need for validation is often mistaken as me not being proud of myself or seeing my own accomplishments. That is not the truth in any way. I know I have done this work. I know I have accomplished things 99% of the public will never do. And I know I did that work. I don't need others to tell me that to feel good about myself. Instead for me right now when others are supportive, when they do compliment me, when they do recognize what I have accomplished it just helps me to say "yes what I am seeing is real, my view is not distorted".
This is going to sound incredibly stupid, but its brutally honest. I feel more and more like a fraud the thinner I get. I feel like I am playing a game with the world and am waiting to be caught. I look in my closet and see what seem like doll sized clothes compared to what I used to wear, and I have a hard time believing they are genuinely mine. I feel at times like the emperor running around thinking he looks great while he is really being laughed at by the world. I look in the mirror and think to myself "wow you look great today" but then immediately question if I am just in denial.
It was kind of ironic that a friend said to me today "I don't recall seeing you as big as you were in the 'former' picture" because I feel the same way. A big part of why I have such a hard time with my own judgement right now, is because I never realized how bad I had gotten. I look at my pictures from a year ago, and while I knew I was physically miserable I never realized how gross I looked to the world (both in size and how I dressed). If it was possible for me to misread that, how do I know what I see now is even accurate? Do I think I look better than I do? Do I think I am doing better than I am with this?
As I said to John, this is all a journey for me. For some people the belief in themselves comes first and then they can accept the compliments of others as valid. For me the path has gone the other way. For me even to believe that others are being sincere in what they are saying to me is a huge accomplishment. I never used to trust any compliments from anyone. I took them as insincere and with a goal. Today I am finally reaching a place where I can accept them, and in most cases believe them. I still question motive from time to time, but at least with the people close to me, I have learned to graciously say thank you and take them in.
I do know I have done all this work. I do know I have a lot to be proud of. I apologize to those around me who don't think I know that. I do. I know how hard this last year has been for me and all it has taken.
But despite that, I am still a work in progress. You can't go from 35 years being the ugly ducking to a swan overnight (which is how the last 8 months feels) without questioning who you have become and your own judgement. I feel many days I am stuck in a dream, and when I ask for support or compliments, I am not asking you tell me I am that swan, I am just asking to verify that the swan I see in the mirror is real. For now I need that!