Fear of change

This isn’t about weightloss, for once. But let me just share the stats quickly. I’ve passed the nine stone lost mark. Tomorrow it’ll be five months since my operation. I now weight exactly 19 stone, so I’ve lost nine stone two pounds (that’s 128 pounds or 58 kilos). It feels great. I’ve lost a whole person and I feel better literally every single day.

Now, to the main business of today’s blog post. For the last two years, I’ve essentially had two jobs. I had my day job and I had my freelance proofreading gig. I’ve needed both. My main job paid my rent for my lovely flat and my proofreading paid for everything else. London is expensive. And I chose to live in a nice big flat and I chose to live alone, so I didn’t make life cheap for myself, and having two jobs was exhausting, but it was worth it. On a typical day, I’d do about half an hour of proofreading before going to work and then maybe an hour or two in the evenings when I got home. There were times when I felt like I was working 24 hours a day.

Then, in November, the proofreading began to dry up. It didn’t go completely, but the steady river of work turned into a trickle. I went from averaging about €1000 a month to about €200 a month, so even though I got a pay rise from my main job, I was still down by hundreds a month. Last month, for the first time in two years, I missed a loan repayment to my Irish bank.

And then I got an email from an acquaintance, suggesting I apply for a job at her company. I did, on a whim. And I got an interview and it went well and I’ve been invited back for a second interview this week, a more informal chance to “meet the team”. It’s all looking very positive. There’s a good chance I’ll get the job.

And it’s exciting and it’s breaking my heart. It feels like fate, that this job walks up to me and knocks on my door at a moment in my life when I needed more money. But the idea of leaving my current job upsets me.

I remember two and a half years ago, sitting in Cork airport, waiting for my flight to London (via Copenhagen – I left for London in such a rush that the cheapest way to get there from Ireland was to go via Denmark.) I distinctly remember my whole body sighing. I was so excited at the thought of an adventure. Of a big city. Of a new life. But at the same time, I had this feeling of “here I go again”. Like when I was 22 and moved to Poland or 25 and moved to Dublin or 29 and became a full-time student again or 33 and moved to Vietnam or 34 and moved to Longford. Here I go again. Another suitcase in another hall. I felt rootless. I felt alone. I felt that this was my last chance, that I was down to my final reserves of bravery and that this had to be my last big move.

And the first months in London were so worth it. So, so worth it. But they were hard as well. I lived in a succession of shitty hostels. I had part-time hours of teaching and then training and I had online work but I constantly ran out of money. But I was electrified by London. I slept with so many men when I arrived. I did things I’d never done before. I woke up in TravelLodges with strange men and got late night trains and buses back to my hostel from the flats of kinky men in West Dulwich and East Ham and Clapham and Highbury and it was a brand new life. I started going to West End shows and sobbed at Mamma Mia that I was finally really here and really living a life of dreamed of. I went to my first gay sauna. It was all amazing.

But it wasn’t a settled life. My first birthday in London, I treated myself to an expensive hostel near St Paul’s Cathedral that had clean showers. I was sharing a room with five others and I spent most of the day idly browsing the internet. I considered contacting some old friends in London and asking if they wanted to do something for my birthday, but I’m bad at staying in touch with people so I didn’t. But I couldn’t spend my birthday alone, so I worked Grindr and GROWLr for a few hours until I found a man. I wasn’t going to be alone. I went to his flat where he stripped me and forced me onto my knees and slapped me and put a gimp mask over my head and forced poppers on me and it was thrilling and degrading and I was lonely so I accepted that as my birthday treat.

That’s not my life any more. I have real people in my life now. I love the people I work with. I now see them outside of work too. I don’t need to have a maths teacher in North London rough me up so I’m not alone. It would be such a wrench to leave the place and people that I love. I know I’m good at my job. I’ve carved a niche for myself there. I look forward to going in every day. I genuinely love my colleagues. And I know I wouldn’t lose the friends I’ve made if I left, but I also know that it would be different. And that’s a change I’m afraid of.

But fate seems to be speaking to me. And it’s not just the money. I wrote last week about how I’ve been reading and writing more and getting more curious, about how I’m better able to concentrate and better able to remember things and working faster. This job would be more academic than my current one. It would be a new challenge. I spent a long time being scared of academic work after being burned during my PhD. But I don’t feel scared any more. I’m ready for this. Working in the world of CELTA is very much my safe space. And I like it. But I think it’s time to leave that comfort zone. A new adventure would be good.

At least until I make my break and achieve true stardom.

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Bye Floyd!

So, I now weight 19 stone 4 pounds and have lost 8 stone 12 pounds (124 pounds or 56.2 kilos) since my operation 20 weeks ago. I started googling things that weigh 124 pounds. You guys, I’ve lost a featherweight boxer. An adult human being.

I googled famous featherweights so I could post a picture of one of them on my weightloss instagram account (@theweightlosshomo – follow me!) Featherweight might sound tiny. They’re not. Famous featherweights include: Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao and Carl Frampton. They’re not tiny, tiny men. And I’ve lost the equivalent of a whole one of them. Imagine. A few months ago, I was walking around with Floyd Mayweather strapped to my belly. How did I manage to get anything done?

And life continues to be happy as a result. It’s not perfect, of course. I have horribly painful kidney stones and my finances have got temporarily rocky again, so there’s plenty for me to complain about, but not in this post. Instead, I’ll write about three happy things:

Happy Thing Number One: My penis is definitely bigger. Yay! The fat pad around it has receded and at some stage I need to stop looking at myself naked in full-length mirrors. But not yet.

Happy Thing Number Two: My favourite jacket fits me again. It’s a little bright green, stripey Britpop-esque jacket that I bought back in 2007, the last time I was this size, and I’ve kept it through 12 years of it not fitting because I love it. And now I can wear it again. I did another session of trying on all my clothes yesterday and there were another two bags of clothes to go to a charity shop. I’m shrinking so fast! The best thing was getting rid of my awful navy blue coat that I’ve worn for the last three winters. I hated it. It was so dull and it shrouded all my clothes in depression when I wore it. It never fitted right. For the first two years I had it, it didn’t zip up at the front and it didn’t keep me dry. This winter it did zip up, but it was too baggy on the shoulders and too long in the arms. Because a jacket is something you wear day after day, it should be one of your favourite pieces of clothing and I despised this coat. I love that I’ll never wear it again.

Happy Thing Number Three: I barely believe this myself, but I think it’s true. Losing weight has made me cleverer. I don’t know why. I don’t know if it’s a healthy body leading to a healthy mind. Or if it’s the clarity of mind I have from not always obsessing about food and how to stop eating. Whatever it is, I can read more and for longer. I find myself craving books. I can concentrate better. I can work faster. I get the same amount done on a work day now in about an hour less than it used to take me a few months ago. I can write faster. I’m consistently reading every day and writing every day. I find myself craving knowledge again. I remember being amazed at how much my brain and my motivation to study slowed down between my Masters and my PhD. I attributed it to all kinds of personal issues. But I was nine stone lighter when I did my Masters than when I did my PhD. I can feel my inner nerd waking up, wanting to learn new things again. I feel cleverer. Maybe it’s just that I haven’t had any alcohol in four months. I don’t know. But whatever it is, it’s a good thing.

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Doing more stuff

As I type this, I can’t lift my arms. But more of that in a minute.

Regular business first: more success. I lost another three pounds this week, for a new total of 8 stone 5 pounds lost (117 pounds or 53 kilos). I didn’t think it would be that good a result. I’d had a dicey week for eating. I’m definitely eating more than I was a month ago. But I guess I was eating so little that having more is still eating very little.

And because I’m eating very little, I’m smaller and so I’m better able for life. On Saturday, I was going to the filming of a TV show. (I love London.) When I first moved to London, I went to lots of shows. I was always nervous if someone else booked the seats. What if they didn’t book me an aisle seat? I only fitted in theatres if I could leave the bulk of my bulk hang off on one side. I don’t need to do that any more. I can just say yes to things. I fit in the seats the world sends. I don’t need special ones any more. I can just say yes.

As it turned out, we were too late to get into the show. It wasn’t starting till 7:35 and we were there at 4:00, but apparently people had been queueing all day. Who knew The Greatest Dancer was so popular? One of my friends suggested the five of us go back to mine to watch it. I didn’t hesitate. I just said yes. I cannot tell you how bizarre this is for me. I’m very protective of my own space, for one thing. For another, I used to need a lot of time to prepare before someone could visit because I used to spend the weekends lying down because I was just so tired. I wasn’t able to bend over and pick up dirty clothes off the floor. Or the pizza boxes for that matter. I used to be breathless from bending over to fill the washing machine and sometimes I’d have to wash clothes twice because I didn’t have the energy to bend over and empty it and the clothes would start to stink and I’d just wash them again because that was easier than bending over to empty the machine. I couldn’t bend over to plug in a hoover without taking off my trousers first. My digestive issues meant my bathroom was a battleground to keep clean. I’m not saying I lived in filth, but it was really, really hard to keep the place clean and tidy and any visitors would have to be prepared for in advance.

But on Saturday, I didn’t blink an eye. Sure. My house was tidy. I get great joy from tidying now. And it’s not just a Marie Kondo fad (though she helped). It’s rediscovering an ability that was lost to me. I can be that person now. I can keep a house tidy. It’s fine to just drop by. Hey world, you don’t need an appointment to call in to Connor’s place now. It’s ready.

So on Saturday night, I had five people over.

Not only that, but I was doing something on Sunday too. It’s not that long since I would have refused an invitation to do something on a Sunday if I was already doing something on a Saturday. I wouldn’t have had the energy. Now I can. I can say yes.

We were going to an escape room for a friend’s birthday. We were on the Dark Side of the Moon, killing Space Nazis and it was so much fun.

At one point in the battle against the space nazis, we had to slide down an actual slide and then roll/crawl/squirm under a giant tube. As I went down the slide, I shrieked. I shrieked loudly and at length. Apparently, people in other escape rooms could hear me. It was amazing. I visualised my death. But I was fine. I can slide!

I don’t know if I can explain what it’s like not to trust your body. When you have a body that is too big for furniture, that breaks beds and chairs, a body that doctors can’t find a blood pressure cuff big enough for, you accept that you can’t do things. And I really never trust my body. I’m not the sort to jump over things, or to jump on things, or to climb anywhere, or to wriggle through a gap, or to stand on a chair. Falling is a big risk for me. Nothing is strong enough to hold me upright. And 28 stone crushing your ankle is a lot worse than a normal-sized person crushing their ankle. I’ve never gone skiing. I’m afraid of doing things like getting up on a skateboard or into a canoe. Even as a fat child, I never learned to swim or to ride a bike. I don’t trust my body not to sink or to topple over. I’ve been afraid all my life. So just saying ‘Fuck it!’ and going down a slide meant a lot to me. I can trust my body. I didn’t die. I didn’t break anything. It was wonderful. I felt something I don’t think I’ve felt since I was a child.

And afterwards, I was able to crawl under the giant tube, which I literally wouldn’t have been able to even attempt four months ago. I just wouldn’t have fit.

If I did the escape room four months ago, the space nazis would have got me. I’d be dead now. On the moon.

And then today after work, I went to an exercise class at my gym. I haven’t been to a group exercise class since I was in the university boxing club six years ago. It was a “sculpt” class, where you basically do aerobics while lifting weights. And it was everything.

It was a very gay experience. It was all done to dance remixes of Rihanna and Little Mix. The instructor had a Britney-in-concert microphone and she shouted at us about clenching our bottoms. All very gay. I’m still not an elegant mover. I was the guy in the class that went left when everyone else was going right. I also managed to pick the wonky step that was shorter on one end so I looked like I was surfing while I was doing my bicep curls. But I loved it.

I’m so tired now. I can’t lift my arms. But I have more life than I did.

This operation has been a miracle for me. I can live so much more. I can be part of the world. I can slide down slides. I can have friends over without planning it. I can crawl under things. I can empty the washing machine without using up my quota of energy for the day. I can go to the gym and move inelegantly to Rihanna. I can be out in the world and do more stuff and I can be at home and do more stuff. I can do more stuff. I have more life. And it makes me cry with gratitude that I have this now.

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Change come dropping slow. Too slow. I’m making one of the biggest and most dramatic changes of my life. This experience is thrillingly fast. And yet, it’s not. It feels slow.

Every day, multiple times a day, I look in a mirror. And I’m overjoyed at how much I’ve lost. And yet, every day multiple times a day, I look in the mirror and see someone who is still a very fat man. Remember when Gok Wan was famous and was doing “How To Look Good Naked”? He used to line up people of different sizes and then get that week’s star to stand in their place in the line and they invariably thought they were fatter than a person who was fatter than them? I imagine we all think we’re fatter than we actually are. If I see other fat people I always wonder if they’re fatter than me because I genuinely have no idea and presume I’m always the fattest person in any given room.

I know I’m still fat. If someone wanted to describe me and fat or some polite synonym for fat wasn’t in the description, then it would just be a straight up lie. The other day, I didn’t give a beggar any money as I passed him outside Brixton Station. I never have change on me any more since contactless became a thing. He got in my face and called me a chubby fucker. Because, even though my whole existence for the last four months has been about the unfattening, the fat remains. My core life project right now is not being fat and yet my primary characteristic on display to the outside world is my fatness. It’s an uneasy marriage within my self.

I’m trying to abandon Fat Connor. I’ve given my fat clothes away to charity. And I deleted two apps from my phone at the weekend. One was Chasabl and the other was Grommr. One is an app for men who love fat man (for so-called chubs and chasers), the other for men who love men who are gaining weight (for so-called feeders and gainers). It was liberating. When I first came to London, I used to hide the fact that I preferred Diet Coke to real Coke from the men I went on dates with because they wanted a man who loved his fat. I’ll never be that person again. I’ll hopefully never have to pretend to love being fat again.

But I’m not in a new category yet. I’m still only attractive to the men who fetishise fat. What to do? Maybe I could try landing a man with my personality? I hear that happens sometimes.

So I updated my Tinder profile. New photos of the less fat me. And more sparkly photos too. In previous times on previous apps, I’ve tried to butch it up. If you like fat men, you want to shag an ox, not a unicorn. But Tinder Connor is going to be honest and he’s going to wear his pink trousers. Who knows what might happen?

I spent the weekend swiping left and right. I made 13 matches. At first I tried what I’d always tried before: friendly messages, complimenting something in their profile, maybe asking a non-judgmental question. No answers.

It was time to change tack. Instead of saying hello, I changed my greeting and I asked the prospective matches for their opinion on What Naomi Smalls Did In This Week’s Episode Of RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars. Literally within seconds, answers started flooding in. Lesson learned. To make a gay talk, just mention Drag Race. Admittedly, some of the men were offended that I presumed they watched Drag Race just because they were gay and one poor boy panicked because he hadn’t seen this week’s episode and didn’t want me to spoil it for him, but overall, it was a great success.

Sometimes I think all I want from life is someone to discuss Drag Race with. I mean, I’d like naked time too, and none of these conversations went there, but that was kind of refreshing. The kind of conversations I’m used to having are ones where men ask me things like “I bet you pant really hard when you wank” or “Would you sit on my neck and jiggle your belly while you squash all the breath out of me?” Discussing drag queens and frocks and lipsyncing and snatching wigs might not get me laid, but for now I think that’s ok.

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Halfway Smashway

It’s been four months since my operation and, for the first time in eleven years, I weigh under twenty stone. I’ve now lost 8 stone 2 pounds (114 pounds or 51.7 kegs). That’s a hell of a lot of weight to lose.

I mean, I’m not nearly finished. But I am halfway there. I have another 8 stone or so to lose before I’m a healthy weight. But it feels so very achievable now.

I cannot express how much better I feel. I can feel myself moving faster. There was a time in my life when every single time I walked anywhere – to the bus stop, to the shop, to the toilet, it took effort. Real effort. Every step was painful. Now it isn’t. I’m no athlete, but walking is fine. And walking is fast. Or at least faster.

A friend of mine messaged me to say that I’m glowing in my recent Instagram and Facebook posts. And it’s true. I can see how happy I look. And how much thinner I’m looking.

However, my newfound smaller body isn’t the only reason I’m posting more selfies. It’s because I have my weekends again. I no longer have to spend my weekends in bed to recover from the sheer effort of moving my body around at work five days a week. This means I get out of bed and open my curtains and clean my house and that makes the selfies possible. Because I have daylight in my life again and I have a clean space that’s fit for photography. And it doesn’t take effort to get up and do this. For years now, I’ve just accepted that everything is an effort. But it isn’t any more. My weekends are weekends again. And they’re mine.

My brother was visiting me this week. The last time he visited me was murder. I couldn’t go at tourist rate. I wasn’t able to walk around museums and shops and markets and I just had to insist we take breaks and sit down. I vividly remember standing with him in Camden Market, trying to hold back the tears, while fantasising about stabbing my ankles, because maybe bloodletting would relieve the pain. This time was completely different. I was able for walks. I was able for museums and shops and exhibitions. I didn’t need to plead for breaks.

My brother seemed worried about how little I was eating. I know I’m not fun to go out to dinner with. I eat very little and sit and watch the other person, probably while I burp and rub my chest because those three pieces of chicken were just a little too much for me. He encouraged me to eat more. He’s not the only one who can’t seem to see the freedom in not eating much. Lots of people look sad for me that I can’t gorge myself on whatever they’re eating. I want to say to them that they don’t understand the joy I have in saying no. The joy in not having to open my mouth and just pour food in any more.

He also suggested I practise eating bigger meals because I’ll have to eat more someday.

Again, lots of people seem to be very worried about me not being able to stop losing weight like this. First of all, trust me, I don’t need training in eating more. I know how to eat more. Secondly, calm down! I’m only halfway there. It’s like someone who’s halfway up a mountain and people keep asking them how they’ll get down. I have to get to the top first, you numpties!

I’ll be able to eat more. My stomach is getting bigger all the time. I can tolerate carbs like I couldn’t before. I find myself having chocolate occasionally. I find myself having more pasta. I’ll definitely be able to eat again. Don’t worry. Right now, it’s all good. I’ve lost five pounds this week and five pounds last week, so I’m still eating small enough amounts. But that’s going to slow down. So don’t worry. I will eat again. But while this surgery has granted me a little holiday from food, don’t begrudge me it. I needed it and I’m going to squeeze all the good I can from it.

Halfway there, living on a prayer.

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20% happier

The stats are still great. 16 weeks out and I’m down 5 pounds this week, for a total loss of 7 stone 11 pounds (that’s 109 pounds or 49.4 kilos). I’m dropping down through clothes sizes at an alarmingly thrilling rate.

People are less likely to avoid sitting next to me on the bus because less of my bulk falls into the neighbouring seat.

I had to take a hammer and nail to my (new) belt today to knock some new holes in it because I’m getting smaller.

I can wash my feet in the shower now and no longer have to have faith in the cleansing power of sudsy water running over them.

I debuted a pair of smashing pink trousers at work on Friday. They are size 46. Size 56 were too tight for me in October.

Thin people have better lives.

But my favourite difference was something I only noticed last week. That is that my mind is no longer feverish and panicky and noisy.

When you feel caught in a trap all the time, it can be difficult to enjoy things. I spent so much of my life binge-eating constantly, feeling guilty about my bingeing, making deals with myself to stop eating constantly, feeling devoid of hope of ever being able to move around comfortably or ever being deserving of love or desire. Those thoughts were with me constantly and they wouldn’t shut up.

One evening last week, I was watching TV and I realised that that was all I was doing. I wasn’t eating a pizza and wedges and garlic bread. I wasn’t checking my phone every two minutes. I wasn’t getting so distracted that I couldn’t follow the show. I was just watching TV and enjoying it. There was no noise in my brain. No worry. No internal arguments about food or about whether I would ever be master of myself and my body. No noise. Just me, watching a stupid drama on Netflix.

The same is true at night. Now I can lie in bed and fall asleep. I don’t need to read or look at my phone or laptop for the first three hours I’m in bed because I just can’t stand the silence of just falling asleep. My brain will now let me do this. I don’t want to exaggerate here. I’m still someone who finds falling asleep very difficult, but it’s nothing as bad as it used to be. My brain is ok, even when it’s undistracted.

I’m still overly emotional and introverted and excitable and a thinker and a worrier and a planner and a dreamer. But my thoughts aren’t feverish any more. I have peace in my days.

I remember the moment when the pizza would arrives and I’d take my first bite and I could just focus on the pizza and forget about my brain. It was a lovely moment, but I kind of have it all the time now. Now I don’t need the pizza to bring me focus and quiet. Now I carry it with me.

I wish I knew how to describe this better. It’s not as if my problems have been erased and it’s not as if I used to wander around in the past completely dysfunctionally mumbling to myself tearfully at all hours of the day and night. All I can say is that my brain used to be filled with a frantic noise and now that’s gone. I used to find peace in binges and now I don’t need to because I have it all the time. I know this sounds like I’ve found religion. Trust me. I haven’t. But I have found something. A happy something. I would say that on a typical day now, versus a typical day five months ago, I am now 20% happier than I was and I don’t know if we can ask for much more than that from life.

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These little things

So I’m down another four pounds this week. It’s been fourteen weeks and I’m down seven stone three pounds (101 pounds or 45.8 kg). That’s a hell of a lot. Some little changes:

  • I no longer avoid stairs. I now sit upstairs on the bus, not downstairs with the drunks and the elderly. I work in a school with a lot of stairs and while I still can’t bound up them like a gazelle, I don’t make up silly excuses to not climb them any more.
  • Because I’m a slave to the zeitgeist, I watched Marie Kondo’s Netflix show last weekend and have obsessively been touching my possessions to see if they spark joy and disposing of those that don’t. I tried on every single item of clothing I own last Sunday and filled three big black bags with clothes that were too big for me. Five days later, I put on a shirt that I had kept for work. It was already too baggy. A shirt became too big for me in 5 days. This process is insanely fast.
  • My ass is always sore. I’ve lost a lot of padding there and sitting is murder. My coccyx is used to having a layer of fat between it and the chair. That’s not there any more. I’m told that this will pass after a month or so. I can’t wait.
  • My joint pains are improving so, so much. I still wake up stiff because my body’s been through a lot. And my ankles are still sore because they’ve been sore for twenty years. But my hips and my knees are no longer in constant pain.
  • I can kneel again. And I can get up after kneeling again. Come and get me boys.
  • Speaking of which, my harness fits way better than it did.
  • My skin around my chest and belly has started to sag. I knew it was coming, but I thought maybe I’d get away without any loose skin. When I last lost a significant amount of weight, in 2007, my skin snapped back to my new size and nothing sagged. But I was younger then and my starting weight wasn’t anything as high. Oh well. Battle scars to wear with pride.
  • Laundry doesn’t take as long. Partly because bending over at the washing machine is no longer an ordeal and partly because I can now take off my socks. I can now reach my feet to get my socks off at the end of the day. Before, I found it hard to reach my feet, so I’d use the big toe of my other foot to get my sock off, turning it inside out and launching it across the room in the process. Now that I can reach my feet, my socks come off without having to be turned inside out and without having to be rescued from where they’ve landed on a bookshelf or in a bin and so when I’m doing laundry, I don’t have to turn them the right way round.
  • My jacket has become a coat. I felt something at my ass the other day. I reached around to see what was fondling me. It was my jacket, which previously stopped at the bottom of my back, but I’ve lost so much bulk that it now hangs much lower and so it covers my ass as well.
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