Saturday, July 15, 2017

July 15th, 2017 In Honor of Billie

July 15th, 2017 In Honor of Billie

This isn't the post I planned for tonight. I planned an elaborate recount of Friday, a day and night mom and I will not soon forget. I'm going to let that one go. It was over-the-top. Mom loved every second. I loved seeing her love every second.

Tonight's edition is for a family member we lost this morning.

Billie Sue was Irene's (my ex-wife) little sister. She wasn't even forty years old. She passed away this morning. Numerous health issues, certainly, but I do not know the specifics. Billie Sue leaves behind two young daughters and a husband. Rest in peace, Billie, you're loved.

I just ran into her at the grocery store a few weeks ago. It doesn't seem possible for her to be gone. She was way too young. My youngest daughter and other family members are inconsolable right now.

Billie Sue was always kind, loving, always ready to laugh, always willing to help people--and despite challenges, she always seemed to have a measure of happiness, especially in the last few years.

Billie often read this blog. She called me after I posted the February 26th, 2015 edition--just to say she loved me then and she loved me now. It was Billie who, upon seeing my dramatic transformation for the first time, broke down in tears for the loss of the Sean she remembered. She really touched me then, and it touched me that she'd call to clarify her love for both physical versions of me.

If you're a prayerful soul, please include Billie Sue's two little girls and their daddy, if you can. I know they're likely strangers to you--but please, if you could. It's just heartbreaking to think of these two little girls trying to process the loss of their mom. Her husband has a good family and I'm certain they're all being cared for very well.

Today: I maintained the integrity of my maintenance calorie budget, I remained refined sugar-free, I met my daily water goal, and I stayed well connected with support.

In honor of Billie Sue, I'm republishing the following post. Billie told me it was one of her favorites. She, of course, is the family member referenced.

From the archives- February 26th, 2015:

"Your Superpower Comes With Awesome Responsibility"

It's as if we possess a very real superpower. We have the ability to completely transform our appearance without cosmetic surgery and without a Hollywood makeup/special effects artist. This is real. The transformation can be so dramatic, people who have known us our entire lives walk right past, not knowing who we are, only the image of who we were.

Until we speak. 

Then, the mind-blowing, jaw on the floor reaction erupts and it feels good. It's a novelty; a trick few possess, a guaranteed show stopper--the "final reveal," so to speak. If your life was a reality tv show, you would cut to commercial right before this encounter.

For any of us who have chosen or choose to use this superpower, it's important to consider and pursue a deeper understanding of the effect and how it can affect us in profound ways. Yes, it's the big "Remember, your superpower comes with an awesome responsibility" type thing.

It's important, because who we were and who we are; the core elements of our being, remain the same. 

My favorite color is blue. It has been my entire life. At 505 pounds and at 230 pounds, didn't matter, it's my favorite color. Blue, all shades. My deep seeded likes and dislikes, the things that bring me the most joy, my special talents, my heart, my compassion and empathy for others, my intelligence, my sense of humor; I possessed all of it at 505 pounds and at 230 pounds.

The superficial changes are dramatic and it's very tempting to believe we are, indeed, a completely different person. If we attach our identity too much to this notion, we quickly lose ourselves along the way.

I remember the unusual reaction of a family member I hadn't seen in a very long time, upon seeing me for the first time at 230 pounds. She cried. And it wasn't tears of joy and celebration. I quickly identified how she was seriously having a moment. I asked her, "what's wrong?" Her reply affected me deeply, changing my perspective and nudging me in a self-exploratory direction
I wasn't necessarily prepared to go.

"It's like the Sean I knew and loved, died."

Suddenly, I couldn't look at before pictures without feeling a separation of identity. I felt sorry for that guy. I missed him. I was grieving his loss.

It's interesting how on Day 1 of this blog I wrote about the scary vision of my own funeral. It was one of the thoughts compelling me toward my iron-clad/non-negotiable decision to choose change before change chose me. My goal was to avoid this dark scenario. And yet, upon reaching a drastically different body weight, it's as if I still held a funeral in my mind.

The more I accepted my new superficial reality and the more I separated from my old existence, the further away I drifted from the core of my being.

The trouble is, the brain doesn't really forget. My reflection in the mirror had changed. Photographs were no longer avoided, they were embraced. But still, my brain kept a big file of everything that made me who I am. This file contained the deep stuff; the experiences and feelings of my past and the behavioral reactions to these things, too. I couldn't escape myself.

Accessing this deeply embedded file within my brain helped me regain 164 pounds of my initial 275-pound weight loss. It makes sense. My natural, deep seeded behaviors and physical appearance were merely harmonizing with my brain's original image and experience of me.

Now, having lost 136 pounds of the 164 pound regain, what's different?

I no longer identify as "old Sean" and/or "new Sean" I'm just, Sean. 

My self-worth and identity don't change with the number on the scale or the reflection in the mirror. Losing weight helps me become healthier but it doesn't make me a better person. Gaining weight has negative effects on my health, but it doesn't make me any less of a person.

The core qualities of who I am, who I've always been, will be celebrated and nurtured--allowing them to grow, to blossom in their intended and natural path. The affected levels of my life and the resulting behaviors will be closely monitored, better understood and helped with intentional support and positive actions. They will not be ignored as if they no longer exist.

As Ralph Marston so eloquently expressed in the foreword of my book: "Truth is powerful. The more you seek to hide from it, the more forcefully it asserts itself, until you eventually cannot deny it."

So, go ahead, use your incredible superpower to transform. Just, please--be true to yourself along the way. Don't forget who you are. Don't ignore the qualities that make you incredibly special. Enjoy your transformation and believe me when I say, the most powerful transformation, the one giving you gifts to last a lifetime, isn't the physical, it's the mental/emotional transformation.

The physical freedom is great. The emotional/mental freedom can become something beyond your wildest imagination, far exceeding whatever expectation you brought into this experience.

We love you, Billie Sue. You will be missed.

Today's Accountability Tweets:

Thank you for reading and your continued support,


  1. So very sorry for this awful loss. Life is not fair. Prayers for you and Billie's family, especially her husband and young daughters. I am reeling from news we recently received. My husband's younger sister has been diagnosed and is now undergoing very harsh and difficult treatment for pancreatic cancer. This kind of cancer is almost always a death sentence. She retired from a 40+ year teaching career one month before diagnosis. She had diligently watched her weight her entire life, as a congenital hip problem would have made walking impossible if she was heavy. No, life is not fair.

  2. So sorry for your loss. How terrible.

  3. Ohhh, you have my sympathies. Such a sad shock the news must have been for you.

    All concerned are in my prayers.

    This may not be of much comfort now, but perhaps later. When someone dies young, I often think that God must be sparing them from some future sorrow or harm far worse than leaving this world sooner than expected. He is a loving Father; we can trust in His care...even when we don't understand the whys of it all.



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