The depressed identity is hard to break from, but I find the “fit person” identity even tougher to let go of. This is because it is perceived as a positive, healthy identification, and everyone around you will reinforce that. When I stopped training and spent months writing in France instead, I gained a few pounds from all the bread and cheese. I did not obsess about eating clean and exercising, though I still did these things fairly regularly. I began to smile more, to meditate… I was much more serene. When I talked to others, it was about love and compassion.
When I came back, empowered by this new me but a few pounds heavier, my close friend reacted in an unexpected way. He was bothered. It wasn’t my extra pounds that agitated him. There was an odd feeling every time we met—I felt he was in mourning around me, as if somebody had passed away. He would look at me and say with sadness in his eyes, “Why can’t you live a normal life? Why can’t you be like before?”
That person I was before, that “normal” one he referred to, was an anxious, fearful woman with whom he had had a relationship based on listening to each other’s complaints. We often agreed on the unfairness of life. Now that I was telling him that everything was perfect as it was, he felt he couldn’t be his old self with me anymore. The person who I once believed was me was "dying," and my friend felt that he couldn't be around someone who was "dying." What a fascinating experience it is to let go of who you think you are... over and over again!