My name is Dana Rosser, and I’m proud to say I’ve been a member of the OAC Community for about six years. I initially discovered the OAC when I was doing research for my book: “Thru Thick and Thin; Facing Obesity Thru the Eyes of a Loved One.”
As an advocate and supporter for people who suffer with obesity, I felt that the OAC connected me with people who shared my desire to bring awareness through education, advocacy and support in a non-judgmental way…and that touched my heart.
I was blessed to attend their first inaugural Your Weight Matters Convention & EXPO in Dallas (2012) as well as the 2018 Convention in Denver. The OAC has graciously given me a platform to share my unique vantage point of living with and loving someone affected by obesity.
Loving Someone with Obesity
You see, I fell in love with and married a 460 lb. gentleman, Dr. James “Butch” Rosser. Butch is a world-renowned surgeon and from the beginning of our relationship, people thought I was with him because of the perceived prestige, fame and fortune. In their mind, how could anyone find a man with severe obesity attractive?
I loved this funny, smart, caring and kind man. I fell in love with his soul. I was able to see beyond his outward appearance which seemed to consume others. If being judged by others wasn’t enough, I often judged myself. In spite of my deep love for him, I knew he needed to address his weight and convincing myself otherwise was futile.
The Mental Battle
I often had conflicting feelings about Butch’s weight. On one hand, I felt that I needed to protect him from the cruel world of “fat haters.” The stares, snickers, blatant disrespect and discrimination from total strangers were maddening. I often found myself “on guard” for those who offended him. After all, this was the person I loved!
On the other hand, I was angry, scared and embarrassed at how his weight affected me. I worried constantly about his health. I was afraid daily that someone would call me and say the love of my life died of a heart attack or that I would wake up one morning and he would have slipped away from terrible sleep apnea. I became annoyed when he would eat unhealthy food because I felt he was slowly killing himself and taking me down with him (emotionally). After all, we have five children who need a father and the thought of losing him was too painful to bare.
A Defining Moment
The worse feeling was when I felt shame because of his weight. I remember when we were on an airplane and Butch took his seat, but it broke and he ended up in the lap of the person behind him. I was humiliated for him, but at the same time, I went into “protector mode” and gave him my seat while I sat upright in the broken seat for the rest of the flight.
I felt mortified and then ashamed that I even felt that way, which left me mentally numb. I needed support but was too afraid to tell my truth. I, too, didn’t want to be judged or hurt Butch’s feelings. I often wondered if other families were going through these same challenges. Were their support groups for family members? Does anyone care to notice that obesity is truly a family affair? Does anyone even care that supporters are suffering in silence?
After Weight-loss Surgery
In August 2001, Butch decided to have gastric bypass surgery. Honestly, I didn’t want him to do it. I thought this was such a serious surgery and I was so afraid to lose him. He told me, “Dana, I have to risk my life to save my life. I will be okay.”
Thank God the surgery was a success, because he has released 160 lbs. and has kept it off. Our family’s quality of life has drastically changed for the good. Make no mistake – weight-loss surgery is NOT the easy way out. Butch still needs to eat healthy and work out to continue to maintain his weight-loss. However, seeing Butch happy, healthy, mobile and enjoying his life to the fullest was a dream come true and has benefited the entire family.
A Word from Me to You
Our story is a simple love story – a story of two imperfect people sacrificing and loving each other unconditionally Thru Thick and Thin.
I encourage any supporter who is suffering silently and is trying to make sense of this unique journey to remember that you’re not alone. Don’t get caught up in toxic patterns of silence. Always speak the truth in LOVE… never forget that your pain is valid and valued.
More about Dana Rosser:
An OAC Community Member, Dana is dedicated to educating people on how to support a loved one’s challenges with obesity. She shares comfort and understanding from the often overlooked perspective of a spouse/family member. She focuses on leading other caregivers and supporters out of seclusion, addressing their emotions and helping them navigate the delicate issues of caring for someone affected by obesity. Through her efforts, Dana hopes to strengthen communication of the family unit as they learn to conquer this obstacle together.