At 34 years old and 375 pounds, Ami Ruby had never been on a date, much less had a boyfriend. She was ashamed of her body, and ran from any type of intimacy, even with family and lifelong friends.
Mary Jo Rapini, a psychotherapist at The Methodist Hospital Weight Management Center in Houston, quickly points out that intimacy is not sex. Intimacy is sensuality, sexuality, love and wishing good will on another. Rapini knows her patients are undergoing an enormous change—one that affects every aspect of their lives.
Intimacy therapy is critical for most patients who undergo rapid weight loss, she says, because they must learn to accept and appreciate their bodies in order to enjoy close relationships with others, as well as learn to not hide behind their weight or use food to medicate themselves in tough social situations. Also, people who are obese often are socially regressed, not having matured at the same rate as others.
In June 2004, Ruby underwent bariatric surgery. She was ready to live life, rather than simply exist. After losing more than 100 pounds, and looking forward to losing 100 more, she is involved in group therapy and counseling with Rapini, and she is learning to appreciate the power of touch, eye contact and compliments—all things she missed out on until now.