As a comedian who's controversial, I never read comment sections on the Internet. That applies to anything I write, any article written about me or any show review. Because really? What am I gonna gain from it?
If it's positive, I'll get a bigger ego, and if it's negative, it's still not gonna change the way I do comedy or live my life. So it's a no-brainer. They're not worth reading.
But the article I wrote for xoJane is part of a very personal Broadway show I'm writing about my 32-year struggle (from ages 18 to 50) with food and men, so I figured I'd read the comments since it had gotten a retweet from Dr. Drew -- one of my inspirations in addiction counseling -- and some really great tweets from other folks.
I totally figured that people who had food struggles would relate. So I was angered by some of the comments -- in fact, I was infuriated. Like "Incredible Hulk" mad!
Luckily, I had a plane ride to calm down, and by the time I'd landed, I'd remembered that behind anger, there is usually another emotion -- I learned that in rehab -- and that the emotion I was feeling was sadness and hurt.
That being said, I figured I could either respond to the comments with the Lisa Lampanelli persona, dissecting and insulting every negative commenter -- which, by the way, I'm terribly good at -- or I could respond from my authentic self. I chose to be authentic about it.
I try to live by two rules: Never Complain, Never Explain (which I learned through 12-step work on my eating and men addiction), and Let Go Of What Other People Think. So, since I'm better at the first rule, I'm not going to explain my comedy. You either get it or you don't. This is America, and thankfully you can go see or listen to someone else. There are many musical artists, comedians and other performers I love and some I don't, so who you choose to spend your entertainment dollar on is completely up to you.
However, since I'm still bad at rule number 2 -- letting go of what other people think -- that is more of a challenge.
Here's the thing. I have never, ever hidden the fact that I had weight loss surgery. In fact, I'm incredibly proud of it. The second I was conscious in the hospital, I asked my doctor when I could announce it to the world.
See, I've never lied about anything in my career. I've told the truth about my dating life, the size of my husband's testicles (much to his dismay) and my home life. So, I told my doctor that I wanted to announce the surgery immediately. He said I could absolutely do that in six weeks when the healing had gotten underway, and in a flash I announced the surgery on Bethenny Frankel's talk show, did follow-up interviews on Good Morning America, Dr. Oz, Loveline with Dr. Drew, Howard Stern, Jay Leno and David Letterman and have answered any and all questions about the surgery.
I am proud to have taken this step to extend my life -- as well as my husband's (since he also had the gastric sleeve surgery). So, when commenters implied that in telling the story I told in xoJane that I was not being truthful about the surgery, that fried my ass. My answer could simply have been: "What are you -- fucking idiotic? Have you been under a rock since last June and July when I began to talk about the surgery? Get your head out of your computer, cunt, and read a paper!"
But I'm not gonna do that. That would be Lisa Lampanelli talking -- the onstage Lisa -- not the real Lisa Lampugnale from Connecticut, who has been struggling with food and weight since an attempted date rape in college.
So, here's what the real Lisa has to say: The story I wrote for xoJane was a snapshot of a moment in time a few years ago when I was in the midst of trying anything and everything to get my weight and food issues under control. I wrote it as a way of showing the lengths I went to in order to work on this issue and just one of the many things I did, including extreme dieting and exercise, plus every ridiculous measure imaginable, to erase this issue from my life.
It occurred long before my husband and I were told by our doctor last year, "How many 70-year-olds do you see at your weight?" -- implying that we wouldn't be around to see that age unless we did something about our food addiction.
I assumed that people have seen me talking about the surgery for so many months now that they would know that this piece was just an event that eventually led to it.
Now that that's straightened out, two more things. When I appeared on Dr. Oz, he told the audience that bariatric surgery is the most underutilized surgery in the country. He approves of it in the right instances, and I am proud to have talked about it on his show, among others.
Last week on Wendy Williams, Wendy said that some people feel that by having surgery, we cheated. Well, if we cheated anything, the only thing we cheated is death. I'd rather be alive and truthful about this, than dead or living in shame about something that could save my life.
One last thing: As was hammered home with me today AGAIN, bariatric surgery is just a beginning. It's a do-over. The reason most people overeat -- or engage in any other addictive behavior -- is because of emotions (thanks Dr. Oz, Dr. Drew, and Oprah for hammering that home).
So, on that plane ride between reading the comments and writing this, what did I do? Searched for anything and everything I could stuff in my stomach -- even the now-smaller version due to surgery -- and ate out of emotion.
Sure, it's not a lot at this point, however, it just shows that this is an issue that has not even begun to end for me. I have to continue to notice when I feel compelled to overeat, and I need to recognize what I'm really hungry for that ISN'T food.
So, the process continues to end the emotional eating once and for all. I've now decided to head to a workshop about emotional eating in May so that no matter what I feel I don't try to solve it with food.
Wish me luck -- and, hey, if you're lucky, I may write another piece on that place, too!