Telling the Family

I don’t know why, exactly, but I’m having the hardest time deciding when and how to talk to my parents about this.

Lee knows everything and he is my sounding board. He hates the idea of surgery, but he knows that I want and need this and he’s incredibly supportive.

My sister knows because I thought that I had to FAIL at the 6-month weight loss in order to be approved by insurance, and I felt a responsibility to tell her I’d definitely still be huge at her wedding in December. In which I am her matron of honor. So finding a dress should be fun….

Heidi H. knows because we’ve discussed her journey after surgery.

Of course my doctors and nutritionist know.

Julie at work knows. When people think you’re deathly ill because of all the doctor’s appointments and they offer their prayers and support, it feels wrong to not inform them that this is, in fact, just elective stuff and there’s a larger plan at work. So I told her.

I haven’t told my parents, and I’m beginning to feel like I’m actively concealing the whole thing. I have my reasons for not wanting them to know. As I write, however, I realize that I’m really only talking about my mom. I could tell my dad now with no qualms. So let me be clear: I have my reasons for not wanting my mom to know.

First, my mom is a bona fide blabbermouth. She’s trying to do better, she really is. But. She tells me things she shouldn’t all the time, and this isn’t something that I want broadcast. Before surgery, I plan to tell my coworkers and extended family so that they know what to expect in my recovery, but I don’t want my mom’s entire circle of friends drawing conclusions and judging me while I wait for approval. Maybe I could tell her and she’d actually keep it to herself. Maybe she’d tell all her friends and they wouldn’t think anything of it. But I consider my medical history confidential, and I’m just not ready to share my intentions with the world. Still, my mom deserves to know what’s going on, especially since complications like sleep apnea are arising.

Second, I’m constantly working on some big project and keeping everyone updated. Buying a house. Applying to a PhD program. Starting a business. My mental and conversational energies are always directed at some big project. I don’t want them to have to ride this roller coaster with me, especially since I could be denied for insurance coverage.

Third, my mom will know that I haven’t done everything humanly possible to lose weight on my own first. She knows what I eat and how much I eat and that I don’t exercise. She will think that I should wait and try that first. She has been dieting and exercising for about three years now, and she’s still lingering at a size 24. And that’s precisely why I want to do this–I could put out all that effort, but without the surgery I’ll never be able to actually get to an ideal weight. And that’s what I want. Also, mom will freak about having to take supplements forever.

Fourth, I’m just not comfortable talking about my weight with my mom. She makes comments like, “well, you should lose weight before you get pregnant” which is a duh! statement. Talking to her about weight always puts me on the defensive, and I don’t like feeling that way. I’d rather my parents just think I’m 100% perfect than acknowledge that I don’t look or feel my best.

I know I need to tell my mom (and dad). I just don’t know how. How do you start a conversation like this? How can I make her understand the privacy I need during this time (i.e., no mass emails about my progress!!). How do I balance the “I am keeping this to myself and telling them nothing” and the “I will update them on every single change” approach? Monthly updates? My sister knows and when I see her in person, sometimes I give an update. I don’t know if I could keep it on an even keel like that with my parents. I just don’t know how to manage this relationally.

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