Family Dynamics = Exhaustion

I started writing about a specific “thing” that happened on Easter–a conversation with a family member–and I wanted to explain all the history, all the pain, all the CRAP wrapped up in that conversation. Why it’s difficult for me to talk about weight with that person. Why I don’t want to answer the ever-so-private “How much have you lost?” question with this particular person. But how, even though she knows how I feel, she chooses to ask me anyway, leaving me in the very uncomfortable position of having to either (1) lie, (2) deflect the question, or (3) be confrontational. And she’s the kind of person where there’s a sense of duty and obligation to just answer, even though I don’t want to.

I want to tell you all the details, but I’m reminded that this a public space. What gets written here could be passed or emailed or linked until I delete it. While this family thing is emotional and troubling, it’s not worth fighting about. It’s not worth hurting a very sensitive person’s feelings.

So I’m being very vague, and I’m sure that’s frustrating, but the bottom line is this: I’m sorting through these varies issues:

  • WHY do I shy away from answering the question “How much have you lost?” Why am I embarrassed to admit how much I’ve lost? (and therefore how much I had gained?)
  • What does it mean that I’m still ashamed of the fact that I once weighed 364 pounds?
  • Why can I talk about this on the internet and not in real life?
  • When am I going to forgive myself for gorging myself on food, literally destroying my body?
  • HOW can I forgive myself? How can I possibly NOT be ashamed for being in this position?
  • And then how do I balance the private with the public with the family who wants to be supportive with the family that seems to care only about poundage and not personhood?

All I know is that the emotional work is the hardest. At least for me. And I know I have a long way to go before all the emotions and energy and memories stored in these FAT CELLS will be worked out and discarded.

I’m supposed to write a Letter of Forgiveness to myself before my next counseling appointment on Monday. Problem is, I’m still very angry at myself for letting it go this far. Forgiveness doesn’t feel like an option yet.


5 Responses

  1. Wow Meghan…those questions…I could have written them.

    While I don’t necessarily shy away from stating how much I’ve lost b/c it isn’t such a big number yet, I do shy away from saying how much I eventually have to lose.

    It’s like, totally gut-wrenching having to say, “yeah, I’ve got about a hundred pounds or more to lose still” when you keep getting comments on how much you’ve already lost.

    I didn’t realize what I was doing to my body until it was already done. In fact, Meg, I didn’t really realize the battle I put my body through until yesterday. As the fat melts, there is far more “jiggle” if you know what I mean. It seems like I packed my body full, and now that it’s disappearing, the skin is getting loser, and the body is getting more prone to wiggle.

    As I was trying on some pants yesterday, I literally stopped and realized that my thighs were freakin’ huge. Freakin’ huge, I tell you…and why did I not notice this almost fifty pounds ago? I have no idea.

    It’s a mixed bag. Being proud of yourself, and grateful for this opportunity, and the ways in which we are moving forward in our health…this is all good and necessary and truly wonderful.

    Then again, the shame and humiliation of knowing you chose the path that led you to the place where you had to choose surgery? Yeah, that’s rough. In fact, having to admit I couldn’t do it was pretty embarrassing. Only now as I lose the weight do I realize how embarassing it is…at least for me.

    Someday, I hope that lifestyle of overindulgence is so foreign to me…I hope I don’t recognize that person…except to give comfort and love to others who are there or have been.

    I blogged a quote a few days ago….love it…

    “there is no road you have traveled so far that you cannot turn around and go back in the other direction.”

    We are just turning around, love. That’s all. No shame, chins held high. Just turning around.

  2. Meg,

    I think we all can relate to the enormity of what we’ve had to overcome, and it’s very humbling to tell people about. I think that it gets easier the farther you get into it – but then again maybe that’s just me… I’m really open about everything, and I realize that others aren’t. But remember that you’ve made the decision to do something about it for yourself… not for them, and certainly not for approval. This is about you and getting healthy… and to heck with anyone that can’t understand that or get on board with it.

    You know – it really is like any other addiction… we’ve got to forgive ourselves just like the alcoholics and drug addicts do during their recovery process. Maybe you can write the beginnings of your forgiveness letter, and think of it as a work in progress. I don’t think that you can completely forgive yourself until you get to where you want to end up… then you can look back and realize that it was a learning process.

    I guess for me – I like to think of it as God’s way of teaching me something… maybe we had to take this harder road to health in order to teach someone else something – or maybe it’s just so that we’ll appreciate it that much more and won’t take it for granted. We don’t know what his plan is for us, but always remember that he forgives us all of our sins… so we need to forgive ourselves for our shortcomings too… and REMEMBER you’ve already lost 100 FREAKING POUNDS… you are inspirational!!

  3. Meghan…at the end of the day, this is your story to tell. How you tell it and to whom is up to you, NO ONE has any rights to your story but you.

    I love my family, even my Mom and Aunt who are complete whack-jobs. They both think that they have some sort of right to any and all details of where my life and my story are concerned, the truth is they don’t have any rights at all. I appreciate that they love me and that they want what is best for me but that is where their rights end. They have the right to love me and they have the right to want what is best for me. They do not have the right to any details about the decisions I am making or even the progress I have made.

    I am sure some people would disagree with me but at this point it is what it is. I will tell my story the way I want to tell it and to who I want to tell it to, bloodline be damned!

    Tell your story girl…Jil

  4. I think, for what it is worth, that the reason we shy away from how much have you lost” is the same reason we never want to tell anyone how much we weighed pre-op. That has been the hardest thing for me and despite the support of some amazing friends, I have only confessed my weight to two people, and these were two of the people I trust most in this world.

    When you are obese, shame comes with numbers and we’re not going to overcome that overnight, even at looking at the numbers in terms of losing. Saying “I’ve lost fifty pounds” to us simply says “Yes, I used to weight fifty pounds more than I do right now and I’m still fat.” There is a stigma of shame that comes with being overweight; it is ingrained into our society in the way we are treated by peers, strangers and even doctors. It’s no wonder we feel the way we do because it is learned.

    You can talk on the internet about it freely because of the anominity, though I’ll be real honest; I have yet to ever post a full body pic of myself on my blog. I know I will as part of a Before and After thing, but that damn picture ain’t going up until there is an “After” with it! I can admit on my blog that I’m fat (I had great trouble using the word “obese” and only have occasionally…again, a word that has shame associated with it from reading my doctor’s notes in my chart) but I cannot put the cold, hard evidence of that up there yet for all the world to see. That’s a kind of brave that I’m just not yet.

    As far as family, I hear you. I’ve had mixed support (I’m one of seven kids) as some of my siblings I have not even heard from about this. We just have to decide who we trust and to the rest have a token answer that will suit both them and ourselves, but you know what? I wouldn’t worry too much about suiting them. It’s your life, cookie and you don’t have to answer to anyone.

    Love ya!

  5. hey meg

    excellent questions that i have asked myself. it’s funny, but my reaction to these “how much have you lost” and “how much did you weigh” questions from others has somehow turned around. i’m just over 3 years out from surgery now. i started at 463 lbs, now i weigh 177. and i seem now to be able to say that to anyone that is interested! but 3 years ago, i couldn’t bring myself to say that 463 number even to anonymous people on the internet. if someone asked me those things in person, i was doing a “deer in the headlights” kind of thing. but somewhere along the way, i changed evidently. i don’t really know at what point i stopped feeling ashamed of what i was and started feeling proud of what i was becoming, but that seems to be what has happened with me.

    all the best to you!


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