Though I usually frown upon any “reality” show that highlights massive/rapid weight loss, I got sucked into the Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition tonight despite my misgivings. I got immediately invested in the 20-year-old girl who weighed 323 pounds (been there) who was living with a family seemingly blind to and contributing to her deadly food addiction (been there too.)
The really interesting part of the show was not just watching her body transformation, but her spirit transformation. This wasn’t about the pounds, not really. This was about her fight to take charge of her own destiny and make healthy choices for herself despite what those closest to her thought about it. In some respects that meant she had to separate away from her dysfunctional family in order for it to become more functional for her.
I mean… hello? That she could figure this out at 20-21 and I’m still struggling with it at 42 is a sad statement indeed.
I was so upset by the whole scenario that it made ME want to eat. I finally relented with a 32-ounce cup of ice water and a half cup grapes and cherries, but honest-to-God I wanted to plow into the leftover pasta salad I had prepared earlier for dinner.
Though I didn’t walk today I felt super in control of my eating UNTIL I actually watched this show. (Ironic, no?)
It tapped into some very powerful emotions I have been fighting my way through these last few weeks. Oh hell… for the past year. It’s I’ve been a step or two in front of my depression on a good day, much less going through some of the (unnecessary) drama I’ve experienced in the last few months.
Though I named this year the Year of No Excuses, it seems God (fate, destiny, chance, what-have-you) had other ideas. Instead this has been a year of letting go. I’ve moved away from situations where I felt mired and imprisoned by my circumstances, sometimes by choice and sometimes not by choice.
In the end it’s become a year where I have discovered this power to put myself first, much the way this young woman had to. I’ve had to move away from the dysfunction of other people and circumstances to more fully step into my own power, even if that extraction is extremely painful as a result.
I’ve had to stand up for myself and stop just sitting back silently when I’ve been insulted or discarded. I’ve had to confront certain situations to ensure that I’m standing up for myself, even when I was shaking in my shoes to just say “no” when I knew what I was being asked to do wasn’t right or fair.
For a people-pleaser like me this has not been an easy task. In fact I’ve battled a LOT with the idea I cannot always meet the expectations of others, nor am I supposed to. I’ve felt selfish, disloyal and downright mean in some cases because I stand firm in the face of emotional manipulators doubling down on all my triggers. People who are not used to my not falling into place like a dutiful soldier don’t know what to make of the fact I’m doing what I want to do even if it doesn’t make them happy.
There are a few people I feel the unyielding need to make happy, but that is a VERY short list. If I’m not married to you or have given birth to you or maybe have known you for more than three decades, odds are you’re not on the list.
Sadly even those I’m related to by blood don’t even make the cut. Not anymore.
That’s not me being mean. That’s me setting boundaries for the first time ever. Because experience, especially very recent experience, has taught me you can do everything in your power to do what someone else wants you to do but ultimately if they don’t give a crap about your happiness it’s like pissing right into the wind.
That means for many I’ll be making you happy at the expense of my own happiness (or those around me) and it’d be the rare person worth that kind of gamble. More likely I’ll be miserable towing the line to make you happy and I’ll be eating my weight to make up for the void you leave, giving you further ammunition to deride me because of my excess weight (or worse, think I’m worthy of the mistreatment because of it.)
In the end I have to take care of me. I’m done trying to make life easier for people who make life choices I would not make (and even advised against,) and lie to and manipulate others around them to justify it. It’s a drain of my energy to enable them.
It’s time to prune the dead leaves so I can ultimately be healthier. I’m putting on my own mask rather than suffocating to death fighting you to wear your own. The only people I owe anything to are my husband and my kids and my proven friends. Everyone else will just have to manage on their own… and I refuse to feel guilty about it.
I’m especially tired of bending over backward for people only to learn that they’ll never see me in any other category than the limited, negative one they set for me, whether I know it or not. I always thought if I invested enough time and energy I could always win over those who would think the worst of me, but it finally dawned on me some people are going to see you the way they want no matter what you do. And worse yet, when you go to such extremes to prove yourself worthy you only prove to them you are every negative thing they already think you are.
I had that epiphany once in dealing with my sister. It finally occurred to me no matter what I did to prove to her I wasn’t what she had always thought me to be, she’d never see me as anyone other than someone to scorn. Her mind was set and every action would only fit into what she had already decided for me.
Life is way too short to prove myself to people who don’t care to know the real me, even if we’re related.
When you look at me there’s no way to know that every extra pound you see represents a battle I’ve had to deal with in my life. This isn’t fat, these are scars. That is the undeniable proof that I’ve suffered through something and used food to comfort and suppress, obviously to excess – which should give you some hint as to the nature of the battle.
If you’ve been around you know my history. It ain’t pretty. So neither, naturally, are the results of how I chose to deal with them.
The Aha moment came when Ashley, the gal losing weight, said that with every pound she lost she was letting all the stuff she’d been through go.
Each pound represents something that happened to me, often things that made me hate myself or feel insecure or unworthy… or any number of negative things that keep me in a self-loathing spiral which literally fed on itself.
If I want to be healthy… if I want to be a survivor and not a victim… then I have to get rid of each bad experience I now wear on my body.
I’ve been strong enough to get through it, and strong enough to carry it often for decades, so I know I’m strong enough to surrender it. It’s time to let it go.
Each pound can be a victory, whether it’s one or one hundred. I’m no longer defined by what I’ve survived – I’m defined by what I have conquered.
The first lesson is to conquer the need to meet anyone’s expectations but my own. I know what I need to do for me and for my own peace of mind. You can agree or not, but it will carry no weight in my progress forward.
I’m done waiting for permission to feel what I feel and do what I do. If I’m the one who must deal with the consequences, I am the one who gets to make the choices.
The approval of anyone else is neither required nor desired.
So I’m letting it go. And hopefully in the process I can finally, once and for all, be cured of the lethal disease to please.