I weigh 350 pounds.
There. I put it in writing.
It’s not the first time I’ve said it but I believe it’s the first time I’ve written it down. It seems to give it more power somehow. More gravity. When I reference my weight in public, it’s generally in a self-deprecating manner. Like many fat people, I use humor to manage my public image.
It is amazing to me just how many people confuse bravado with self-confidence, arrogance or ego-mania. It developed, as did so many other things, within the structure of my family. My mother’s family.
You know, some of us spend a great deal of time as adults excusing the adults who shaped our lives. If we are thoughtful, we try to learn about them, what shaped their lives, their motivations, hurts, disappointments, shattered dreams. We learn (and it is important to learn) that for most, their intention was good. They were trying to shepherd us into adulthood “the best way they knew.”
What I have discovered, though, is to be careful. If we are not, we end up attaching those same excuses to our own behaviour. This type of thinking helps create and maintain the cycle of personal and familial dysfunction.
Good intentions make a great many mistakes and perpetrate a great many atrocities.
I have heard and read and seen enough to understand that I can learn a better way than the way I was taught. I will not let myself accept the excuse that “it’s all I know.” If what I know is incomplete with the potential for harm, then as a human being I owe it to myself and the world to find another way.
I have been, I think, substantially successful in finding these new strategies in parenting. My son will not grow up experiencing the spiritual abuse which was so common in my family. Oh, I am sure some will get through. He’s unique and I can’t control all aspects of his life – people, some within his family, would rather see that uniqueness hammered into conformity. I am doing my best to keep that from happening to him. So far, so good. (Mostly).
Then why can I not apply this same standard of self-awareness to my own struggle for health? I am speaking primarily of physical health. I’m working on the emotional.
This realm of inaction is almost worse than the other because I KNOW a better way. I have seen it – tasted it, dipped my toe in the water and I know that it is better. Still, I keep myself out of the full experience. I keep myself from moving forward into the experience of health.
Every time I get close to actually jumping in, I hear years, decades of messages telling me how it might be possible for others to feel the joy of health, but not me. I won’t be able to control myself long enough to achieve results. I am fat and I am lazy, I have no willpower and I won’t be able to do it right.
So, I stay on the side. The miserable side. I know it’s horrific here but, “it’s the best I know.”
I’ve been (trying) to face facts lately. This thinking is the reason I weigh 350 pounds. It’s also the reason that my house is filthy, my yard is unkempt and I do not have fulfilling work outside the home.
If I am completely honest, it’s most probably the reason why many of the people closest to me do not respect me. It is difficult to respect inactivity and passivity in one who has demonstrated the knowledge of a better lifestyle.
In an odd sort of way, my innate understanding that something better exists- something outside of myself – different from “what I knew”, engenders the disrespect from those who taught me “what I know”. They are afraid that I am condemning them for teaching me “the best way that they knew.”
And by “they” I mean my mother and, to some extent, my sister. Her side of the family is gone and, quite frankly, my father and his side of the family have never engaged enough in my life to demonstrate an acceptance or rejection of any of my choices. Like it or not, that refusal to engage is, in itself, a rejection.
My refusal to “get wet” must stop. It must stop or I will die early.
It seems to me that in an attempt to understand my parents, their lives, their “filters”, their reasons, I have given them excuses. I have given them both forgiveness and a type of retroactive permission to treat me badly. In some strange way, I think that’s left the door open to offer myself those same excuses. I didn’t know any better. It’s my mom’s fault for abusing me. It’s my dad’s fault for neglecting me.
Those statements are true. I don’t know any better and it is their fault.
I have already demonstrated that I can learn better and, to risk a cliché, it’s my life now. That’s easy to write. I will not be able to “just do it” or “just get over it” or “pull myself up my bootstraps”.
I can live with my life the way it was and the way it is. I can work toward a better “the way it will be.” One step at a time. I’ve been trying to “jump” into the deep end or just get a toe wet. There’s something in the middle…why can’t I just walk in…one foot at a time until the water covers me and I’m surrounded by the healthy environment I so desire?
I can. The excuses
stop start tapering off…today. Starting with…I AM good enough and I deserve a healthy life.