Thursday, July 09, 2009

Issues Old and New

Just popping in to say hello.

I wonder who coached my mother. She doesn't know about this site (I think), but she's been great. In fact, for a while, I was waiting for her to say something about my weight loss. I had expected her to say something right away, but... nothing. I started getting a bit angry, actually. I mean, come on, it's been 50 pounds since I last saw her. (I know, she can't win. If she says something, I resent it, and if she says nothing, I resent it.) So, finally, she said something. Twice. And nothing since.

Honestly, mom, that's perfect. Thanks. You couldn't have done better if I had written a script for you.

But today I hit true awkwardness: My sister. She's also fought with weight her whole life. It's been a bit harder for her, and she typically hits higher highs than me and doesn't quite get as low as I have in the past. Today she sees me and, well, it's not great. She has that expression on her face... I guess it's the one I'd have if the situation were reversed. I feel guilty (sort of) yet proud for losing weight, and she feels frustrated (sort of) for not and not a little resentful of my success.

Well, we each have to walk our own paths, but that doesn't make it any easier.

A while later, she brings it up again and talks about her recent attempts at weight loss and I - being the idiot that I am - offer help.

She laughs. "Help?"

"Well, you know, not help, but, you know, if you have questions..."

Oh, this isn't getting any better.

I finally grow a clue and shut up.

And, again, I remind myself that I'm not going to let myself derail my journey over any awkwardness or weird dynamic in my family. I've picked my path, I've worked hard on it, I'm enjoying it, and I'm looking forward to what it holds for me further down the line.

I feel bad that I can't help her on her path, but maybe that's the point. She needs to find and face her own demons. I can't fight them for her. In fact, for all I know, I may be one of them (as my mother has been one of mine).

Regardless, I do hope she finds her own path, whether it's discovering joy at her current weight or working to a lifestyle (and body) in which she'll be happy.

I wish I had been smart enough to say that.


Cidtalk said...

I don't get the whole "pride" thing about losing weight. I understand TOTALLY the journey of being overweight, losing weight, gaining weight, living with demons...I've got it all too. The thing is, why feel proud of being skinnier?
I have no pride lost by not losing weight. I am satisfied with changes I have made over the past year that have resulted in a few pounds coming off, but it's not pride. That would imply that I can't be proud of myself if I'm not thin, or "healthy" as people like to say these days.
I love your site and you are a great source of encouragement, I just hear this pride thing alot in association with losing weight, and I don't get it.

geo said...

@Cidtalk Why not be proud of something that you've worked hard to accomplish? I'd be proud if I built a house, but it certainly doesn't mean I need to justify why I'm NOT building a house.

Karen said...

geo said it well. I set goals, and I'm accomplishing them. Being lighter simply happened/happens to be one of them, and it takes just as much sacrifice and determination as being able to run a 5k or bike a century or, perhaps, build a house. I'd expect someone to be proud of running a marathon, even though I have absolutely zero interest in doing so myself. As a matter of fact, plenty of people set a goal of gaining weight, and can certainly feel pride when they meet that goal. (What I don't get is people who are proud of weight loss after bariactic surgery.)

I should note again that if my sister did not want to lose weight, I'd be totally supportive of her finding happiness with any weight, but it's clear (from her bringing it up) that she wants to be lighter. Just as I didn't know how to offer help without insulting her (not that I could even provide what she may need), I don't know how to help her accept herself at any weight... without insulting her. I know enough to not bring it up myself, but I don't know how to even participate in that kind of conversation without becoming one of those people, whom I've previously railed on about.

On the other hand... as I think about it... I do get where you're coming from. I've long been irritated that, "Oh, you look like you've lost weight!" is given as a compliment. Sure, it's nice to hear when you're trying to lose weight, but if you're happy at your weight, it actually becomes an insult. "Why?" you wonder. "Can't I look great at any weight?" (I've wondered that many times over the years.) And the truth is that one can, but we've been brainwashed into believing that the way to compliment a woman is to tell her that she looks thinner. And that's garbage. Compliment my hair, my smile, my healthy glow. You don't need to compliment my scale.

So, yeah, I get it. But at the same time, I'm proud of meeting the goals I set for myself and appreciate when people acknowledge my accomplishments. I don't quite know how to resolve the conflict between the two realities.

geo said...

I don't want to blow off your sister as being too sensitive. Even as a relatively large guy I took things personally when people thought they were trying to help. But she brought it up, so she should have expected it. You're obviously doing very well, and you're doing what you can to help.

People's feelings get hurt or they'll take things the wrong way. You can't pussyfoot around everyone's feelings all the time, especially when your intentions are honourable. It's not like you're trying to put her down for not being as successful as you.

Maybe one day she'll be upset enough to actually do something about it. Everyone has their one moment when they realize they have to change something in their lives. Maybe that will be it.

I'm not advocating purposely being hurtful to a person, but there has to be a happy medium somewhere.

Cidtalk said...

Whew, as I read the replies to my comment I thought no one would get what I was saying..but then Karen you did realize I wasn't saying not to be proud of accomplishments, meeting goals..etc. I'm saying just what yo pointed out, if I feel proud about losing weight and people tell me how great I look, that DOES mean that I didn't value myself as much before, and people didn't like the way I looked but didn't have the balls to say it to my face.

My point is just that making life changes to feel better is a challenge. I'm doing it myself, and it's hardcore life changing stuff, but attaching pride, self worth, esteem, in the number on the scale is that brainwashing thing that I would like to undo.


I have a similar situation in life with sisters, not just about weight, but just standard of living I guess. I have a good house, good husband, very very happy, but I have a sister who struggles all the time because she makes crappy choices. SOmtimes my satisfaction in life makes me feel a bit like it's a knock to her since she's 50 and i'm 41...but that's just how we are trained I suppose, to measure ourselves against each other.