Thursday, May 5, 2022

Losing battles.

I am not responsible for how others respond to my actions, beliefs or choices.

My feelings are just as valid as the feelings I am desperate not to hurt because I care about them and don’t want to distress anyone. But, I’m not responsible for their reactions and I shouldn’t have to bottle myself up or bite my tongue in order to maintain pleasantries.

Everything is not ok. I thought I had found a reliable and affordable psych, until I got the $500+ bill for two appointments nobody mentioned I was accruing until I showed up for my 3rd appointment. I desperately needed to be seen and HEARD by someone who wasn’t family. Someone who could help me sort through the hot garbage of false truths I’d been fed my whole life and pretended not to be bothered by until now.

I can’t pretend that my entire life wasn’t spent centered around dieting. I can’t force myself to forget my parents enforcing that I cleaned my plate. I can’t forget the nutrisystem and Jenny Craig snacks abandoned in the pantry for me to choose from because my mother had stopped actively utilizing their tools. I can’t forget hitching rides to a dieting class my mother signed her and I up for but she quit a third of the way through. I was in middle school. 

It was before middle school that I expressed my desires to play soccer, to go for runs… but I’d dropped out of dance after 7 long years and nobody took me seriously. I remember picking up jazzercise albums (yes… vinyl records) and working out alone in my bedroom before I ever turned double digits. I tried out for volleyball, cheer… these were things I went for with zero expressed support for. I didn’t make the teams, but it wasn’t for lack of desire and participation. I took the tools I’d learned in dieting class and implemented them throughout high school and honestly ever since.

I had watched my grandmother struggle with complications from diabetes. I had watched my mother’s self esteem and general happiness peak and plummet from her own dieting successes and failures. Throughout all of this I mostly maintained my weight at 150 until my relationship with my high school sweetheart went up in flames and my own happiness tanked. I topped off at 180 and then it went back down some when I started my flight career. I was deliriously happier 36,000 feet above land.

After I got married that one time, the pounds slowly started creeping back until we got divorced and I’d peaked at my heaviest postpartum. When we signed the divorce paperwork before filing, I weighed as much as I did fully pregnant with our last child. I was miserable, and anything I could do (or not do) to keep him from wanting any intimacy with me thus avoiding any chance of abuse was worth it. By this point in my adult life my mother had undergone 2+ procedures to assist her in losing weight. Shortly after my divorce she went under for the last time for a sleeve procedure. 

I am ecstatic that she has lost some weight enough to become more mobile, but hesitant to feel true joy for her. It has nothing and everything to do with her role as my mother. I learned the hard way as a child that getting my hopes up in general leads to disappointment; not just because of her past experiences with weight loss. When I left home in 2002, my sister had only just received her learners permit. I left her alone with my mother and I feel now like I never had the opportunity to show her that there’s more to life than the way we were raised and the way we were taught to relate to our bodies. 

I catch myself telling myself that this is all hypocritical thinking. How dare I feel this way when I’m 200 something pounds and have been too stressy depressy to even entertain the thought of rolling out my yoga mat or lacing up my running shoes? Every day I bring my running gear in my work tote and every day it comes back home with me. Every day. I know the bug to run is close to biting because I catch myself whispering to my inner runner to remember how good it feels post run when those endorphins are washing over me. But… I’m not there yet.

I try desperately to model moderation and a balanced plate with my kids. I don’t force calorie counting, sugar substitutes or this years fad replacements (fiber, keto, etc.) I try to encourage activity where they can find it, even if for my youngest it’s just barreling full tilt through a muddy ditch. I want them to know how good it feels to sweat for themselves, how magical those endorphins can be. I don’t want them to stress over their BMI or measurements.

My sister recently lost 100 pounds from undergoing her own weight loss surgery. She is biking laps around us and thriving and I’m so hesitantly happy for her and it feels so selfish to feel like this. It IS selfish to feel like this… because now I see myself becoming larger and larger in comparison. And while I know comparison is the thief of joy, and I KNOW how restrictive their diets have to be to achieve these numbers… I also know that I’m feeling less like “the healthiest fat girl” in the family and more like the third wheel. I can’t participate in conversation with them because it always circles back to their diets and to me? It’s toxic thinking because I know what works for me to achieve a healthier overall well-being. But now… they’re both in smaller sizes and I’m afraid to see myself pictured alongside them because it’s increasingly obvious that I’m larger than they are… how do my children see me now in comparison?

Am I still their example of moderation, hard work, sweat and the occasional tears? Or will they now see me as the hypocrite I feel I am because I have not achieved the same losses they have nor have I ever entertained going under the knife to jumpstart a lifestyle I have no interest in committing myself to for the rest of my life?

This is the war that is raging through my veins and has been for almost a year now. This war, unlike the one to save myself from an abusive marriage, feels like I will need to take drastic measures to survive and I cannot think like that in order to keep myself from self isolating from those closest to me.

In other news, I turned 40 today.

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