Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Unexpected Gift (179.0)

At my last therapy appointment, Julie said that she wants me to think of my weight gain in the last year as a gift.

We'd been talking about my reactions to the jerk on the street who asked why I wasn't walking on the side walk and to the aerobic instructor who asked me if it was my first step class.  I talked about how I know that, logically, I shouldn't assume that either of them were making comments because of what I weigh.  And then she said, so what if they DID make the comments because of what you weigh?  Does that change anything?

I answered fairly quickly that it doesn't change anything, what their motivations for speaking to me were.  How I receive and interpret what they say has only to do with ME.

She said that I feel a lot of shame about my weight.  Shame is one of those words that makes me cry.  I'd rather say I'm embarrassed or depressed or sad.  Shame implies I've done something wrong that I shouldn't have.  That I should have been able to control the situation, but I didn't. 

I did start crying when we talked about shame.  It brought up many things from my childhood that I associate shame with.  The 18 year old boyfriend.  My parents' unhappy marriage.  The trailer we lived in.  The weight I gained in middle school.  The aloneness I felt for many, many years.

When I look at what I went through from 2009-2010, it's no wonder I gained 40 pounds.  I had this little girl inside me that had all this pent up shame and aloneness and sadness, and nothing to soothe her with but food.

That's about when she said, I should look at this weight gain as a gift.  I wouldn't be in her office talking about all those other things, if it weren't for the weight gain.  I told her that at my first appointment--if it weren't for gaining weight in the last year, I wouldn't be here.  I'd be grieving and depressed and stressed and unhappy, but if I was still thin, I seriously doubt that I'd have done anything about those emotions.

More to the point, I didn't do anything about those emotions when I was thin. 

Geneen Roth talks about how we spend our lives focused on gaining weight and losing weight, gaining weight and losing weight, over and over and over, because we don't want to deal with what really needs to be dealt with.  The Weight is a shield, not just from the outside world, but from what is really hurting us. 

I have thought, many times, that getting to 146 pounds (which I maintained for about a month) was a curse. A curse because I held onto it so fleetingly, and I prized it so highly.  If I'd never gotten there in the first place, I wouldn't know what I am missing.

I felt thinner than I'd ever felt in my life in 2008. Even when I was 23 and weighed about 145, I felt fat because my girlfriends were stick figures with no boobs and no butts, the exact opposite of me. 

I could get into size 6's, and I got tons of compliments on how I looked and dressed.  A friend told me my behind looked fabulous in my jeans (miracle jeans, the sales lady from The Limited called them, and they were, because I've never thought I had a great behind).  Of course, looking back now I know that somewhere inside me, I was not okay with all this attention, even though it was positive.

I also got comments once in a while from my girlfriends from church on what I was eating--"are you really eating that sandwich with lettuce instead of bread?  you're dieting? what else do you have to lose?" Those kinds of comments made me uncomfortable, but I brushed them aside.

I felt pretty good in a swim suit for the first time in over a decade.  I loved the clothes in my closet. I loved going places and doing things and being seen, because I looked great.  I wasn't embarrassed about my body any more.

But... but... all those things are externals.  Even the faster speed I could run--in 2008 I ran a half marathon at an avg 10:22 pace, which is lightening fast for me--was an external accomplishment, because it's that "10:22" that I'm proud of.  Just like the "6" on the labels of my clothes that are now boxed in the garage. 

I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting to feel good about your body, and wear great clothes, and run in races.  I still want all those things.  That's not the point I'm trying to get to.

But, I can LET myself have them NOW, at 179 pounds in size 14s at a 13:00 pace. 

If I can't be happy now, at this weight, I will not be happy when I lose weight again.  It won't stick. And it will always be about the weight, instead of what is really going on inside me.

Matching the inside to the outside.  We've talked about it before.

This is a process, a journey, not a destination.  There is no end.   I haven't "arrived" when I hit the magic number (whatever that is) on the scale or on the tag in the back of my pants.

The numbers matter, but they don't get to say whether I'm happy or not.  They don't get to boss me around or put me down or make my day or make me happy.  They just are. 

All I can do is live in THIS moment.  Right now.  In THIS body. 

And then do the best I can to make the moments that follow matter.


Monica said...

I agree with what your counselor said about this weight issue being a gift. What's CAUSING the weight gain MUST be addressed. What you and I have been doing is putting a band-aid on our injuries...with the problem being that the band-aid (diets)will always, always come off and even sometimes will get RIPPED off! We have to treat the injury first and throw away our band-aid diets!

Laura I. (G.G.) said...

Very good post, Laura.

Vickie said...

the food and the fat are just the parts we can see has been my mantra for many, many years. it is the hiding place, the shield for many of us. You spoke well on that subject in this post.

Agree - inside must match outside - well said

I do not think I could be living the quality of life I am now, be the mother I am now, be the person I am now if 'all had not come before'. Agree those experiences are part of what makes us learn and take action, for our whole selves.

I can't tell you how thankful I am you got your therapist. (I am sure there were readers who did not understand why I pushed you on that subject, but it is what you needed to do for yourself and your family and your future.) Look what a big difference it has made in your perception in such a short time.

be proud of yourself. your whole self.

Jill said...

Ouch. This post hit me right in the gut, and I'm not sure I have the words to say why.

debby said...

wow, Laura. I'm really happy to see you coming to some of these conclusions. It's funny how 'somebody else' can help us see something we couldn't quilte see for ourselves.

Shauna said...

wow Laura this feels huge. so happy for you that all these connections and realisations are happening. your therapist sounds wonderful too. hope you are feeling good about your progress, this stuff is never easy! xx