Friday, April 20, 2007

We're All Human

Yesterday I was reading Lori's blog and commented on her post about the moment we knew we were fat. Part of my comment is below: (Editor's note: I've slightly reworded some of it for this blog, but the same point comes across.)

"While I was never a petite girl (I was over 10 pounds when I was born), I can pretty much pinpoint when I started getting fat. My family was thrown into chaos when my father developed bipolar disorder and was subsequently hospitalized. When he was in his manic stage it was the first time he ever showed a real interest in me; I can still remember being thrilled that he would have these long chats with me about all kinds of interesting subjects. But after his hospital stay and subsequent treatment, those talks and that interest vanished.

"When this happened my nine-year-old brain figured out that this interest wasn't love or even like, it was mental illness. So I determined that someone would have to be crazy to like me. That core feeling has haunted me the rest of my life, and I'm sure it's what took me down the road of eating for comfort and consolation."

When I finished writing that I had tears in my eyes. How utterly sad! I had never put it so succinctly before, and it hit me like a ton of bricks. No wonder I turned to food; no wonder I've always felt so badly about myself; no wonder I've been drawn to people who were so caught up in their own mental problems or addictions that they couldn't give me the love and respect I deserved.

But that doesn't mean that has to continue. And slowly, I've been changing that. One by one I've distanced myself from the people who I allowed to drag me down and treat me poorly (or at least all the ones I possibly can without causing World War III). I now have a smaller group of friends who I consider healthy and reciprocal (i.e., they're not dysfunctional and sapping the life out of me, because we carry equal importance in the relationship); I've created peaceful but keep-my-distance truces with certain relatives who I considered negative and toxic; and I managed to find a husband who wasn't afraid to commit, tells me he loves me throughout the day, and is reasonably sane and addiction free (although I wonder about those potato chips...).

But the impact of those old memories still linger. I still have a level of distrust when someone new shows an interest in me. I immediately think "What's wrong with them?" That nine-year-old in me is still so gun shy, so afraid of feeling rejected again. It's a hard to change an automatic response like that.

I suppose I even doubt my own self-love at times. I'm always waiting for the other shoe to drop; a relapse, an injury, depression, something to take the good things I've created and dash them on the rocks. It's hard for me to fully congratulate myself on the things I've accomplished because I'm always thinking of the small things I haven't done right. Hey, I've lost more than 120 pounds, but because I'm still over 200 I consider it incomplete, not a total success.

Yesterday a dear, sweet lady called me and apologized for forgetting to call me to give me the altar flower information for the church bulletin in time. I immediately apologized to her for not calling her in the middle of the week like I usually do if she forgets to give me the information. We both had our reasons: I was in the middle of newsletter week, and her 88 year-old husband was transferred to the nursing home from the hospital for rehab. He's been turning his nose up at the pureed food they're giving him, and she's been there trying to coax him to eat.

This made me apologize even more, because her reasons far outweighed mine, and I suppose I've grown so accustomed to being responsible for everyone (my husband and daughter, my pastor, there's even more but I won't bore you), reminding them to do this that and the other thing or else they all forget. I felt that I dropped the ball yet again.

"Well, we're just human," she replied to me, and that comment touched me like a caress. For once I wasn't being blamed, I wasn't made to feel guilty for not being perfect. I was allowed to be the fallible, imperfect human that our Creator made us. What a relief.

Oops. Running late. So far the weekend's going well; will check in with you later to let you know how it goes!


Mari said...

Thank you for this post. It inspired me to write a little about how people with eating disorders seem to have a common thread. I hope you don't mind that I referred to your post in mine (I haven't posted it yet so let me know if you can. If you object after I post it I will take it out.)

Thanks for your honesty.

Andrea K said...

Go right ahead and refer to my post. I refer to other people all the time. I think it's great when people inspire me, and I'm always pleased if I can have an effect on others. I'll have to find your blog now and read it!

Lori said...

I really liked what you wrote in response to my post. I do the "What's wrong with them" particularly when it's about men.

I've been dealing with certain toxic people or at least calling them on their behavior. I'm glad you are and have been dealing with the people in your life.

Vickie said...

I had to look a long time to find it - one of these links was very helpful to Michele (Fat Girl Camp) in thinking about her very bad week BEFORE. Once she starts - she is fine - true for me too.

Vickie said...

it might actually be this part.