Friday, August 16, 2013

The Voices

Perhaps interestingly there have been some things that have come up that have to do with the "weight" conversation. There are three in particular that have shown up in the last day, or two.

One was in a conversation with someone who is dealing with weight concerns and said that when she works a better schedule, she eats better, and often the weight "falls off." In the same conversation, though, we discussed that weight issues can never be "fixed" with a miracle cure. There are many pieces and parts to the weight puzzle, many of which are often missed when the next cure comes along.

Another was a woman in a group I am in. I won't share the detail that she did, for privacy reasons, but she shared how she was treated by someone who perceived her to have too much weight. What she also happened to share was how she was able to become empowered by what happened. I loved what she wrote so much, I offered her a guest post here if she feels comfortable enough to share more broadly.

Lastly was Byron Katie. I can't remember if she posted it, or if it was something another posted, attributing it to her. It was something to the effect of someone can weigh 500 pounds, and how it is OK, if they're happy.

The conversation is one I am all too acutely aware of. My whole life my weight has gone up and down like a rollercoaster. At one point I even lost weight using hypnosis. So, yes, it can work - to a point. From what I now know of hypnosis, I suspect the hypnotist only dealt with the habits I had, not the core of what was creating the weight. As a result, the weight - just like all the other times it went missing - came back.

I have made my own diets. At one point I was working 11pm to 7am at a self serve gas station. I would eat a bagel from the diner across the street when my shift was over, and then stay up for a while. I would go to bed with the plan to awaken around 9 pm. I would then workout with a workout machine I had at home and eat a wheat pita with beef, onion and tomato. I did that pretty much most days, and lost weight.

Another time, when I was in high school, I joined a gym. At the same time, I had this "brilliant" idea to eat less calories each week for 4 weeks. I think I got down to a couple hundred calories the last week. It worked. I was thinner than I had ever been, but then when I went back to school and started to eat normally, I not only gained weight, my body didn't know how to handle the food.

I have had various gym memberships. I have done Jenny Craig and NutriSystem. I have spoken to therapists about it. I have spoken to strangers about it.

One conversation in particular bothered me enough that I will likely never forget it. This particular person was telling me that if I ever wanted to be someone in the world, a speaker, a writer, a public persona, I HAD to lose weight. He practically acted offended that I was overweight. He was telling me what he was telling me for "my own good."

Don't you just love when people do that?

In the last several years, I have learned probably all too easily how to be more accepting of my weight. As my body built up fluid dealing with the tumor, I thought it was "just" weight. I wasn't happy about it, but I was determined to love myself as I was. I was going to do the best I could. I was watching calories, and I was walking and swimming, and I wasn't losing weight, and if anything, I was gaining.

In retrospect, I should have probably said something to a doctor. Although, I do think I did, only to be met by conversations about diet and exercise.

Every time I hear how "easy" it is to handle a weight "problem" through diet and exercise, I wonder who is saying it. I wonder if it is someone who has ever had - or has ever known someone who has had - a thyroid issue. That can be a physical cause/reason that someone might not be able to let the weight go.

When it comes to the mechanics of weight loss, the topic is fully charged and controversial. I wish, as with so many other things, I had THE answers. But I don't. And I am not sure anyone else, does, either. - at least not in a One-Sized-Fits-All form.

But before I go too far afield from where I was meaning to go, I should pull myself back to the topic at hand which was meant to be the difficulty that many have living in a world that seems to have issues with extra weight. Issues, so much so, that many feel the need to not only just sit with and observe how they feel, but to strike out at those who are the thing they feel compelled to criticize. Although they rarely criticize the weight. They criticize the person.

I sometimes wonder how many people who victimize others with their behaviors and perceptions at some time become the victim. There is a lot to be learned when the poles of the roles reverse.

While all this controversy and mess goes on, it has the potential to have people hang back and not do things for fear of how they will be perceived or judged. That was me. That is why I never did very many videos. I see the nasty comments on YouTube. I just knew that there was a good chance someone was going to come along and say something about how they thought I was ugly and fat. It would have nothing to do with the message of what I was saying. It would focus on their judgment of me. In turn, others would gleefully chime in their agreement.

I so wasn't interested.

I knew I needed to get over myself, and I was taking baby steps. I agonized over the lighting in a video and the angles. I started and stopped videos so many times. I made edits. It was a real pain.

I also learned how to minimize the negative comments. Any comments needed approval before going public. I would still see any potentially stupidity, but I wouldn't have to approve them to feed the public fire. However, I still was most comfortable when it was only my voice and some picture of something that made a video.

It is a bit ironic, I think, that someone who has so often wanted to be invisible in life was finding herself dealing with a weight issue which can often bring unwanted attention. I have theories as to why I have the issues I do, but my guess is I have never uncovered the main thing, as I suspect if I did, it would be a lot easier to let it just go once and for all.

Even after I lost 40 pounds last year, I wound up gaining 20 back. Not sure how. Although I did go from barely eating for several months to eating again. I imagine that may have a bit to do with it. But I know it goes beyond the obvious mechanics.

Even writing this blog has been an adventure in putting myself out into the world in uncomfortable ways. Weight isn't the only thing that draws people's attention, ire, and fire. So much of what we do makes us feel vulnerable if we feel that what another says or does can wound us.

Someone used to ask me if I was "communing with the Dalai Lama." It used to bother me because I was sensitive to the fact that I knew I was in waters that many mocked. If they mocked those things, then they also mocked me.

After a time, I started smiling and saying, "Yes." The funny thing? It diffused the person. He stopped asking the question. There was no longer a charge. Sadly, over time, we grew more distant. In some odd way, it seems now like the conflict was what drew us together, kept us connected in some way. I have to wonder how much of life is glued together in ways like that/how much of life is stuck in the muck of conflict.

I am trying to remember something about conflict and connection. Is it something I wrote at one point? I am thinking it might be, but I am not sure. But, regardless, what if there is something to it? What if in the absence of "real" connection, we have the connection that conflict brings. What if we really want to be connected, but don't know how to do it, so we do it indirectly and through the pain of conflict. After all, conflict has the ability to draw us in, and draw on our energies. It gets our attention in a way other things don't.

I said I was going to go back and watch episodes of The West Wing. As I am writing, I am thinking about an episode in which one of the Congressmen decided to change the way he was going to vote on a bill. It turned out the only reason he did it was to get the currency of attention. He didn't care about the bill as much as he cared about getting public prestige. As a result, he got public time with the President for the vote they wanted.

If we can't get positive attention, and we want it, we will find a way to get it negatively. It makes me wonder if that could be a part of my complex weight puzzle. Am I wanting attention, but not knowing how to get it? So I use the weight?

If so, the irony seems to be that there are many days in the last several months that I feel fairly invisible, and that is no matter how loudly I feel I am screaming. I am trying to do things the "right" way, and it makes me think that that is another way to become invisible. Look at what our attention goes to these days. It is to the people and events that aren't "right," that aren't "normal." I would likely get more attention if I was a scam artist or in some way defrauded or robbed someone. At least then I would be on the news.

As often is the case, this blog entry is fairly long. Almost every time I write a longer one, I hear voices in my head of those who think I shouldn't write as much as I do. I am not writing this for you, but even if I was, I really don't know if we are doing each other favors by trying to reduce the complexities of life into soundbites.

Maybe there is a simpler, more concise way to say almost anything. But I get the feeling that times like that it might be missing something. After all, think of "Chocolate Cake." (I am smiling as I begin to type a metaphor that includes food on a blog entry that talks about weight. Yes. I do see some irony there.) When you think of a cake, what do you think of? Is it white chocolate or dark chocolate? Is it frosted? Is it bite-sized, or one that can serve hundreds? Was it baked at a low temperature for a longer time or at a higher temperature a shorter time? Is it one layer or many?

The questions I can ask about it are endless. Perhaps some detail doesn't seem to matter. Maybe the fact that it was a round pan instead of a square one seems like too much information. But for one person out there it might be the most important detail.

How can we possibly know which details are the most important for someone else? And yet that often is how a TV show is created, a movie is written, a book's content is addressed. In effect, I am saying THIS is what *I* deem most important, so you should, too.

In my case, all I am saying is all I am saying. They are the things that float around in my head, and I share them. If there are too many words, people will stop reading them. If the message resonates for another, they'll keep reading as long as it makes sense to.

I don't really care what others think. But I still do hear their voices in my head. The difference today from 18 months ago, or so, is that I am a lot less likely to let them stop me from being myself.

Signed with LOTS of JoLoPe* for the journey that is within you,


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  1. Always stay true to you. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I have never considered myself to have a weight problem but in the last few years, I have struggled to get rid of some excess pounds that I gained after the break-up of my second marriage and birth of my third child. I was actually shocked when I did one of those BMI calculators that said I was mildly obese. Oh my. But, I am happy with myself regardless. I just want to be healthier. I applaud you for being true to yourself. As long as you are happy with you, all is right in the world. Thanks so much for sharing :-)

  3. Here are my random thoughts as I read your article:

    There are definitely many pieces to the weight puzzle. Dealing with the core is essential, as with anything else. The surface solutions are just Bandaids. I really believe in working at the core level to heal or change things.

    It's important to accept ourselves. Period.

    I know the struggle that thyroid issues add to the weight puzzle - - makes things much more difficult!

    It makes me so sad that people mistreat others based on things like
    weight (or any of the numerous other things people are bullied for). I see this whole problem as a deeper issue as well and healing it at the core is where I'm going with my purpose in the world. To me, it's about people feeling (consciously or unconsciously) so unworthy and broken inside themselves that they have to attack others. I believe that self worth is the foundation for everything. When we operate from a place of lack of self worth, we send out ripples of hate, attack, conflict, etc. But when we operate from a place of healthy self worth, we send out ripples of compassion, love, forgiveness, gratitude, understanding and acceptance (for ourselves and for others). That's my vision for the world - - for us all to heal and then send out ripples that touch other people's ripples all across the planet.

    You've made some very wise and true comments about how we often have a need, but don't know how to meet it in a healthy way, so we meet it in less healthy ways (e.g. by attracting conflict). I've learned about, and healed, several of my own ways of doing this over the years.

    Awesome post. I really enjoyed reading it. Hopefully my random comments at least make a bit of sense :).