onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “mind your own business”

If you have something to say about my weight, DON’T! Seriously, just don’t.

Something came up this week that I want to talk about.

It was nothing major, really. It was a common enough occurance. But good Lord did it piss me off.

A woman I don’t know very well said to me, “How’s your diet going? I can see that you have lost weight since last time I saw you.”

Number one, I have not lost weight since the last time this woman saw me. At all. I may even have gained weight. So it occurred to me as a lie. And I am not even a little interested in polite lies. I am positive she meant it to be nice. That she thought it was the neighborly thing to do. But that kind of thing is disingenuous to me. And not welcome.

Number two, I am not on a diet. Diets have a goal and an end. You lose 15 or 20 or 50 or whatever number of pounds and then you eat crap again. Diets get cheated on. Because diets deprive you of anything enjoyable so sometimes you have to “live a little.” Diets are about losing weight.

What I do is a way of life. I don’t want to cheat. I don’t have a goal so I can stop. I don’t want to stop. I have boundaries around my eating because it makes me happy and free. If I lose weight great. If I don’t, it doesn’t change anything. I eat delicious meals that I love that don’t include sugar or simple carbohydrates. Because I am addicted to those things. I am not on a diet. I have a diet.

And number three, and this is the important one, it is rude and obnoxious to talk about someone’s weight. Stop that!

I would say that the average human has between 1 and 5 people in their lives who are allowed to speak openly about their weight. Because they are loving, nonjudgmental, and a clearing for the person. If you want to know if you are one of those people, you need to ask. Seriously. Just because you are a parent, or a friend, or a sibling, do not assume you are welcome to comment or ask about a person’s weight. If you are too embarrassed to ask, then you should keep your mouth shut.

And if you ask, and the person says no, then keep it to yourself. Not, “Well I just want to say…”

I don’t care if you think it’s a compliment. I don’t care if you think it’s important. I don’t care if you think it’s polite. Whatever it is, no means no.

I hate this idea that people think somebody’s weight is open for discussion. I understand that it is on the outside for everyone to see. But it is still deeply personal.

My body is the only vessel I have. It contains the entirety of my life. Without it, I am very literally dead. It is a deeply spiritual thing. Whether you see it that way or not. So mind your own business.

OK. I am done ranting. Thank you.

…But that’s none of my business…

Over the past few weeks I have been thinking about what it looks like to let people be themselves. Make their own choices. Fight their own battles. Live their own lives.

It’s a hard thing. I know that it is hard for everybody. And I like to think it is something that I am relatively good at.

Relatively. I mean, it’s not easy. Especially when I love somebody. Or in my pride I think I know what would be best.

And maybe what I think other people should do really would make them happy, or give them peace, or just generally make things work out for the best. But none of that matters.

When I was growing up, a lot of people wanted me to lose weight. Doctors and family and friends. Not because they didn’t like or love me fat, but because they did. They wanted better for me. They wanted me to be healthier and happier. They didn’t want me to get obesity related illnesses. Or be made fun of. Or get hurt and rejected.

But nothing those people wanted for me ever helped me. None of their opinions or advice ever landed as anything but judgment, cruelty, and conditional caring. I am not saying that that is what it was. I am not saying that it was not genuine love and concern. But it did not occur that way. It occurred as intrusion. And for the most part, it still does.

I love advice.

When I ask for it. Because I am choosy about whom I ask. I go to people who have something I want when I ask for advice. When I wanted peace around food, I went to people who had peace around food. I did what they did. Not people who were skinny. Not even people who had lost a lot of weight. I wanted food to stop being an issue. So I went to people for whom compulsive eating was no longer an issue. When I wanted to open my heart and find a powerful relationship, I asked for advice from people in the kinds of relationships I wanted. Not people who happened to be married. Not women who were trying to land a husband. It was about relationships. When I wanted to quit smoking, I went to people who had successfully quit smoking and were empowered by it. Not people who still had a puff every once in a while. Not people who had never had or wanted a cigarette. People who quit so that they could grow.

What I do around food is not for everybody. Plenty of people are not sick with sugar addiction or eating disorders, and can eat sugar and drink alcohol normally and without negative repercussions. Or have other food issues that would be exacerbated by what I do.

And no. Not everybody wants what I have. And I can understand that. I think most people can’t imagine how sweet and delicious my life is. I don’t think many people can fathom what it is like to have found a certain amount of peace. I bet they think that what I have is a dull as can be.

But even more, there are people who do, indeed, want what I have, but are unwilling to do what I do. Almost everybody wants to know how I live with the idea of never eating chocolate cake again. Or never having a glass of wine with dinner. Or they want to make sure that I know that they never could. So many people, when they hear my solution, decide that it’s too much. They want an easier, softer way. Not so hard. Not so extreme.

And who am I to tell them differently? Who am I to judge them for not doing what I do?

And it’s not just food. Food is just the most obvious example to me. My “amazing” weight loss transformation that is written all over my body. (Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while will know that I put amazing in quotes because I happen to know that my weight was the symptom of my eating disorders. That what’s really amazing to me is the gift of having my eating under control, which takes care of my weight issues. And that more than amazing, it’s work and dedication and giving myself over to grace.) Who am I to offer advice about any choice. Who am I to tell anybody anything? Who am I to tell another person how to live. Or what happiness is. Or where to find it?

Unless you want to ask me. And then I would love to tell you what works for me. And even then, I give it as a gift. With no strings. To do with what you will. Because your life is yours. And you get to live it for yourself.

Keeping my eyes on my own plate

I feel sort of silly writing today. I am not feeling particularly qualified to inspire lately. I’m feeling a bit like I have regressed into some behaviors that I don’t particularly love.

No, not with food. With food, I am as committed and vigilant as ever. Thank God. Frankly, that’s the reason I can tell that I’m not behaving my best.

I am probably not behaving as badly as I fear I am. I can be a little blind to the reality of things. Especially when I am observing myself. I would do well to keep in mind that I am growing. And that growing is not a straight line. That there will be some regression. Some circling back. That just because I can see the person I want to be doesn’t mean it’s possible to just be that person. It takes time. And work. And a whole bunch of failing at it. That’s the way of it. And it always has been. I am without a doubt a better person than I was. I have grown and changed for the better in huge and fantastic ways over the years. But it has always been by baby steps. Why would I expect it to be any different now?

So what I am going to focus on for now is minding my own business. That is where I want to grow today. One baby step at a time.

Yesterday I had some good friends come to visit. While I was doing something else, one was refilling the coffee pot with water. She didn’t know that the part that holds water is removable, and was using a cup to pour water into it. I said “Oh, that comes off so you can refill it in the sink…” And then I stopped and said, “But that works too. Never mind. You’re doing great.” Because she was. What she was doing was working perfectly well. She was getting the job done. I was trying to be helpful. But in that moment, I recognized that what would have been even more helpful was to keep my mouth shut.

I did the same thing to my boyfriend while we were trying to find the place we lost in our audio book. I insisted on “helping.” But all I succeeded in doing was expressing that I didn’t think he was capable. (Which isn’t true, sweetheart!) And it clearly offended him. (Sorry!)

There is a saying I learned when I first got my eating under control. “Keep your eyes on your own plate. And keep your eyes on your own life.” It doesn’t matter what anybody else is eating. I only have to be concerned with what I am eating. It doesn’t matter what anybody else is doing. I only have to be concerned with what I am doing. It doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks. Even about me.

And frankly, what a relief!

Is it just as judgy to judge people for judging?

I’m a little less body-miserable these past few days. Maybe it’s because, with weigh day behind me for the rest of the month, I put my body hatred it in its compartment. Maybe it’s because I have hope that by next weigh day, my metabolism will have started regulating itself again, and I will start losing this weight I have gained. Or maybe it’s starting to seep in that I am not, in fact, grotesquely fat in this body, and that I can have some peace if I can surrender to it being what it is. (That last one’s a stretch, but I believe in miracles.)

My big issue this week is how aware I am of people giving me unsolicited opinions and advice. And how offensive I find it. And how aggressive it makes me feel. (Not act…Ok, maybe a little. But I have managed to keep my clever and cruel remarks to myself.)

There is a saying I love. “If you want what I have, do what I do.”

I keep hearing from people who do not have what I want.

For example, I do not want health and lifestyle advice from a morbidly obese girl more than 10 years my junior.

I do not want to be told that my quitting smoking is “really for the best” by a woman I never see smile. And who looks something between bored and disgusted. Always.

I am glad that I quit smoking. For all of the pain that has come with it, there has been a new clarity and a deeper level of self-love, self-awareness, and self-confidence. I love that, even though it has not been an easy six months. But I don’t want other people telling me what is best for me. I like to decide that for myself.

And today, I can. When I got control of my food, I stopped doubting myself. I could trust my eyes and ears. I could trust my thoughts. I could trust my assessment of situations. I stopped wondering if I had it all wrong and was doing it all wrong.

And another thing I lost when I got control of the food, was the need to get it all right. (Ok, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. There are still things that I get very angry at myself for getting wrong.) But every day that I don’t eat compulsively, I have a lot more room for my humanity. And for everybody else’s.

And even one more thing is that I stopped feeling the need to give other people advice. I stopped needing to show that I had all the answers. That I was so smart. I started to understand the value of minding my own business! Who knew!?!? (By the way, I had zero answers when I was eating all the time. I sure hope nobody was actually taking the advice I kept forcing on people…Oh well. Too late now…)

So why am I so upset with people giving me their unsolicited opinions and advice? Why can’t I have room for their judgment? Why can’t I let it roll off my back?

I think because cigarettes were how I numbed the feeling that other people didn’t like me. Didn’t approve of me. Didn’t think I was doing it right or well. Didn’t think I was good enough. Being judged hurt. And cigarettes made that pain go away. It was a kind of manufactured indifference.

But now I have to acquire a new coping mechanism. And I don’t think I want it to include indifference. But I don’t want to own someone else’s judgment of me either. I need to figure out what that’s going to look like. Because I don’t know.

What I do know is that I don’t want to judge those who judge me for judging. I want to acknowledge their right to have thoughts and opinions about me and my actions. And know that those thoughts and opinions are none of my business. Even if they insist on telling me. I want to have room for their humanity, whether their words come from love or spite. I want to be protected by my confidence and personal sense of security. I want to learn to love my fellow human beings. Not because they deserve it. Because I do.

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