April 27, 2011


Late last week, my cousin Sarah and her boyfriend Marty had my mother, brother, and I over to their apartment for a little catching up (and Wii Monopoly - so much fun). While Sarah gave the grand tour of her place, Marty asked how I was doing; it had been a particularly rough day, love that baby goatand it took all I had just to whisper that things were not well and not to breakdown entirely in tears.

While playing, we got to talking about some of the things my mother and brother had done so far while out here; they were pretty much all food-related. My mom made light of it, as she always does, joking that I was visibly struggling. Marty's a really level-headed guy, and he noted that of course I would be having problems with the poor eating, I've been working so hard to get as far as I have. She said that she was sorry, but that she's just out here for a visit, so she needs to get all she can before she has to go home - laughing, she made a comment about being a fat girl in a food paradise, and we all pretty much let it go from there.

I used to joke all the time about my size too, because I wasn't comfortable. If I'm able to laugh about it, hopefully people will think that I'm okay the way I am. Walking to the train and seeing my subway pass right by, I used to laugh that I'd just get the next one, because "I don't run unless I'm being chased." There was nothing cute or funny about the way I was treating myself, and there was nothing cute or funny about what my mother said Friday night. It was embarrassing, really. Here is my mother, an adult, someone who ought to know better, making jokes to excuse the fact that her eating is out of control and she's been pushing the habits back on me as I try so desperately to recover.

Somewhat coincidentally, it was exactly one year ago Sunday that I got an e-mail from Sarah that set in motion my committment to get healthy:
Hi Mary my Dear,

I've been thinking about you a lot in the past couple days (in a good way!), and I wanted to reach out (cheesy, I know, sorry).

I just had a conversation with a mentor of mine, who is awesome and wonderful, and she started telling me about her work with Seattle Sutton's, and what has been good, important, challenging, etc. I'm *not* writing this email cause I think you should do that program, but after talking to Cam, I realized that I've never actually asked you how I can support all the work you have done (and are doing) to live a healthy life. Really, being healthy of course isn't just about food, but I we don't often talk about the food part. Not that we should all the time- but I don't want to miss a chance to support all that you do, because you really deserve to succeed in everything (I seriously, seriously mean that).

You are a real visionary, Mary, and you've set up all kinds of systems for your success, and I want to support you in anyway I can. I think I've been a typical [last name] with our eating habits- thinking that it's cute or awesome to 'cheat' on taking care of ourselves. But we know from our family that the cuteness wears off. None of us want to end up like the relatives. I can't even point fingers, it's just a mess, of course- I'm just really glad that you, me and some of the other cousins are taking the steps to be healthier people than the older generation (in lots of ways).

That all being said- the real point is that I love you so much, and I'm really inspired by your creativity, your brilliance, hard work, and real beauty that you bring to life. And honestly, I just want to support you in any way I can, but I haven't done a great job of asking you what that means, so I'm asking now- if there's anything I can do to support your goals to be healthier, please let me know. I'm sorry it took this long for me to just try and listen!

If this is all just insane and offensive, I'm sorry. I just wanted to, again, reach out cause I love you to pieces.

That's all. Love you! <3
I've talked exhaustively about how my intentions with obesity were to be invisible - I didn't want to be seen or noticed, because that meant I was safe. I couldn't be hurt. And no one ever said anything to me about my size - at least not family or friends. Strangers have always been more than willing to yell their thoughts and opinions out car windows or mutter them under their breath on buses and trains, but my best friends and family never once said anything about my having a serious problem. When Sarah sent me this, it was like the spell was broken. Someone noticed. Someone saw that I was unhealthy and finally called me out on it.

Major breakthrough I've had recently: I have a lot of resentment towards my parents for never saying anything to me about my weight. I always felt a little bothered by it, but recently I've realized it makes me deeply upset, frustrated, even mad and angry ... and to have my mother here and encouraging off-plan eating was infuriating. She was on the phone with my father mid-week talking about the trip so far, and I took notes:
"If you could see your daughter, even smaller than she was before - she's such an inspiration. She's so petite now, it's like, 'Oh my god, you're so skinny!' Her wrists are so petite! You'll be shocked when you see the pictures."
It made me so mad. How can you see how I look, the results of how hard I've been working with both exercise and controlling my eating, and still bring the things I have told you are triggers into my kitchen?


AlmostGastricBypass said...

Unconditional parent love has nothing to do with what is right or wrong. It is just that, they love you. Your strides, your success, it is yours, not theirs. Fat or thin, they love you, not the size. That should be awesome. I understand you, but accept that they love you..

Amy said...

Wow... that's so shocking.

My dad/brother are part of the reason I have so many issues with my weight because growing up when I was just baby fat they would call me fat. Enter complex. Enter emotional eating. Enter problems. I hate that that is the way it happened. Saying something doesn't always help. It infuriates me because when I look at pictures now, I was just this little kid in between growth spurts gaining weight to keep up.

Anyways... the problem is there and I can't make my past go away.

It is really unfortunate that you overhear your mom complimenting you and then she turns around and sabotages you while she's there. It seems like a lot of jealousy and a lot of other issues that she has... and hasn't addressed.

I'm sorry this visit was so terrible for you (I realize it was great in other ways too)... because now you're going to be reluctant to visit and have family visit you again.

timothy said...

i have a slightly different take i think as much as she loves you and wants you to succeed part of her wants you to fail because if you can do it what does that say about her? it's definately a subconscious thing but when others succeed it does put the mirror in our faces and sometimes we simply don't like what we see. you really should talk to her about this hon and set ground rules next time (you may eat whatever you want when you go out but no JUNK in my home) that's more than fair, you really do have to put yourself 1st! i know family comes with a whole set of drama/conflict/guilt/resentment. just breathe deeply and relax! xoxoxoxoxo

michelle said...

what a contradiction. not having that support when someone is face to face is SO hard. glad to hear you have your cousin and her boyfriend to actually give you what you need. that letter was incredible

you are doing so well. don't let anyone/anything stand in the way of that success *hugs*

Hyla said...

Im sorry you have had to deal with this. But YOU are getting yourself on track and that should fill you with pride!

You have an award on my blog!

Jessica said...

I don't necessarily think that your parents not mentioning your weight is a bad thing. My cousin's parents constantly stayed on her about her weight, and it became one of the biggest triggers for her binges.
Also, if your parents are overweight, wouldn't them speaking to you about your weight be hypocritical?
I am not a parent, but if I am ever blessed enough to become one, I think I would rather be a model of healthy eating, rather than confront a child about food issues.

Unknown said...

I agree with Timothy. Misery loves company. She's 'cheating' and probably subconsciously wants someone to do that with so she is more comfortable with her food extravagance. Or perhaps she wants to see that someone with your results can 'cheat' and still look as fabulous as you do? (like pictures of supermodels eating huge burgers or something the idea that someone that thin can eat whatever they want is a dream ideal)

On a different take, if she's anything like my mother it might be that she just doesn't remember in the moment that you can't be around those things. Because she's not on the diet wagon she's not faced with the issues of trigger foods and that sort of thing and so doesn't even think about bringing them home even if you've previously asked her not to before. It's not right, and not acceptable, but my mom 'forgets' all the time when she comes over. Or when I go over there to visit too.

It's hard. I'm sorry you're having to go through it, but at least you had that breakthrough. I'm working on parent issues too at the moment.

We'll get through it and continue to be healthy! Stay Strong!!

Ann said...

Jay and I talk about this all the time - why we didn't say anything to eachother, but frankly, when you see someone every day, it's difficult to notice how big they are. Looking back both of us felt absolutely HUGE but I NEVER thought of him as a 'big guy' and vice versa. But those distant friends and family should be able to say something if they don't see you daily. Try not to be upset and count yourself fortunate to have those supporters, motivators and cheerleaders! Keep on keepin' on, Mary. You are unstoppable. Seriously.

Diane, Fit to the Finish said...

I'm sorry you are going through this. I was shocked to find that friends I had known for 20 years were not happy that I was changing my appearance and relationships to food. My parents didn't say much either way, but seemed to be annoyed that I didn't "partake" the way they intended me to do. Stay strong - it's all about you in the end. Your health. Your feelings about yourself. Your emotional health. Not in a selfish way, but in a healthy way.