The old adage, ‘It Gets Better,’ can be true, and it certainly has been true for me. But sometimes it can get better, and then get worse. Such is life: unpredictable, stormy, cruel, then abundantly kind.
I thought I’d weathered just about every storm there was after a difficult childhood, to which I responded with numbing the pain with food and carrying around nearly 200 extra pounds much of my adult life.￼￼ I faced every demon I could think of in therapy then, through the hand of God, released the weight, and kept it off for more than a decade.
Four years ago, autoimmune disease struck, out of the blue and with no warning￼. After some deep contemplation I realized the cause. Some of the scars haven’t healed, and some of the wounding ran so deep, it had become imperceptible to me. The clues, however, presented themselves behaviorally. After all the work I’ve done for myself, I had to face the hideous fact that I continue to spend much of my time and energy being a doormat; a people-pleaser tangled in a web of worthlessness.
I’ve swallowed too much, endured too many emotional blows, and have remained inert when I should have swatted back.￼ After all this time and progress, collapse-and-submit is still my default response.
I don’t blame or berate myself for the chronic and unconscious people-pleasing. It’s been a survival skill since day one when I became pretty much everybody’s soft target. Who better than a fat kid to take the arrows of disapproval and scorn? There was no refuge from it: family, friends, and strangers alike all took their shots. And all I wanted to do was be liked. So I became as stringently likeable as I could, all while aching inside.
Fifty years later, my body, it seems, will have no more of it. Auto-Immune Disease complete with several unwanted diagnoses, has set up shop. So consider my most personal writing here (for the foreseeable future) as part of my Operation Remove Shrapnel mission. I can’t go on this way anymore – 58 years is long enough. It’s time to catch my psyche up with my body. Or is that visa versa? I’m not certain of anything anymore except this: I’ve turned a corner in my demeanor and in how I respond to the world around me, and there’s no going back. And anyone who tries to coax me back isn’t really in my corner.
The woman in the video below who scaled the top of the transformation mountain so victoriously seems a stranger to me now. I no longer look or feel the way I did 11 years ago, and I don’t know if I ever will. But what I do know is: I will no longer make myself insignificant so others will be more at ease. I will no longer flash the auto-smile when I’m sad or angry. I will no longer say yes when I mean no. And I will no longer evaporate into a ‘that didn’t just happen’ trance when you hurt me. I will let you know. I promise you, I will let you know. And if I lose some toxic baggage in the process, so be it. My life is worth it.