…yes, this might sound trite, but it starts at home. With You. And as Mr. Rogers loved to say, just the way you Are.
Until I embraced this un-missable step, I wasn’t going anywhere. Some of my most meaningful, interesting, and stimulating years on this planet were those I spent loving my 330-pound self, healing her wounds, listening to her pain, wiping her tears.
I had a lot of tears to mop up, and what I needed to do before the weight was going anywhere was lavish myself with unconditional empathy. This is not to be confused with self-pity. The difference is vast. Empathy for me meant admitting I was hurt, identifying the root of it, and uncovering feelings towards myself and any third or fourth parties involved. In my younger, very impressionable years, I became well-versed in hating myself…to the point where I elevated it to an art form.
We’re all blank slates as children. The day I stepped onto my school bus was the moment I became aware of causeless hostility. I was doing what every other kid on that bus was doing: fulfilling my obligation of attending public school and getting an education. In the weeks of preparation my family had excitedly given me, no one mentioned it would involve being scrutinized and insulted by a sneering, sullen boy, four years my senior, who lived down the road from me. To this day I’ll never understand what caused the hateful disgust in his eyes when he looked my way, but he decided that I was his daily bullseye to give his bitter attitude a landing strip. Looking back I realize that bully-boy chose me because I was the only girl on the bus without an older sibling to look out for her. But I’m sure by now you have the picture: being insulted and degraded on a daily basis became the norm for me. I was bigger and taller than other girls my age, so he ran with that difference and shouted names at me that suggested I was a whale, that my presence on the bus would tip it over and deflate the tires, that I broke chairs every time I sat down. The daily emotional abuse decimated any self-worth that had a shot of being formed, as well as my perspective on the outside world – I got the message loud and clear that it was a mean and unfriendly place. I began eating to comfort myself and to escape, and eventually, bully-boy’s description of me became reality.
Can you see now that the last thing I needed was a diet? Oh believe me I tried. I took society’s directive to eat less and move more. I tried so many ways…bumping up against brick walls everytime. Not because I was weak or a screw-up, but because THAT WASN’T WHAT I NEEDED. Trying to tame and hog-tie my overeating through calorie-counting, cutting out carbs, eating vats of cabbage soup, or other trickery was leaving the root of the overeating thoroughly unaddressed.
For many years I was obsessed with the ‘why’ of my fate on the bus with bully-boy. Why did he do it? What was wrong with him? If I saw him now and confronted him would he feel remorse? I waded through that and other past wounds and resentments in individual and group therapy, 12-step meetings, and via many heart-to-heart talks with close friends who were kind enough to listen without judging. And somewhere along the way I realized it was time for bully-boy and I to go our separate ways. He and his memory had been shadowing me for far too long all these years. It was over. And it wasn’t my job to hold him accountable – that’s what Karma is for – and may I say, what a relief. The task I was faced with was simple: face my wounds so I could heal them. And go back to the beginning and re-do the missing step, erase my slate’s nasty, hateful inscriptions from bully-boy and write my own text. Wouldn’t I rather have words on my slate that were loving, kind, and uplifting? Truly, I was worn out and beaten down by the negative mantras….and they didn’t make sense to me anyway. I realized the major flaw in bully-boy’s agenda: he was seeking to elevate his own anemic self-image through puffing himself up and lording it over me. And we all know what a hollow game that is.
My path back to loving myself and seeing who I AM as whole, perfect (in that human, imperfect way), and beautiful was an amazing adventure that continues to this day. It’s never really over, but once I cleared out the major debris, disinfected the festering wounds, and stopped resenting those who hurt me, my life began to blossom and freedom became the operative verb (and noun) in my life: physical, financial, and emotional…it’s all tied together. A big, big Thank You to so many who helped put my Humpty Dumpty of a psyche back together again: John Bradshaw, Louise Hay, Overeaters Anonymous meetings, the Oprah Winfrey Show, the teachings of Huna, Buddha, Jesus, and Anette Carlstrom, the International Women’s Writing Guild, and of course, DDPYOGA, Team DDPYOGA, and the amazing mentorship of Diamond Dallas Page and Terri “Athena” Lange!
So if you’re at any point in your journey where you feel that being mired in excess weight is your most pressing problem, relieve yourself of that illusion. Doesn’t it feel better already? Loosen your grip on the stringent policing of food and exercise intake. Those are important, but I’ll bet they’ve been front-burnered and are taking up the lion’s share of your energy. Give your time and attention to yourself for a while. You. That part of you that is incorporeal. That has no form, or fat, or poundage to focus on. It’s all a reflection of the inner anyway.
I promise, if you focus on Loving yourself fully and completely, ‘flaws’ and all, the weight eventually goes. Just don’t try and run the show and tell it when.
Loved me then…
…Love me now!