Thursday, July 10, 2008

My shameful secret

Long time reader(s) will know that this used to be a weight loss blog. Yes, it's hard for me to remember, but I used to be a Weight Loss Success Story, complete with amazing results, effortlessly healthy eating, and a love of hard, sweaty walking. I moved my body for the joy of it, not because I felt I "had" to. I ate healthy foods in reasonable proportions without huge drama or debate - it was what I did. I knew I would never "go back" because it was all second nature.

And then, slowly and inexorably, it fell apart. I still cannot tell you what specifically started the meltdown (or build up, if you want to really describe it accurately), but it happened and I've never been able to put things back together again in the same way. Sixty pounds gone and then right back on again. Three years prior to that, seventy pounds off for a year and then back on again. Eleven years ago now, 110 pounds off for 18 months and then BOOM, it exploded.

What I've come to realize since then is that it was always all about the weight loss for me, an obsession with restricting - my food, my life, my happiness - that couldn't withstand the onslaught of real life. In 1997, it was my separation and eventual divorce. In 2002, it was a disastrous relationship with a cruel man who bankrupted me spiritually, emotionally, and financially. Three years ago it was bringing Alcott and his siblings into my life plus TCB. In all three cases, I lost the tight control I'd forced on to my life and started to feel something intensely which didn't leave room for the exercise and food obsessions.

And so I began to look at others who had lost a lot of weight with envy, an ugliness that I tried to squash down so that no one would see it. I would actually say to myself, while reading about the run they'd just finished or the small portion of food they'd eaten, "Just wait...your turn will come, too." God, even writing that makes me feel gross. Still, it's true and I can't deny it.

Even now, when I'm no longer obsessed with losing weight (most of the time), I still have to fight against that knee-jerk reaction when I read someone say on their blog that they'll "never regain this weight - I've been thin now (and active and eating properly) and I'll never go back because i know better." You know, in some sense (and this just hit me), simply making that statement at all must damage your psyche on some level because that fat girl you used to be is still inside you, wanting to be loved for herself and her intrinsic value as a person, not because she's lost so much weight. (Or is that just me?) Every time you stigmatize/demonize your old self, are you putting a foot in a healthy direction or just back toward self-loathing?

OK, you know what? This didn't start out to be a confusing mess of psychological rambling that even I don't understand, so let me get to my point.

Why does the weight loss success of others threaten me so? The answer eludes me but I think it has something to do with needing to feel that I'm not the only one who is human, who can reach those heights and then fall. I need to have reassurance that obsession ultimately leads to downfall, not just for me but for everyone. Because, if that's not true, and if you can be unhealthily obsessed and still attain long-term Weight Loss Success, then why am I fighting it so hard? Why not give in and stop fighting for understanding? For reason? For some sort of order and sense of WHY this is hard and WHY we have to push through?

Or, I could just be hormonal.

5 comments:

Suze said...

Oh Denise! *hugs*
I don't have an answer for you, but I pray for the day when you find some inner peace with yourself. Be kind to you, you're a good person.

http://dailyfrippery.com

MARLA said...

Oh, I totally hate people who are successful. I am so ashamed of myself for it. Well, no I don't "hate" them, but I can feel so incredibly jealous that I have to go away from blogging for a few days so I don't say something ugly. Baby, that's just human.

I guess it's because when someone else is successful in an area we are not, we feel accused in some manner. If THEY can do it, why can't we? There must be something wrong with us. That's the downside of blogging or any other community - comparing yourself to others can be a huge trap.

There's nothing wrong with you (or me). We are all different people dealing with different things, and it doesn't matter what happens with someone else.

I am one of those people who say "I won't ever go back," but Denise seriously it's not about how much I weigh/weighed. I only have so much control over my weight. What I mean is that I will not go back to the attitudes and beliefs about myself I had before I started the wourney. I don't demonize my old self for anything, especially not for being fat; rather I am acknowledging how much I've grown and changed because of the challenges I've taken on. I want to remain the kind of person who is brave enough to do that, that's the "not going back" part that matters to me.

I think I understand what you're saying, but I don't like the "fat girl still inside you" idea. It gives an identity to the fatness itself, it makes your identity inseparable from your weight. I used to dislike when people said "there's a thin person inside me" because I always felt that there's ME inside me--always has been, always will be, and my "me"ness has always been in some deep basic way free of the way I appear to others, whether that's weight or beauty or whatever. It's the 8-year-old part of myself that just existed and experienced life directly, before the constraints and prejudices of others started to box me into a role.

If you don't lose weight, that's fine. If you don't WANT to lose weight, that's fine. I want us to be happy and love ourselves at any and all weights. But I want to protest that trying to lose weight or change your fitness doesn't mean you don't love yourself; that makes no more sense than saying if you change your hairstyle you didn't love yourself before. If you take that line of thinking too far, it means a person isn't allowed to make ANY changes in their life without being accused of self-hatred, and that is a bad place to be.

Not sure if I'm making sense :-) I guess I'm just trying to say that I totally DO love you at any number of pounds, and I think you should too.

Jenn said...

You're not alone... I sometimes think similar thoughts and then wonder why in the world I would wish someone failure. I don't really want them to fail, I guess it's that whole misery loving company thing.

I've regained significant weight losses twice, and right now I'm struggling with putting together the desire to want to lose weight with actually doing something about it... I just can't seem to do both at the same time - I either want to lose weight but don't work out, or workout half assed because I don't really care enough about losing weight to put effort into it.

Dad24Cats said...

Well weight loss is like any other mental problem you must first come to a realization that something is causing than try to move on. I know it sounds so easy but it is like a lot of addictions. I remember when I stopped smoking since I have never really quite since if I have one puff than it is over. So when you lose weight you really don't lose it you are not carrying it around.

The biggest thing you must remember no matter how good it gets you always have the problem. Just as long as you have love and support you will be loved, you won't always but successful but love is more important.

kitty said...

I blame the majority of my extra weight on weight loss - I went on my first diet when I was 14
at 5'5 I weighed 160 (a weight I would do cartwheels for now) I lost 30 pounds - then gained it back plus another 30

and so on and so on - to the point I'm at now (after about 5 serious weight loss attempts with moderate success) I always lose about 20-30 pounds only to gain it back x2

at this point I'm actually scared to lose weight because if history means anything I'll wind up worse off than I already am - which (if you do the math) is obviously pretty bad off!!

my best friend is also considerably overweight - and when she gets a bug up her butt to lose I secretly hope she'll fail - not really sure why

p.s. I make a project of losing weight which I become obsessed with... but ya know how it goes... what goes up must come down (except for weight of course) I get all jazzed and obsessed and just like with all my many other projects, I lose steam and the next thing ya know the 'project' is abandoned - only instead of sitting in a corner accumulating dust with the others... this project sits in a chair and accumulates pounds