Friday, February 19, 2010

Lifestyle Progress Report #2

So, as I noted in yesterday's lifestyle progress report (Lifestyle Progress report - Part 1), I've actually made a bunch of smallish changes in the past few weeks.  I feel good about these things, though a bit worried about how well I'll be able to stick with them.  I'm an extreme kind of personality at times, and struggle with moderation.  I tend to start things with great intentions and great enthusiasm, only to give up on them after only a short period of time.  I'm not always so great with follow-through.  So the prospect of making a lot of changes at once is truly terrifying for me because it's led to failure in the past.

A good friend, Chris (herself a skinny minnie - albeit in denial - but whom I could never hate despite my past feelings towards these enviably thin creatures), recently challenged me by saying that I need to ditch the "can't" attitude; she suggested that I'm courting failure even before I start trying to make some changes.  I can't say that I disagree.  She, unlike me most of the time, is convinced that I CAN do this.  She also asked me to think of one reason why I can't do this - not why it may be hard, but one reason why I cannot do this.  I've been thinking about that question a lot.  I don't think I have a good answer to the question - which is probably what she was hoping I'd come up with!

But I think I know one of the things that's blocking's fear.  Fear of many things.  Though I really don't like being a large person, I think that being large enables me to hide.  Be gentle with me here - this is vulnerable stuff...this stuff is probably obvious to everyone around me, but it's still hard to say these things out loud.  I think my weight enables me to hide the person that I really am on the inside.  It's a mask - so that if people reject me (or if I reject myself) I can blame it on how I look, rather than risk someone (again, myself included) rejecting the person I really am on the inside.  Whenever, in the past, I've lost some weight, the same thing happens to me over and over again:  I get scared.  When my body starts feeling slightly less, I panic and start to eat more again. The slightly leaner person is someone that I don't know; I don't know how to be someone who is smaller.  The large person has become my identity, and has helped me to hide the person I really am.  Really, I guess, I'm scared of change.  Scared that if I lose the weight I need to lose, I'll have to grapple with the me that's left - the real me.  And that's scary.  What if the person that's left isn't someone that is loveable, worthy, etc - that's the real fear, despite whatever logic or assurance you may want to throw my way right now, and despite how illogical that sounds even to me as I say it out loud.

So why's that scary???  Well, at least in part, I think it has to do with my upbringing.  Now, let me be clear about something before I continue.  I love my parents.  Flawed as they are, I love them and, flawed as I am, I know they love me.  And I'm way past being in my teens and twenties, when I was all about blaming them for my baggage.  Now I just want to understand why I am the way I am, so that I can deal with it and move on with a healthier inner life.  I can do this now and still have a good relationship with my parents.

So, with a love for my parents at the forefront of my mind, I think that in their desire to do their best by me, they attempted to mold me into someone that they believed I should/could be.  I was brought up to believe that accomplishment was important and that how others perceived me/the family was very important...more important that how we felt about things, more important than who we were.  They'd have a heart attack to know what I write about on this blog!  I now understand the context of this perspective in their lives, much more than I did in my early years.  The impact on me, however, was to learn to avoid any prospect of failure, and to work very hard to please my parents.  I was very least in the eyes of my world.  Problem is that somewhere in the course of working so hard to achieve success, I lost sight of what it was that wanted and who was.  I felt that who I was on the inside was not enough - not worthy of love, not worthy of taking care of myself.  I felt that who I was created to be was rejected, and so I had to become a person who would be of value and worthy of love.  In my quest as a young adult to meet this acceptable profile, I did about twelve years of post-secondary education, I was careful to bury any small failures I had, and felt overall like I needed to project someone that, to be honest, I'm not sure I really was.

It's only in recent years, and increasingly as I go through some psychotherapy to figure this stuff out, that I am really conscious of not having a great understanding of who Ruth Schellenberg/Ruth Branson really is.  I'm getting there now, thank God, but it's hard work.  I find that I often have to be still in myself before acting or deciding on something because I'm not sure anymore that my automatic responses are authentic.  I'm pushing myself to figure them out.

Ironically, as I figure those things out, I feel more and more ready to make the lifestyle changes that I so badly want to make (but have ultimately failed at every time in the past).  The changes I'm making seem a teensy weensy bit less terrifying right now, as I figure out that what I think I really want is to have the outside of me reflect more of what the inside of me is like...maybe not so bad after all!


  1. You should meet my friend Nat:

  2. I understand what you're saying about hiding behind your weight. It's great to hear about the strides you're making. {{hug}}