16 January 2014

Healthy Mom, Happy Life: One Stupid Thing Part 1

When I decided to start a blog, I was a bit confused about why people blog certain things.  Sharing intimate details about your life is something I was raised to avoid.  Proper ladies didn't do that.  (Of course, the reason I know that "Proper ladies don't do that," is because that statement was regularly repeated to me when I was young and had a very loose tongue about personal and family details!)  But as I have become more of a blog reader and appreciator, I have come to particularly value women who are honest about their health, their weight and their body image.  About their struggles and their triumphs, about their journeys.  Their openness helps many of us feel like we are not alone.

Since my early twenties, I have struggled with my weight.  Since bearing my children, I have been carrying somewhere in the range of 40 extra pounds, about every two years losing 15 or so pounds and then gaining it back.

I live in the land of beautiful women in Miami.  One of my dear friends commented to me about a year ago that she felt like she had really let herself go now that she was up to almost 110lbs from her usual 98 lbs.  She is such a beautiful woman, and honestly, I think the last time I weighed 110lbs was when I was 10 years old, so I was shocked and a little offended by her statement.  It would take anorexia or a major health crisis for me to get to 110 lbs.

Because I love her, and I am a decent friend, instead of speaking my mind and saying she was being ridiculous, I assured her that she was gorgeous and that that extra 10 pounds was only noticeable to her.

And of course I took offense.

Don't we all believe that when someone points out their obviously non-existent flaws that they are in fact trying to obnoxiously point out our significant flaws?  I was certain she was commenting on my weight loss needs, not her own.

It took me a while after that conversation to realize that she was being honest and real and vulnerable to her good friend about her insecurity.   She was truly not commenting on me, she was confiding in me.  And it finally occurred to me that no matter how beautiful or thin or fashionable, we all feel the weight of our insecurities in our self-image.  To her, those 10 pounds were just as significant as my 40 are to me.  They made her feel bad about how she looked, made her feel like other people were looking at her or judging her.  Those 10 pounds, that should be of so little importance, nullified all of her other incredible qualities as a wife, mother, volunteer and friend because they drown out the positives in a sea of feeling unworthy.

I have experienced this.  I truly wish I was alone in this experience, but I am not.  In fact, I don't know a single woman who doesn't have some sort of insecurity about her body.  The experience of having my feelings about my body overwhelm my Ivy League education, the love of my children and husband and family and friends, my competence as a nonprofit leader, my creative talents, my kindness as a human being....  In my irrational heart and mind, this one, stupid thing overwhelms all of those incredible, positive things in my life-- in our lives.

I don't have an answer to the problem of body image outranking the other, far more important positive things.  But I am hoping that the catharsis and the reality check of writing my journey down will help shine light for me (and maybe for you?) on the problem of the One Stupid Thing.

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