How many times can I ask my family and friends, “Do I look fat?” or complain to them that I need to lose weight, without negatively influencing the precious moments that we spend together? When we are overcome by the emotional stress and distortion that surrounds our obsession with weight and food, we often times lose sight of the fallout that could affect those around us whom we love. Not until recently have I gained the clarity to realize how my own lack of manageability in my life and the relationship that I have with myself has spilled onto the relationships that I have with others. While we ask our family and friends to sympathize with the idea that we are not feeling good about ourselves and try to understand our actions, we also have to adjust our perspective to understand how our own projection could hurt them. In my last article, I spoke of forgiving and loving ourselves; however, this can also be achieved by sharing and seeking the forgiveness of others.
The summer is one of the hardest times of the year for me, probably, I imagine, for many women. I am threatened by those who are able to be carefree, when I am constantly focused on my appearance and the sense of unease I feel when it comes time to shed my clothes. Last summer, I began on a high note but it quickly faded. When I felt my body was not living up to the expectations for the summer that I had formed in the spring, I sabotaged my entire being and, once again, shielded my personal discomfort with food. I became increasingly hard on myself, and I relapsed. Despite my best efforts, I was unable to hide my emotions from anyone around me.
One of the hardest and most revealing weekends for me was ironically amongst three of my closest and dearest friends, people I most trust and who I know love me. We had planned a beautiful weekend in Brimfield, Massachusetts, to spend some solid and undisturbed time with one another. However, I allowed my obsession to sink so deep that I did not even want to take a photo with them, worrying that I would be the largest, feeling like they were better than I am. I felt left out, mentally and physically. I had become entangled in my own self worth so much that I became defensive and unkind in their presence. At one point, when I felt I was not being paid attention to, I lashed out verbally before breaking down in shame. For that one weekend, I was unable to let my feelings go and enjoy myself. I could not forget my body and ultimately damaged the time we spent as a result. Fortunately, I have very wonderful and forgiving friends.
After time to reflect, I learned to be grateful for that experience, because it demonstrated how alienating my obsession could be to both myself and those closest to me, thereby perpetuating the pain I was already experiencing. Now, I have to forge ahead, constantly reminding myself to continue to rely on my inner strengths in order to overcome my sometimes debilitating self-doubts. I will try to switch off the voice in my head that is berating and competitive. I will stop, breathe and come back to the moment in order to be present and gain a true awareness of my surroundings. With my insight from last summer’s setbacks, I am looking forward to moving forward and enjoying this spring from a different angle.