After looking through my journal and placing me on the scale, she said "You have issues with stress, don't you?"
She ignored the number on the scale, telling me she wasn't 'going to worry about it." Which seemed a bit strange, as she is a weight loss counselor at a weight loss center. She then told me about the 20 years she spent training continuously for triathlons, teaching 3 fitness classes a day, every day, and eating 700 calories per day. Needless to say, she didn't lose weight.
We know now that starving the body often just makes us hold on to fat stores stubbornly, as the body believes it will not receive nourishment for a long time. Add compulsive over-exercising into the mix and your body will dig its feet in, refusing to let go of a single pound.
Add stress in, and, well, you'll not only maintain weight, but probably gain a few LBs.
Because, as I do, I was trying to be "good." Even though, mentally, I know there are no "good" or "bad" foods, just foods that either make me feel good (energized, focused, satisfied) and those that make me feel bad (sluggish, mentally foggy, bloated, sick), I still wanted to be That Good Girl.
Stupid, fu**ing Good Girl.
The Girl who let everyone walk all over her, let people take advantage, took their cruelty in stride because she didn't know better. Who let others' opinions and needs be more important than her own. Who learned to be calm on the outside, even though inside she was screaming, because it felt easier to go along to get along. The girl who didn't know when a boy was flirting with her, because she couldn't imagine anyone ever would want to. Who panicked when the boy she'd likes for so long walked her home one night and gave her a kiss.
The Girl who spent years cultivating her own company because she couldn't figure out how to be in others'. She had friends, good friends, but she wasn't always there for them when other, seemingly "better" friends came along.
And was so grateful when, years later, those true friends showed up at her father's memorial, despite the fact that she and they lived 3,000 miles apart and hadn't been in the same room in nearly 15 years. Yet it seemed as if no time had passed at all.
The girl who became a wife and mother, and tried to do it all perfectly. Who decided it was better not to make waves, to take on everything alone, never complain, never ask for help, and listen quietly to "advice" and criticism. To believe others who told her she wasn't ENOUGH. Didn't make enough money, didn't have a clean enough house, didn't sacrifice enough for her kids: wasn't pretty enough, thin enough, sexy enough. Who took it all in, took it to heart, and believed all of it. Because, after all, it was all true.
She felt powerless. As if she had no say in her own life. She'd felt that way her WHOLE life.
Then, slowly, she began to realize that it wasn't true.
Any of it.
She DID have power over her life, she just had to speak up. She also had to realize that the judgements of others didn't have to affect her. They didn't live in her house, weren't affected by her salary (or lack thereof), and she certainly didn't want to sleep with any of them, so who gives a flying fig if they thought her fat or ugly? For a long time she'd heard the phrase "Don't give away your power." She'd thought she'd understood what that meant, yet she was doing exactly that: giving it away. Often to those who didn't deserve it. She learned that she was filled not only with self-doubt, but perhaps also with self-hate.
And that made her incredibly sad.
WHY should she hate herself? She's a good person! She loves children and animals, believes in fairness, is often willing to give the benefit of the doubt. She's honest, compassionate, sensitive, feels things deeply, and she is loyal. She loves fiercely and truly, is a good caretaker, and has a sense of humor. She also works hard. Yes, she has a temper, can be a perfectionist and impatient. She is far from perfect, but so is every other creature on the planet. Why should she hold herself to a higher, no, impossible, standard than she holds the ones she loves?
Does she stop loving her kids when they're cranky? No. Why should she go unloved for the same? Why is she the only one not allowed to make mistakes or feel unhappy/angry/frustrated?
She finally realizes that all the extra weight she's carrying around is more than physical. It's unexpressed emotions, shame from all-too-human behavior, and beating up on herself. Feeling stuffed and sick is more tolerable than feeling alone and scared and overwhelmed, or hating herself for yelling at the kids. Or guilty, over the billion-and-one things she THINKS she has to feel guilty about.
But the truth is slowly seeping through. She deserves good things. (Like compliments. Why is she ALWAYS so surprised by compliments?) She's a better mom when she takes care of herself, first. It's the airplane analogy: put your own oxygen mask on first, then help those around you. After all, you can't help ANYONE if you're unconscious. And stuffing herself beyond fullness, eating food that makes her sick, is just like being unconscious.
She is entitled to her opinions, moods, and emotions, even if they're not the same as everyone else's at the moment. They don't make her stupid, or a bitch, or a drama queen. And she is entitled to NOT take on everyone else's. She is entitled to buy a few things for herself, like books. She is entitled to some time off now and again. Yes, even a few hours away from the kids. And, absolutely, she is entitled to HAVING SOME HELP!!!!! She doesn't have to do it all alone!
So here she is, at another crossroads. Perhaps the most important one. Certainly the first one she's seen so clearly. She can continue the status quo, or she can take back her power. Her voice. Her control.
She can STOP being such a damned Good Girl!!!!!!!