Wednesday, April 26, 2017
"You've lost weight, haven't you?" (Warning: Possible triggers)
As a practicing intuitive eater, and someone who believes in Health at Every Size, I prefer to avoid discussions of weight, especially in relation to it going up and down. Sometimes, though, someone will look at someone else and say those words, "You look like you've lost weight!"
The person saying the words inevitably believes with their heart and soul that they are delivering a compliment. It is honestly difficult for the vast majority of people in this day and age to understand completely how those words can become something else. For a person with an eating disorder, they could act as a trigger. For someone with low self-confidence or who hates their body, they could actually hear "You look like you're FINALLY losing some of that weight! Thank God! It's about time you lazy blob!"
It has taken a lot of work on my mind, my emotions, and That Little Voice in my head, but I have finally reached a place in my life where I hear both what the person is saying, and what they are meaning, which...most often...is just "You look really happy with yourself." And heck, for all that I know, I may actually have lost weight. I don't weigh myself often, and have been known to bob back and forth amongst the same twenty or so pounds quite easily. *shrug* It doesn't matter to me, as I weigh what I weigh at any given moment and I don't care to try and manipulate that particular fact even temporarily.
But I am one of the lucky ones, to have reached this place, this state of mind. So many out there are still struggling with being happy with themselves as they are, and what that means.
I guess the biggest part of the struggle for me was realizing that I can be happy with myself as I am, and yet still have goals to achieve. I can be happy that I can walk two miles per hour, and still want to reach the goal of walking three miles per hour without making my current state any less important and valid. I can be happy with my blood sugars as they are but still look for ways to keep them more consistently within the range my doctor would prefer. I can be happy that I don't get out of breath climbing three stairs (not three flights, three STAIRS) but still have the goal of not being out of breath after climbing ten stairs.
In the modern Western world, especially, we are conditioned that not being the best is equivalent to not trying at all. If you aren't the best, you've got to be the extreme opposite, the worst, as opposed to just not being the best. I'm not saying that everyone should get participation trophies in everything we do, because that doesn't help us learn anything about ourselves either. What I AM saying is that we need to work on the idea that you can be the best YOU that is possible right now, while still having room to be a better YOU tomorrow, but that being a better you tomorrow doesn't mean that today's you sucked. It just means that you've learned something new, you've expanded your abilities, and that you have taken another step down the path of life.
How each person reaches that state of mind is a completely individual experience. We can share our own experiences and empathize with similarities, but no one can truly fully comprehend what someone else's path is like. No one should expect someone else to fully comprehend, not really. What they should expect, though, is that they can look around, listen to others, feel empathy and sympathy, and begin learning from the lessons others have already gone through. It can help lay the foundation for their own lessons, and while they'll find their own path to the next stopping place, just knowing that others have had similar struggles can sometimes make all of the difference in the world.
Find those places, those people who can share their experiences and that you can share yours with comfortably. Talk, listen, and support one another. Continue using that support to help yourselves move forward. Use that support if you need to pause for a moment and take a break from the forward motion for a bit. It's okay. We aren't perpetual motion machines, we need to rest once in a while. Take each step and assess whether you're ready to move forward or need more time to process. Eventually you'll be ready for the next one.
All of this is, I guess, meant to say that you are amazing. I am amazing. We're all pretty darned awesome just as we are. There's room to move forward, but if we want to just be who we are right now for a while, there's nothing wrong with that.
Be gentle with yourselves, my friends.