When I was a teenager, it nearly killed me to admit when my mother was right. Didn’t matter what she was right about, I preferred to live in my own righteous indignation rather than admit I was wrong about something.
Thirty years later, I still hate to be wrong.
I attribute most of my weight loss and maintenance success to journaling. More important than writing down what I eat has been writing down what’s going on inside my head. By identifying the feelings that cause me to behave in certain ways or to think or view myself the way I do, I’ve learned who I am and, for the most part, love who I was and am now. I say “for the most part” because there are times I get indignant and fall into “I’m right, you’re wrong and don’t even try to change my mind about it” thinking, even when I know deep down I’m wrong.
Case in point. The other night before I went to bed, I sat on my husband’s lap and kissed him goodnight. As he rubbed his hands down my backside he said, “I like your butt.” Now most days I’d have said, “Thank you” and gone to bed happy, but I’d been feeling fat all day. When this happens, I turn “I feel fat” into “I am fat.” Ergo, the woman who writes this blog, who subscribes to her own Green House Philosophy, is wrong and my inner fat chick is right.
“You’re biased," I said. "My butt’s disgusting. It’s flat and ugly and huge.”
Larry just sighed. “No it’s not,” he said, but he knew he couldn’t stop the oncoming assault.
“Look at this!” I continued, grabbing my belly skin. “Look at all this. It’s disgusting. How can you possibly love me when I look like this?”
In that moment, I truly thought I meant what I was saying. I felt fat. I felt ugly. I wanted to crawl out of my skin and into someone else’s body, preferably one like Angelina Jolie’s. I was devoid of reason. All the months I’ve spent accepting who I am in this reduced body flew out the window. I was, in that moment and throughout the day, the angry and embarrassed 300-pound woman who sat on and broke a desk chair at work in front of her coworkers, who couldn’t fit in an auditorium seat during her children’s band concerts, and who didn’t believe she’d ever lose weight and keep it off. “Feeling” fat turns me into her again. And no matter how many times I tell myself I’ve accepted her and love her, I still worry she and her extra 167 pounds will return.
After my rant, I went to bed feeling sorry for myself and believing I was right to be mad about my body. In the morning, I didn’t want to feel that way anymore, so I consulted my journals and my blogs and I reread some of the things I’ve written about self-acceptance.
In my first blog for Refuse to Regain, I compared my body to the three-tone green house I live in. “I tried self-loathing and I tried hiding, but hating and hiding my entire body because of some sagging skin was as foolish as hating my house because it was green. And unlike a house, this is the only body I get. If I want to live in peace and enjoy its many amenities, I have to accept my body’s ‘greenness” and see past the skin and stretches and realize its muscle and strength and its heart and soul. Where there is sadness and longing, there is also love and joy. My body is capable of empathy. It is determined.”
In a blog I wrote about loose skin I said, “I’ve changed my mood about my loose skin issues a bit since then. I’ve accepted it, just as I’ve accepted most things about my body that I didn’t like before: saggy flat butt, knobby knees, the list goes on. I accepted these things because I’ve finally accepted myself. I can truly say I love myself, skin and all.”
Then there was this blog I wrote earlier this year:
“I was bored in line at the grocery store yesterday and looked through a celeb magazine showing photos of skin/cellulite on stars…The magazine, as usual, branded these loose skin and cellulite issues as ‘problems’…I thought to myself, ‘It’s just skin! How is that hurting them or hurting me or hurting anyone else?’
“I have skin issues. Not as many as some people who’ve lost a lot of weight, and I don’t think of my issues as a problem, but I’d be pissed if someone took a photo of my stomach or my inner thighs when I was unaware and plastered it on the cover of a magazine and called it ‘ugly’ or labeled it ‘bad.’ What’s bad about it? What’s so awful terrible about our bodies that other people are so offended?
“Fat or thin, we all have things we don’t like about ourselves, but making peace with our outside appearance is better than labeling ourselves as inferior or not worthy or somehow flawed because we aren’t air-brush perfect. I like to think how I conduct myself, if I’m kind and show love and compassion, is more important than how much loose skin I have or if my face breaks out once in awhile.”
My own words smacked me between the eyes and I had to admit the 300-pound-minded person who railed about her body the night before was wrong. I still believed everything I wrote.
It wasn’t easy pulling myself out of that black hole of self-indignation and fear. It never is for any of us, I imagine. But thanks again to journaling, I’m on the right path again.