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I Saw The Light, I Saw The Truth April 18, 2006

Posted by table4five in Uncategorized.
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Yesterday, I read a blog post that may have just changed the course of my life. And while that sounds dramatic and exaggerated, it possibly isn’t. Something that happened to someone I’ve never even met may have been the catalyst for the change I’ve been trying to make for a long, long time.

Before you read further, please click this link to Dawn’s site and read her post from yesterday titled “truth”. I don’t usually suggest that people good enough to come here on purpose go somewhere else, but her post is somewhat responsible for this one, so it’s pertinent to understanding what I have to say. Go, read it if you didn’t already, and then please come back.

I had a sharp, visceral reaction to Dawn’s post. While I read it I unconsciously nodded my head, and while I tried to remember that the post was about Dawn and something that had been told to her, I couldn’t help but wish it was about me. I was jealous of Dawn’s enlightenment.

For some time now, I’ve been wishing for an epiphany. I’ve been hoping that the skies would open up and down would come a giant hand, like in a Monty Python sketch, and poke me square between the shoulder blades with a giant index finger. I had tried looking elsewhere, within, without, around. I had searched in books, magazines, websites, videos, meetings and classes. I had opened myself up to new possibilities, considered changes both gentle and radical, pondered options for quick results and ones that could last a lifetime.

There was just one problem. All the opening, considering and pondering had been just that. There was no actual change. There was some talking the talk, but no walking the walk. There was denial, bargaining, promises and attempts. There were failures and disappointments.

What I really have needed all this time, is for someone to look me in the eye and tell me the truth. People around me who thought it was better not to speak up were not doing me a favor. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame anyone else. It was not the responsibility of anyone else to do this for me. It just would have been nice. Painful, gut-wrenching yes, but necessary. Which brings me to Dawn’s post about the truth and how it helped. This sentence, in particular:

Recently, I consciously turned away from that. Whether driven by fear, or cowardice or something else I canโ€™t yet name, I shut my eyes to the truth. I made up stories that suited me better. I indulged myself. I knew better, and did it anyway.”

Except in my case it’s not ‘recently’, it’s more like ‘for the last twelve years’. While I thought I was open to change and considering possibilities, I was actually closed up tight with my eyes squeezed shut. I spent unknown hours wasting time fooling myself into thinking that I was “finally doing something about it”, that I had “finally found the answer, the solution, the plan”.

Have you ever heard about someone that they got in their own way? That is exactly what I did. Every time I did make even a teeny tiny bit of progress, every time someone acknowledged or praised me for my successes, I bolted. I threw up a tall, thick brick wall and ran like hell. Why? I’ve thought a lot about that.

While I absolutely acknowledge that the only person ultimately responsible for me is me, I have to think that my upbringing did have something to do with why I can’t allow myself any success. I was raised by parents who literally believed that children should be seen and not heard. The only time my parents ever directly asked me a question was if they needed me to do something for them. Even at the dinner table the conversation was between them, while my brother and sister and I sat silent and ate our food. There was no question that we would do well in school and in our extracurricular activities, so we didn’t expect any praise for good grades, lettering in sports and music, getting in to good colleges. There was no kissing, almost no hugging ( my Mom was good at the one-arm side hug in a public setting), no “I Love You”. That’s just how it was.

I didn’t say all that to gain sympathy or make excuses for my situation. I haven’t lived with my parents for almost twenty years, and I have made myself into the adult I am now. But still, when a stranger says “good job”, or “congratulations”, I bolt. Every time. The blog is different, because the praise comes in written form, with no expectation behind it. I have the safety of cyberspace between myself and whomever is saying “great blog” or “funny post”. Someone standing right in front of me is a whole different story.

And yet out from the swirling ether of cyberspace came Dawn’s post about truth, and it was a little like that giant poke between the shoulder blades. Because this morning, while downloading the Easter pictures from my camera and combining them with the pictures Chris took at a Saturday Easter Egg hunt, I found this:

That, my friends, is what I needed someone to tell me. I am so embarassed, ashamed, disgusted that I went to my husband’s new boss’ house and met all of his new coworkers looking like that. I’m not even going to pretend that my husband and friends didn’t notice. The fact that my husband loves me, desires me and sometimes can’t keep his hands off me even when I’m trying to do the damn dishes is great and all, but he should have told me. I should have been looking more closely in the mirror, I should have known that jeans this size do not mean that my ass is anything but gigantic.

This picture is my truth. This picture lets me know that nothing I’ve done or failed to do in the past matters at all, that what matters is that now I know, now I’ve got something tangible and real to work with. It doesn’t matter what I do, what matters is that I do something.

I needed to write this post, even though I know it won’t interest most people, but that’s okay. I know from sitemeter that people come here, but not very many stay very long. But that’s okay, because this post wasn’t written for anyone else. It was written for me. It was written for that silent girl who wasn’t allowed to speak up or celebrate her successes. It was written for the adult woman who is afraid, very very scared to even try. It was written for the mother who doesn’t want her children to remember a Mom who couldn’t keep up. For the mother of a daughter who doesn’t want that daughter to have to see her struggle with weight and food issues.

I don’t know what’s going to happen now. I know I need some time to process all of this. To look at that picture and decide what to do next. And to thank my husband for taking that picture, for showing me the light and the truth.

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Comments»

1. Izzy - April 18, 2006

I’m not really sure what the appropriate thing to say is… Hopefully, it’s something like this —

More power to you.

I think you’re great. Your blog is wonderful. You’re a lovely person. Accept all of these at face value. Really ๐Ÿ™‚

2. Arabella - April 18, 2006

Well said, Izzy!

Elizabeth, I applaud you for confronting your demons, yet I really hope you won’t be too hard on yourself because of one photo.

I’ve had a similar experience after catching sight of myself in a particular pair of jeans. Lately, I’ve been eating healthfully and exercising a lot because I want to get my body as strong and as healthy as possible before I have surgery in May. I’ve frequently engaged in bouts of exercise that haven’t lasted all that long because I sought only cosmetic differences. I think this time is different, and I think it’s because, now, I’m approaching this change from the perspective of trying to care for and nourish my body.

Whatever you do as a result of your epiphany, please make sure it involves being good to yourself and nourishing yourself.

3. mama_tulip - April 18, 2006

I’ve recently had the same sort of realization. It’s something that I knew about, the fact that I am carrying around extra baby weight, but was doing nothing about. Then it hit me like a Mac truck and I was bowled over with the desire to do something about it. But not for anyone else but MYSELF.

Like the others have said, you go. More power to you. You’re not alone.

4. Lanna - April 18, 2006

Oh honey… (((hugs)))
I totally feel some of your pain. I came to a breaking point with my own body last year and started making changes to feel better and be more healthy – *not* to just lose weight. Then I went and got knocked up, but still. If things go according to plan, I’ll be back to the gym and chasing after kidlets in a few months. ๐Ÿ™‚

5. Jess - April 18, 2006

Oh, I hope you are on your way to a good place, and that this is the start of a happier you!

6. Nancy - April 18, 2006

You are amazing and brave for posting this. I know you did it for yourself, and that makes me admire you even more.

I am facing a similar truth too. It is hard to accept the changes to our bodies brought about by age and childbearing. Please be gentle with yourself through this process, though. You did just have a baby. I am going to try and be gentle with myself as well.

As others have said, you are lovely and good and we’re here for you. Through thick and thin and bad photos. (Kinda like marriage, but without the sex.)

7. Dawn - April 18, 2006

I’m honored that my words touched you in such a manner, Elizabeth. It is the beauty of this cyber world that we inhabit that we can take so many levels of meaning in each others words. I have one of those photos too. It was taken in 2002 and when I saw it I was appalled and shocked and just astounded. Who was that woman leading the pony with Emily on it? Shit.

I don’t have any “super, duper easy diet” advice, cause it was rough. I went from teetering on 200 pounds to my 150-160 today. I will never be 120 pounds. Hell, my boobs alone will tilt me over that threshold. But – it was when I could walk all over without feeling winded that was the best moment.

I am here for you – whether you need a cyber “good job” or an ear to hear you say “THIS SUCKS!” – I am offering.

8. Mocha - April 18, 2006

I wasn’t going to surf tonight. Really. I was going to stick to the plan of doing my homework and something drew me here and I’m glad. This is all I’m reading tonight (and Dawn’s post, which I liked a lot) and then back to my own truth of putting off homework.

You’re brave, vulnerable, beautiful, shocking, willing and awesome. I’m proud to know what I do about YOU and am blown away by your honesty. You go, girl.

9. MrsFortune - April 18, 2006

I ditto what Nancy said. I did read Dawn’s post yesterday and it hit me totally differently than how it hit you. that’s what I think is so cool about blogging and interpretation. But I’m glad you wrote this post, even if you don’t think many people would be interested.

10. Mightymouse Mommy - April 18, 2006

Sissy..

I may just know you better than anyone besides my brother. I may not, I have no idea. I do know that we all have moments of awakening in our lives. Mine was recent when I realized there was nothing I could do to help someone who desperately needed but did not want help. You could almost say your awakening was the opposite in a way. When you realized there was something you could do to help someone who desperately needs – and WANTS – your help… You.

I love you Sissy. I’m both sorry and happy for you at the same time that you got the poke between your shoulders that you’ve needed. Sorry because I know how much it hurts and happy because I know how much happier you’ll be now that you’re facing your fears and your weaknesses head on and with the strength of a lion that you try to hide but we all know you have.

God Bless you Sissy, I love you dearly. If you need me, I am here.

11. Mightymouse Mommy - April 18, 2006

One thing I want to add Sissy, is that maybe you hid from yourself and your demons for as long as you have because you were afraid that you had “failed.” You have said, in your blog and to me in person, that you never really were raised to expect or even want praise for success because it was simply expected of you to succeed. Maybe hiding from yourself was, in part, also a fear of “admitting” that you “haven’t succeeded” – if that makes any sense. Of course I don’t agree with that – you’re a wonderful mother, you have three SO beautiful children, you’re one of my best friends, you keep my Tover in line.. And God knows WHERE he’d be without you. But we’re all our own worst critic and maybe this was your way of hiding from the criticism of not only yourself but the way you were raised.

Again, I love you.

12. Marcie - April 19, 2006

I agree with everyone else. Don’t be too hard on yourself and more power to you. I respect bloggers like you and Dawn that post about truth and sometimes you guys get down to the nitty gritty. I haven’t gotten there yet.

13. hipstermom - April 19, 2006

Wow. Last january when my family got back from a trip to Disney World I had the exact same reaction when I saw the pictures. It does get better. For me that was all it took to get me back on track. I started running a week after and haven’t stopped. I think these moments of truth are necessary for us to gain insight. Don’t be so hard on yourself, we all end up there in one way or another.

14. Mother GooseMouse - April 19, 2006

Oh Elizabeth.

You are wonderful just as you are. But I want you to be happy.

15. Mom101 - April 19, 2006

Oh this made me cry. For real. Not in a pitying way, but in a yes, yes YES sister way. I think all of us besides the truly self-unaware have been there, whether for something physical or not. We’ve all had moments of revelation, where that proverbial light bulb goes on and you spring to attention shouting, “I get it now.” Don’t look at it as a low point, but as the thaw after winter. It’s springtime.

16. jen - April 19, 2006

Spring is the Season of Rebirth – and maybe that is what this is for you.

Go easy on yourself. Thinking of you.

17. TB - April 19, 2006

What you wrote about Dawn’s post and the accompanying photo struck such a chord with me. I cried when I read it earlier and I’m crying now as I write this.

When I read what Dawn wrote, I thought the exact same thing that you did. I was jealous of her that she had someone to tell her the truth she needed to hear. I can completely identify with what you said about realizing you need to get there, paying lipservice to it without ever really being honest with yourself.

My issue is not my weight, it’s my mental state. But I know how painful it is to be smacked in the face with something you have been turning a blind eye to for years. I want to thank you for being so brutally honest with yourself for all the world (or at least all your readers) to see. I can’t imagine how much courage it took for you to do that.

Whatever happens, I hope you know that you are an amazing person. And I hope you find your truth.

18. Catherine - April 20, 2006

Wow, Elizabeth. What can I say that so many wise women before me haven’t already told you… you write beautifully and bravely! I haven’t known your blog but for about three days and, already, you’ve touched me deeply with your words. Thank you for sharing this.

19. sweatpantsmom - April 20, 2006

Wow Elizabeth. What an incredibly brave and honest essay. I’m envious of you – could I ever write something so brutally reflective? I don’t think so.

It’s obvious that you have touched a lot of people with this, myself included. Thanks for writing it. You. Go. Girl. You’re awesome!

20. roo - April 20, 2006

I’ve had that experience, Elizabeth– usually when I get a sudden glimpse of what I look like from the side (The front view in my mirror each morning is far kinder– I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not, except that were it otherwise, I might have a hard time getting ready for work without being crippled with shame.)

My parents are both grossly overweight, and for most of my life I’ve feared/rebelled against the idea that I will be just like them– all the mobility problems, blown-out joints, and difficulty finding clothing or fitting into a restaurant booth or airline seat– the condescending treatment they sometimes receive because of their size.

Seeing that side view can set me in a weird mental spiral, but I think it can be an important safeguard against becoming what I fear, if I can only harness those emotions in the right way, instead of letting them make me feel defeated.

Be kind to yourself, Elizabeth. You can be the person you want to be.

21. Fraulein N - April 20, 2006

That was really amazing of you to post that, even though I know you only did it for yourself.

22. Mrs. Harridan - April 20, 2006

I can’t add anything that hasn’t already been said, so I’ll just say that we are all here for you, we all support you, and you will prevail, no matter what you try to do!


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