I Am That Girl Now

Monday, June 27, 2005

All or nothing, esteem or loathing

I was working out a theory the other night on why it was so hard for me to accept that nobody was watching me, judging me, giving a rat's ass about what I wore or what I ate at a restaurant. The theory ended up being something like this: without self-esteem, we're completely dependent on other people to give us importance. We need to believe that we have an impact of some kind upon others-- but in the absence of self-esteem, it becomes impossible to believe that we could have a positive impact upon others, so we're left with the idea that we have negative impact or none at all. It thus becomes desperately necessary to believe that people think horrible things about us, because under those rules the only other option is to believe that they don't think about us at all-- that we are invisible. And since without the opinions of others we have nothing at all, we cling to those negative assumptions like fire.

Something like that. I need to work on the wording some more.

I was thinking of this again today because I have been informed that the way I live my life has convinced a friend of mine that she will never be able to lose weight. If she can't do everything I do, right this very minute, she can't do it at all. Nothing I can say can convince her otherwise. My existance has caused her to lose all hope. I rather feel like having a good cry right now. I had it in my head somehow that by actually telling people what I do, I helped, and now it turns out that this is not entirely the case. That's a rather shattering concept right there, and I'm trying not to overreact.

I know. I know. This part is not something I can control. And this friend has her own problems, none of which have anything to do with me. I still feel bad.

What IS it about the lot of us that we get this all-or-nothing mentality going? I have it, God knows, and I've heard the same story so many times from so many bloggers that it seems to be a remarkably common trait, long before weight becomes an issue. Where does it come from? How do we fix it? How do we learn to find the gray areas?

Someone wiser than I might know how to get through to my friend. I don't. I'm completely helpless, and I hate that. Proof again that I'm not over the black & white view of myself-- in this case, I feel like either I'm helping EVERYBODY or I'm USELESS. Oy. ::smacks self upside the head:: I gotta stop this. I gotta let go.


  • Wow. If you didn't live in Chicago I would think we had the same friend!

    My friend misinterprets my concern for her and her eating patterns (only eating protein bars) into me thinking that she is not trying hard enough. Which is totally untrue!

    My other friends have given up trying to help her.. at one social gathering she just cried the entire night about her body and how she can't lose weight. It made me so sad.

    By Blogger Katy, at 6:43 PM  

  • I used to have a similar friend, years ago when I was thin. She used to constantly go on about how I was looking good and she never would etc etc. At the end of the day it was her way of making herself feel better. By searching for the "it's okay" statement she was trying to confirm to herself that it was okay for her to be like she was. Does this make sense, probably not?? You should never feel bad about being on a healthier journey in life. If she wants to join you in the journey then she has to do all the hard work as well. She can't expect for it to all just fall in her lap.

    By Blogger Jules, at 8:23 PM  

  • Your inner observations are very interesting, and are true for many people. I have had a somewhat different life experience. I got such intense negativity and hostility while age 6-12 that it was a relief to be invisible and ignored, rather than the object of contempt. It was my anger disorder that made me disliked. Talk about impotent anger - a matchstick-thin girl always getting picked on and getting into fights! By puberty I learned to control my anger and blend into society successfully.

    Now that I am in the overweight and middle aged category, I truly believe the world ignores me. That could be a loss of indentity. But it is also a freedom. I don't have to seek approval from others, I can do and be what I am. One time I was out walking, which is my sport, and some idiot yelled out of a car window, "You're fat!" Fine, but I'm not out there to attract his sexual attentions. I'm out there to build my own fitness. If he finds me unattractive, I don't much care. I have a loving husband and many wonderful friends who accept me at whatever weight I am at, and no matter how it looks in spandex! We have wonderful times together, walking, sweating, eating, laughing. It is a good life. I don't have to be the sexiest 45-year old in the neighborhood. I can be invisible to those seeking a new lust interest.

    By Blogger Wendy, at 9:31 PM  

  • I think this is massive. I really do. I have a friend who is constantly dwelling on the negative, even when there aren't any ~ she tends to do the "what if's"

    I'm so sorry that your friend's blaming you for her reasons to not do anything about her life. It's such a heavy burden and it's not right to expect you to take some of the blame. You really are an inspiration, and you do enlighten me on the world of maintenance.

    It's so hard to shake that all-or-nothing thinking. For me, it's like a safety net to failure, but more of an excuse to give up when things get too tough. People in general don't like to be put in-between a rock and a hard place, and when we're willingly trying to do it ~ to better ourselves in the long run, it tends to freak me out.

    I guess in the long run, your friend has to realise that it's her and only her that can really make a difference in her choices. She shouldn't feel as though she needs to do what you are doing to succeed - There are heaps of different ways people have gotten to their goal. She has to figure out what works for her... and if she's really worth doing that for.

    It's probably nothing you can do to help her realise that. You just have to remember that you shouldn't feel guilty for believing in yourself. For doing what you have to, to be who you want to be.

    You're an awesome person Meg! Love your blog.

    By Blogger Dee, at 11:53 PM  

  • What Dee said is so true, and I think you probably know this, underneath the sadness. I understand the sadness, though... it's frustrating when you want to help someone, and they turn that on you. I'm not saying your friend meant to do that. She's clearly in a situation where she can't help herself yet. Only she can change that. Until she's ready to, no amount of advice will be useful.

    I haven't been around the "blogosphere" for very long, but you've already been such a help to me. Could I do everything you're doing? No way! I'm not there yet... but you give me hope, because first off, I realize that there's no easy fix. This is a lifelong process, and though it might sound odd, I find that sort of comforting. I mean, I think it will be easier to lose sight of all the hard work if you just suddenly are "fixed" because you hit the right number on the scale. But also, you're just so honest and up front... and supportive, and I think you're just great :).


    By Anonymous Mae, at 12:12 AM  

  • Your friend is using you as an excuse to do nothing, and that's sad, but you are using her to indulge in a bit of an omnipotence-complex! Since when does any one of us control another person? You don't feel bad when your husband doesn't eat the way you do! Snap out of it, mate! There are probably heaps of people who find you a great inspiration anyway (I certainly do).
    As for the other point - I'm working on convincing myself that no-one is looking at me, no-one cares what I wear - so I can wear what I like and not feel self-conscious and anxious about dressing a bit way-out if I feel like it. I have to do this otherwise I keep dressing apologetically (boring, loose clothes) like I did when I was much heavier. It's been extremely liberating, actually!
    Take care


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:33 AM  

  • You said: My existence has caused her to lose all hope.

    Don't put this on yourself. If that's what she said, then she is trying to foist reponsibility on you for her issues, and that is patently unfair.
    Did you hold her at gunpoint and force her to listen to your daily menu and exercise routine? I didn't think so.

    I used to think that people were looking at me, and then I found this Golda Meir quote: "Don't be so humble; you're not that great." :-) Yup. The world, strangely enough, does not revolve around moi.

    Regarding the invisibility, sometimes it can be a wonderful thing: the gym in which I was working out two gyms and three years ago had a clientele that was 85% gay men. It was a perfect place for a fat woman; I don't think anyone realised I was there. :-)

    By Blogger Mich, at 6:00 AM  

  • Often people who were abused in some manner as children have the thinking you describe (in yourself, not your friend). When my father would get angry, I assumed (little five or six year old that I was) that it was my fault and that it was some I'd done and therefore something I could control. Honestly, it had nothing to do with me. It was all in his head.

    But it does leave you with an "overinflated" sense of importance. And not in a good way. Sorry to say, for me to get over thinking like it was always my actions and words that made people do things took a couple of years of therapy. I still sometimes ask myself: Could there be another explanation besides something I did that would have caused this person's reaction? Then I come up with explanations until I find one that's convincing to me. Trying Feeling Good by Dr. David Burns if you're interested in learning more. It's a technique called cognitive therapy. Pretty cool really and works for us logical, control-oriented planning freaks.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:11 AM  

  • Unfortunate to hear this about your friend, but it is her stuff that is causing this reaction. Consider this, you come here and tell the same war stories. There are some that might read your blog, totally feel like crap because you can do it and they won't, but they don't post it. Then there are the folks who post comments and let you know how inspirational you are. I'm in the latter category.

    My point is that people react based on where they are, not based on what you say or do. When they are ready to see it positively, they will.

    In other words, don't be so hard on yourself.

    By Blogger Nikki, at 9:19 AM  

  • Meg, Meg, Meg. Though you have been invited to, try not to take on your friend's problems. Honestly, I bet you're just the excuse du jour. You're an easy target for her anger and feelings of hopelessness. If your friend pulls out of her funk you can remind her, there's more than one road to the mountaintop. We all have to find our own path - not just for weight loss, but in life, of course.

    By Blogger Wendy, at 12:17 PM  

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