Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Kettle, this is Pot . . .

199 pounds
I've mentioned before that every once in a while (though less than you would expect) my blog causes people to say some mildly offensive things to me.

I had another incident like that last week.

A friend of ours named Derek was telling us about his doctor agreeing that Derek was "old and out of shape." It was an uncomfortable moment—the kind I used to cause before I realized how wrong it is to talk trash about myself, the kind of moment when the other people in the conversation don't really know what to say or how to respond.

Was Derek old? No chance.

Was he out of shape? I'm not sure. Maybe.

It's not really possible for me to answer that question because I don't know how often he exercises, what his blood pressure is, etc. But I do know that I immediately wanted to say something to alleviate the tension of the moment.

So I told him about one of my recent trips to the doctor—a trip during which I complained to my doctor about my recent weight gain, and he told me not to worry about it because all of the my tests say that I'm healthy.

I told this story to make Derek feel like he wasn't alone, to reinforce the notion that we all struggle with our weight. But that wasn't the message he got because his response was somewhat combative.

He said, "Why don't you just get over it?"

Derek didn't explain what he meant by "it," but I knew exactly what he was talking about. He meant my weight.

Why don't I just get over my weight.

I could not have been more offended.

"I am over it," I said defensively. "That's what the whole blog is about—accepting ourselves the way we are."

I know Derek doesn't read my blog, but I would have thought that he would at least have known what it was about. To be honest, I think he does know. And his comment about me needing to get over it was more about him than it was about me, as is often the case when people lash out at others.

Still, his words stung, and they stayed with me for a day or two, begging the question, Am I over it?

I really believe I am over my issues with my weight, but it's easy to backslide when the number on the scale is up rather than down. Just as importantly, his implied accusation reminds me how easily we can be misunderstood and how important it is to make sure that I don't send out mixed messages about how I want others to perceive me.

For years, I've been the person who says things to make other people feel better—I'll sell out myself, my family, even my husband—just to make a stranger feel better about themselves during a vulnerable moment. In the future, I need to do a better job of remembering that, though it's important to reach out to others, I shouldn't do so at a cost to myself or to those I love.

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