thoughts

Losing Weight

I came across a post the other day where a woman’s photo that was used to illustrate the effects of anorexia was misused in a “listicle” for photos of successful weight loss. There was a lot of commentary about how people who suffer from emotional dysregulation (e.g. depression, anxiety, anorexia, bulimia, etc) are often “celebrated” for their good looks. They would often get comments such as, “Did you lose weight? You look great!” In reality, their weight loss was very unhealthy, yet still rewarded and showered with compliments on their “good looks.”

That got me to thinking about how one could approach another who has had a change in weight. Can you come from a place of concern? “I noticed you’ve lost/gained some weight recently, is everything okay?” Or can there be a neutral ground? “I’ve noticed you’ve lost/gained some weight recently, has something changed for you?” Or is there another way?

It’s definitely got me to reevaluate how I view others’ weight loss/gain. I can’t assume that others’ weight changes are done in a healthy manner. In order for me to stop rewarding or complimenting bad behaviors, I must reframe my commentary and/or not comment at all.

But for now, here are some examples of things I will not say:

“You’ve lost a lot of weight. You look great!”
“Please tell me how to fit into your pants!”
“You look so skinny!”
“Your face looks skinnier!”

Touched

I need to write this now to capture what I feel and use this post as a reminder of why I choose to do the work I do, or even be the person I want to be.

Last month, I attended a 3-day training for WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan). There was an individual, R, in one of my groups. We were writing our responses on a topic on a large piece of paper. R shared with us that he had some difficulty writing due to his anxieties and fearing that his handwriting would be judged. I remember acknowledging him and his courage to share such information with us. From there, I remember I did what I could to support him, whether it was asking if he wanted  someone to write on his behalf or encourage him to share out to the large group. It was a short 3 days, but I remembered him and I remembered how much power he had in the sharing of his vulnerabilities.

This week, I started the 5-day training for the same program. Lo and behold, R was here too! This whole week, I have been utterly amazed by him. He has been sharing more during large group discussions, he’s been sharing in small and large groups, and today, he wrote in front of the large group on the poster paper. He even signed up for a role playing part and I was just so blown away by how much he was challenging himself to do things that made him uneasy. I am amazed and inspired.

Today (Thursday), as we were both leaving the training, he shared with me how he felt. He said that I would forever be in his mind as he is continuing his growth process. He said that when we make eye contact, he feels warm, he feels good. He told me that he was appreciative of me and what I had done for him. In that moment, I felt so much joy for him. I felt so much pride that he had pushed himself so much, even with sharing his feelings and thoughts with me. I felt so touched, so deeply touched, that I had been able to play a part in his life, a part I didn’t even realize I was playing.

I want to capture this feeling. I got to my car and I cried a little out of joy and out of happiness. I felt so validated in being the person I want to be and doing the work I want to do. I have this really good and really warm feeling in my heart because I get to be a part of this process, I get to be a part of his process. I don’t know where life will take us, but I’m glad that we were able to share these moments together.

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As I am continuing this post today (Friday), I am again touched by the warmth of others. Yesterday, one of the training participants was having a really challenging day. I had serendipitously walked into a space where she was visibly and emotionally upset. I offered my support and stayed with her for a bit before she requested time for herself. Today, she shared her appreciation for my actions and gifted me a rock she had painted. I’m usually not one for touchy-feely gifts, but this one really touches my feelies.

With any large group, I am usually apprehensive and reluctant to throw myself completely into the group. I still am and I acknowledge that is my piece and when I choose to show up and participate, it is meaningful and part of my own process. But the gifts, physical and not, that I have received this week have really touched my heart. I am so deeply moved to be here in this space and so deeply grateful that I was given the opportunity to be in this specific group. I came into the training thinking that I would be learning about the material, how to facilitate, etc – all the mechanics of the program. Instead, I am left with the warmth and kindness and while sometimes it totally bugs me that everyone is so positive all the time, I am grateful for the unconditional positive regard everyone has for one another.

This week was a great example of: You won’t remember what was said, but you’ll always remember how you felt.

Jaded

In the last 24 hours, and I suppose in general, I have been feeling really awful about the internet. It’s like a gun – it can be used for good, but so many people use it for bad. How can you justify its existence?

More specifically, what’s set off my mood was an incident that spurred yesterday in the internet world. A woman posted her opinion, comedic/satirical or not, about a recent celebrity death. So many comments spurred from it, mostly about hate. Most of them wished she or someone she loved would die, that karma would come back to her, that she was a cunt/slut/whore/bitch who deserved all most awful things to happen to her because she publicly stated her opinion. While I don’t agree nor think her public opinions were necessarily appropriate for such a forum, I don’t think she deserved all the hate she got. I don’t know why she wrote it, why she published it – that’s between herself and her therapist if she has one. What really upsets me the most was that all these people were bullies. Giant, big ass bullies. That’s what sickens me, that people feel so entitled, so “courageous” when they sit behind their screens, typing away without any repercussions to what they say. Would these people say this in front of a stranger on the street? Would these people want someone else to say it to their loved ones? Why do we have to wish such ill on people? It’s awful; it’s sickening.

Then today, I ran across a video. It was in response to a charity video in which three men went around town asking relatively attractive women if they could motorboat them for charity. For each set of boobs they’d motorboat, a certain amount of money would be donated to breast cancer research. I found the video and the “charity act” despicable myself, but I brushed it off and moved on with my life. I read today that they tried to donate the money to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation but their donation was refunded. I agree with the foundation’s decision to return the money as their method of raising donations wasn’t necessarily appropriate nor empowering of women, but many didn’t. Comments said that it was women’s fault and so on and so forth. Other nasty comments ensued. While there were no death threats in this, it was just disheartening to read some of them.

I get that people are ignorant. I get that people have their biases and will act prejudiced in response to these biases. But it doesn’t make sense to me why people need to be awful. Why people can’t, for a second, think otherwise about certain situations. There are always two sides to a story and at the end of the day, can’t we be nice to one another? Maybe I’m too Utopian. Maybe it’s ironic for me to say this when I scream at dumb drivers all the time. But still. I just want the bullying to stop. I want the ignorant comments to stop. I want to stop worrying every time a person of color or a woman does something amazing/wrong and read the backlash about it. Can’t it all just stop?

Support

One of the hardest things I’ve had to learn in the past few years is how to be of support to someone I love, to someone I care about. We have automatic tendencies to give advice, to say something of use to another person, but sometimes, that’s just not what the person wants or needs to hear.

I remember hearing of a poem and since then, I have kept it in my mind ever since. It is hard for me, for us, to just listen. To be able to sit in the other person’s pain and not want to remedy or alleviate. But it’s important to sit, to share in, to feel what that person is going through.

This was evident during the summer and following up to last night. Partner was struggling, consumed with anxiety and fear and it was so hard for me to resist comfort. While I failed here and there, I had to learn how to say different things. Instead of trying to reassure and tell him that he would do fine, I had to say that I would be there for him despite whatever outcomes may have arisen. Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything at all, maybe I should have.

A few weeks ago, a friend shared difficulties with her partner, about what he was going through and how difficult it was for her to be witness to that. I remember suggesting to her that she check in with the therapist he was going to see, to ask the therapist how she could be of support to him. I have remembered that since because it reminded me of how I should react and also what I need to suggest to my clients. Granted, in that latter position, I actually get to provide the suggestions, but it’s a reminder to the kids and the families I work with that yes, while the kid is the one coming to therapy, in reality, it’s all of them. All key players are a part of that child’s life and how can we all be a team and learn to support what that kid’s needs are?

It’s hard. It’s hard to just listen, to do nothing more than listen. I am still struggling with it. It’s a fine line to cross – at which point is someone asking for advice and at which point is someone not? Is the question implied? Or is a disclaimer needed? What I do know is that I need to be more mindful of when that occurs and truly strive to be as supportive as I can.