Many times I have said to others that they need to do things for themselves, not for others. Both of my boys were raised hearing their father and I say, (ad nauseam, I believe they’d be sure to append), that brushing teeth, making beds, cleaning bathrooms and many other tasks were not for OTHERS but for SELF. However, it is nice to have someone tell you how pretty your smile is or how nice your home looks when they are visiting.
And today, we discuss the WHO, beyond yourself, that you share your journey with. If you share it at all.
Yes, this was a journey to change much of my exterior and along the way I learned what mettle I had for my interior…but it was surprising how much it meant to me when people did not notice or let me know they noticed the changes I was making. And on the flip side, those that did comment often felt they had a say in what I did or how I did it. That they could tell me when I had lost enough or that it was futile.
I had lost 51 pounds before ANYONE would bring themselves to say anything to me that was weight-related.
Hair, nails, outfit, HEIGHT for crying out loud (I don’t think an awful lot of 46-year-olds go through a growth spurt) were all questioned about recently changing. Toward the 35- and 40-pound mark, I started having a little fun of my own by saying things like “Yes, since I went down three dress sizes, I decided to treat myself to a new outfit.” I was all but daring them to say something…but as one friend confided to me later, she couldn’t bring herself to say anything then because she hadn’t wanted to start with the size difference, so she chose not to respond other than a comment on how much she liked the new outfit.
There was also a part of me that was terrified about telling anyone I was going to get to a healthy weight because if I did not, I’d be a failure. And I’ve worked so hard, in so many arenas, to not be a failure. Which is not to say I have not failed. Floundered. Flubbed. Effed up. I surely have. Soooo many times. However this was different. It was personal. Deeply personal. And something that when I did share in small bits and pieces, I got half-hearted responses even from those who thought (I am sure of it) they were being supportive and loving. “Oh, that’s great! Good luck! And be sure to keep your beautiful wardrobe for when you gain it back. You have such great clothes, you wouldn’t want to have to buy it all over again.”
The person who said those precise words to me, I know quite well. For a really long time. And I know now, in my heart of hearts, they were simply talking to themselves, but said it out loud to me. And they actually were someone who I had to step back from a bit as I did make progress because I could tell they’d started to look at my success as some sort of admonition to them. But it wasn’t about them, it was something I was doing for me. They were simply one of many who, when I shared my initial goals, told me in one way or another that it wasn’t going to happen and that I needed to keep it real. There’s a bit of a sore loser in me that took that into an even stronger resolution to stay the path and keep on track and prove them wrong.
The WHO of sharing my journey started very small, in great part because of things just like this that happened more than once.
The words were different, the people were different. The message, however, was very much the same: give it a go but don’t be surprised when you gain it all back.
And so I dialed back what I said to anyone. I realized many were hearing my wanting to be slim as a condemnation to any extra pounds they carried. Or how they ate in general. I did learn a valuable lesson though. Or am learning a valuable lesson. When people are telling you about something they are doing, they largely want to have a rah-rah response and not hear about the permutations of all that could go wrong. They are generally seeking to have you build them up and encourage. Some will ask for holes to be poked in an idea, or have a clinical/non-friend response to help them. But by and large, when someone is ‘opening the kimono’ it’s not the time to point and giggle.
One wonderful, faith filled and faithful woman who I shared my plan with had asked me what struggle of mine she could include in her prayers. This woman was battling cancer for the second time. We were there in prayer and friendship for one another for just a moment in this life—or so it seemed, before she was healed in the next life—gave me the response that has been my mantra, my virtual cot upon which to rest when I am weary, my fresh fallen snow of thought when things are ugly in my mind.
I’ve crossed finish lines in races with those words cycling through my brain. And I know that everyone I will share these words with is not necessarily a believer in God, but I surely am. And so these were powerful, meaningful words she shared with me in her last few weeks of life here on earth.
Mind over matter. It’s an old saw, but not quite right. For me, it is keep your mind on what matters. Let go of anything else. It doesn’t matter, why give it time? If that person doesn’t have a say in how I’d do anything else, why would I give them the power (and I most assuredly believe that you do GIVE the power to others to hurt you) to matter in my journey?
And once the WHO rock was cemented in place, there just one more big rock to go before I started to frame my new life upon this solid foundation.
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