By S.D. Craig
© August 2000
The world of being heavier than normal is not easy to live with, especially around your family. We all realize we cannot choose our family. God, fate (or whatever your belief is), has done this for us. This past Sunday was a day of huge reflection for my husband and I, and we touched upon this subject among many others.
Having struggled with my weight for over half my life and facing age fifty in a few years, I am hoping to gain new wisdom. Wisdom that will help me stand up for myself in front of those I love, no matter what my weight status is, my body looks like or my exercise pattern might be.
Now that I’m writing, they have found another way to sting me. C’est la vie. I have read several times that WE give others permission to hurt us. I suppose that is true and I am working on figuring out how to stop that.
The thing about families is that they know all or most of your secrets. They’ve spent their whole lives living with you and seeing your faults, your past mistakes, your personality traits (good or bad, which are remembered most?), your general flaws in approaching life and work and relationships. They’ve seen it all. You have no escape from that, no matter where you move.
A hook in the flesh.
You can’t get rid of it. When they tug on it, it rips pain afresh and that hurts. And believe me, they know the way to hook you. Right where to put it in to get the old fish flopping the hardest, while fighting to get loose. You bet. For all intents and purposes, you’re caught in the family net. The memories are always there.
How do you break free? If I knew that, I’d have already given you the answer months ago. First off, I think we must take back the permission we’ve given them to get to us. Answer for ourselves, stick up for ourselves. Instead of being stunned by their tasteless or hurtful remark, and standing there open-mouthed, why, reply to it. Of course. Simple. Only it’s not. Not so simple. I stand there and take it, time and again. Someone inside of me is screaming loudly, why are you sitting there silent, Sherri? Tell her what you think. Really.
Is it to keep the peace I remain quiet? Is it because I’m intimidated, scared? Is it because I’m so taken aback I have no idea what a great reply would be at the time. I believe it’s all of these things. Did I mention before I felt it was not my place to tell someone else how to live their life or do their jobs? Well, that is true. I don’t try to interfere in my family’s doings, unless my opinion is explicitly asked for. I learned that the hard way.
That means I am particularly surprised, time and again, when they do this to me. It knocks the wind out of me. I don’t know what to say. Later, I’m angry, and get angrier still as the days pass by. I think of terrific rejoinders I might’ve thrown out. I go over all the reasons they had no business saying what they said to me. Bottom line? I didn’t say a word, unless it was to scramble in agreement or sit there without speaking, thereby acquiescing them in their verbal perusal of my life and habits.
I wonder if they’re envious of something in my life, in some cases. In others, I know it’s the “for my own good, well-being, health” thing. There’s more to it than we know, or perhaps, even want to know.
Placing distance between myself and the object of my hurt is one way to deal with it, but not the best. Then I miss my children. Letting it roll off my shoulders is another, and harder yet. So I’m faced with the alternative. Talking back. Me, who never has a problem talking must force herself to talk back.
Might it go like this?
My reply: “No, I got off track when we moved and can’t seem to get back on it. I’ve been eating out too much, not walking as often…”
You understand now? What should happen is:
A family member says: “Are you still on Weight Watchers? I’ve lost ten lbs. since I started.”
My reply: “Oh, that’s great, and no.” or “Why do you want to know?”
I’m working on it. Once, when I was in Florida fishing off the dock in our backyard, I was instructing my younger brother how to cast. Probably about eight or ten at the time, I proudly whipped that pole forward, showing off. The hook was in my big toe. I wailed. Family members had to rescue me. My pole hung dangling from my foot over the edge of the dock, my pride with it.
Sometimes nowadays, I wonder if it was my youthful imagination. Did they really take it out?
SD Craig is a freelance writer and editor of LovingYourCurves.com and was given the nickname “Chatterbox” by fellow writers. At age fifty, Craigs Southern flair and sense of humor give her plenty to write about with a rapier wit and a wacky outlook. Her articles on body image (her biggest passion), marriage/divorce and relationships, family, friends, career issues, computers, the Internet, horses, baseball, movie reviews and writing tips remind one of Erma Bombeck or Dave Barry. A freelance writer who once juggled five columns then got real, Craig welcomes your e-mails and feedback on her articles. Drop her a hello at firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by www.lovingyourcurves.com.