Great Expectations

First and foremost, I love my parents. I love my family. But no matter how much they ask, I refuse to tell them when I’m coming home next. I want to see them, of course, but I don’t want to go home yet.

I hate, hate, hate talking about weight or bodies, whether its mine or other people’s. Especially mine. I’d love to never have to talk about it with someone in person ever. Ideally, I just want to show up somewhere someday and if people notice that I’d lost weight and if they ask about it, I could casually say, “Oh?? Hm…yeah, I guess” or something. I have not yet arrived to the point of figuring out what I would say. But it would be nonchalant. My reply most definitely would not address that I decided it was time I lost the 15 pounds everybody could see I was carrying around and that I finally got in shape. I did not want to address that there was clearly a need for me to lose weight. Or to have people tell me something along the lines of “oh you lost weight, you look so great!” which would be implying I was a wee bit overweight before and did not look great. Yeah, I think too much and care too much about what other people think and/or say. A reader e-mailed me and said I was “self-absorbed” (that was a joy to read); I personally would call it “caring too much about what other people might think and/or say” and also just being very sensitive & insecure.  Maybe I’m wrong on that. Nonetheless, I’m working on that, too.

So I didn’t want to tell anybody. I didn’t see a reason to tell anybody. It wasn’t their business. Most likely, they wouldn’t care. Really, it’s not like I was going to wear a sign pronouncing “THIS GIRL OVER HERE MADE THE DECISION TO LEARN HOW TO EAT HEALTHY AND GET IN SHAPE. #COOL!” I especially didn’t want my family to know.

My mom has mentioned my weight over the years. It would be a comment in the dressing room when a shirt didn’t look good, a meaningful sigh and an “ohhhhhh Caitlyn…….” when I’d tell her my pants didn’t fit and I needed a size up, or she’d twist around in the frotn seat on the way home from a family party to say, “Did you see So-and-So? She looked so pretty in that tight little dress. I noticed she didn’t take any cake. You could look so cute in a dress like that, if only…” Oh, those comments hurt, and I’d silently tear up, maybe cry a little, in my room later and resolve that I’d lose weight. But then I never would. I realize now it probably was my own weird, messed up rebellion. Actually, I realize a LOT now about my weird relationship with my mom and how it affects my body image (love her though, she’s not a villain here).But that’s its own post.

Now that I live almost two hours away, I saw no need to tell my parents about my new steely resolve. I didn’t want them (meaning: my mom) to know because I didn’t want her to ask. She is a chatty gossiper, who thinks when it comes to her kids, she can ignore our wishes if she wants and decide for herself what she wants to say because she is our mother, so it usually goes something like: “She didn’t want anyone to know, but…..” She told my younger brother and sister how much money I made, despite me begging her not to, because “we’re family! get over yourself!”

I most definitely did not want her to go around and tell her friends, my friends, or our family “Caitlyn’s trying to lose weight! She goes to the gym now and eats healthy.”

So, one night when my mom called at 9:15, I had just climbed into bed and told her so. She asked why, and I slipped. I told her about how I went to the gym so early now and all that.

She said, “Why? Are you trying to lose weight?”

I just wanted to get off the phone and go to bed, so I gave in and said, “Yes, Mom, I am.”

She answered, “I’m proud of you. Good for you. Goodnight.”

So, of course, she told my dad and sister “Caitlyn’s trying to lose weight!She goes to the gym everyday!” Now, especially over the last two weeks, they keep asking me when I’m coming home because they can’t wait to see “the new me.” My mom chirped on the phone, “Wow we’re not even going to recognize you, I bet!” Why, why, why. I  winced when she said this.  I’m assuming that she just blurted it out, like usual, and didn’t even really think about it before saying it.

I don’t know what they are expecting. I know what I am expecting, and I have to keep reminding myself that’s what matters. I’m doing this for me, not anyone else. And at no point did I ever think I want to lose so much weight people won’t recognize me. It’s not as if I’m carrying SOOOO much extra weight around. Sheesh.

And thus, the reason I don’t know when to plan a trip home. That’s the smaller of the issues, because it begs the question: Well, am I ashamed for them to see me because I’m not super skinny? It is the craziest, weirdest, dumbest thing. I recognize that. But still, here I am, unable to tell them when I’m coming home.

It’s also sad. Their expectations are seemingly high. And I’m not there yet. Although, most importantly, I’m pleased with my progress so far. There’s been setbacks but even those haven’t been bad and yes, I’ve been guilty of binge-eating. But, I know I’m in this for the long haul and that it’s going to take time, I’ll be working at it all my life, it isn’t going to be easy and I’m not going to wake up one morning and have sculpted Michelle Obama arms. Also, I’m still a bit scared of the scale. When I do feel brave enough to get on it, I see I’ve lost a few pounds (!!!). But my weight has always fluctuated a lot, so I don’t read too much into it.

I don’t know when I’ll go home next. I want to see my family, sure, but apart from the whole weight/appearance thing, I don’t NEED to go home. I don’t have a doctors appointment or anything at home that I need to be at right away. I get bored pretty easily at home. I like being in my own city better. So, the first answer I think of is “I’ll go home when I think I look good enough, when I’ve lost enough weight where I want them to see what they think is ‘the new me’.” Which makes me want to cry. That’s not how it should be. And, of course, if I told my mom all this she’d brush it all of as me being ridiculous. She’d be right. It’s not really my family’s fault. I know they still – and will always – love me. It’s all on me for being stuck in my own head and being unable to get off this insane thought train.

I tend to think I should get over myself and stop being dramatic. It’s not like their worlds will end when I don’t show up on the doorstep in a bikini. I don’t need to apologize because People.com readers haven’t yet voted me as the world’s best body. Most likely if I went home, there would be a flippant comment or two at most which would cause me to mentally crumble and debate shouting SORRY I’M NOT SKINNY LIKE YOU THOUGHT I WOULD BE BY NOW BUT IT TAKES TIME.  I know I”m ridiculous.

The larger issue, really, is why I can’t seem to get out of my own way mentally, why I am incapable of NOT caring about what people think about my body even though I could write ’til the cows come home about why I think they shouldn’t even have an opinion on it, or why I feel so defensive (already!) about the fact that it all takes time and why I’m terrified to even have the conversation I know I probably should have with my mom. Why, why, why do I insist on carrying the weight (pun kinda intended) of other people’s unsolicited expectations?

how do you handle conversations about weight? or people having unsolicited opinions about your body?

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20 thoughts on “Great Expectations

  1. Okay, our moms must be related? My mom did the same thing to me. Hinting that I needed to lose weight, except she was a bit more blunt about it. I know it’s because she means well but… it sucked to hear.

    That said… I think you need to do what’s best for you. Visit if you want to, don’t if you don’t – but don’t let discussions or fear of discussions about weight be the reason you do or do not go. You know? I have that same issue of worrying what other people think (no, it’s not what I consider narcissism, I personally think in me it’s a lack of self confidence) and I’m starting to realize people’s opinions aren’t what’s important. Sure I’m getting compliments about how I look now but it doesn’t help – I know what I want to look like and when I get there, that’s what will make me happy.

    Okay super long rambly comment, sorry. 😦

  2. Oh my gosh girl. So much to say in this post, I’m not sure where to begin. I grew up in a house where I was lucky that there weren’t distinct comments made about my weight but I do take comments from others extremely personally. I’m SO sorry you got an email from a reader saying that. I have gotten a few anonymous ones saying pretty hurtful things that have really freaked me out in recent weeks so I understand where you’re coming from. You can only do what’s best for you, regardless of what other people think or say. It’s hard but it’s definitely something I’m working on too. And in my opinion, I don’t think you’re self-absorbed at all!

  3. First of all, I really appreciated this post. I think it’s an issue that a lot of people face and deal with. I know when I was obese growing up and through high school, people always made comments about me trying to lose weight to get healthy. Eventually, I decided for myself that I wanted to get healthy, that I wasn’t comfortable being at the weight I was and needed to make a change. So, I started dieting and exercising to lose weight and get healthy. The comments people gave or made effected me so much.

    Anyway, my best advice or thoughts would be to have an open discussion with your mom and your family. Tell them how you feel about the situation and be honest with them and about how they make you feel with the comments they make. You could even plan a trip there and preface it by saying that when you get there, you’d really appreciate if they wouldn’t make any comments about your weight or body and say that you are doing this solely for yourself and would rather they keep their comments and thoughts to themselves. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with saying that and being upfront about it. Because, you’re right, they most likely don’t mean their words to come across negatively, but just one small comment can set forth that negative thinking…which is the last thing that you need to have happen.

    So try talking to them and being open about your feelings, and my guess is they will respect you and your feelings enough to go along with your wishes!

  4. You are definitely not alone! My mother, whom I love and adore, is very similar when it comes to weight. I often feel like the first thing she notices is when I’ve lost or gained weight. I think it’s very normal to be uncomfortable about “weighty” conversations, whether it’s losing or gaining weight. I guess I try not to get uptight when people bring it up…the more nervous I get, the more uncomfortable everyone feels. I’ll talk about it and then quickly change the subject. If it’s really bothering you and keeps happening, maybe you can politely mention you’d like it to stop.

    Another thing…be proud of what you are doing and own it! You should be proud of the effort you’re putting in. It’s not a fluke, and you’ve chosen to be healthy – that’s inspiring in many ways, and that might be the reason your mother talks about it 🙂

  5. Families are tough. I didn’t want to be around them for a little while when I got bad news because I didn’t want them to ask me about it. But eventually I got over it. Matt helps a lot and whenever my mom is pulling a classic ‘mom move’ I never hesitate to call a friend and vent. Every girlfriend has been there too 🙂 you’re making progress so don’t let anyone bring you down!

  6. My mom is the exact same way. A few years ago, I decided to lose weight and joined weight watchers. I told my mom because I was so excited about it – I had great success and was happy, but I didn’t want to talk to anyone about it because it just made me realize how unhappy and overweight I was before. When I would go home for special events or holidays, I would ask my mom to make things for me that I new were healthy – whole wheat pasta, or use low fat cheese, etc. She would then announce to the whole room/party, “THIS OVER HERE IS A WEIGHT WATCHERS MEAL, ITS FOR JULIA. IT HAS LOW FAT CHEESE.” It made me so mad! For my birthday one year, I printed out a recipe for a cake on the weight watchers website and asked her to make it for me. It was the same thing, she brought the cake out and said, “this was made from a weight watchers recipe, i don’t know how it will be”. It just made me feel like I had so much pressure on me and she always put me on the spot like that. I know she didn’t mean it in a bad way, she just has trouble keeping her mouth shut (I guess our mom’s have that in common!). I always found it hard to stick to healthy eating at home because she would always call me out on it. Yeah, so what if I’m eating a salad but not lasagna and meatballs? Who cares. Throughout the years we’ve gotten in several fights regarding food and my weight – I think she just trusts me now to make healthy decisions and now that she has gotten used to my eating habits over the past few years, she doesn’t announce things and makes sure to stock up on my healthy snacks and favorites for when I do come home. I wish I had talked to her about how awful she made me feel when she said those things – so I’d try talking to your mom, she probably doesn’t realize what she’s doing and if you point out how it can be hurtful she’ll understand.

  7. If you’re looking for peoples opinion, here is mine, if not disregard lol But I think going to the gym and eating healthy is yes to be healthier, but why do we want to be healthier? my answer is so we feel good. I don’t think it’s about the number on the scale or if people are going to accept you. If you cant feel good about yourself why does it matter what others think? I think until you feel good about yourself you’re always going to feel awkward or apprehensive about seeing your family. I love reading about your progress, keep it up and hold your head high=)

    • Do what you want. That’s the beauty of not living at home (although I do currently live at home, so recognize that I’m jealous!) I also have similar unpleasant conversations/comments from my mom. And she means well, as I’m sure your mother does. You can try and ask her to knock it off, but in my experience that just hasn’t happened. But keep your chin up, keep doing good work, and know that you’re the boss of you. Don’t let the haters (even if they love you) get you down.

  8. As PickyRunner said, I can’t believe someone has emailed you saying things like that! It’s the negativity in the world that brings us to feel this way about ourselves and our situations! If there were never negativity, there’d be no concerns about what we look like and how we are coming off. Blogs are set up by someone to share their own thoughts – not the thoughts of others. From my perspective, they aren’t put out there for everyone’s approval or disapproval, they’re just simply put out there. Those with complaints are lacking the support that many human beings lack nowadays. Tangent over on that topic.. On to the next one.
    The family issue.
    I can’t relate all the way, but I do recognize some comments from family members that have made me feel a little conscious about how I look. I’ll get the “oh wow you look great” or the “oh, those look a little tight” from time to time, but nothing I can’t handle. I can’t imagine having someone like that to the point where you don’t want to go home because you don’t want to hear what they will undoubtedly say. I don’t blame you at all for your decisions. Unsolicited opinions of my body are welcome because to me, only people who are unhappy with themselves will say unhappy things to you and vice versa. I have to remind myself of that constantly – only others who are down want to bring you down. You are wonderful and fabulous for trying and most bloggers have nothing but support and encouragement for you. 🙂 Go girl!

  9. I am so sorry you deal with this from your family. I know we’re supposed to forgive them for doing that to us, but it can be hard when your family picks the few things you’re sensitive about and always makes comments about it. If you don’t want to go home right away because of it, I think you’ll be making a decent choice. Maybe try having a talk with them about it. They might realize how the comments aren’t all that supportive and make you self-conscious.

    And I can’t believe a reader emailed that to you! We all have insecurities, but I don’t think they make us self-centered.

    Anyway, I hope you’re doing okay 🙂

  10. Our moms are so alike. My mom does not keep family secrets at all and is extremely weight conscious. Like you said, you are doing this for you. No one else. You don’t need to be super skinny to feel good about yourself. As long as you feel healthy, that’s what matters.

  11. Oh man. I loved so much about this post. I was in a very similar situation at this time last year. Trying very hard to lose 15 or so pounds (I did it, and have kept it off), and wanting desperately for my family to notice. I was sort of the opposite, I would casually mention that I was working out more etc, and I would see my family fairly regularly, hoping they would eventually say something. I mean it was noticeable how could they not say anything? Even coworkers were making comments to me. It took months for my mom and sister to finally throw me a bone, a sideways “oh yea you got skinny” comment. Um? NO. I didn’t just “get” skinny. I’ve been working hard and I deserve a little credit! Oh and of course, that was followed by a “you’ll always have big legs though, you carry your weight there”. Gee thanks.

    I hate remembering all this! Haha. Anyway, just know that you are not alone in this!

  12. That sounds awful. Weight loss is hard enough as it is without having to deal with unreasonable expectations from family members. It’s crazy they’d expect you to look “like a new person” in such a short period of time, especially since you’re not overweight to begin with – trying to shed vanity weight is a very slow and tedious process. People are ridiculous.

    I remember when I first set out to lose weight a few years ago, my mom also told everyone (I was living with her at the time, which made it worse). It made me so uncomfortable and to this day people still drive me nuts about it – I’m no longer on a diet but certain family members still seem to think I am no matter how much I deny it (“have some bread – oh wait you don’t eat that anymore right?” ugh!). But I think it’s something almost everyone trying to lose weight / maintain weight loss deals with at some point and usually the culprits have their own issues that they’re projecting onto you.

  13. Why would a reader bother emailing that to you? That’s ridiculous. Blogs are free to read & not to read… I don’t get it. Anyway, perhaps an honest conversation would be best. Here’s hoping this issue clears up for you, and good luck on this personal (personal!!!) journey of yours!

    • yup that’s what i don’t get. no one forces anyone to read a blog. if you don’t like that blog or blogger… it’s a pretty easy fix, don’t read it then! haha. oh well.

  14. I know how you feel for sure. :/ I live far away from home.. and when I visit I always feel so anxious because the people there know I’m trying to lose weight and get in shape and I hate feeling like I haven’t lost enough to make a difference that everyone can see. Sometimes I want to brag about how many miles I ran in a week or all the amazing things I’ve been cooking but I don’t because when they see me in person I don’t want them to think “it obviously isn’t working” And the idea of people I know in real life finding my blog TERRIFIES me.

    In two weeks I’m moving back to my home town and honestly I just want to hide!!

  15. It’s horrible that a reader wrote that to you. I hope you shrug it off and ignore it, because it is so wrong! I love reading your blog, and I think you are very inspiring! I think many of us, especially being female, have dealt with unsolicited comments about our weight. Because it’s your family, I think I would problably get it out in the open and talk about how you feel with them. Just remember it’s your body, your goals, your life, it only matters how you feel!

  16. Pingback: A Little More Conversation, A Little More Action | city & the cubicle

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