Sunday, January 26, 2014

New Family Experiences, Now and In the Future

My family are the most important people to me, yet can be the source of some of my most painful experiences as an overweight person.  As a fat child, family gatherings were frequently embarrassing, shameful and filled with self-consciousness.  My siblings are all normal weight.  They are active, exercising, eat-in-moderation types of folks.  I didn't get the memo on that. As a child, I had a family member who was cruel about my weight, and caused a lot of stress for me when family gatherings took place.  They thought they were helping me, "telling it like it is", yet it made me feel small, weak and ashamed of my inability to take control of my weight, even at such a young age.   I remember hiding in my room, crying in bed the night before they were due to arrive.  It took me years to get comfortable with this person.

As an adult, I have grown more confident, and gatherings in the last few years have been filled with laughter, Scrabble, coffee, cheese, wine and dinners prepared with love.  My siblings have been very loving to me and have accommodated me when my mobility kept us from taking long hikes or attending summertime kayaking trips. I still suffer pangs of guilt and shame over this.  When I look at how those family gatherings could have been, they are a reminder that there is a lot more that I want to be able to do with my life.

This weekend one of my sisters came to visit me - my first house guest while on Optifast.  She was wonderful and supportive and we had a blast - without the cheese, wine and snacks.  We went for walks on the beach, we completed an art project, and just enjoyed a terrific time together.  I can have fun without all the snacks and alcohol, and Optifast is making me feel more comfortable making choices that support  my health, even when others around me are imbibing.  I don't have to eat what's in front of me, and the party will go on.

This weekend, we planned an amazing summer adventure to celebrate my sister's 60th birthday and my new healthy life.  Here's what's on the agenda:

  • Clothes shopping
  • Stand-up paddle board lessons
  • Zip lining at the San Diego Safari Park
  • 2 day trip to the Channel Islands National Park, traveling by train and boat, with a day hike on Anacapa Island.
  • Dive-in movie at my house when I host the big family shin-dig
This is the prize that I'm envisioning this year.  It's her birthday, but it feel like it's my birthday too.  Today as we drove to the airport she expressed how proud she is of my journey and how family gatherings are going to be much less about food and alcohol in the future. 

As I move in this new direction, trying to learn new habits, it will be interesting to see how my family dynamics change.  Right now, I have a goal in mind and many rewards awaiting me.  This journey brings up some painful memories, but they are surfacing in the spirit of learning new skills and coping strategies.  

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