Thursday, January 5, 2012

Hate-loss...On Letting Go...

One of my most beloved bloggers (and possibly my twin, separated at birth), Ellen at Fat Girl Wearing Thin is hosting the Hate-Loss Challenge for the month of January. This is my first time participating so forgive me if for the bumpy start, I'll be learning as I go.
The premise of the Hate-Loss Challenge is a means to begin healing our emotional self. As Ellen points out (and I often participate in), there are thousands of 'challenges' out there from weight loss to running a prescribed number of miles to giving up coffee to swinging a kettlebell 10,000 times in a month (<<- Yes, I'm doing that one again) but rarely do we see a challenge that offers a deeper look at our emotional well-being AND provides the support of others battling the same issues. We learn from each other...and we can heal. 
This week’s exercise:
Think back to a time or place in your life when you formed negative thoughts about yourself. Why do you think you are undeserving of praise? Was there a specific event that caused you to change the way you perceive yourself? Is it because you’ve always been reminded of your imperfections or weaknesses? Is it because you’re not receiving enough positive feedback from people whose opinions really matter to you? Do you have unrealistic expectations of yourself? Were you taught these habits from living in an unhealthy environment? Write about it, and then ask yourself: How can I find a way to forgive those who have hurt me? How can I forgive myself?
Okay, I have to be honest here and say that off the top of my head I cannot remember exactly when or why I started to believe I was less-than anyone else...I just knew I was. I have a very beautiful and outgoing older sister. She's the life of the party, she's fearless, she's smart, she's successful...she also caused my parents a lot of grief during her teen years. 
I was awkward, a tomboy who was shy and hated group activities because, for some reason, I felt I would let the team down. I opted for individual sports, which I did well in but didn't help my social standing. Instead I tried to excel in school and keep peace at home feeling that if I did exceptionally well it would balance out what my sister was doing. I suppose in my young mind I couldn't understand the attention my sister got for being bad while I was basically put on the back burner.
It's funny that I was resentful of that attention when it was exactly what I had brought on myself! I didn't make things better for my sister or my parents...I only succeeded in making myself invisible. Which brings even more light to the fact that at age 16, after a traumatic move to Alaska, I became anorexic. A mix of trying to become less while screaming for someone to notice. 
As much as I love my parents, I often find it incomprehensible that they never really addressed my extreme weight loss until I was well below 100 pounds. It wasn't until I saw myself in the mirror...a glimpse as I stood naked and turned my head to look at something. I caught an image reminiscent of a holocaust victim. I mean no disrespect, but this is what I saw...thighs as thin as my arms are now, a hollowed out buttocks, razor sharp hip bones and every vertebrae standing out boldly. Had I seen myself only from the front I would have seen an ugly, worthless girl who doesn't deserve attention because that's what was so familiar. It was only in seeing this reflection that did not seem to be me that it clicked...and I asked for help.

Getting ready for senior prom AFTER I was released from the hospital where I spent 3+ months in therapy and gaining weight.
I've battled ever since then with finding self-worth that isn't tied to my weight, which I think is just a deflection of the attention I seek. I can blame my parents for focusing their attention on the daughter that desperately needed it (my sister) but they were doing the best they could. I know this and I accept it. I could blame my sister for being a trouble maker or outgoing...but she is who she is based on her experiences. She didn't do those things to make me less...I know this and I accept it. I could blame myself for internalizing every single negative comment, eye-roll, dismissal or every Friday night I stayed at home alone reading or studying...and I do.

I am in the process (through this challenge and through continued blogging and study) of forgiving myself for placing such high expectations on who I was and who I should become that I had no option but to fail. And if I didn't fail I raised the bar and kept raising it until it became impossible to succeed. I do take responsibility because I am very aware that I not only internalize and personalize things but I live out these beliefs as if they are real, going through the emotions in a very physical way. This is one of the reasons I named my blog Learning Curves...I know that I am a work in process.

1 comment:

  1. You did beautifully, Lynn. Your words are so honest and forthright, and I can tell you've given this a LOT of thought. I hope writing this brought you some form of peace and understanding. When the words are laid out in front of us - exposed as they are, they seem to take on different meaning I think. Going from carrying abstract thoughts to concrete ones which must now be acknowledged is freeing. But oh, getting from point A to point B can really be a bitch. This has been one of the most difficult exercises I've done. But I'm grateful for the experience and I'm especially grateful to have intelligent, supportive, nurturing women like you to help guide me through this life. Thank you.


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