Weighty Matters

November 26, 2008

OK, first the good news: I lost four pounds this week! For those of you who aren’t schooled in math, this brings my weight to 290 lbs. Still beyond the average realms of fatness, but a step along the way back to Healthyville.

Unfortunately, my size still remains a weighty — pun intended — topic between myself and my parents. This Saturday, we visited them to take my dad out for his birthday. But what should’ve been a happy celebration, especially with all my dad’s gone through recently, turned sour when my mom got in a sneak attack and brought up my gain.

Now don’t get me wrong, I GET that they’re concerned. I GET that my mom’s probably freaking out about her obese daughter having a heart attack since her fitness-minded husband just had one. I KNOW that they love me and want me to be healthy and happy.  But you have to understand that with every confrontation comes the weight — another pun! — of years of past arguments and tears.

When I was in college and began to rapidly put on the pounds, my parents would hold little “interventions” for me when I came home for breaks. I’d always try to preempt them by wearing baggy clothes and making up a number of pounds I’d lost that semester, but of course, they could see right through my bullshit. They’d then sit me down in the den and then lecture me about the evils of weight gain.  I didn’t mind so much them wanting to talk about it; hell, I was upset with how I looked and could’ve used the help. It was the WAY they discussed it and the way in which they tried to scare me straight by using negative reinforcement. They warned that I’d never get a job, make friends, get a boyfriend… and that worst of all, I just didn’t look my best. One time they even threatened to remove me from college unless I lost 25 pounds that summer (I did and then gained it back). I found this pretty funny considering the fact that I was an A student who never did drugs and rarely drank. Yet it was my inability to stop eating Ben & Jerry’s that put me in the hot seat.

What I remember most about these “talks,” was just how badly I felt about myself, how I felt like I’d let my parents down. How they were ashamed of me. I was always the good girl and wanted to stay that way… and I had this problem that I couldn’t control, that was making me dread going home to my family. And the lectures never worked. Since I’m an emotional eater, the hurt just made me want to scarf a box of donuts — which I often did. My parents are good people and I’m sure that none of the fears I had were true and that the last thing they wanted to do was hurt me, but it did hurt and this is how I reacted.

Over the years, my weight continued to fluctuate and the arguments got wosre. Being young and stubborn, I became less and less tolerant of the lectures and sought out ways to avoid going home for holidays. I’d stay with my friend Debbie (who ended up becoming my sister-in-law) for spring break, and I remember one lonely Thanksgiving weekend, where I stayed in our apartment while Debbie and our roommate Amy went home. For the entire four days, I never left the place, instead watching movies and eating bowl after bowl of pasta.

In retrospect, I’m less angry at my parents because I realize that they were desperate and wanted to help someone they love. We don’t have kids, but I often wonder how I’d deal with a child who had my problem. The truth is, I don’t entirely know. I think for starters, though, I wouldn’t try to scare her into becoming thin. Instead, I’d be honest about the problem, but then try to find a positive solution, like teaching her to make a low-fat version of her favorite meal. I’d also MAKE SURE to keep her self-esteem intact, reminding her that she’s beautiful, but will live a fuller life if she can move more easily. Still, what would I do if she continued to expand? I can see why maybe they felt they had no choice.

It’s for these reasons that I don’t want to discuss my weight with them. Now that I’m older, we have a good relationship. But when my size is brought up, it brings me back to becoming that snarly 20-something who wants to move clear across from them. Besides, it’s not like I’m not aware that I have a problem. I THINK ABOUT IT ALL THE FUCKING TIME! So when I’m with my friends and family, I really don’t want to gab about this thing that plagues me in my dreams. I want a break, dammit.

I’m pretty sure that my parents won’t stop bringing it up. As my dad says, it’s their job, they’re parents. But they’ve got to understand that I’m 34 years old and have to face the consequences of my own stupid actions. Ultimately it’s up to me to lose the pounds and having the extra burden of satisfying two other people will my progress just makes an already tough task seem all the more difficult.

In the end, though, they’re my parents and I’m can’t write them off. After all we’ve been through, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to come to them for help. Yet, even with our painful past, it’s comforting to know that they’re there if I do decide to.