Thursday, July 19, 2007

Damn the man.

I have a confession to make.

And I normally wouldn't have ever really written about this because I feel like such a douche for saying it, but I finally got to see that episode of A Different World where Dwayne Wayne becomes an afterschool mentor for rival gang members played by those adorable boys from Kriss Kross and I spent a fantastic seven minutes daydreaming while they rapped about how "bangin' is a shame, and gangs are to blame" that Whitley and Denise Huxtable transported me back to 1992 so I could lavish myself in their collections of New Kids on the Block Hats and kicky print vests over tuxedo shirts, so I'm feeling like I'm in a pretty good place emotionally right now.

My first weight loss blogs? Not this one, but the four before this that all have about three entries apiece and then found their way to the Great Blog Campmeetin' in the Promised Land? They were all written for a guy.

And this guy is actually not a horrible person, on balance. He has a great job, cares about the environment, makes me laugh, likes the same music I did, and made hours-long conversation seem like an absolute joy every time we talked. But this guy had a little problem...he wasn't into fatties. And as he told me this after a long period of being a fantastic friend during my marriage, I felt that instinctive shrinking in that I do when someone around me who I like has a disdain for weight. So I made jokes, and I made excuses for him...I said it wasn't his fault that he was only into thin women, because "it was biological". I told him it was just fine that he felt ashamed for being attracted to me, but only from the neck up. I preened whenever he said no other female connected with me like I did, and that I had a gorgeous face and a great sense of humor and that he had real feelings for me. And I tried to ignore the fact he said all these things through text messages at 3:00 am when he was riding home from some bar or concert and bummed out that he hadn't left with a girl on his arm.

And our relationship reached a real low point when I agreed to write an online personals ad so he could meet women. He called me his "sexretary", and he sent me the login information so I could weed out the unacceptable women and write back to the promising ones. He said that we should make a deal: that he would get all the sleeping around out of his system (I think the euphemism "wild oats" was used several times), and I would lose enough weight to fit into a size 8 and then maybe we could be a real couple.

And Internets, this is where you get to question my character as a human being, because I was all for it.

And so I started to follow the diet he recommended, and I let him berate me for eating cheese on my salad, and I got so neurotic and anxious about sending him pictures of my body and weighing in that I actually began to GAIN weight. I still have a cache of emails from me to him in my outbox, and every single one of them begins with "I'm so sorry, but...". And so after about six weeks of this, of him pushing for progress and me defiantly giving him excuses, we just dropped it entirely. And we started arguing a lot more than we talked and now our interactions are limited to brief hellos and how are yous and I spend a little time every day looking at his icon on my messenger and wishing we could have just one more decent conversation as a way to say goodbye.

And I'm posting this not out of a need for any sort of emotional catharsis, but as an explanation mostly. A, a different male friend of mine recently started reading this blog, and had a few questions about women's body-image and self-esteem and all the emotional reasons why we're doing what we're doing, and I'm afraid I didn't really give him great answers, as I tend to be flippant in the face of emotionally raw stuff.

We were discussing my last big post where I questioned the need for separating physical appearance from physical health as a motivation for eating right and working out, and he asked me if it was ever possible to just lose or gain weight for health reasons only. And I told him I didn't think it was...that for every woman trying to change her body and her life, there probably was the voice of at least one man in the back of her head that would always push her to run further, sweat more, eat less stuff. And I think that's where our wires got crossed, because A took that to mean that for every woman losing weight, there's a man she wants to attain as a result. And I know why he thinks that, at least in my case, because we spend a lot of time discussing dating and relationships and sex, and I often lampoon myself as a husband-seeking , sex-crazed coquette because I assumed he knew that's pretty much the opposite of who I've become. I guess facetiousness gets lost in translation somewhere between the keyboard and the IM window, and I need to be more aware of that.

But to answer A...when I say there's a man's voice in every woman's head, I was generalizing the basic desire that anyone feels to be adored, accepted, beloved for who she is. And it may not necessarily be just an old boyfriend or a thoughtless teenage boy in high school or whatever...it could be a mother, or a girlfriend, or even just a stranger on the street who made a snide comment in passing...but those voices exist, and it takes a lot of strength to rise above the basic sentiment of you're not good enough for me. Sometimes it takes hundreds of days of failing, thousands of miles on the elliptical...it takes pain and sweat and tears and that exquisitely painful process of breaking yourself down, looking at all the pieces, and then putting yourself back together again to make someone recognizable and yet stronger. I'm trying to say the emotional reasons for losing weight never really go all the way away, even though most of us evolve to a level where working and out and eating right for the sake of feeling good is a much more viable option for our lives.

And am I saying that anyone who chooses to lose weight hates themselves? No. I'm also not saying that I was immune from seeking out external motivation for changing my life at first, even though I can honestly say it's not the case anymore. I have four dead blogs of food journals, apologies, and self-loathing to prove it. And I was worried initially that this blog would go by the wayside too because all I wanted to do was get thin and get revenge...I'm very thankful I ended up realizing there were much more rewarding reasons for writing here, and trying these things in my real life.

But when I weigh-in once a week, or when I decide whether or not it's worth it for me to have a bowl of ice cream with a friend, do I hear that guy's voice in my head? Absolutely. And as much as I hope it'll fade the more time and healing I put between us, I doubt he'll ever completely go away.

12 comments:

Lori said...

I'm completely blown away. I'm guilty of allowing myself to get involved (however peripheral or deep) withe subtle manipulations of what I should look like or what I could look like, if only...I'd apply myself. Then I would be worthy.

And you're right, it's not just The Man -- it's our mothers, fellow coworkers, other women, etc. who follow around in our head.

If it took only internal motivation to lose weight, I think we'd be there. We may want to lose weight to please our doctor, show that loser ex, or get our mothers to finally shut, but we have to be able to care about ourselves enough to keep at it and to maintain our loss. I guess at some point, we need to learn to value ourselves as something/someone more who lost 15 pounds. Otherwise, we'll regain it and be back where we were. We are more than the sum or subtraction of pounds gained or lost. I think you're right; we may never get over that but we have to try. My skinny 65+ swim teacher told us last summer that when she was 18, she was 50 pounds overweight. She lost it but she still sees that fat girl in the mirror every so often. I like that she says "every so often" -- maybe that's hope we can do that too.

Thanks, fabulous post.

*ccc* said...

Wow...I'll be honest. As I read this, I alternated between wanting to reach through my computer and smack you and then reach through my computer and hug you.

Why?

Because I have been there...

The guy I dated just before meeting my husband absolutely loved to spend time with me...loved the kissing, the action, the conversation...as long as we were in the privacy of my home or his.

We never really went out and it took me months to realize why...he didn't want to be seen with me. I never met his friends. We always got take out (or worse--had late night rendesvouses,lol--when I got out of work.)

It killed my self esteem but I sat there and thought to myself..."Well, better to be with anyone any way than alone."

And then reality, and sanity set in and I realized I may have been chubby but I was worth something and if that guy couldn't see it, then he could go 'eff himself.

That "relationship" soured me so badly that when I met my DH--a decent guy, a good guy, a guy who wanted me for me--I kept trying to push him away. It was so hard--and occasionally it's STILL hard--for me to accept that this absolutely adorable, normal-weighted man wanted me.

Thanks for your candor and your honesty...it's so great to know there are others out there just like us.

(And for the record--all the time I was in that godawful relationship, I wanted to smack myself too)

Christine said...

Wow what a post - you totally hit it on the head though. You take care of yourself okay? Sounds like this guy had a huge effect on your life.

I will post here and only here though - I am a closet NKOTB and Kriss Kross fan. Ha. I have NKOTB on my Ipod right now - 2007. :)

Flabuless said...

Oh baby girl...I've been there. But with my own husband of all people he wouldn't make love to me, touch me, hold me, or even hold my hand when walking together in public...needless to say I have now dumped his arse. Sounds like you and I need to have coffee...come over to my cyber home Finding Flabuless and we shall catch up...I would love to hear from you. you sound like my kind of woman.

:) flabuless

jen said...

Wow. I just had to make you the featured blog at AFG because I know so many people will relate to this.

Glad you have moved on from this guy -- hope someday his voice isn't the one you hear in your head.

Salma Gundi said...

I never heard anyone else's voice in my head telling me that I wasn't good enough or pretty enough or attractive enough or thin enough but my own.

Your post was thought-provoking. I am very glad that this blog is the one you've kept.

Ellen said...

What a powerful, honest entry! Thank you so much for sharing with us. You really hit home here with me, which must be why the tears are streaming down my face.

My hope is that we all can love ourselves first. And to hell with those who want to blame our weight problem on their short comings.

Whether you are a size 18 or an 8. You are by far too good for that man. I am positive he will find that out, the hard way.

Be gentle with yourself......

Helen said...

Not much more to add here except that, sadly, I've been there too and those voices are still in my head. I try really hard not to listen to them though and a truly GOOD man has helped me to muffle their impact.

angelfish24 said...

I know what you mean. Even though I am losing weight for myself and trying to just do it to be healthier and to feel good there is my man's voice in the back of my head. The voice that says that I am not attractive enough. The voice that says he wants the 'old thin me' I was long ago when we first met. The voice (my voice) thinking I'm not good enough at this weight. It is tough. As much as I try to stay positive these voices leak into my head and give me 'stinkin thinking'.
Good post.

SarahA said...

This is my first time reading your blog and what a post to begin with! I think we are probably all guilty of letting an outsider effect who we become as people, not only in the weight loss world but in all aspects of our lives.

From when we're toddlers we begin doing things to make our parents proud of us (you ate all your veggies? Well done! you scored high marks? We're do proud!) and it is just something that is engrained in your being.

You're definately not alone in this. I hope that this man's voice eventually fades into a whisper and finally will become inaudible. He doesn't deserve the time you're giving him by thinking about him. Take good care of yourself!

Anonymous said...

God, I'm just so sick of it. This Man .. told me I was sexy, and beautiful and ... went away. And came back... and went away. No one's ever told me that.
Why the hell do I just want to take my toys home and never come out and play again?
I won't play those reindeer games anymore because it just fucking hurts too much.
You're young and I know he's surely not the only man in the world.

Laura Brandon said...

so i realize you posted this months ago, but i never read it, so i'm commenting now. i just wanted to say that about 2 years ago, i met this guy. and i fell head over heels. we did the casual dating thing for a couple weeks, and finally he decided he just knew i wasn't the one he was looking for. he had a clear picture of her in his head, her personality and whatnot, and i just wasn't her. i said i understood, but i still wanted to be friends, so we still did the friends thing. in fact we did the friends with benefits thing. he was the only guy i was seeing, and i was the only girl he was seeing. the only thing that changed was that he pretty much told me to count on it ending once he found "the one." well, one of those nights we decided to go out to eat, at hooters (why hooters? no clue. the wings?) we happened to notice a waitress whose thighs were a little thick for her neon orange hotpants, and we both said something. a few minutes later, as i was taking a bite from my burger, he said "that's another reason i know i couldn't be with you. i need someone skinny." at this point in time, i was only about 12 pounds away from my goal, which at the time was 125. so i was pretty slim. i put down my burger, and didn't touch anything else on my plate. when he noticed, he said, "what, now you're not going to eat?" and i didn't respond. i couldn't even look at him. so he explained, "my father has diabetes because he is overweight. i'm afraid the same thing will happen to me, because once i'm older i won't be as skinny as i am now. so i need someone who's also skinny, so that she can make sure i never get fat." i told him, "you realize that some skinny women, especially at our age, might just be skinny? it might not have anything to do with their health or lifestyle? you could find someone who weighs 100 pounds, and she could eat the same way i do, and she might just be one of those 'lucky' people who genetics didn't shit on." he said he realized that, and he knew he was shallow, but it was just how he felt. i don't think i ate much the rest of that week. after that, he met a girl who he thought was "the one," and told me (in these exact words) that she was more important than his friendship with me. we didn't speak for over a year. when we finally were able to be civil to each other again, i was terrified to let him see me, because i was so much heavier than i was back then, and i obviously wasn't even good enough for him then, either. by this point i was already married, but his opinion still mattered so much because of that conversation we had. we never spoke about it again, but i don't think i'll ever forget it. i think he is part of the reason i keep trying, even when i fail at my weight loss i always start again. i think somewhere in the back of my mind i will always hear his voice saying, "you're not good enough for me." and that will always be a driving force for me, and someday i will reach my goal, and i will be healthy, and he'll end up with a toothpick of a girl who has no sense of healthy eating whatsoever, and i'll be better for it in the end.

sorry that was so long. in short, i relate.