Losing weight

I’ve lost a lot of weight recently. Tons and tons of emotional baggage that I’d gotten used to carrying around with me like a giant metal ball attached to my ankle. A ball that had grown and grown and grown so big – that one day I just couldn’t pull it along with me any longer. Not one more inch. It had become too heavy. I was stuck. Stuck in a place where I could do only one of two things: stay stuck forever or start shrinking that ball, or better yet, unleash myself from it all together.caught-1013600_960_720

I grew up happy. For about a few years. Seven, eight perhaps. Then misery hit home when my dad left, when my mom married my stepfather, when abuse crept into my life, when a close family member turned into an alcoholic, when another became psychotic and tried to commit suicide, when my marriage turned from happiness into heartbreak, when my job turned from prestigious into draining, when I found my father after thirty years and lost him again after three.

I don’t want to complain here. This is my life and those experiences will always be a part of me. I’ve long made peace with that (well, not that long, actually). There is no point in arguing against what has happened. In fact, going through all of this has made me realize a lot of things. Most importantly how strong I am.

I never realized how strong I am until others told me that they didn’t know how I managed to be the way I am and do the things I do, having experienced all of that. Then it took me another while to realize that what has happened is precisely the reason why I am the way I am and do the things I do.

I have a very value-based personality. I value trust. I value loyalty. I value honesty. I value gentleness. I value compassion. And I try to live according to all of those. Probably precisely because that’s what I was missing and what I’ve longed for as long as I can remember.

I’ve also recently started to value authenticity. Meaning that I also own those parts of myself that for a long time I used to wish away: My somewhat unhealthy perfectionist streak. My tendency to be nit-picky and overly-critical of myself and others. My tendency to overload myself with responsibilities. My strong judgment that has helped me a lot professionally but hurt me in my social relationships, especially in my marriage. My controlled, somewhat downbeat manner.

Most importantly, though, I have realized that it is possible to regain joy and happiness, despite those dark chapters of my past. If only I start losing weight. Emotional weight. By slowly going through every part, every layer that makes up the whole of me and shedding those that don’t really belong to me. Those that for some reason or another I have adopted as my own even though they are not in line with my authentic, my true self.

So, for years now I’ve worked on unearthing those qualities that make up the real me. Which does not mean leaving behind all the nasty-seeming character traits but rather transmuting them into a more mature version of themselves. Perfectionism into striving for excellence while making peace with imperfection. Self-sacrifice into self-care. Strength into courage. Suppressing anger into setting healthy boundaries. Resentment into forgiveness. Soldiering on into making peace.

Not saying that I’m there yet. Not even close. In fact, I’m starting to feel that there is no getting there anyway. Only a moving forward in an endless spiral of learning. And getting closer to living the possibilities that our precious life, whatever shape it might have taken, offers to us. Even though it might look nasty and unfair from the outlook. Maybe especially because of that.

Maybe the nasty outlook is precisely what outlines the possibilities.

And it’s our job to catch the ball and play with it.

Rather than carrying it around with us forever.

me

Photo © Pixabay/3dman_eu

20 thoughts on “Losing weight

  1. I think this is an incredible post. I can tell that you ARE so strong and so much wiser for having the experiences you have. I don’t know anything about you but from this post I am impressed at how you have endeavored to turn around your situation. Others would have given up, or resigned themselves to their sad lot in life. But not you! Keep on keepin on my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your encouragement, ktpforever11. I don’t feel like this every day. There are days when I just want to bury my head in the sand and pity myself. This has never done anything to make me feel better, though. And if I’m anything I’m determined to be happy again.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome 🙂 I went to a therapist recently and she said it is good to touch your pain periodically and then come back from it. Don’t totally suppress it and don’t get sucked into always wallowing in it. Touch it and come back from it.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. This sounds very wise. I find it hard to find the balance in between the two, the touching and the not getting sucked into it. But it’s good to know that this is what to focus on. Thank you, Kyle. I appreciate you sharing your experience. It really helps. A lot!

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      3. It’s okay to get sucked into it, just always pull yourself back. Come back and re-read this post of yours when you are stuck and maybe it will give you strength.
        And you are so welcome. I have found that helping others also helps me cope. Community is good!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Yes, a very good idea, re-read my own post. It’s my language, so I should be able to relate, even when I am somewhere different at the time. I wish you all the best for your own recovery, too, and lots of strength and lots of love in the near future!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I completely agree! Too often, I see people deal with past trauma and/or abuse by either pretending it never happened, or by not ever moving on and clinging to all that emotional baggage that keeps them from moving forward. I think owning it, recognizing what it has done to shape our personalities (both good and bad) and putting our energies into discovering our true selves makes so much more sense. And you’re right: it is a process that is probably life-long. Have you ever read Amy Tan’s “The Opposite of Fate?” I think you might like it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, as always, for your engaging comment, Ann. I’m afraid that I was clinging onto it for a long time, too. I knew it wouldn’t help me recover but it’s very hard to let go. There seems to be some solace in wallowing and self-pitying. And it’s so much easer to get stuck in it rather than moving on. The hardest part for me was to accept that I would never have the happy, untarnished childhood that others had the privilege to enjoy. What had happened just couldn’t be undone. However, there is this essay or book, I don’t remember, called “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood”. Strangely enough, when I started dealing with my past (instead of it dealing with me) my feeling towards my past transformed. The most important step was to find my father and reconnect with him. It didn’t change the fact that he left, nor did it change the years with my stepfather, but it somehow made it so much more bearable. Learning that my dad did love me and was himself so full of regret and pain helped me see his departure in a different light. And that in itself gave me a better emotional grounding for what came after his departure. It worked in retrospect. Weirdly enough. So maybe it really never is too late to have a happy childhood, or at least a more bearable one.
      I also just read Amy Tan’s note to the reader in the kindle ebook preview and it made me laugh out twice already. So yes, I think I do like her! I will start reading right now. Thank you for pointing me towards her.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You are so welcome! That book really spoke to me, and I hope it speaks to you as well. Basically, she talks about how we have the choice of which parts of our pasts we choose to focus on. But if it doesn’t, that’s okay too. I honestly believe we all have to find what works for us, and that there is no “one size fits all” remedy for a difficult or abusive childhood. And I know how hard it is not to get stuck in the past, and to find the strength and courage to strike out in a new direction for yourself. I’m so impressed that you are doing this, and only hope you remember to be gentle with yourself during the times that it is hard to do so. You will get there, one step at a time, even if the steps don’t seem to be coming fast enough….. Please know I’m thinking of you and wishing you nothing but the best, always!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It speaks to me, too, very much so. I’m almost half-way through. What an impressive woman! To become who she is after all that she’s been through. I also watched her sing with the Rock Bottom Remainders. If I had just seen the videos without context I wouldn’t have got it. But, knowing what made her do it, it became the summery of her achievement to me. “I simply wanted to have fun. And I finally learned how”. Learning how to have fun, some people might never understand how difficult this can be for someone whose ability to do so has been buried under experiences that were not so fun. How heart-warming and encouraging to know that she has found it within herself again.
      Thank you so much for your warm note and wishes!

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