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Re: Talking about weight in therapy

Posted by Daisym on May 12, 2008, at 23:25:35

In reply to Re: Talking about weight in therapy Daisym, posted by Racer on May 11, 2008, at 9:39:28

You and I have spent time together face to face, so I might have some insight that comes from that. As you know, I am both taller and thinner than you are -- I can say that, but I'm shaking about it: "will her feelings be hurt that I say I'm thinner? Will she think I'm calling her the 'F' word?" Guess I'm nuts, huh? Do you find that makes you uncomfortable? That I am thinner? (And I do mean that to include 'that I am thinner because of my eating disorder,' not some artificial construct to make a point.) My reaction to my own history also tends to leave me wanting attention, and often drawing attention to myself, putting out "look at me" vibes, flirting when the opportunity arises, etc. (Although I probably haven't done much of that in your company, so that might not be something I want to admit...)

***You know - you being thinner has never made me uncomfortable. BUT - knowing what a big deal weight is to you, I've wondered if my size was uncomfortable for you. I guess we all look at through our own lenses. And I can see how our histories cause us to either want attention or want to hide from it. My therapist said, "but you put yourself in front of crowds all the time - speaking at conferences, etc." I told him that is so different - I control it and people want to hear what I say and what I think - they don't decide if I'm worthwhile or not based on how I look. Because I always DRESS the part - the body is hidden inside the costume.

Anyway, what I'm asking is whether being around me is uncomfortable for you, because of the difference in body shape/size? What do you think that might mean, whatever your answer -- does it mean that your body image shifts according to environment (which mine does in a big way); or that you can separate head from heart and just meet my mind; or something else altogether? I just somehow got this wave off the post that is probably me, but I wanted to throw that question out there -- how does it feel to be around someone who doesn't shut those things off?

****It is an interesting question to ponder. I think I separate head from heart and just meet your mind, most of the time. There are environments where that isn't possible and I'm more aware of my size - and I guess yours, but mine in a negative way. Again - I think being thin, no matter how one gets there, is a lot more socially acceptable. And admired.

Mind you, of course I feel lumpy, deformed, don't feel thin, etc. And I feel pathetic that I want attention from me -- although, that's my reaction to my history, so an equally valid form of social psychopathology...

**** OK, I know you've heard this before - but how you see yourself IS a distortion. And you know that. The evidence is in the scale and in the clothing size. But I have evidence to prove that I see myself way too realistically - the same scale and those same clothing labels. I'm not discounting how you feel about yourself and you shouldn't be so hard on yourself for wanting attention - it is a normal human thing to want others to reciprocate love and approval. It is less normal to want to hide yourself all the time.

Now, here's a little insight into how others might see you -- you were shocked when I thanked you for lending me your fashion sense, remember? You think maybe you have a little distortion going on about how you might appear to others? Yes -- you are heavier than I am. It's not only that I've got my own issue there, and I won't try to pretend. I am crazy when it comes to weight issues, which I admit to. You are not fat -- I see what used to be called "pleasingly plump," and I would bet your therapist is right about you protecting yourself from attention that way. You are a very attractive woman -- yes, physically as well as intellectually. Sorry, but it's true -- you are very attractive. I think you'd have to gain about a hundred pounds or so to lose that -- and probably be conked over the head, too.

****Thank you. Nice things to say and I appreciate your carefully worded honesty. It is important in this discussion I think - because talking about it is not about wanting someone to tell me I'm not this or that -- it is about why I feel so ugly and why it matters. And why if it is so troublesome, I'm not doing anything about it. And maybe, when we peel it all back, it is about how we look naked. I can put the outfit together and the shoes and do my hair, keep my roots colored and wear the right make up and jewelry. I try to stay fairly fashionable (though I still favor the preppy look, which went out years ago) because these things help me blend it - I'm appropriate - nothing too flashy, nothing low cut, nothing to old, dirty or torn. Talk about a walking wall-flower... The idea of having sex with someone who will see my body - not hidden, not covered up, is terrifying. I imagine this complete rejection in that moment that all my flaws show. And I'm well aware that the flaws that color this are internal and the self-esteem that plummets is a very old reaction.

You're absolutely right, though -- you do not put out any sort of attraction signals, which is probably the real reason you don't get more attention from men. It almost feels like you put out anti-attraction signals -- a smoke screen so that no one will approach. I think that's the reason you don't get much positive reinforcement about your looks -- meaning even things like being looked at a little too long, not necessarily being approached.

****I will agree with you here. But I don't know how to do it differently. I'm kind of a serious personality unless I'm drinking a lot, which I rarely do anymore. And the more social the situation, the more I'm aware that there are other, more attractive, more fun women in the room. Even when I get compliments, I rarely believe them - how stupid is that? I think I have nice eyes, good nails and cute feet. Just so you know that I'm not completely down on myself.

I'm terribly sorry you feel this way, my little PetalPuss -- I have a hard time believing you can't look in the mirror and see that lovely face of yours. Of course, my mirror is my enemy, so I know that it's not about what's really there.

I'm sending you affection and a "distorted body/self image" hat. You can join the club, and I'll teach you the secret handshake when you get to the clubhouse...

****Thanks for the input and the club key. But I'll say again - I don't think my body image is distorted but certainly my self image is. I keep telling myself that how I look isn't nearly as important as who I am. But since I'm struggling with knowing myself, it is kind of hard to keep up that self-talk. The feminist in me hates all of this but the little kid in me is remembering every taunt and every "new kid/first day of school" scrutiny with fresh tears and a sick stomach. It will pass, I'm sure.

Thanks for the long and thoughtful post. I hope we figure out a chat time that works for everyone.




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