Friday, September 7, 2012

Know Who You Are

I've been zooming around this web of world-wideness for about 14 years.  Sometime within the past 10-12 years, I became acquainted with my friend, T.

T has a wonderful, beautiful heart and has always been kind to everyone she encounters.  I've witness many of these encounters electronically, on the internet; and I am certain that she behaves in the same way offline.

T is an overweight woman and also struggles with low self-esteem.  This struggle has been on-going for as long as I have known her; and I'm quite sure the struggle extends even many years prior to her involvement in the various internet communities that know and love T.

Recently, she shared on her Facebook about being ridiculed and mocked by teenaged girls and boys, and opened a discussion asking people how to deal with such occurrences.

This blog post is my response to that discussion (including her OP and also some of the various responses to which she received and/or replied). I had initially tried to respond there, but FB . . . in all its glory . . . kept screen-freezing and doing funky dances with my post; so I decided to use Swirlings to house my response.

My reasoning?  My response to T is the same response I would give to anyone with similar questions . . . and I have found that T's ponderings are not at all unique; many people share similar self-esteem struggles.  It is my hope that not only will my response help T, but that also it will be beneficial to others, as well.


Years ago, I learned that it's really none of my business what people think of me.  I will say here and now that I believe people can definitely abuse this adage and take it to unecessary and inappropriate extremes; but regarding complete strangers, it really is none of my business what they think of me.  Nor, is it any of your business what other people think of you.  Why let people live rent-free in your head like that?  Especially, with people that you don't even know!

T, you mentioned that you didn't know overweight people could have eating disorders.  However, they most certainly can.  While there are exceptions, of course (because there are exceptions to almost any axiom), most overweight people definitely have an eating disorder; one that is rooted in emotional eating. 

But, putting that tidbit aside . . . I would like to encourage you to realize that having an eating disorder does *not* define who you are.

And here, I will take a moment to expand this thought . . . I would like to encourage anyone to quit being so possessive about whatever illness or disease they may have personal experience with . . . "my" cancer, "my" diabetes, "my" OCD, "my" mental illness, "my" eating disorder, etc., etc., etc. 

As y'all may know, they are *not* "my" seizures; I claim no part of them and I have not nor will not ever invite them to take up residency in my life.  They are "the" seizures. 

I truly believe that the words we speak definitely influences our outlook  . . . and our outlooks definitely influences our overall health and well being.

Going back to being diagnosed with an eating disorder . . . as gently as I can say this . . . so what?!
Don't let that become your end-all / be-all.  OK . . . you've been dignosed with an eating disorder.  Do something about it!  I do not say that lightly, facetiously nor without personal experience.

Every illness (again, using some of the above examples:  cancer, diabetes, mental illnesses . . . even eating disorders) requires work on the person's part to combat the illness.   Persistent, dilligent, determined, ongoing work. 

Regardless as to how an eating disorder is manifested, the root of it all is why? Why did the person  turn to emotional eating in the first place? Until that question is answered and then the answer, itself, truly dealt with, there will be no freedom nor victory; only ongoing pain and setbacks.

Do what is necessary to overcome the eating disorder.  My prayer for you, T, is that you can find the inner strength within yourself to go from being resigned to "having" an eating disorder and pretty-much that is that, to pushing through all the ick and yuck AND pain so that while you may have to live with and struggle against an eating disorder, you are also, at the same time, doing everything you can to overcome it and to not let it win.

Illegitimus Non Tatum Carborundum.
That's a very popular "made-up" Latin phrase.  Incorrect wording aside, it commonly means, "Don't let the bastards get you down". 

I absolutely love it, and have used it as one of my silent mottos for probably 25 years now.  I guess I just broke my silence.  Ha!

T, in your situation, the bastards are the eating disorder and the low self-esteem, and they are working hand-in-hand and side-by-side to trip you up and keep you down.

Don't let them win!  Fight back!

Will it be easy?
Nope.  Not one bit.

Will it be fun?
I seriously doubt it.

Will it be a quick thing . . . this fighting back?
Probably not; in fact, prepare yourself for the long haul.

Will it be a one-time thing?
Nada.  See above . . . long haul.

Will it be worth it?

Are you worth it?
Most Definitely!

But the caveat to that is . . . until YOU believe that you are worth it, it's not going to matter who says that to you or how many of us say it to you; you're not going to believe us until you believe yourself that you are worth it . . . and until you believe it yourself, you're also not going to live it.

That's another prayer I have for you.  

In your thread, you asked what other people do when they are belittled for being overweight.  My answer can apply to anything; not just being overweight, but they are my answers specifically to your question.

My suggestions to you are varied.  You may utilize one or some of them; depending on your comfort level:

1)  Completely ignore whomever is doing the ridiculing and ignore the specifics of what they are saying.

2)  Smile your very best smile.  Directly, at them.  Make eye-contact with them while smiling.  Disarm them with charm.  Hey!  I just made a rhyme; whaddya know?!  :)

3)  If you're feeling brave and spunky, say hello to them.

4)  Pray.  This should definitely be the first -and- continuous thing to be done.
Pray for them - that Our Lord will bless them. 
Pray for you - that Our Lord will give you His Strength and Comfort, along with His Wisdom and His Guidance.

Whatever you do, do it with your head held high, your shoulders squared and your back straight and not slumped. 

Do it with confidence.  If you don't have confidence, fake it until you do have confidence (and, correct body posture goes a long way in helping someone have confidence; especially regarding their outer appearance).

And this confidence stuff?  The cool thing about that is that once you have confidence, then you also exude said confidence. 

People do not generally belittle and mock people who have true confidence; at least not to their face or within their hearing.  I'm not talking about rude, unstable arrogance; I'm talking about that quiet, steady confidence that comes from a person's inner core because they truly know their worth. 

And again, that kind of confidence cannot come from what other people say good of us; it can only come from us staring down whatever bastards are lurking in our lives and truly addressing the root of them and then being able to put them in their place . . . which is away from us. 

It also comes from knowing who you are in Christ.

And, that, my dear friend, are my prayers for YOU!

They are my prayers for each of y'all . . . quit hiding behind the external reasons and get down to the heart of the matter.  Clean the junk out of your lives, give it to Our Lord, ask Him for HIS Strength and HIS Peace and HIS Joy in your life . . . and then go out and live a life worth living - regardless of what you may have to fight along the way.

And, if you encounter someone along the way who  tries to trip you up, here's what you do:  square your shoulders, straighten your back, hold your head high, smile and say, "Nope; not today; I've got better things to do than to wade in muck."

OK . . . one last thought.
T, you are a Christian, so I will leave you with some Scripture that you can apply to your situation:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things...And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8, 9b).

Since teenagers (or anyone else) mocking and ridiculing someone does not fit into any of the above parameters, then why give such behavior and/or comments a second thought?

Thanks for reading, y'all!
Be blessed,

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