Your Story Matters When We Talk About Weight
Something I often reflect on when people talk to me about their weight is a raw and ever present sadness that surfaces in our sessions. It is not unusual for people late in life, sometimes well into their eighties to talk about the pain they felt as a child when someone shamed them for their weight. People recall with such clarity, the shame they felt by a comment/comments made to them at a job interview, in the playground at school, in a nightclub, on a first date, at a family reunion, on a plane trip, at a medical appointment, in the supermarket, in the swimming pool, at a regular family dinner, in a gym, in a clothes store among many other situations.
One woman told me that as she was being sewn up after the delivery of her child the DR told her it might be a good time for her to think about losing weight. She shared this story in a weight management class I was holding with tears streaming down her face. She said that to this day, that incredibly special, joyous and precious moment was tarnished with shame.
The pain in people is palpable and has often been carried around inside them for a long time.
Age does not discriminate here. People of all ages share such stories.
I have to stress I do not ever think someone is better in a smaller body or that they need to lose weight for aesthetic reasons. In an ideal world none of this should ever matter. I honestly do want people to feel good no matter what their shape or size is.But, if it matters to them, and for whatever reason it matters, then this is what matters.
To dismiss people when they express this sorrow because I don't think they should feel the way they do would be disrespectful, and dismissive. It adds another layer to their pain because then they feel they are wrong to feel the way they do.
As I was reflecting about this today, I came across a piece of writing and the author has generously given me permission to share it here. I think it so beautifully expresses the importance of attending to these wounds.
She wrote "
"It is standard for wounds in our physical bodies to be washed, disinfected, treated, bandaged & observed routinely to assess healing process.
What do we do with our relational wounds, our spiritual wounds, our psychic wounds, or our historical wounds?
We tend skip several steps with these wounds. We tend to rush to dressing the wound, covering it up & "moving on"."
"May we have the courage to acknowledge our wounds. May we wash them with clean compassionate waters. May we disinfect them with insight & understanding. May we treat them with healing professional's support & interventions. May we bandage our cleansed wounds so the repair process can create restoration. May we check in routinely to ensure healing is the process at play. With thanks to: (@Dr.DtheMFT or resilientliving.info) for allowing me to share these words here.
Addressing some of these wounds while working on long-term weight management gives a respectful framework from where change can occur. It is generally easier to make changes with support, and where your story can be heard in a safe space without being judged or shamed. It is rare that diet and exercise or surgery or weight loss medication alone (while all very helpful) will help with finding some peace from the sadness, shame and sorrow so many people feel and share with me when they seek help for weight management.
Ginette Lenham © February 2021
I am still holding sessions remotely via zoom, face time, skype or old fashioned phone calls which has brought the lovely opportunity of being able to reach people anywhere from the comfort of their homes. I offer general counselling as well as weight management counselling and coaching.