Fat Girl Wearing Thin

Life beyond the loss.

   Jan 03

No More Magic Tricks Here at Home.

Throwing around negative words about myself makes me feel like a magician sometimes.  One minute the derogatory comment is there and then POOF! I’ve moved the listener on to the next trick that’s so twinkly and bright, they don’t even realize what’s happened.  I’ve become quite good at it actually, this art of being negative.  The funny thing is, until recently I wasn’t even aware I was doing it. 

When I first decided that I was going to work on my mental health – in particular, my, ahem……self-loathing, it was solely because it was brought to my attention front and center.  After my mother was struck by a hit-and-run driver last July,  I began going to therapy.  After the first few sessions, my therapist wanted to know if I was aware that I put a negative ‘spin’ on comments when I spoke.  No, I said. I try to be a positive person.  I know fully well that things could always be worse.  However, as I continued to talk she’d interrupt me over and over again – pointing out every time I used the words couldn’t, don’t, can’t, shouldn’t, and won’t. With every positive phrase I tried to say, a negative word or phrase would quickly follow.  By the time I left, I was so frustrated – so borderline furious that my sentences were being monitored and critiqued it left me emotionally drained for days afterward. 

Being made aware was the easy part, let me tell you.  Changing the way one communicates however, is like being told that from this moment forward you no longer speak your native tongue.  Now, you must suddenly speak German or Italian.  No more English for YOU. 

I didn’t want to feel like a hypocrite, and I certainly didn’t want to be ‘that’ person who mentally drains everyone around her because she ‘sucks all of the good energy right out of a room’.  It’s funny, because I always thought I was a glass is half full kind of gal.  I guess I never took the time to notice that it was hall full all right, but not of water; rather some cloudy, stagnant version of water.

Have you ever heard of the phrase, ‘Good deeds begin at home?’  That is where I decided to start – at home; in my head where all of those sour little thoughts lie in waiting; where negativity breeds.  How do I emit positive energy if I refuse to give any to myself?   I have to believe positive things about myself first before I can start incorporating that kind of behavior throughout the rest of my life. 

I’m tired. I can’t fake it anymore.  This is where the challenge begins. 

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  1. Amalfi Girl says:

    If it helps at all, I will tell you with complete sincerity that you are a beautiful person, inside and out. You look so pretty in that picture you posted above, and you have been the single most welcoming person in the blog community, giving me pointers and support that I couldn’t have expected. I appreciate you–YOU appreciate you.
    Hate-loss 2011!! :)

  2. Polar's Mom says:

    Fair enough, at least you know where you need to be. Sure getting there will take a Herculean effort, but anything worth doing is probably going to take some hard work. And hey, maybe some baby steps will be easier…instead of going from “I can’t do that” to ” I will do that”, try going to “I will try my best to do that”. Maybe trying is the best we can all promise anyway?

    Polar’s Mom

    • Ellen says:

      At least I know this isn’t difficult for me alone. I’m getting emails from all over saying the exact same thing. You make excellent points and I think that’s something everyone should know….crawl before you walk. Thanks for the advice and for reading.

  3. I couldn’t agree more (and have written about it too) that awareness is the first step in healing any kind of problem we have. It’s not easy to give up the shoulda, woulda, coulda list, but I commend you for giving this your best. Although I don’t know you very well at all, I think I’ve seen enough to know you CAN do this. And I’m grateful you’re sharing the journey with us… we can learn from each other.

    • Ellen says:

      You know Michele, it is things like these that are so easy to hide. If everyone wore their fears on their sleeve, I think we’d assume everyone was a bit nutty. I have decided though, that in order for me to get past this, I’m going to have to lay it all out there. It’s the one thing I can do, and thank God I’ve got 28 more days to lay that foundation. I’m making this my year to do it. Thank you for the motivation.

  4. LoriV. says:

    I think I’m one of those negative people that repels others. Sadsies!

  5. Blubeari says:

    Looking at that picture, I can definitely find a genuine word to say; BEAUTIFUL. But I do understand. I try to take compliments well, but I do sometimes have trouble believing them, and thinking nice things about myself. I’m a little too focused on how “i’m going to be” , that I’m almost dismissive of “how I am”. But… there will come a day when I’m ‘done’ with myself physically. Then I’m going to have to start thinking about the present. I have a feeling I’m going to have trouble with that.

    • Ellen says:

      That is such a good point Blubeari, because I was just like that: seeing how I was going to be was what I kept my focus on; I just assumed that once I ‘got there’ then everything else would fall into place. I think it is SO smart of you to work on both physical and emotional at the SAME TIME. You’ll thank yourself over and over :)

  6. vickie says:

    This made me think of the ‘ummmm’ count.

    My husband used to go to toastmasters. And as they practiced public speaking (in front of each other) someone would always do the ‘ummmmmmm’ count. Sometimes it was literally the word ‘ummmmm’ interjected constantly. Sometimes it was the word ‘like’ or the phrase ‘you know’. It is very common for people to fall back on a sound or word or phrase. (When I am done writing, I go back and edit out most of my ‘that’ over use word.)

    All of this is pure habit. And I think negativity is pure habit too. It can be counter offer/argumentative, where we are injecting a ‘yes, but. . .’ and then fill in the opposite trait. Or it can be response to embarrassment. But I think most of the time it is pure habit, developed from family interactions. Do you see this same pattern of behavior in your parents or grandparents or aunts and uncles?

    • Ellen says:

      Oh yes, Vickie. Most definitely this kind of behavior runs in my family (especially in my mother but in a different way. She’s always had a negative personality in general; it wasn’t until the accident last year that she actually started becoming more positive, but I dealt with that all my life. Your mention of other words that are pure habit puts things into perspective for me; I used to say, ‘uh’ a LOT when I was younger; I simply couldn’t stop saying it! I had to consciously force myself to change and that is what I need to do here, too. Thanks, Vickie :)

  7. Helen says:

    My glass is always half full for others… it’s the half empty part that I take for myself. The whole point of your challenge is because you need to be challenged, right? I am sure you will find your way with this and I’m glad you’re not rushing into it, but rather taking your time to find just the right thing to say.

    • Ellen says:

      Yep, you’re right, Helen. the half empty part is what I take, too; especially being a caregiver. It’s ingrained in people like us, I think. And that’s why it’s so much harder to put ourselves FIRST; we’re so used to putting others first. Thanks for reading as always :)

  8. Joy says:

    Ellen, This is a great post!!! I too have great words of encouragement for others, but tend to be quite hard on myself. I am currently struggling with this issue right now. Your post is very timely!! I find myself comparing my life to others, coveting and just feeling sorry for myself because of my current injury ~ very frustrated!!!

    I want you to know that I’m a little down today and needed to come see you!! You have brightened my day and have given me a lot to think about!!

    Keep focused!!

    • Ellen says:

      I’m so glad this post was helpful to someone, Joy! I thought it read a bit too much like a ‘Debbie-Downer’ post. LOL Glad that you were able to get something out of it and I’m so glad you stopped by today – thank you :)

  9. Hey Ellen, this is the most difficult new years resolution I have heard yet! I am impressed you have become so self aware, and trying to make changes. You might hit bumps a long the way, but the real failure would be knowing and doing nothing to change. You will get there :-)

    • Ellen says:

      Thank you, Susan for the lovely comment. It’s funny how often things like this appear to be so easy, only to find out that they are much harder than they look! It’s easy to fake one’s way through life without anyone ever knowing that there is an inner issue. So much appreciate you reading today and especially your comment.

  10. Shannon says:

    I think the positive thoughts, like any habit, will get better over time until you are saying only positive things. I am the first one to say “I can’t” or to call myself a fat ass or a number of other things. We are our own worst enemies. When everyone else sees the good, we only disagree and point out the bad. I have the hardest time taking a compliment. When my fiance says I’m beautiful, I laugh and say “All this (as I point to imperfections) is beautiful?” And he says “to me it is.” But no matter how great of a guy he is, him loving me is not all that it takes for me to love myself. I’ll touch on this more in the Thursday therapy session..lol..as you can see, I have a lot to discuss. We’ll get there, all of us! And your Hate-Loss Challenge is the ticket!

    • Ellen says:

      Your fiance sounds like a great guy, Shannon. You are right though, it’s not enough to hear it from other people; we need to believe it ourselves in order to feel complete. Thank you, thank you for your comment today :)

  11. Shantell says:

    Ellen i am speechless… Great post as usual! You will get there.. or should I say we will get there!

    • Ellen says:

      Yes, WE will, Shannie!! Too bad we have to do this online. Can you imagine how much ‘work’ we’d get done if we were all in a room together??

  12. Sasha says:

    My best friend of 32 years is so full of self-loathing that I’ve found myself distancing myself from her over the past year because it’s been getting worse. It’s been so bad, that her husband is also being driven away by it. She knows she does it, she even says she’s full of self-loathing, but has done nothing to change it. And she’s jealous of my weight loss. I just couldn’t handle it anymore. It’s not like I’m some merry little sunshine person, I have to fight very hard sometimes to maintain the attitude I want. But I see it like this –I worked so hard to get to this point, I look better and feel better than I have in years. To be self-loathing at this point, even though I have many more pounds to go before I reach my ultimate goal and I could easily be negative about that, would be like taking a precious gift and throwing it on the ground and smashing it to bits.

    • Ellen says:

      Sasha, your comment is very powerful. I have always been afraid of being that type of person. For me personally, it isn’t about the weight. It’s never really been about the weight. When I was heavy, I thought it was so I just waited until I lost it all and then found myself still struggling. With help though, I’m seeing that it’s always been a struggle, even since I was small. However, regardless of what our past experiences are, no matter what kinds of issues we’ve had to overcome, there is a point when we have to take responsibility for our OWN actions and thoughts. Wallowing does no one any good.
      I’m sorry to hear about your friend; that is a very sad life and I’m proud of you for knowing that it was a poisonous relationship to be in and then distancing yourself from it. That is a hard thing to do sometimes, but so necessary to take care of ourselves first. Thanks for your comment.

  13. Leslie says:

    Speaking of taking compliments and believing the best about ourselves, you look SO pretty in that photo :).

    • Ellen says:

      Leslie it’s so funny because the first thing that comes to my mind to say is, ‘Oh, you’re just prejudice because you know me’. Then I realize we’ve never met! LOL This goes to show that online ‘friends’ most certainly can be friends and not as someone’s husband once called ‘your fake friends’ (which I find hilarious). Thank you for that.

  14. Very poignant and very necessary. I’m a mostly positive person, but I still tend to sell myself short and discount some compliments. It’s an area I still work on every single day, and I’m much better than I used to be. It’s all a process, and I’m happy to know that you’ve begun!

    • Ellen says:

      Cammy, I think we ALL can be a little guilty in this area. We’re only human after all, right? It’s when it starts seeping into all other areas of our lives that we need to take notice. I’m feeling more comfortable putting myself ‘out there’ for this particular exercise because it’s SO necessary to be in control of it. Thanks so much for reading today.

  15. NewMe says:

    One of the things that really saddens and disturbs me about the weight loss blogosphere is the amount of self-hatred floating around. More and more, I tend to stay away and try to focus on just eating mostly healthy foods (but not to perfection–that’s part of the whole self-loathing thing, because we know we’re not perfect), in mostly reasonable portions when I’m physically (rather than emotionally) hungry.

    I only recently came across your blog and I like what I read. Although I’m not formally joining your challenge, I think it’s great and I’ll certainly keep it in mind. Hmm. I might even blog about it.

    Best wishes to you!

  16. “How do I emit positive energy if I refuse to give any to myself? I have to believe positive things about myself first before I can start incorporating that kind of behavior throughout the rest of my life. ”

    I love it :-)

    And it goes around in a big circle.

    • Ellen says:

      You said it, Karen. I’ve decided that I am going to need more than just determination for this, too. I’ve got a couple of books that I’m going to be reading to help me along. Come ‘hell or high water’ as they say :)

  17. anneg121 says:

    Wow, I feel like I have a bulls eye on my back, because you hit it. I have always believe communication was important BUT I think I have been giving it lip service. I havent really taken the time to correct or try to improve my communication. I can see so much of myself in what you said…

    Words of wisdom, keep ’em coming….

  18. steviewren says:

    After my husband and I separated I realized that I always wore a smile plastered to my face. It was hard work to stop smiling just because I thought people expected me to. It also took years to stop hearing his negative comments in my head. I don’t think I put myself down as much anymore, because I don’t hear people responding to the negativity like I used to.

    • Ellen says:

      Abusive relationships really know how to suck the life out of one’s self esteem, I am fully aware of that as well. Good for us that we got rid of THAT baggage. Thanks as always for reading today :)

  19. […] Tuesday’s post was never intended to be published. I was going to wait until Thursday and then post my progress.  But I couldn’t wait until then. I was struggling and that only made me feel more incompetent.  I didn’t realize that I was asking for support….but you knew.  Those of you who caught my post did more than just respond.  You planted my feet firmly back on the ground and steadied me for my next attempt.   […]

  20. Mayhem Mama says:

    “It’s funny, because I always thought I was a glass is half full kind of gal. I guess I never took the time to notice that it was hall full all right, but not of water; rather some cloudy, stagnant version of water. ”

    I love that line. You put it in a word painting that I can actually visualize. I remember growing up my mother would always give me a compliment then add a “but” at the end. I remember feeling like I was never good enough. I have tried to not do that with the girls, and the other thing I do is start with the part that could be improved and then end with the compliments. I have noticed that they model that behavior and the girls are much more supportive of each other (when they are not screaming at each other about the myriad things that sisters yell about).

    That is going to be my baby step for this challenge. To look in the mirror, see if there is something that can or needs to be changed, then finish by admiring the good things about myself.

    Thanks for clarifying with me!

    • Ellen says:

      I was the same way growing up. My mother was a very negative person and so I thought that was just the way it was everywhere. It wasn’t until I left home for college that I began realizing that I was the one who was different – not everyone else. That’s a hard lesson to learn. So glad the girls are supportive of each other. They will come to rely on one another so much as they get older; they are very lucky to have such a fantastic mother as well :)

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