I am a comfort eater and foster care requires a lot of comforting. In the 17 months since we became licensed I have gained 24 lbs. To be clear: I did not, under any circumstance, need to do anything but lose weight. Gaining was not really on any advisable “healthy me” plan and yet, I allowed myself to bake and eat cheese and drink some wine and spend any down time I had in comfort mode instead of moving my body. When it was five pounds, my pants felt a little snug. When it was ten, I had to move to leggings. When it was twenty, I felt like my skin needed up-sized.
What I found in this period of transitioning to obesity was that I realized we believe, as women, that we can never speak truth over our friends because we don’t want to make them sad. It was really eye opening that I could say exactly the following to people who loved me: I can’t walk up the stairs comfortably, I have bought bigger pants twice and I need to go up again, I am high risk for type two diabetes (after having gestational diabetes), I already know that my ACES (measuring childhood traumatic events) score is sky high and that in itself is correlated to health deficits and my friends who loved me would say “Oh, Stephanie, you are beautiful. You are so busy. You look great to me. It’s busy season. Your husband is never home. Life is hard right now.”
Sure… all of that is truth, but I was killing myself and my friends were willing to co-opt that because this is what we believe: support = affirmation. Were my friends lying to me because they wanted me to die? Well… mostly, no. Some, kind of… hahaha. So many of us, sometimes myself as well, believe that we are limited in what we can “do” and my plate is pretty full. We’ve hardwired ourselves to believe in limits and it seems like I’ve exceeded mine, so it’s totally okay that I was neglecting my own health. It’s time we start seeing ourselves as limitless, fearless and brave not the over-worked, over-tired, frazzled messes that have become so en vogue in today’s society.
Guys… support is NOT telling our beloveds what they want to hear to keep them where they already are. No one needs support to remain immobile, sitting where they currently exist. A ball does not need help sitting on a flat floor. If you want it to go somewhere, you need to push it. Sometimes with force.
The other side of this is I refuse to help you write your mediocrity. This causes strife. For so long I thought this was a me problem. I wondered so often how my heart tried so hard to speak truth and love and worth and it was so often labeled as “blunt. rude. Tactless.” While all of the other friends spoke all the words that kept the ball firmly planted in the place it lie, my friends became angry at me for trying to move them. It isn’t supportive, I am often told. It’s about my tone, I am told. Guys: Why do you want lies that keep you stagnant told in a flowery tone over words that tell you are worth more and only you are getting in your way?
Friends, you are the ball. You are made to roll. You are not made to be held down with other people’s affirmation that you are incapable of more. If you asked someone’s opinions about whether you should roll or stay, you already knew that you are being called to something more. Why is the friend saying “yes, you CAN and SHOULD be doing more” more offensive to you than the one who is telling you with a smile that you can’t?
When you tell yourself you can’t in your own space and list all of the reasons and all of your friends join in in telling you that you are right, I usually remain silent but when you bring it to my space, I refuse to because I will not participate in your refusal to grow. The moment you tell me “This thing that I say that I want I don’t want enough right now to make it happen” I will say “fair enough” but I will not help you write your own story of failure. I will not affirm to you that you are less than all of the millions of people in the world who are reaching for more.
Failure isn’t the absence of success. It’s the absence of trying. So many people are convinced, despite my very frank admissions otherwise, that I was born into a position of guaranteed success. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I hear often that everything I touch turns to gold. That, also, couldn’t be further from the truth but the bombs don’t get to me. I had no cheerleader. I have no family support. I don’t come from any financial means. I wasn’t told I was destined for greatness. I told myself that I was.
When our friends tell us “Yes, you can’t do that thing your heart is begging you to do because all of these lies we tell ourselves are true” there are two options for what is going on in their own hearts: Either they believe the lies, too, about themselves or they believe them about you. That you can’t do it. Either way, why not show them the truth? Why not show them that yes, you can? It’s highly likely an amazing thing will start to happen… they just may start believe that they can, too.
Being afraid is easy. It’s a natural response and it’s easiest to go along with it. Being brave is hard. It’s way easier to refuse that first shaking step into who you can be but I will not join you in that because I know you are MORE than your FEAR. You can make excuses about my delivery, but the fact is that I can deliver you the news with a wine slurpee and cotton candy and a bouquet of money and you will still not like hearing that the only person responsible for what your heart and soul is begging for is you. You can decide today what you want tomorrow to look like. I won’t join you in telling you that you aren’t enough because I already know you are.
Get out of your own damn way.