Finally, the doctor said the infection was gone, but now he determined I was anemic. So, even though the pneumonia was over, the physical fatigue would hang on for awhile, until I had replenished my iron level. At this point, I was convinced it was all part of one giant package of physical symptoms that were a part of the Universe trying to get my attention, so I took the anemia diagnosis in stride.
A couple of days later, Mom called. While in conversation, she mentioned that she had read my previous blog (“Who’s in control of my operating system?”) and wanted to tell me some thoughts she had while reading it. Well, the first story was when I was 2 yrs old, and she remembered how I didn’t want to eat any of the baby food she fed me. And the only thing I wanted was to drink my milk. Because of this, she took me to the pediatrician, who prescribed some kind of tonic that was supposed to increase my appetite and get me to eat. But, she said it didn’t work, so she threw the tonic away. And while she was telling me this, it made me feel more validated in the conclusions I had made in my previous blog.
Then, she continued with her feedback to my blog, and was recalling this pink dress I wore to my Jr. High School graduation. Apparently, my great aunt had a pretty strong opinion of my appearance, and commented to Mom that I should have been wearing a GIRDLE !!! Upon hearing that, this incredible surge of anger began to erupt inside of me, and I could feel my “Wendy, stay in control” persona try to shove the anger back down, when I decided to do something different, and NOT squelch it this time. I decided to explore this feeling. So, after Mom said what she said about my great aunt’s opinion, I told her that I was really surprised, but as she was telling this story of what my great aunt said, a rush of negative feelings were surfacing.
I began to express these feelings to my Mom. I started with being so angry that the adult females of my family all had the opinion that I was overweight, and that something had to be done about it. As I continued to rant, my voice grew in intensity about what I was saying. I cried out that “there was nothing wrong with me, and I wasn’t fat… I was perfect, I was perfect just the way I was – and if anyone bothered to really pay attention to ME, they would have seen how athletic I was, how physically active I was, how I loved to play on the monkey bars, how I’d been in dance classes for years, and practiced all the time at home, I loved doing gymnastics in the house, in the backyard, anywhere I could find room to do running cartwheels. I played softball, I roller skated like crazy, I rode my bike everywhere, etc. I was a typical adolescent whose body was changing. And if everyone would have stayed out of my business, most likely my body would have naturally lost the adolescent body fat, and slimmed down as I grew in height… just like a kid’s body is supposed to work.”
ASIDE: Because of their nagging lectures and their negative vibration of concern about my weight, I absorbed ALL of THEIR crap! I hadn’t yet developed cognitive adult filters of rational adult-like reasoning where I could have logically considered whether their concerns were accurate for me or not. As a kid, you just absorb whatever’s in your environment; you’re a sponge! That’s why it’s so very important to clean up your act before parenting. But, when immature adults that haven’t worked on their own baggage have children, they impose their baggage upon their children. And then, society says you inherited those traits through “heredity” or “it’s in your genes. Oh, it’s NOT heredity… but, we’ll leave that for another blog.
Still angry while talking to Mom, I went on… Do you know what it was like for me to be dragged off to Weight Watchers meetings in the basement of the hospital at 9 years old? I didn’t really understand why I had to go. But, I didn’t have a choice, you made me go. And when they weighed me, they’d announce my weight out loud which was really embarrassing. Plus, I’d have my weight loss amount written on my name tag, which was always a pitiful number compared to what the other ladies were losing. And to make matters worse, I was the only kid there. And when the adults asked me where my Mother was, I would tell them, that you dropped me off, and would be back to get me. Do you have any idea how alone I felt in that room filled with all those adults feeling sorry for the fat kid sitting alone? Then, at home, I was made to choke down those horrible WW frozen dinners of Haddock or Perch because the program required I eat fish 5 times a week. And you know I hated fish, and today, I still won’t touch it. Then, after 10 weeks, you pulled me out of WW because you didn’t see that you were getting your money’s worth at $5 a meeting because I’d only lost a total of 2 ¼ pounds. And I felt your shame that I hadn’t lost more. I knew I had disappointed you.
I could sense through the anger, this call was unfolding in a significant way as I could feel I was having some kind of emotional breakthrough, and it was really important that I keep going. I continued… did you ever call Jennifer fat? (She’s my sister that’s 10 yrs younger than me.) Mom didn’t respond. You didn’t, I said. And do you know what I did when she was 21 and I was 31? I asked if she would do an experiment for me. I asked her to try on a pair of my jeans and a blazer I’d worn when I was 21 and had returned home from college at my thinnest weight. (Back to this thought in a moment.)
And do you remember when I came home THIN? There was but a brief mention that I had lost weight by family members. I was so disappointed that my Mom did not express that I had finally lost weight, and looked good. Instead, you told me many years later that you purposely did not make a big deal over the way I looked because you thought I was being arrogant about my weight loss. Well, Mom, do you know why I was arrogant? Because my self-image was so damaged by believing I was an embarrassment to my family because I was FAT, and now I’d accomplished what I thought y’all had been expecting of me (losing weight), and there was soooo little fanfare, that just to stay feeling good about myself, I had to sing my own praises because it wasn’t coming from you or the family. I thought my losing weight was a big deal and it would be a big deal to you too, and I deserved more praise and acknowledgement from you! And later as an adult, when I brought this to your attention, I thought at that point in our adult lives, you would recognize how wrong this lack of acknowledgment was, but instead you held to your belief that you did the right thing!
So, Jennifer tried on my jeans and blazer. And do you know what? She was about 4” too big in the waist to close the jeans, and the blazer had about a 6” gap.
ASIDE: The jeans measured 29” in the waist, and the blazer was a size 16. My college studies were in Fashion Design, where I learned all about the size tables and how they were developed in the 1950’s. And those size tables were in the process of being adjusted throughout the 1980’s to accommodate the modern American sized woman. Because, as the average American woman’s size was no where near what the average size was in the 1950’s, and the modern woman’s psyche wasn’t accepting the reality of seeing her size go up, the fashion world made concessions by adjusting the size table by 2-3 sizes which translated to about 4-6 inches. So, when I had lost weight in college (1981), and was at my thinnest, I was wearing size 16 clothes which was still in the 1950’s size scale. (And as matter of important trivia to prove my point, Marilyn Monroe wore a size 16 – and she was considered a bomb shell!). The size tables HAD changed at the time I was doing this experiment with my sister (1991). Because even though she could NOT fit into my size 16 clothes from 1981, she was wearing clothes with labels of size 10 and 12! So, by that comparison, making all things equal, when I was at my thinnest, in today’s sizes, I would have been wearing a size 8 easily. And yet, here’s the kicker, my sister wasn’t considered fat by anyone in our family. She never got the FAT label. She did not grow up with the damaged body-image. Oh, no, that was MY family legacy to carry that no other sibling was made to endure. And this is what I’m so angry about – I seem to be the only one in the family that seems to really understand this injustice. The injustice that I was judged so harshly about my size, but my sisters were NEVER judged by the same standard. The INJUSTICE is the specific thing that I’m furious about, and have never really been able to completely release. And with this thought of Injustice, I experienced a feeling inside my belly, that felt like a “thud” that let me know this IS what this anger issue is all about. And at the same time I felt the thud, I recalled it was the same feeling I had when I knew I didn’t need a degree to credentialize me. (As described in the blog titled: “What’s in a piece of paper, anyway?”)
I rampaged my anger about 30 minutes. Poor Mom – she didn’t deserve the full assault as it was coming out of me. I told her I hoped she was not taking this personally because it was not meant as such. And although she said, she wasn’t, it was hard for me to believe she wasn’t hurt because the child in me was expressing very raw anger and since she was on the other end of the phone, it was all directed at her. But, I felt I had to get the feelings out. I was shocked at how forceful the tears poured down my face while conveying so much rage. And yet in the midst of ranting to Mom, I was so aware that I was having a fabulous breakthrough! And for this I was delighted. These were definitely feelings that I thought had been dealt with years ago, but apparently not as completely as I had thought, or they wouldn’t have erupted so violently like this.
Mom said she needed to get off the phone because my pain was too much for her. That got me even more furious. I had been the rock for our family. I’d been there for her during her many meltdowns – and there have been MANY. But, here I’m having an important breakthrough event, and she couldn’t stick with me. Part of me recognized it would be good to end the call, and the other part of me was even more enraged. It felt like this was just another experience of the injustice I’ve experienced with my family. I did my best to end the call on a note that would not have caused us to have a strain in our relationship going forward, but in my emotional state, I don’t know how successful that was. I guess I’ll know in time.
The good however, that came from this call with Mom was “off the charts” GOOD!!! Before this call, remember I didn’t know how any of those emotional root causes about repressed anger and family issues related to me. Well, now I have a BIG CLUE. The emotional “cat has been let out of the bag” and has made it’s presence known. So, at least now, I have something to work with.