The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Monday, March 07, 2005

Crabs in a Basket...

As we change, our friends and families can feel threatened, and actually strive to hold us back.  I can say this over and over, but a single letter can illustrate this far better.  It comes from a female student who is working courageously with weight and other issues.  She's one of my favorite people...

Dear Steve,

The good news- I've lost eight pounds through diet and exercise.  My
thighs and biceps are discernibly toned, I'm feeling healthier et

The bad news- I married a man who's de-evolving into such a jerk.  He's
getting on my case about dieting like my actions offend him.  Saturday
night was cool and funny, we all laughed.  I heated up some leftover
french onion soup (made with broth from a beef roast I'd made earlier
in the week and butter sauteed onions, then topped with toasted french
bread slices and melted cheese) for him and a friend of ours to eat. 
(HUSBAND) was still hungry so I threw together a batch of samosas (leftover
basmati rice with vegetables, frozen o'brien potatoes, curry powder,
garlic, salt, and roasted cumin seeds, fried in a pan of olive oil then
wrapped in a butter/flour crust and baked to golden perfection served
with mango chutney).  I'm a good cook, but these are not foods that fit
in a 1200 calorie a day diet so I got myself a 3 oz., 80 calorie can of
salmon to eat. HUSBAND started to lay into me about my no longer eating,
A FRIEND  made a comment about my preference for cat food.  It stayed
light and funny.  Then last night HUSBAND starts yelling at me because I
had a can of V-8 while everyone else was eating pizza.  He goes on in
this superior way about how he doesn't believe in fad diets, or
alternately that it must be nice to have the narcissistic luxury of
diet and exercise, but he's too busy being a grown-up now.  He's also
as overweight as I am and looks like a man with one foot in the grave
and in his beautifully sculpted athletic youth he used to look at
middle-aged pot-bellied men as ultimately pathetic.  I know that it's
his insecurity causing him to lash out at me, but I have enough
insecurity of my own I don't need his crap right now.

I need to lose this weight.  Being a 38DDD (yes, triple) is not easy on
my back, carrying this extra weight around my hard tile floors is not
easy on my knees or ankles.  No matter how positive my outlook, obesity
is still linked to diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, heart
attack, stroke... and I'm sure the list goes on.  This isn't the vanity
of ten or twenty pounds interfering with my pool-side strut.  This is a
health issue and I owe it to my babies to be strong and healthy and
around for a while.

All that said I also need a friend to tell me that I'm doing the right
thing.  So I'm asking you to counter the undermining of my efforts with
a little pep talk if you could.  It doesn't need to be personal, you
write plenty in your blog about weight issues.  And I write plenty of
stuff "from the bottom of my tank" in my blog.  It's just a hard
combination, change and criticism.  I need a friend today.

STEVE'S COMMENT:  you not only have the right to be healthy, you have the responsibility, for your children, and for yourself.  Your husband is filled with fear.  The weight is both a symptom and a cause. 
If he can tell himself there is no option, that he's doing all anyone can do, he can be at peace with his decisions.  But if you begin to wake up, to shake yourself loose, it threatens the hell out of his world view.  It makes him feel wrong and bad and ugly and old. 
I am so proud of you, and what you are dealing with is as real as it gets.  What to do?  Continue to journal, and meditate.  As the stress ramps up, this will be more necessary.  Meet his jokes and accusations with love, and realize that his negative aspects appealed to a negative aspect within you--you and he are one.  Loving him is loving yourself.  Don't take it's gonna get worse before it gets better.  Fear is a monster.  But if you are strong, and slowly, gently move your house toward health, you will find him taking small steps.  He is very, very frightened of life.  Don't be scarier than you have to. 
But above everything else, keep growing and changing.  Reach out on the discussion board--get the support of others who are fighting the same fight.  And I'll always be here for you, hon.  Promise.



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