Random weekend entry, but I have to write when the mood strikes. I was watching 20/20 about Robin Roberts' health problems and how she has dealt with them. She was asked why she was allowing herself to be filmed during such a hard time, and she said something that really struck me, "Make your mess your message." Now, let me be clear, I am in no way comparing my struggle with weight to all she has been through with cancer. But I really believe in the truth of what she said.
I've struggled with weight pretty much my whole life, obviously more in the past couple years than previously. But for the most part, before last June, it has been a private battle. Sure, I might have told people I wanted to lose weight or tell them I joined Weight Watchers or something. And a few years ago, I even let myself be filmed while being weighed in on camera for that weight loss competition (I will say that scared the crap out of me). But I didn't share anything below the surface. I tried so hard to act like my weight wasn't that big a deal, I guess hoping that other people would feel the same. When I gained so much weight a year ago, I didn't share with anyone how much it hurt. I mean, at what point in a conversation do you bring up the fact that your joints hurt like a 75 year old? At what point in the conversation do you bring up the fact that you feel nothing but utter disgust when you look in the mirror? At what point in the conversation do you go, "Oh by the way, I need to lose about 200 lbs."? I felt so ashamed, and I let it keep me from getting the help I needed for far too long.
As most people who know me can tell you, I hate asking for help. Well, I guess I should use the past tense and say "hated" (although I can't honestly say that it will ever come completely naturally to me). I like to be good at things. I like to seem strong and in control. I'm kind of a perfectionist. So anytime I'm doing well, sure, I'll share that. But when I start having problems, my natural instinct is to keep it inside. Don't let anyone know that I'm struggling. Because I can handle everything just fine on my own. Let me just say, that strategy has never worked out for me very well. In fact, a couple of years ago it completely blew up in my face dealing with another issue. But I know now, letting people know when I'm having a problem and asking for help when I need it does not mean that I am weak. It's a sign of strength and maturity. It's taken me a very long time to learn this lesson (mainly because I'm stubborn as a mule), but I got there in the end.
And so we go back to what I said in the beginning of this somewhat rambling (sorry) post: Make your mess your message. That is exactly what I have done with this blog, and in doing so, I have gotten rid of so much shame. I'll be frank. When I started this blog, I was scared out of my mind. I felt such shame and embarrassment and disgust over my weight that I couldn't help but think that everyone else would feel the same about me, even if they didn't say it. But a funny thing happened. Every time I wrote some previous secret shame like my starting weight, it was like a burden had been lifted. And now every time I write about a time I've struggled, or even in this entry sharing about how I can be a super-stubborn perfectionist control freak, I feel better even before anyone comments. Struggles and secrets that are shared are not so scary anymore. Sometimes I feel like I get more out of sharing that stuff than I do the great stuff. And actually, sometimes I feel like my readers get more out of hearing my struggles. No, I'm not saying my blog should just be one big whine and moan fest (because that would just be depressing!), but I can't tell you how many times people have written to thank me for sharing something I'm struggling with because they are struggling with the same thing. It helps so much to know that you are not alone with your struggles. It means a lot to know that I have helped someone, even just a little bit, in their own battle. So I'm sharing my mess with all of you; the good, the bad, and the ugly. I want my message to be real, and sometimes reality isn't pretty. I just want to put this out there: Don't be afraid of sharing your own struggles and asking for help. No matter how much you believe otherwise, you will not regret it. Don't let shame keep you from getting the help you need in order to live the life you deserve. And don't forget, you never know when the struggle you share will help someone else deal with their own. On that note, sounding somewhat like a Chicken Soup for the Soul book, I shall conclude this entry.