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Diary of a WLS Junkie!

The daily thoughts, ramblings, trials and tribulations of the journey to weight loss surgery.

How Can I Help You To Say Goodbye

This isn’t going to be your usual WLS post. Unfortunately today I have something else to share with you.

Most days I am happy to stop and do anything I can to help someone along their journey. Most days I am happy to share my life experience with someone in order to try to make their journey a little easier than mine might have been. Usually I do so with an eagerness I can rarely explain to others. Today however, the journey I must share is one that fills the heart with an overwhelming sadness.

Yesterday as I ran the fastest 5k I have run to date, I listened to old country music as my Dad and I ( Yes I still speak to him when I run ) had a conversation where I sought the answers to one of the most complex questions I’ve ever posed to myself. Suddenly as I ran my second mile in under 12 minutes listening to old school country music I heard not only my question but as usual when I turn to my Father for guidance, the answer as well.

“Through the back window of a ’59 wagon
I watched my best friend Jaime slippin’ further away
I kept on waving ’till I couldn’t see her
And through my tears, I asked again why we couldn’t stay
Mama whispered softly, Time will ease your pain
Life’s about changing, nothing ever stays the same

And she said, How can I help you to say goodbye?
It’s OK to hurt, and it’s OK to cry
Come, let me hold you and I will try
How can I help you to say goodbye?”

July 5th will be the two-year anniversary of my Father’s passing, one of the most horrible moments of my entire life. and here I am sitting on a plane as I go to help the best friend I have in the world, embark on the same journey.

Sometimes I’m a little surprised how much our lives parallel one another and as I watch my best friend struggle to find her way of  saying goodbye to her Mother, I’m saddened by how much Cancer has taken from her in such a short time. In a matter of days they have gone from stomach pain to the possibility of surgery that was pretty much a gastric bypass to cut the cancer out of her stomach to a six month to live prognosis to just a few days of in home hospice.

Every time she had a moment to catch her breath they cut the time she thought she had left in half on her. And when she asked me “How do you say goodbye if she does know she is going?” I had to take off on a run to try to find the answer for us both.

“Sitting with Mama alone in her bedroom
She opened her eyes, and then squeezed my hand
She said, I have to go now, my time here is over
And with her final word, she tried to help me understand
Mama whispered softly, Time will ease your pain
Life’s about changing, nothing ever stays the same
And she said, How can I help you to say goodbye?
It’s OK to hurt, and it’s OK to cry
Come, let me hold you and I will try
How can I help you to say goodbye?”

We’re never prepared for something like this. It’s never the right time. For me; I had expected the call for years because I knew my Father was getting up there in age. ( He was almost 85 when he passed away ) .. but still the first thing I thought when the call came in and I hung up the phone was “This isn’t fair.”

It took me awhile to find my Father through exercise. To be able to get past the pain and hurt of him not being there for me and realize that he was still there in my heart and that he lives on through me as I share the lessons that he taught me with the world. But as I offered my dear friend the comfort that she too would find a way to still feel connected with her Mom, I realized how hard that is to have faith in right now.

I think of my two-year old Nephew and I wonder how I can ease the confusion he’ll experience when he realizes Grandma won’t be there to play with him or help take care of him anymore.

As my friend, her family, my chosen family and I begin this journey together today, I can’t help but think of how similar we all are. How many things we have all experienced and I am reminded of a lesson that a wise man once taught me…

In life we must understand that sometimes we have to reach out for help from those that are a little bit farther along in the journey than we are and let them show us the right path. My friend did that when she asked me to come to Dallas and help her with this journey. Other times, we need to know when to hold out our hand and reach out for someone who we know is a little bit behind us and try to help them.

This is the very reason that I devote so much of my time to helping other people with their weight loss journey and why I am focused on a career change as a personal trainer, to make sure that I am working on always reaching back to help others step forward.

Today I am reminded that we need to appreciate the present. Do what we can with it and make the best out of it, because we’re not guaranteed a tomorrow. Whether it’s kissing the person that you love,  saying “I love you” or getting out for that walk or run that you’re just not extremely motivated to do, you’ve got to enjoy what you’ve got and appreciate the people you have to share it with.

So Tora, my soul sister, when you read this. Please know that I love you, that I am sorry that our lives have paralleled here and that you are having to find a way to say good-bye to your mother. I’m not sure I can help you find the words to say good-bye, but I can hold your hand and comfort you while you do and I can share with you the experiences that I had so that you might learn from them and know what to expect.

I have no sage words for you that will help you find yours but I can tell you one thing, without any doubt, this isn’t good-bye, it’s the beginning of a different journey with your Mother, one where her presence with you is spiritual and you’re tasked with the oh so important job of making sure my nieces and nephews know their grandmother through you.

As for the rest of us, I think it’s important to remember that our weight loss is just another life journey, one that I want so badly to help you with. So as this heavy topic embraces my loved ones in its grasp I just feel the need to remind you all to live life loud, to love hard, and remember to appreciate the special moments. Be kind to each other and most important live today as if tomorrow is an uncertainty, because it is.

I’m planning on taking my niece and nephew for a walk tonight, after I get a little nap in. Exercise is an amazing way to process everything going on around you and a natural anti-depressant. Making sure my chosen Family utilizes that outlet is on the top of my to do list. Who wants to support us and get their fit on too?

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Does the WLS Community Feel Like High School?

Alright Ladies and Gentlemen, It’s taken me awhile to decide how I wanted to approach this topic…

Let me share a story with you…

A Picture of Me at 15

A Picture of Me at 15

It was my Sophomore year of High School and in general, I wasn’t a very happy teenager. I had a very hard time making friends, I rarely fit in, and any boys that showed any sign of liking me wanted to keep it a secret, because nobody wants all their friends to know that they are hooking up with the fat girl.

This year in particular I had a girl friend named Sharon who was pretty much the only person that hung around me on any regular basis. I wore dark colored clothes, a lot of eyeliner and I painted my nails black. I was “Gothic” before it was in style and before the sort of clothes that everyone buys at Hot Topic and Torrid became mainstream.

And being so visibly different, and being smart, and being fat, in the nonsensical world of high school earned me a lot of teasing, bullying and… rumors. Rumors were one of the things I most detested in high school because combating a rumor once it got started seemed like an impossibility. Rumors were one of those things that immature young women used as a tool to lash out when they we’re upset…

I was walking through the Quad, an area I avoided largely because it was populated by the types of kids that intimidated the hell out of me. But I had a crush on one of the most popular boys in school. He was kind to me, I must say, I don’t have that story of some boy who traumatized me, my unrealistic high school boy crush was gentle with my feelings. As I walked through the collection of popular kids that hardly knew my name one girls voice called out over the crowd.

“Oh look, it’s little miss slit your wrists.”

( Laughing and pointing )

“Wait she’s not l little. I mean here comes big fat miss suicide prevention line.”

“Well if you ate so much that you were that fat before 40 you’d want to kill yourself too.”

“Oh I think it’s more, “You took my fried chicken away I want to die sort of thing.”

( Laughing and point )

“Yeah when she walks into KFC she orders the size on the roof!”

( Roaring Laughter )

I always hated fried chicken but they assumed because I was fat that I ate it. I did want to kill myself, but it had nothing to do with my size or shape it had to do with my life and with my personal emotional struggles. It had to do with my dysfunctional family, and it had to do with the fact that I had absolutely no self-esteem because I was the boys dirty little secret and the girls punching bag. It had to do with the fact that everybody looked at me, judged me, made up stories about me, gossiped about me, started rumors about me and teased me. It had everything to do with how judged I felt, how excluded and unaccepted I felt, and how lonely I was, because I didn’t fit into any of the little cliques. I wanted friends so bad, I wanted girls to like me and accept me, and I was jealous of everyone else and all the friends they had.

And you know what… I’d make a friend, and then all their friends would suddenly pay attention to me and hang out with me and accept me, but then we’d have a falling out over something stupid and suddenly that whole clique hated me. None of them were my friends anymore, they were afraid to hang out with me or talk to me and suddenly I was that groups new target of ridicule. It was a vicious cycle. I hated high school, there isn’t one part of me that would ever want to go back and do that part of life over again unless the story was written entirely differently.

So let me tell you why I have brought this up. Because while we are one of the most vocal group of people when it comes to anti bullying, anti teasing… you see an awful lot of it in this cliquish WLS Community, and nobody is really talking about it out loud because they are scared of becoming the target of anyone’s ridicule.

IMG_2943I am a very big believer in personal accountability. It has been my saving grace through my weight loss journey, the fact that I hold myself accountable for actions that are essential to my weight loss, whether its tracking calories and water intake or writing a blog about a mistake I made in my journey hoping someone else might glean some insight from it for theirs, I believe that personal accountability has been a key factor in my success.

In the last few months I have had so many people write me and talk to me about how decisions they are making in their lives are effected by how they feel people within this community will judge them….

  • There were the women that are afraid to post what they are eating for fear they will be judged and lectured and publicly humiliated over it.
  • There were the women that were scared to their own experience or input on topics they felt passionate about because it might differ from that of someone else and they would get chastised for it.
  • There were the women that were afraid of talking about the parts of their journeys that they are struggling with because they don’t want to give too many personal details and give the WLS world more ammunition against them.
  • There were the women that didn’t know who to hang out with at an event and felt like if they were around one clique they weren’t accepted by others.
  • There were even women I know, making business decisions, based on some of these very issues.

And because I am honest, I’ll say it, I experienced many of these fears myself first hand several times since I emerged in the WLS community back in October.

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My idea of healthy cliquish behavior! Obesity Fighters banding together for a Walk From Obesity in Dallas Texas 2012

I believe, this is one of the few negative factors in the WLS community and it’s a behavior that I personally cannot participate in. To me, doing so makes me no better than the kids in high school doing it to me and it makes me a hypocrite. I can’t stand in front of the world and say “I will help you in the fight against Obesity, stop the bullying and put an end to the bias against weight loss surgery.” if my actions mimic the behavior of immature teenagers that were so emotionally scaring to me.

So me, I root for the underdog, I hang out with the unpopular kids, I flirt with guys that I think might need a little confidence booster, and I try to listen for what a person needs support on and give it to them. My behavior, the way I conduct myself among my friends and peers is one of the examples my 17-year-old step daughter has, and I try to make sure that the behaviors I model for her are healthy and conducive to the way I want her to treat people.

Sometimes I think if we all just remembered a few of the sayings that I’ve heard over the years we’d have a stronger more untied WLS Community…

      • If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
      • Do not combat positivity with negativity unless you want a negative reaction.
      • Don’t assume… you make an ass out of “u” and me.
      • Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one.
      • If everyone was the same, the world would be a boring place.
      • Do unto others as you would have done unto you.

If we remembered these things on a regular basis and reminded ourselves that we all share a common goal that bonds us together, our passion for the fight against obesity our community might not feel so much like a High School.

You can say that I am crazy, that this isn’t going on, and that nobody in this community feels this way. But, instead I encourage you to apply the teachings of Merrill Littleberry, a wonderful speaker several of us got to hear speak at the 2012 Inaugural Your Weight Matters Convention put on by the Obesity Action Coalition. ( OAC ) and ask yourself if your actions towards others will help them, hinder them, heal them or hurt them and if you can’t say in honesty that your actions will help or heal others, press pause and reconsider. Because honestly my friends, none of the women in this community deserve to feel ridiculed, judged, teased or chastised for choices in their WLS journey, choices in who they hang out with, or because they say or post something you don’t necessarily agree with.

Out for a walk with HJ’s family encouraging movement and Fitness Fun! THIS is what I’m all about!

Personally, I’ve never participated things like internet flame wars, I try to avoid heated conversations on the internet because I think people forget to use their social filters sometimes when they are communicating online rather than face to face. I don’t get involved in fights between others and when people, I don’t take sides, and I don’t choose whether or not I am friends with someone based on anyone else’s opinion of them. I don’t label myself or include myself in any specific group, that’s just not what I am about.

I am about fitness, exercise, inspiration, motivation and helping others in their weight loss journey. HELPING … and I will always shy away from behaviors that I feel are counter productive to that. And if there is something I don’t agree with, if there is someone I don’t like, or if someone posts something that irritates me or annoys me, I hit that little button that makes it go away on my computer. The one that looks like an X — because my personal accountability tells me that if I allow something to let me react in a way that is negative or unhelpful to others that I have hindered my own goals.

I received an email the other day from a woman who noticed that I was in a group she didn’t approve of. Apparently she had some falling out with the owner of the group and she wanted to know if I was a friend of the group owner. This was my response to her email.

Dear Madame,

Thank you for taking the time to write me. It is always nice to hear from fellow WLS folks. In regards to the group that you mentioned my being a part of, I’m not sure what you consider an active member. I suppose I am an active member of every group I am in since I am an active member of the WLS Community. I believe in positivity and inclusion rather than exclusion. My participation with any person or group within the WLS Community is just that, participation in the WLS Community. I am a friend of the fight against obesity, any opportunity or venue I am offered as a means to aid that fight I will gladly accept.

I am a member of many support groups, many WLS forums, I follow many WLS Bloggers, I friend anyone that asks, I’ll try to help anyone that asks.

I am saddened to hear that your opinion of me might somehow be altered by the fact that my named is next to a group  you don’t enjoy participating in. I would ask you to consider whether or not whatever behaviors lead to your dislike of this group have been exhibited by me personally.

I’d also ask you to remember, that my personal goals are likely different from yours. This part of my journey isn’t necessarily about making friends and having people like me, it’s about starting my career as a personal trainer, helping people who are struggling with the fitness aspect of the journey and my distancing myself from large groups of people based on the personal likes and dislikes and friendships of others only hinders my ability to reach those people and limits the venues that they have to reach out to me.

I apologize if any decisions I have made have changed your personal views of me or caused you to no longer wish to read my blog, and I appreciate you sharing your thoughts with me. I’m very glad to hear about how successful you have been with your weight loss. That’s really the most important thing. You have my best wishes for a happy and healthy life and if there is anything I can ever do to aid you in your journey or if you ever want to team up together in the fight against Obesity, please don’t hesitate to let me know!

Sincerely,

Pandora Williams

http://desperatelyseekingslender.com

In closing I’d ask you all to do two things the next time you are about to participate in the WLS Community, ask yourself if your contribution is helpful and constructive to the community and the people involved in or if your behavior exhibits that of the immature teenagers we were in high school. If you find that the truth lies in the latter, practice a little personal accountability.  After all, this community and our fight against obesity is far more important than whether or not you think someone else is nice or you like what they put on their plate at lunch or whether you agree with their methods. We’re all going to approach this journey differently, if you cannot allow others the space and uniqueness to do it their way, maybe you should ask yourself why you are participating in the community being with?

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About (Pandora) The Author

Author of Desperately Seeking Slender
Jaime "Pandora" Williams

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