This may not have much to do with weight loss, but I believe it has everything to do with loving yourself and finding support people in your journey.
"I Am Crushed"
Some weeks ago, my husband, children, little sister and I were at the mall shopping. We decided to grab a bite to eat in the Food Court before heading off to the next store. We settled into our seats, and for once the kids went right to eating. They were being, really, perfect angels. My sister and I chatted, with my husband chiming in now and again. As we were finishing up and starting to clear our table a bit, this late 30s woman comes over scowling. I had noticed her staring at us, but dismissed it as her being shocked at our large, young family. She gets to our table and leans towards me. "Can I talk to you, as a mother?" Feeling rather weirded out, I said "Sure," rather unsure altogether though. She proceeds to tell me that I am "loud and rude," that I am "embarassing to my children" and that altogether I "should be sorry for them. And she should know because she has two children of her own." Stunned, I quietly say "um, thanks?" and she goes back to her table. My 5 year old daughter asks, "Why is that lady being so mean?" I have no clue how to answer that, and maybe I should have said something else, but my reply was "Well, I guess she just wants to be mean and rude." To which this lady yells across the restaurant, "I'M BEING MEAN AND RUDE?" I quietly ignored her, so she comes over and starts yelling at me again. I am quickly gathering the children to get them out of the restaurant and away from possible harm. But, as she continued her tirade, my 14 year old sister stood up and said, "How dare you! Yes, YOU are being rude and mean. You have no right to come over here and say these hurtful things to her. You don't know her or anything about her. She happens to be a wonderful mother who loves her children very much." The old goat was momentarily stunned before continuing "and who are you? what is she to you?" My sister answered, "I am her sister." The woman said "Well, I'd hate to meet your mother!" (Ha! I bet you would, she'd eat you alive!) Then the manager of the store came over, and got between my family and this crazy witch. He got right up in her face telling her to calm down, as she continued to shout and yell for us to leave (which we were already doing). The manager tells her she needs to calm down or leave. As we were walking out, I carried my 4 year old, my husband had my baby, my sister the 2 year old, and my 5 year old walked between us. My 4 year old turned around and faced the woman, pointed at her and yelled "MEAN!" Also, as we walked out, a woman with a small baby in a stroller, leaned out and asked "Are you okay?" Thus causing me to burst into tears as I said "no."
I was utterly devastated. I love my children very, very much. And I do my absolute best by them. But like every mother out there, I worry that it is not enough. I stress that I may be ruining them forever because of my many mistakes. I berate myself for not being perfect. I compare myself to other mothers I know and see. And to have some stranger come up to me and throw it in my face that I embarass them and should be sorry for them hurt. Oh. It hurt bad. We went out to the car, and as we walked, my baby sister said, "Don't you listen to her. She is wrong, she is evil. You are a wonderful mom, and your kids adore you. They wouldn't adore you so much if you weren't such a good mom. That woman is just like (someone else we know) who has nothing better to do than to hurt other people." As we continued on to the next store, I tried to hold in the tears. I had my husband and little sister go inside the place with one of the kids, and I stayed in the car with the rest who were sleeping. Then I called my mother.
She gave exactly the response I needed. First, she blew up that such a person a) existed and b) had the gall to actually say something so hurtful to a complete stranger. She lambasted her to me. And she comforted me. She told me that that woman was wrong. That I am a good mother, and that she knows that I do my best every day for them. She enumerated the ways she sees me taking care of my children. And she assured me that even if I did do something wrong, my children are too young to be embarassed by me. She also told me that no matter what we had been doing, I did not deserve to have been treated that way. Several of my siblings, and their friends, were at the house with my mom, and she told the story to them. My siblings rallied to my support. My oldest younger brother said, "She has two kids? You mean she got two guys to sleep with her?" My oldest younger sister said, "I got a gun, you point her out." My other siblings (there are ten of us total) and their friends leaped to my defense with varying degrees of 'that woman is so incredibly wrong,' and 'you are a great mother,' and 'tell me when, and we'll go get her.' Were they really going to go kill her? No. But to know that they were on my side, that they had my back meant worlds to me. And none of them tried to excuse her behaviour either. Nobody at home said, "She must just be mentally ill." Or, "well, she must have had a bad day." While some suggested she belonged in a padded room, or that the local psych hospital must have given out day passes, nobody used that as a reason to excuse her rotten behaviour. At the end of the phone call, my mother said, "Don't you listen to her. Don't you give her that power over you." She told me how it would probably be difficult to go out in public with the kids for a long time. And that has been true.
The other day when I went shoe shopping, I took the kids with me, as usual. But it was so hard to not see all the other people looking at us, and imagine the hurtful things they must gave been thinking. It was so difficult to try to squelch that evil woman's voice in my head "loud and embarassing." When the middle two kids began their version of tag, it was so difficult to not feel the stares of people who thought, well who knows what they thought, but my imaginings were not kind to me or to them. I feel like I am constantly on the defensive, just in case someone makes a nasty comment. That is very stressful. When I took them to Wal*Mart, an older gentleman commented, "Wow, you have your hands full." It was so hard to say "Yes I do, and I love it," instead of the more rude versions I have imagined myself saying. I am constantly having arguements with complete strangers in my head, imagining what they are thinking/are going to say, and working on my comebacks. I breastfeed my baby, and often must feed him in public. I carry a card with me that states the breastfeeding law in my state and the neighboring state I frequently visit. (A woman is allowed to breastfeed her baby any place that she is allowed to be). And I have memorized a slew of replies for anyone who says anything negative to me about it. Such as "YOU can go eat in the bathroom." Or "Why don't YOU put a blanket over YOUR head." Or, "Quit being such a pervert and stop watching me." When we went to go pick up my husband from work the other day, a coworker of his commented, "You know what causes all these kids, right?" I was very proud of myself for only saying, "Yes, and it's a lot of fun." Sure stumped her, and silenced her as well.
"You Have No Power Over Me"
However, as I said before, it is very draining to be constantly constructing arguements in my head. Most people, I am sure, are far more charitable in their thoughts towards me, than I am towards them. That's not to say that I think they are evil people, I just imagine them to be thinking horrible things about me. And really, how silly is that? And I realize that every time I worry about what other people are thinking of me, I AM letting that evil, nasty woman have power over me. I am putting myself under her control. Why am I giving her that power? She doesn't deserve it. She is not the boss of me. And to paraphrase a line from my favorite movie, "I have fought my way to the castle, beyond the Goblin City, to take back what you have stolen. For my will is as strong as yours, my kingdom is as great. And You Have No Power Over Me." I have fought my way out, and I will continue to fight my way out of depression and obesity. I will get to that castle of self respect, and I will get through that city of self hate. Because I have the will and strength to do it. But not only that, but because I have chosen to not give anybody else power over me.
There is a newer song out, that I want to share part of the lyrics with you. The song is titled "I Refuse" and it is sung by Josh Wilson. I really think that this song, in part, is about taking charge of our own lives.
"I refuse to stay unchanged
To wait another day, to die to myself
I refuse to make one more excuse
'Cause I don't want to live like I don't care
I don't want to say another empty prayer
Oh, I refuse"