As adults we live in a world where we feel the need to impress, and we covet acceptance from our peers, our co-workers, and our families. As children, the only acceptance we want is from our moms and dads. A child’s world is small, centered around parents and siblings and some extended family from time to time. We learn to love and be loved at an early age from our parents.
Lack of parental acceptance can leave us emotionally scarred. The worst thing a child can feel is disappointment from their parents. It as children that we learn the difference between right and wrong. We learn shame and guilt. It is in this time our conscience is absorbing acceptable social mores and practices. And it begins within our families.
I remember beaming at my dad when he told me I was beautiful. I felt so incredibly good when my mom praised something I did. I pleased them, and in return, I felt loved.
When I was three years old, my mom spanked me when she found sand in my panties. She had asked me how it got there, and I told her the brothers of my playmate who lived next door put sand in my panties when we were playing doctors. I think that was the first time I remember my mom angry with me. She made it clear that allowing anyone to play with your private parts was a no-no.
I hated disappointing my parents. The guilt was too much. I imagine all kids must feel this way. We feel loved by our parents. When they are happy with our behavior, and they are smiling and praising us, as children, this is the greatest reward.
When we did something that upset them and the smile and joy of being around us was erased from their faces, we felt badly about ourselves. We felt guilty and ashamed. This is real. This is how we learn to distinguish the difference between right and wrong.
Sometimes, when I upset my parents, I wondered if they still loved me. I remember asking my dad if he still loved me when he got angry with me over something. He sat me on his lap and held me close to him. I remember him reaching down and taking my chin between his fingers lifting my chin so I could look into his eyes.
He said to me, “I love you, Linda. I will always love you no matter what. You just need to learn right from wrong.”
I beamed up at him. That reaffirmation that he loved me even when I did something wrong filled me with a sense of security. It also taught me to be conscientious. These are all normal lessons in life.
As we grow into our best selves, we still seek acceptance and approval from our parents, and others as well. Our universe is getting larger. Now we have to gain approval from teachers and other people our age.
We get older, and our world grows even larger. It carries into our adulthood. Now we seek approval not only from our family, our friends, and schoolmates, teachers, and coaches, but now our world has grown to include bosses and future mates.
I was married the first time at age nineteen. I had a pretty hot smoking body. I wasn’t skinny, but I wasn’t fat, and I had amazing curves.
I started gaining weight shortly after I was married. My husband never said a word to me. However, his mother did. She even told my mother she would not blame her son if he cheated on me for gaining weight. Can you imagine?
I tried to lose weight, but food was the outlet for my once high self-esteem that was disintegrating by the minute. I didn’t feel loved by my husband. The more unloved I felt, the more I ate.
It wasn’t his fault. He was only capable of giving so much. Let’s just say his pockets were empty and threadbare.
I was responsible for what I was doing to myself. The one thing that irked me beyond the beyond was no matter how hard I tried to be a good wife, mother, and homemaker, his dismissal of me as a person tore me down.
“Blame him for not loving me no matter what! That’s right! Now I am going to eat, and it is his fault!” Bull crap.
Yes I wanted him to love me for me no matter my size. I know I was committed to loving him no matter what. He wasn’t capable. Let’s face the truth. Some people cannot see beyond the fat, our looks, and the superficial.
Growing up, I often felt that my parents cared more about my weight than loving me. How immature of me to even question the integrity and depth of their love for me. Of course, they loved me. They loved me so much that their nagging stemmed from wanting me to be healthy, wanting to avoid ridicule by others, and wanting a life fulfilled by marriage. They understood that no matter how much they loved me, another person might not want to love me if I was fat. Being overweight would minimize my chances at finding love, marriage, and having children.
As we grow older, many of us get fatter, lose hair, and gain hair in places we don’t expect to have hair, develop aches and pains. No one expects to look as hot at sixty and seventy as they did at nineteen.
What we do expect is to be loved, unconditionally, by the people in our lives that matter to us. My second husband, and the love of my life, loves me this way. My children and grandchildren love me no matter the number on the scale.
I was driving my mom home the other night from a rosary of a family friend who had passed away. I was a bit down on myself for my lack of disciple in my weight loss efforts. My mom looked at me and said, “I love you just the way you are.”
I said, “Thank you, mama.”
Until we meet again, this is Linda Misleh Wagner, Future Former Fatty.
Tagged Weight Loss