“Yeah Deb, we get it. We’re all happy for you,” her words darted from her mouth straight into my gut. They were drenched in sarcasm, anger and frustration. I sat, stunned as this tongue lashing seemed so out of the blue.
THE BACK STORY
I was low energy, over weight and had more emotional upheaval than I usually do. I knew that my diet had a lot to do with it so six months ago I decided to finally take charge of my heath. On December 5th of 2013 I sat at Nosh downtown Omaha and had my last alcoholic drink. On January 3rd 2013, I had my last pop tart, diet soda and nachos; the “last” at least until I was at my goal weight and energy level.
Giving up alcohol, sugar, starch, and anything else that turns quickly to sugar in my system wasn’t easy, but I had an amazing support system that gave me courage and strength. The crowd, with which I had been spending time with, was interested, cheerleading and openly supportive of my decision…at first.
A couple months into my health kick I attended a party. I sat staring at artichoke dip, tortilla chips, eight different kinds of yummy adult beverage mixers and twenty people devouring it all. This night was like many other weekend nights out, but for some reason I was feeling discouraged, sad and overwhelmed at the prospect of keeping my promise to myself. I felt left out.
Just when I hit an internal emotional breaking point, a young lady said to me, “Wow! You’re doing so awesome! Keep it up!” Her statement changed my attitude and reignited my commitment to my health. It’s amazing how one supporter can motivate us.
THE REST OF THE STORY
When the sarcasm, “Yeah Deb, we get it. We’re all happy for you,” came flying at me like daggers, I became instantly aware that my health journey had overstayed its welcome within my new found “group of friends”. Just as her words uplifted me when I needed it most, a few short months later, her words temporarily deflated me. Intuitively I knew that this young lady was not the only one who felt “over ” hearing about my progress and path.
Soon after this shift in support from one person, came hints of the same sentiment from others. The other evening another person asked me about the club soda and lime in front of me (sans alcohol) and when I explained, he quipped, “Why do you have to talk about this all the time?” I am sad to say that I snapped back with, “When you ask me about it, I’m going to talk about it.”
WAS MY STORY REALLY MORE ANNOYING THAN ANYONE ELSE’S?
The truth is that I was embarrassed. Did I talk too much about this? Was I bragging about my weight loss? I didn’t think so but often as humans we are not self-aware enough to know how we come off to the world.
My defensive side wanted to say things to them such as, “Hey, I listen to your same old stories over and over again! I have supported you when you wanted to change jobs and living situation. I listened to your fears, gave you advice and comfort for months on end. Give me some credit and support here. I deserve it.” I didn’t say these however. To unaware people, I would have come across as crazy, angry and out of control. Even though it’s all true, it wouldn’t garner the response that I would like. Instead, I am trying to see this as a learning experience for me.
HOW THIS STORY ENDS IS ON ME
In my heart, I know that what happens next is on me. When people become oppositional to my progress they feel inadequate in their own lives. It has nothing to do with me and everything to do with their own guilt, self-loathing and feeling of failure. That’s hard to remember when your support system starts to fail. However, knowing this will aid me to turn to those who do support me fully and away from those who are turning on themselves with regards to my journey.
The reality is… I can either remain in these situations with people and not say a thing when they push me about this, or I can remove myself from their lives, or I can say, “Hey, it hurts my feelings when people say things like that to me,” or “Hey, I’d appreciate if you didn’t sling sarcasm my way about this, I’m really trying and it’s been an emotional roller coaster even without dealing verbal daggers.” The final choice will depend upon how close I wish to get to each of them.
There are those I wish to be closer with and therefore I will take the time and courage to be vulnerable with them and will explain my feelings. If don’t feel that I’d to get close but am ok with hanging in groups with them then I will choose to demand respect without understanding. Meaning, they will have to respect me and my boundaries, but they don’t have to understand my feelings to do so. There will be those that I cut out if they can't respect my simple boundaries. Whichever route I take it’s a win/win/win for me.
WHAT’S YOUR STORY?
The truth is that we ALL have about three or four stories that we focus on at any given moment. Mine right now are my kids both leaving the nest, my boyfriend and I, where to live and my health journey. If you asked me what my friends tend to talk about or focus on I would be able to tell you those as well.
We all have the right to good support, great listeners and cheer leaders in our lives; especially if you are focused on the positive side of your stories. If your friends/family are bored, tired or generally unsupportive of your stories tell them how that feels and what you need. If they can’t come on board with your successes, give yourself permission to find new supporters. Your success, peace and growth depend on it.
I feel angry reading your words, Deb. It is so wrong for people to hurt others and judge like that. You're certainly right about your honest words falling on deaf ears. People only know what they know. I believe the more you let go of people who bring you down, the more space there is for those who lift you up to enter your life. You're doing amazing, staying centered on your path and continually evaluating how you can accept more responsibility for yourself and remain compassionate at the same time! I have so much respect for how you live your life! You deserve the best to come back to you!!!
Posted by: Anne Thompson | 06/11/2014 at 08:48 PM
GREAT advice!! Thanks so much Krista!
Posted by: Deb Brockmann | 06/11/2014 at 09:44 AM
Congrats on your success. Screw anyone is isn't happy for you. Stay on your cloud and shine. No one can put it out. Next time you need a pick me up, think of a happy day with your journey and move to that. Keep up the happiness.
Posted by: Krista Polito | 06/11/2014 at 08:30 AM