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A painful conversation

Friday, April 26, 2013

Tonight I took a friend out for her birthday drinks, and we had a moment talking about my weight that was terrible, wonderful, and absolutely necessary. Her name is Michelle, and she has been a professional mentor of sorts for me, and is a great friend to boot. Worth mentioning, she's transitioning from a high-level corporate position to life-coaching, and man, she has mad coaching skills, it seems! Here's how I found this out:

I made a passing reference to "not taking care of myself" or something, and that was her opening. She was so tactful and direct at the same time! She said, "So, you mentioned not taking care of yourself...what's going on there, do you think?" And then we had a conversation about how, when she relocated to Portland, I was embarking on a weight-loss journey, and over a year or so she watched me lose 80 lbs and become a much happier, more confident person. It was a curious perspective, because she hadn't ever seen me at my "worst." When she met me, I was very heavy, but at a huge point of growth in my job, and thriving in some ways. When I was losing weight, there was a lot of transition and turmoil with my job, but it was okay to manage because I felt invincible!

What Michelle also saw was me putting myself "out there" in a big way, especially in my dating life. She saw me make terrible decisions, trust people I shouldn't have, and let the "good guys" slip away. I actually brought this up in the conversation with Michelle. Basically, I said, "I never thought my problems would go away, or I'd be a new person. I intentionally stayed aware of that pitfall, and thank goodness it didn't happen! HOWEVER. What I think actually did happen was that my sassy, confident self took all sorts of emotional risks in my romantic naivete, and got clobbered again and again. Last summer, I had a disastrous relationship with a slimeball of a guy who truly, truly didn't deserve me. To his credit, he never hid his true colors, I just convinced myself I could "make it work." And if I think about it, I ended things with him in early August last year, and haven't dated since. I have, however, been steadily gaining weight the whole time.

I think I solved my own mystery: I put myself out there, in a brave and vulnerable way, but didn't do anything to protect myself. Now that hurt part of me wants to go back into my shell, and not have to worry about doing that ever again. It's crazy, and makes sense at the same time.

I need to find the balance. How do you get to a place of emotional courage with yourself and people you care about, but also have the judgment to make good decisions? How do you take the risks that sometimes don't work out, but know how to recover without losing your newly found self?

How does someone get to be 38 years old without knowing the answers to these questions?

The conversation, by the way, was awful. Of course it was! But I was glad I had it. Michelle is a friend I trust completely, who has honesty, compassion, and common sense in equal parts. I think there are people who, no matter how well-intentioned, would have sent me to a hugely defensive place in this conversation. I don't know many people who would want to cause me pain, or sabotage me--Michelle, though, just invites so much trust, beyond anything. It's also telling that I came to my own conclusion. Michelle didn't diagnose or problem solve; she just created a safe space for me to get where I needed to go.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Loved this blog. We all need mentors. Sometime it is 1 person sometime several. Good for you for realizing it & seeking out such persons.
    1633 days ago
    How fortunately you are to have someone like Michelle in your life! I'm glad you were able to poke around in those soft spots and figure out where they came from and hopefully, how to let them heal while still moving forward.
    1634 days ago
  • AUNTB63
    Great revelation. You are so lucky to have this friend who you trust and has your best interest at heart. Your age has nothing to do with "finding that balance" or no having all the answers to life's questions. What is important is that you are asking the right questions and how to get those right answers for you. Have a great Sunday.
    1635 days ago
    You've certainly done a lot of soul searching and you have enlightened yourself some, but what struck me was your question.... how does one get to be 38 and not know the answer to these questions? What I do know that life is hard and unfortunately it doesn't come with a script either. There are so many issues that we have to deal with for which we wish there was a clear and defined answer or approach. But you know what... we will never have all the answers. You just need to follow your heart, be courageous, take risks yet know that no matter what your size you are still the same person inside. Value yourself, value your integrity and your self worth and know that you are a strong wonderful woman who deserves love and happiness and a relationship with a man who will value who you are no matter what. I don't know you well but get the sense that you are a kind, caring, sensitive person who gives your heart easily. Put yourself out there but love yourself enough to say "I am worth the very best" and know that you don't have to settle. I hope I haven't appeared to "diagnose" either. I just want you to know that I think you are strong, you are beautiful and you are worth the very best!! emoticon
    1635 days ago
  • TLG71567
    You are really lucky to have someone like that in your life. You should be really proud of yourself for having the courage to dig so deeply into your self and to be willing to be vulnerable. Keep up the good work.
    1636 days ago
    Sounds like you have a wonderful friend. emoticon
    1636 days ago
  • SQUINN2208
    How lucky you are to have such a great friend! It is rare to be able to find someone that can elicit that much honesty and understanding.
    1636 days ago
    I think it was very brave of you to have the conversation! I think it's a huge step that you are looking at your choices and evaluating them.

    Continue on your path of discovery. I think you'll find you have many strengths that you didn't realize.

    1636 days ago
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