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.