Written By: Lauren Howard
A doctor set me free a few months ago.
Not with medicine or with a treatment plan or with anything concrete.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, she gave me medication and a treatment plan and lots of concrete goals.
But the biggest thing she gave me was permission to let go of massive amounts of shame that I have been carrying around basically my whole life.
I come from an overweight family. I was the exception to that until my late 20s when we started fertility treatments and eventually got pregnant with both of our daughters.
And then it was just like I was in another body. And I didn’t know what to do with it because it did not work like the old one. At all.
I have distinct memories of every person in my family jumping on every diet craze and talking constantly about being thinner. Looking better. Being something other than they were that day. The conversation was never about health. It was never about being stronger or living longer. It was filled with disdain for who you were because it wasn’t good enough, thin enough, pretty enough, enough enough.
It didn’t matter what your brain could do or what your body had been through. It only mattered that your pants were smaller than they were yesterday.
And the guilt that was created was massive because, well, that just wasn’t happening for me anymore. And when it did, it was short-lived.
So when I sheepishly set up the appointment with her, I nervously waited to hear about how I’m eating wrong and needed to exercise more and that all of this was a result of my bad choices.
I was in a shame spiral for days before.
Instead, she looked at my labs and said, “Wow. No wonder nothing is working for you.”
And then she walked me through, step-by-step, the actual numbers of what was going on inside of my body and why, even though they were technically in range, they were working against me.
ME. Not anyone else. ME.
And then she said something that I will hold with me forever: We can’t change our genes. You didn’t DO this. You are living with this. Shame works against you, not for you.
I have lost some weight since I started there. I know because my pants are baggier and I have to wear my boots with thick socks now and not because I have gotten on the scale at all.
But the real weight that I lost was the massive burden of generational shame that I didn’t even realize I was carrying around with me.
I didn’t DO this. I was born into this. And I can make different choices than they did on how to handle it to get the life I want, not the pants someone else thinks I should have.
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