Saturday, April 7, 2012

Family is always such a challenge

My relationship with my mother is so much better these days.  If you read my story to learn more about what brought me to Optifast, you'll know things were very rocky with her when I was growing up.  There was a time when I confronted her about the abuse and that led to a period of twelve years where we did not speak.  About two years ago, we came back into each others' lives and decided to start fresh.  Things have been generally wonderful between us, both working hard at talking things out.  However, there are times when the old person of who she used to be comes out and also the same for me.  She used to have times when she would become very angry and defensive with the "my way or the highway" kind of thinking.  For my part, I was always the little child who loved her and didn't want to upset her so I wouldn't say things when I was bothered.  That led to me eating ... a lot.  While she had really worked on her anger in those twelve years, I really worked on having my voice heard with her as an adult and not as a little girl.  Amazingly, we both have figured out how to communicate with each other in very loving ways. 

When I told my mother about the weight loss program, she was supportive.  At the same time, however, she also has been manipulative in small ways.  She just cannot understand how I am not eating any sort of food whatsoever.  When I explain to her that all of my nutritional needs are met while doing the program, she just can't wrap her brain around that. 

"You mean you can't even have grilled chicken or fruit?" 
"No, Mother, just the shakes and chicken broth."  She knows she's in trouble when I call her Mother.

Her response is always to laugh.  I'm not sure if she's laughing at how ridiculous she thinks it sounds, at me for doing such a program, or both.  I don't let her get away with the laughter, though.  I tell her that I love her very much, but that it hurts when she laughs like that because it feels like she's making fun of me and that makes me feel bad.  I tell her that if she doesn't understand the program, that's fine, but could she still just be supportive of me anyway?  Besides, I've been on it for over two months and obviously I am getting all of my nutritional needs met because otherwise I would be dead by now! 

So, last night we were on the phone and talking about visiting my brother.  We live in San Diego county and he lives in Vegas.  We like to go about twice a year.  She wanted to wait until Thanksgiving since I'm on a "diet" and I told her that I would be fine going during the summer like we usually do.  She was being protective of me with all the food and buffets they have in Vegas.  I appreciate that, but I said to her that our visit wasn't about the food but about spending time with our family.  Besides, I told her, I'll just bring my little blender with me and the shakes ... they travel well.  And, again, she responded by laughing.  It wasn't just a little giggle but full on laughter.  I scolded her and said, "Mother, stop laughing at me."  Again, out came Mother.  She accounts my responses to being "cranky" because I'm not getting any food.  How is it that family can get under your skin more than any other group of people?  Grrrrr.

We are growing, though.  We never end a phone call or a visit without telling each other that we love one another.  She is proud of me for the weight loss and I am proud of her for being willing to engage in conversation that we previously may have never broached.  She is from a different country than America and so sometimes she just has some cultural biases that she approaches life with, in addition to having her own issues around weight, men, abuse and addiction.  Meanwhile, for me, we have lived in San Diego since I was three years old.  My father, who was serving in the Navy at the time, met her while he was stationed in the Philippines, but then got stationed back in San Diego after I was born.  So I don't approach life with cultural biases at all because the culture I live in is San Diego!  I don't speak Tagalog, never have, and so things are different for me.  I am completely respectful of where she comes from, but also have to honor myself and who I am. 

We will be going to Vegas in June and I am hoping, as we get closer to the time of our visit, that she comes to a greater understanding of where I am in my weight loss process.  If anything, I just hope she will be encouraging and stop her laughter!  My brother is very happy that I am taking care of myself and that is what I want for all of my family to understand ... this is about taking good care of myself and not about whether or not I eat food.  I know not everyone is going to understand why I went on Optifast, why I need to do a medically supervised program, and why I can't just go on another diet.  The fact is that some people reading this won't understand either.   That is okay, but I just ask for support.  "Hey Kathy, I don't quite understand, but I support you."  That would be fantastic.  I feel so much better than I have in years and am getting healthier and healthier as each day passes.  My blood pressure is so much lower, my blood sugar levels are normal and, by the way, I'm losing weight.  Yahoooo ;-)


Anonymous said...

You are doing fabulous! But I know what you mean about family. My family viewed my Optifast diet with bemusement and kind of a condescending tolerance as well. Not sure why anyone thinks that's an appropriate response, but all we can say is oh well, it works for me! You know you are getting the nutrition you need, your health is improving, and that is what matters.

We want friends and family to be supportive, but sometimes they only seem to support the end result (at least in my case) but not the process or the journey. Oh well!!

I went to Vegas when I was on full product and it wasn't hard. Probably would have been harder once back on food - it really is a food and booze paradise. ;-) Whenever you go, I know you will stick with the healthy eating plan you are following at the time. You are strong and focused and confident about taking good care of yourself!

Kathy said...

Thank you for the encouragement. I feel strong about where I'm at right now and know I will be in the right space when we go to Vegas in June. Thankfully while I'm not on food, there is a black and white quality of doing the product that makes decision-making a little less complicated. Not easy, but less complicated.

Anonymous said...

I understand AND I support you. Happy to have found the blog of a fellow Optifast loser. I look forward to reading your posts and supporting you on your journey to better health.

Kathy said...

Thank you, Jennifer. Hope you are finding success in your Optifast journey as well ;-)

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