As soon as we got through the first seder, the incipient crud that was causing me problems last week turned into the full-blown respiratory infection I thought it would, and by Thursday I was in the throes of a full-blown asthma attack as well. Yesterday I went to the health center and came home with drugs and am feeling much better now. But I spent most of this glorious day not out on my bicycle, as I had hoped, but nestled in my recliner appreciating the breeze coming through the wide open window and watching television.
When I ran out of things I wanted to watch from my DV-R list, I ended up on Lifetime, the channel for women, watching Queen Sized, which purported to be a typical feel-good movie of the week kind of offering from this particular outlet. But I was feeling kind of bleah and not up for any more substantial choice and the premise was at least vaguely interesting: a fat girl (Maggie) gets nominated for homecoming queen by the very cruel popular clique as a joke and goes on to win both the contest and the day, transforming herself in the process. Little did I know that watching this made for tv movie would lead to a moment of painful, blinding insight.
Don't worry; I have no intention of relating the details of the entire plot -- if you have questions you can check out the link above. About three-quarters through the film, there is a scene between the main character's mother and her plus-sized colleague (they are both social workers), where the friend essentially calls the mother out for not being much different from the cruel, daughter-bullying popular kids at school. She says to the mother that she has basically made Maggie feel bad about herself by always focusing on her weight, even if she was doing so out of health concerns, and that was leading Maggie to feel as though nothing she did could ever be good enough. When I heard those words, I felt as though someone had stabbed a knife into my heart and I started to cry. That reaction is always a clue that I need to pay attention.
A couple of years ago, towards the beginning of this journey, my wonderful therapist/life coach was helping me see what a perfectionist, all-or-nothing thinker and merciless taskmaster I am to myself, and she asked me where I thought my extreme expectations had come from. I told her I thought they had come from myself, that I didn't believe I had been under pressure from my parents, since my ambitions for myself were always much higher than theirs. Last year, when I reconnected with my younger sister after an estrangement of 35 years (and a lot of suppressed memories), she told me that it always seemed to her as though they did put a lot of pressure on me, but I still couldn't reconcile that with what I did remember, which was being supported in any endeavor I undertook and valued for my many academic and creative achievements.
But tonight, watching that scene on the television, what came to me in the same instant as the heart ache and tears, was that maybe the need I've always had to do more and do everything to the very best of my ability was the result of feeling that if I did enough, maybe they would stop feeling disappointed in me for not being able to control my weight or my relationship with food. Because I realized in that flash of insight that I had felt (and maybe still feel) that that one area of failure trumps all my many successes, that nothing that I do will ever be good enough unless and untill I can lose weight.
I'm still a bit dazed by this. It feels like an important piece of my personal puzzle, and one that I will be examining more in the days to come. And to think, I owe it all to Lifetime.
A hui hou.