When I was in high school in an effort to lose weight I joined Weight Watchers. Back then there was an actual meeting place down in the basement of a nondescript building. It was sort of like an alcohol anonymous meeting, but no one demanded secrecy. Don’t ask how I know that — but trust me, it was a very similar vibe.
Everyone in attendance dutifully lined up and was weighed one-by-one. The results were not secret and even if they were, we all could see how much fat we each needed to lose. We could freely judge one another if we were so inclined, though the intent was to be supportive of each other's goals.
Being so young and so long ago, I don’t recall looking down or judging anyone there. I mean, I was there to lose weight myself — so why would I? But I do remember two things specifically.
First, each meeting began with the classic Serenity Prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and (the) wisdom to know the difference.” I remember mouthing the words to the prayer but refusing to actually say it or believe it. My logic was this: I refused to accept what I could not change. I wanted to change what I wanted to change. Period. I refused to accept that I couldn’t accomplish what I wanted to accomplish.
Secondly, I remember the expression on one woman’s face when she looked at me. I assumed she thought it was strange that someone my age was in attendance. From what I recall, she looked to be in her mid-thirties and she was 60 or more pounds overweight. But as I think back she might have wondered why I was there at all. At the time I weighed 118 pounds. I was 5’ 2.5” tall. I wasn’t skinny, but I certainly didn’t need to join a group like Weight Watchers. I did not have an eating disorder. At the most, I needed to exercise more, ride my bike, something to make up for the lack of movement since I had quit taking ballet. I was emotionally in pain because I was “no longer a dancer” and there were many other problems and stresses happening in my family at the time as well — all topics for another day.
I may have had a mental disorder, perhaps dysmorphia. I say, “may have” because I don’t want to add another diagnosis to my growing list of disorders. Frankly, just like the prayer, I’ve refused to say or believe — I refuse my all diagnoses as well.
The point is — my problem was not my weight or with what I ate. Truly, something was eating me. I wanted a solution to my problems. I blamed my body, my lack of self-control, my weight, my being far less than good enough.
Here’s the thing: Not only did I refuse to accept who I was, but I also didn’t know who I was. Courage? I needed the mental capacity to know the difference, not courage. I was seventeen years old and beating myself up for not be perfect. I have been doing this to myself since — forever.
As I write this, and as I reflect on the thoughts that have gone through my mind today — including wandering through Walmart — I muttered a desperate prayer repeatedly through my face mask, “Why God, what is wrong with me?" This was my reaction to failing a job interview, which I admit I wanted to get for the money alone -- no other reason.
Is it lack of faith in who I am, what I can produce, create, and the ability to market and sell what I’ve got — or is it simply hard times creating the turmoil within? Who am I? Do you ask yourself that? Is the answer the same each time or does it alter and shift? However you answer the question — do you accept the answer? Does the answer matter at all or is it your output, the result of your efforts the only thing that matters?
As I write this, my answer is 'yes' to everything. To all my questions — yes. But answering yes to everything creates more conflict and I become immobile. The person I want to be conflicts with other versions of myself. Do your own answers stop you from moving forward?
I suppose I should attempt to pray the Serenity Prayer but serenity is not part of my DNA.
I think of fictional characters like Scarlett O’Hara — her never-say-die attitude looked good on her. (Besides, everyone knows it was Melody who was the good woman in the film, and she died young). Regardless, I am not a fictional character, and modeling myself after one may not be such a good idea.
It is just me. All 5’2” 120-pound, white, middle-aged, woman, me. I am just me. Though I do not have proof of this yet, if I can overcome my own debilitating thoughts and fears, my story could at the very least buoy someone who needs hope and encouragement as they fight their own demons and damaged spirit. Maybe that someone is you. For you alone, even if I feel I am not enough, I will keep fighting until I am.
My prayer today:
Dear Father in Heaven, grant me the ability to hear you, obey you, and be the WHO you’ve called me to be. Grant me the wisdom, courage, and drive to obey your will over my fear, discouragement, and laziness.