Saturday, April 10, 2010

My Marriage and My Weight

Sometimes I think about my relationship with my husband and how it has affected my weight. Before I get into this, I want to state unequivocally that this has nothing to do with "blame" or assigning responsibility to my husband. This post has to do with my responses to my relationship and the things that have happened which may have affected my weight. Just as I don't blame the existence of ice cream for my being overweight, I don't blame the existence of my relationship with my husband for my weight. Both may be factors in my problem because of how I acted on them (eating the ice cream, for instance), but that doesn't mean they are responsible. I'm merely looking at pieces of the puzzle in order to grasp the big picture, not playing some pointless blame game.

When I first got to know my husband, I was just out of college and on a very healthy living kick. I exercised 90 minutes a day, 5 days a week. I didn't eat sugar, white bread, pork, beef, butter, or fried foods. I was about two and a half years into some pretty serious weight loss and at my lowest weight in my adult life. This lifestyle melted away rapidly after I moved in with my husband. I had to change jobs (which didn't allow me to exercise because of a different schedule), lived in a situation which was highly stressful (and where I had little to no control over anything, let alone my eating), and became a part of his lifestyle choices. I also had to deal with the emotional aspects of our new relationship.

During our first year together, my husband and I fought nearly every day. That sounds awful, but we've been together now for 22 years and I can tell you that it's normal to have a lot of conflict early on and to have almost none as the years go by. Part of the process of getting to deeply know one another and learning to live together is conflict. There's a lot to learn, compromise on, and adapt to. Once you go through the process, it's all downhill. The important thing is that you grow to fit one another better and become better people, not that you are all sunshine and lollipops all of the time.

During that first year together, I gained at least 50 lbs., possibly more. My husband being the wonderful, loving person that he is never said a word, and he married me anyway. He also knew about my past weight and childhood obesity. He didn't care. He loved me anyway and always has. My husband has never been anything but accepting of my weight, even when he was frightened deep inside that I was digging my way to an early grave through a food-filled tunnel. His main concern, and he has very rarely voiced it because he knew that I would deal with my problem when and if I could, was that I would die young and he wouldn't be able to spend more of his life with me.

I view my husband as an extraordinary man because he is absolutely devoid of any shallowness and unconditionally loving. Some people may aspire to be as he is, but battle niggling voices that tell them to be preoccupied with the superficial. In this way, I am absolutely fortunate, but I wonder at times if this has played a role in my gaining more weight than I otherwise might have. Sometimes I wonder if my husband's absolute acceptance took away my motivation to keep my weight under control while the stresses associated with our relationship early one compelled me to lose control. If I had felt a risk that I would lose him if I got too fat, would I have then not become so fat? It's a terrible thought that I may not have gotten this way if my husband had put an emotional gun to my head. The fact that I feel that may have helped reflects more on how messed up I am (I need external validation for my actions or I don't take them).

My husband was the first person who ever accepted me unconditionally, loved me openly, and provided a lot of the validation, attention, and affection that I desperately needed. Because he was the only person who ever made me feel like I was actually human (since I'd been dehumanized by everyone my entire life based on weight), I developed a mindset where only his opinion mattered. This is a view that he encouraged because he wanted me to stop allowing the arbitrary judgment and subsequent devaluation of me based on superficial analysis of strangers to continue to damage me. He knows me. They don't. Therefore, his opinion of me was the only one that mattered.

Though he did not intend me to take this message from his actions, I wonder if I stopped caring about my weight because he seemingly didn't care about it, and though everyone else still did, they did not matter. How could I reject their judgment yet act on their wishes? Beyond that, I believe that, despite my husband's complete acceptance of me, the self-loathing I had (and still have) made me disbelieve it on a certain level. I accept it as a possibility that I may have let my weight go completely on some subconscious level because I wanted to "test" whether or not his love for me was beyond superficial concerns. I can say, without hesitation, that it absolutely is.

Of course, I don't know if any of this is actually true. It is mere speculation, but I believe there is value in pondering it. I do want to know all of the factors that contributed to my getting to a weight close to 400 lbs. so that I can understand how not to get there again.


Susan said...

What a powerful post! I've just stumbled across your blog and I'm enjoying your insights.

screaming fatgirl said...

Hi, Susan, and thank you for coming by and commenting. I appreciate it!

My best wishes to you.