40-Somethings - Help Me Handle Over the Top Reactions Gracefully

08-07-2012, 09:31 PM
Quick recap -

Family reunion this weekend - people start arriving later this week. Last time I saw these folks was about 1 1/2 years ago and I weighed around 195lbs. I felt invisible and like total crap at that last event - it definitely was one of those "last straw" moments.

Now they are all back in town and I am sure there will be a mixed bag of reactions - some people will be subdued and appropriate, some people might not be so happy about my weight loss, and some people will be overly happy and shout their praise loudly and to anyone within earshot. I am still p***ed off about how I was essentially ignored last time I saw all of them (that was the first time they had seen me fat - before then I was thin/average weight and they always paid a lot of positive attention to me).

It really opened my eyes as to how much value some of them place on being thin - if you are fat, you don't deserve praise or even any attention. Honestly, I knew they valued being thin, because they talk about how great "insert thin person's name" looks and talk about their own weight struggles - I just never really got how that value could result in negative treatment toward heavy people (I only saw the positive treatment towards fit people).

At this point, I know I have lost a good deal of weight and don't need anyone to tell me so. If they say nothing, it won't hurt my feelings - I've gotten my share of compliments already. However, if they are suddenly overly attentive and loud about how great I look, I'm going to feel angry - because it will be in stark contrast to the last time I saw them. So...how do I brush off these feelings and just take whatever reactions they give me with a grain of salt?

08-07-2012, 10:16 PM
I can understand how angry it would make you in the people who blew you off last time made a big deal out of your weight loss this time.

However, remember that you're not there to try and change them. You can't. Focus on spending time with the people you really do care about. As you smile, say thanks, and move away, take some comfort in the fact that you know their true colors.

I hope everything works out for you.

08-07-2012, 10:27 PM
Thanks for understanding. You are correct, I can't change them, I can only keep on keeping on! Anger won't help anything, and getting aggravated about the situation only makes me want to eat food I shouldn't be eating!

08-08-2012, 11:24 AM
Maybe we all just assume someone is ignoring us because of our weight. I know I've done that, when it probably wasn't the case.

Maybe people in last time were preoccupied before - and not necessarily with you. Is it possible you are assuming it was because of your weight? I don't know - just putting it out there.

Regardless of the reason why, no doubt there will be comments this time because of the drastic change, so it WILL feel that people are paying attention to you - because they are.

Maybe it's true that they were ignoring you because of your weight before. We can get mad about it all we want, but it isn't going to change it - or the way the world is. These are family after all, and you'll have to be around them the rest of your life, so why not at least make an attempt at putting the the anger aside and have a good time? You can't change who they are.

08-08-2012, 03:44 PM
It's true that I can't change them and I won't bother trying. I just need to let their reactions fly in the wind and not let it affect me. As far as them paying attention to thin folks, they were letting the compliments fly to all the thin relatives at the last event. In fact, I walked in to the event with someone slim, and they swarmed all over her, completely ignoring my existence. Finally, one person noticed me and said, "Oh, hi guacamole. Umm...you look nice too."

Part of me feels bad, because when I was thin, I took their praise for granted. I never noticed that they left out heavier people. It was only when I became heavy that I noticed their discrimination. In a way, me becoming fat was a blessing in disguise, because it's made me a more sensitive person. The main take away from all of this isn't that my relatives are a bunch of jerks, it's that I need to be sensitive to people around me who aren't getting praise or attention for whatever reason. There's always something nice to say about someone and I am going to make it my business this weekend to make time for the folks who might be overlooked and speak with them and ask how they have been doing. I will find at least one thing to compliment them on (not false compliments, but real ones). It isn't about how many compliments I can receive, but how many I can give.

That's the main lesson I have learned from being on the receiving end of the invisibility factor.

08-14-2012, 03:54 PM
Guacamole, I think that's a terrific mindset. The unfortunate truth is that we become more compassionate towards others by being hurt ourselves. It's a good thing that comes from something awful. You will be a blessing to others at your family reunion who would otherwise be overlooked. :)

08-14-2012, 04:47 PM
Be confident in yourself and just forget all the garbage of the past if you can, the older I get the more I try to forgive and forget, especially when it comes to family! It was a year and a half ago?
Personally. I think you will get a lot of compliments! absorb the good vibes those compliments reflect on your self esteem! You did something many people have difficulty with and it's your day to show others what you are made of!

08-14-2012, 11:40 PM
Thanks for the replies. The big reunion is over...just a few lingering folks still in town. I did get some way over the top reactions and some normal ones. Lots of people commented on my weight loss and said I looked great. Some folks did get to me a bit, but I was gracious.

However, I am most proud that I consciously went out of my way to speak to people and compliment people that were not getting lots of attention. One person even thanked me profusely for my remarks (apparently her spouse has not been showering her with compliments lately and her self-esteem has been low). I feel like I am starting to see the world with new lenses and I hope that I can continue along a path of personal growth as well as making progress in my physical health.

One weird thing is that a few times I found myself feeling ashamed of my weight compared to other skinny relatives. I still felt fat even though I only got positive remarks and encouragement about my weight! That was rather disappointing. Will I ever feel thin?

08-15-2012, 09:11 AM
"One weird thing is that a few times I found myself feeling ashamed of my weight compared to other skinny relatives. I still felt fat even though I only got positive remarks and encouragement about my weight! That was rather disappointing. Will I ever feel thin?"

It's not surprising you would feel that way, given that we live surrounded by a very warped popular culture. Only in an affluent society could we afford to spend so much time obsessing about extra pounds. We're inundated with media images of beautiful, airbrushed, super-skinny teenagers. It's hard not to feel inferior, even when there's no rational basis for it.

09-05-2012, 01:20 PM
I would tend to agree with this. When I find myself a little heavier than I would like, I tend to not be as social and hence, others are not as social to me. I don't think it's a very concious decision on either side.