I keep letting my family make me feel bad for being 'too skinny' - long rant
I've come to some realizations over the last few months, about myself and my mom. Some background, my mom is 5'2" and weighs somewhere in the 85 pound range. She won't admit how much she weighs, just continually talks about how big she has let herself get. My entire life it has been the same story - mom never weighed more than 110 ever and was miserable then because she thought she was fat. Never specifically said anything about me being bigger than her, just a few passive aggressive comments here and there. When I first lost 25 pounds back in 2005 she continued to buy me clothes in bigger sizes for holidays. When I said something she went the other way and got me an outfit that was too small for me. I tried not to think that those things were deliberate, but now I wonder.
Now every time she sees me she comments on how I'm too skinny, that she is a nurse and she knows what healthy is and I'm not it. I don't believe I'm too skinny where I am - I'm actually in better shape than I have ever been and eat more vegetables and diverse foods now that I have in my entire life. I feel healthy, I exercise, I have more energy, I'm still in the healthy BMI range, my doctor said I looked great last time I had a checkup. I told mom that and what did she say? "Well, you just changed doctors, so they don't really know you." So, does that mean that I'm supposed to be 50 pounds overweight to keep the space-time continuum running smoothly? I am at the low point of my weight loss, I've been maintaining 120 for a while now.
I thought I was okay with this. I realize that she had a problem with anorexia when she was younger, is likely bulemic now. She has uncontrolled, fluctuating from super low to heart attack high blood pressure, IBS, no enamel on her teeth, gets sick whenever she eats. I did some research and believe that a lot of her problems are from her eating disorder, active still or not. I believed that she was saying the things she was to me because she feared I would become anorexic as well, since I am her child. I figured it was from love.
Last week at Thanksgiving my grandfather approached me about being too skinny - at my mom's urging I believe. (My very slim, exercises 1-1.5 hours per day since his heart attack in 1998 grandfather, by the way.) Every other family member told me how great I looked. Then, last time I talked to her she said "I guess a Victoria's Secret gift card would be a waste for you as a stocking stuffer now since you have gotten so skinny, you can't shop there" in a disgusted tone of voice.
!!!! I'm not the skinniest person on the planet, I haven't 'caught' anorexia from being near her, I'm not a circus freak who can't shop for clothes at retail stores !!!!
I'm beginning to think that she is more comfortable when I'm plump and squishy because it makes her feel better about herself for some reason....
Thanks for reading my fussing... Any suggestions on how to talk to her would be greatly appreciated.
I'm afraid I'm out of suggestions. My relatives run the gammet. Some have never said anything to me and don't like it if I talk about food/weightloss/working out as it makes them uncomfortable about their own weight. Others like to ask questions, which I don't mind. And some, like my mother, now believe they are obligated to comment on my status ("you are at a good weight", or "your face is looking full" or "you've filled out. Have you gained?") every single time they see me.
After 4 years now, most have let it go.
I can't control how people react to me, but I can control how I feel about it. If your mom is suffering from an eating disorder, I would imagine that seeing you go through a drastic change throws her through a loop and does something to her security. My mother (who doesn't have an eating disroder) actually used to stand outside of the bathroom to make sure I wasn't purging after meals because she was concerned.
I just had to decide that all I can do is live my life and if people want to question me, that's their perogative. Just because other people are insecure about you doesn't mean you have to react to it, other than just doing what you're doing.
And as for what your grandfather said, that was just plain rude. I would have made some cranky old man comment and walked away
My mother and I have never really seen eye to eye. She even used to tell me I was "as wide as a train" when she herself is over 300 pounds. It took a long time but my mother and I have come to terms with each other.
I think you might be right about your mother speaking to you in that manner because she is not happy with herself so she projects it onto you. Of course she won't see it that way, she see's it as "I'm right and I'm only concerned about you." The fact of the matter is, you both are adults, and she needs to realize you're a big girl (not literally) and that you know how to take care of your health. Tell her you appreciate her concern, and you know (even if you don't) that she's just trying to look out for you. The best way to get things solved is to talk them over.
She may not want to listen, or even believe you at first, but eventually it will happen. The fact of the matter is, she is your mom, it might take awhile, but she'll come around.
If she doesn't then obviously she's not as mature as you
I have to say that from your description, it sounds like your mother feels competitive towards you -- it does not sound like actual concerned. The Victoria's Secret comment seems to fit squarely into this dynamic. If you have been "bigger" than her most of your adult life, she probably got used to thinking about you in a specific way and having a very particular relationship with you, and that has been completely swept away so she is floundering a bit. She probably doesn't even realize what is driving her anamosity.
YOU know if you are happy and healthy with your current weight. As long as you are maintaining in a healthy weight range -- which you currently are -- you do not need your mother's approval on this subject, and if it keeps up, I would shut her down. The next time she makes an equally insensitive remark regarding your weight, I would tell her that you love her, but that you would prefer it if she kept her comments on the subject of your weight to herself. They are not grounded in reality and they are not helpful. You understand that she has always had an uncomfortable relationship with food and with her own weight, but that you have worked hard to build a healthier relationship with your own body. THAT should quiet her down...or at least make her think twice before piping up with more unwanted commentary or "advice".
Good luck! Aren't moms fun??? I have a really good and very close relationship with my mom, but at Thanksgiving, she told me that I was "actually beautiful now." I don't think she even thought about her words first, but hello? What was I the rest of my life? Chopped liver?
Why yes those are Size 4 jeans hugging my posterior today. Thanks for noticing!
Last edited by Schumeany : 12-01-2008 at 07:37 PM.
Ack. I'm sorry - what a thing to have to go through. I'm so sorry.
I've never had to deal with that particular issue, but I have had to deal with relatives who wanted to get more involved in other parts of my life. And usually in a very nosy-know-it-all kind of way.
I have two suggestions - maybe neither of them will work or maybe one will work better than the other. You know your mom best.
The first option is to simply be direct - the next time your mom makes a comment about your weight or some sideways comment like the VS one, I'd look her straight in the eye and say very directly "Mom, that comment was mean and hurt my feelings and it was unacceptable. Please don't say things like that again."
The second option is more difficult (for me, anyway, 'cause I'm very direct and because I don't hide my feelings very well). When she makes these comments, smile blandly and say "Thanks for the suggestion, Mom. I'll take it into consideration." Or with something like the VS comment, break into laughter (if you can) and say "Oh their things fit me beautifully now. Better than they ever have before." Basically .. whatever she says ... smile, laugh, and go out of your way to make sure she knows that you're onto her and you think it's a little ridiculous of her to behave like that.
I wound up using the 2nd option with my bossy BIL when he tried to help me run my business a few years ago. It was REALLY hard for me and sometimes after an evening at his place, I'd go home and scream and cry and rant to get it out of my system. But I have to say it was REALLY effective at getting him to quit being passive-aggressive about what he thought I should be doing (and a little jealousy on his part, since his consulting business failed after 8 months).
Whatever you do, good luck and hang in there. You know what's best for you and your mom is just going to have to learn to deal.
Last edited by PhotoChick : 12-01-2008 at 07:50 PM.
God gave us families so that all other relationships would seem easy. I can't take credit for that, I heard it in a mother's day sermon many years ago...but it stuck!
I'm with Photochick. You are probably not going to change your mom, the issues have been going on for a long time and have more to do with her than with your weight. Instead figure out a response...and stick to it.
"Mom, I appreciate you care about my health, I promise to take care of myself." (Or any other statement that works for you.) Then keep repeating it in only minor variations. Whatever, don't engage. This is a technique from assertiveness training that is relatively foolproof, as long as you really don't get engaged. Expect her to try and provoke, you just smile and repeat your line! Eventually she will give up since there is no payoff.
If she engages your grandpa, use the same technique. After all, isn't it nice they care about you? <snicker>
Above all, remember this isn't about you, don't let it get to you.
[quote=Schumeany;2476483] If you have been "bigger" than her most of your adult life, she probably got used to thinking about you in a specific way and having a very particular relationship with you, and that has been completely swept away so she is floundering a bit. She probably doesn't even realize what is driving her anamosity.
you do not need your mother's approval on this subject, and if it keeps up, I would shut her down.
I completey agree. I was a teen mom and hung around some unseemly people. I have had my act together for some 20 + yrs and my mom and my brother treat me like I am still 17 yrs old making poor decisions.
Also I agree, you need to stop your mom from saying hateful things. Set some boundries. I have to put my foot down with my mom alot. In fact, as we speak, she is not speaking to me because I would not let her talk rudely to me or my family. I have made a promise to myself, never to treat my children, especially my daughters this way.
Blonde is not just a hair color, its a Lifestyle. - Me
When i was the healthiest I had ever been in my life (i had actually almost gotten rid of my cottage cheese thighs, i was strong, i could do tons of push ups and sit ups, i was 100 pounds, a size 4, i fit into anything, everyone told me i was tiny) my mom said she thought i looked too skinny, sickly in fact, and she constantly was saying i was anorexic (i wasnt). But after her nagging constantly, I somehow at the time convinced myself I was too skinny as well, and should gain some weight. Well eating more, got me into this binge-type behavior where I couldnt stop eating and went from 100 pounds to 138. I lost all muscle, my thighs are tremendous, i look pregnant, and no one called me tiny. I regret letting her comments get to me. I should have just not even spent time thinking about it. Now I am around 121 pounds, and people still make comments about me being fat. I don't know if i'll ever be able to lose the 21 extra pounds and tone up, but I only hope I can get back what I too easily lost due to other peoples comments.
Hey Photo, that is WAY too mature an approach...we are talking mother/daughter relations here.
Although, I have to say that the laughing thing does work well -- I have used it in the past, and it really throws people for a loop. Once upon a time I had a boss who kept making subtle sexist comments. They weren't sexual in nature -- more along the lines that a woman couldn't really practice law like a man...but less direct than that (I was an associate attorney at the firm where he was a partner...). Things like how having children can really make practicing law difficult for a woman because she is torn between home and work. In the beginning it just pissed me off, but as it continued, I decided just to laugh at him any time he said something like that -- like it was the silliest "joke" I'd ever heard, and say something like, "You can't really believe that...can you?" It SOOO worked. He would get red-faced and sort of chuckle weakly...eventually it stopped completely.
Why yes those are Size 4 jeans hugging my posterior today. Thanks for noticing!
That does sound very mature for the mother daughter dynamic, Photo! I wish I could do it, though. Every time she talks to me maturity flies right out the window and I find myself feeling like I'm 13 years old again. "But mom, I don't want to eat more and gain more weight, wah wah." No rational response, nothing. When we went on vacation in October I said "But I'm in the healthy range for my BMI, mom" and when she told me I wasn't healthy I shut down completely, even though I had the charts up on the computer from a medical website right in front of my face. I do think the laughing and brushing it off could work. Provided I have ready access to my punching bag shortly thereafter!
And you are right Schumeany, I've been bigger than my mom since the seventh grade. That was the year I couldn't wear her clothes anymore and she commented that one of the things she had always wanted to do with a daughter was trade clothes, she guessed we couldn't do that anymore, unless it was socks. I didn't even remember that comment until I read what you said about being bigger than her for a long time.
I should sic my grandfather on her, too - she ate two bites of a dessert and nothing else at Thanksgiving dinner, and when I talked to her on the phone later in the evening she was going to bed without dinner. And she thinks I have a problem!
Thanks for all the responses guys! Rationally, I know that it is her issue, not mine, and I'm taking care of myself. Now I just have to learn to set those boundaries instead of letting myself get pummeled by it over and over.
Oh I totally understand that. My dad could push my buttons and turn me into a babbling idiot (out of anger and resentment) faster than anyone on the face of the earth.
But like I said I tend to be pretty direct, so for me to turn to him and say "That's bullsh*t and I don't have to take that from you anymore." was also common. It was less about being mature mature than ... a little bit of neener neener towards him.
(But then again, my dad's favorite refrain was "as long as I'm paying the bills, you'll listen to what I say." The day I turned it back on him and said "You know what ... you're not paying the bills anymore" was one of the most satisfying (albeit childish) moments in my life.)
Last edited by PhotoChick : 12-01-2008 at 09:04 PM.
I bet that was a nice feeling - and not childish at all.
My mom just called me and apologized for being snarky over the weekend. Which she does often, then comes back later with another snarky remark. It is the nice, "I'm sorry I was so mean" mom that I think about when she says something hurtful, and I then feel guilty at a response from me that hurts her feelings back. I'm going to have to discuss it with her at a rational moment, when no comments have been made and we can both focus on the conversation like adults.
I'm very direct with everyone else in my life, and have been even more so lately as a matter of fact, except my mom. I have to work on that.