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The Guilt Of Self Care & The Fear For Others

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Old 03-26-2014, 01:00 PM   #1
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Default The Guilt Of Self Care & The Fear For Others

I'm struggling this week. Not with my weight (well, not any more than usual), but with some of the mental flotsam and jetsam that seems to come with dedicating so much of myself (and 20 months) to losing weight. Not all of it is rational, but it's there.

There's the guilt:

-I'm a crazy obsessive person that only thinks about weight loss. (Usually I can give myself a pass on this because I'm so heavy that it needs to be a priority, and I'm not really good at "middle of the road", although it's something I'm working on).

I'm all talk: Why has it taken me so long? Why am I still so far from goal? Of course I know why. But this comes in to play with a lot of my family and friends that had 50 or less pounds to lose that saw me as motivation (or competition), and got their butts in gear. Now they're at goal, and I sometimes feel like they're looking at me going "Seriously?" you still have 200 pounds to lose. What's taking so long?!

I'm spoiled: I have the time and the money to worry about something so unimportant. Stop sounding like a new age Pinterest inspiration board and have a real problem or two!: At the moment, my job has slowed to a crawl. I have a lot of free time during the day. I also am childless, and outside of keeping my house and occasionally running interference for members of my family, I've got it pretty easy. I can concern myself with learning "Not to lean on food" and "finding balance". Now, it's not like I talk about this to mos people in the real world, but when I see my family, and friends who have children, and who are working 80 hours a week at all hours of the week, I feel a certain amount of shame because my priorities aren't the same. I could be out making more money and working harder. I could be HELPING them more.... on and on.

Which leads me to fear:

I have 3 brothers. All under 30. One is on bp and cholesterol meds. All are carrying excess weight, smoke heavily (except one) and eat very poorly (and that's not a judgey "lifestyle" thing. I say poorly because it's how I used to eat, and believe me. It's not good for anyone. Without going into specifics, they all have kids or stepkids, financial pressures, grueling physical and mentally stressful jobs. They've injured their backs. They're losing teeth.

I've talked several times here about what happened to my dad, and I'm scared and frustrated for them because I can see the pattern repeat. But at the same time I know that I don't have answers for them. Even if I did, it's pretty hard to go to someone and say "you need to take care of yourself" when they're busy trying to survive. It's a rather mixed bag of fear for their future, a feeling of inadequacy because I'm not putting the effort into life that they are, and at the end of the day wondering if when life gets hard for me, I'll be where they are.

Wow... that was long. Sorry.

Generally though, do you feel the guilt? Have you researched or lived so much that you have a pretty clear picture of what could happen to others in your life?

Am I as nuts as I sound today?
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Old 03-26-2014, 01:58 PM   #2
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I don't think you're nuts. Self forgiveness is not easy for many people.

As for the people who think you should be at goal already they are completely ignorant.

I don't know if this will be helpful for you but I found it extremely good.
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Old 03-26-2014, 02:11 PM   #3
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Heh. I could have written most of the things you're saying. I live with a lot of guilt. It helps me to think of myself as a friend instead of, well, me. If I had a friend who spoke to me about these concerns what would I say? You've come so far and done so much. You should be proud of yourself. Each day is a new day to try and do better. None of us are perfect, we're all trying to find our way in the best way we know how.

I try to ask myself often "What good can I do in this moment?". I try to make the best decisions I can each step of the way knowing that not everything I do will turn out. That's okay. It's alright to stumble, fall, get up, cry, yell, and scream. That's your right as a human being. Just try to accept yourself and do the best you can. You are worth it.
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Old 03-26-2014, 02:56 PM   #4
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Hugs to you. I can relate to feeling guilty, though mine stems from other reasons. Now that I am on my way and committed, I feel guilty for taking away quality time with my family to work out. Though its not a lot of time (45 minutes most days), when you work a full time job and are already gone 11 hours a day with work & commuting, those 45 minutes are priceless. Not only do I feel guilty that I need to take this time, I feel guilty because I got myself where I am today. Nobody is to blame but me, so I struggle to balance the voices in my head. The ones who tell me "you should take a break and chill with the kids" and the other voice that says "you need to get healthy for those kids". I'm still figuring it out. I've shifted some of the exercise to after bedtime. In a perfect world I would drag my butt out of bed an hour early, but I haven't accomplished that yet, which leads to more guilt......

As far as your brothers. Sigh. I know that feeling. My sister isn't over weight, but she has other unhealthy lifestyle habits I wish she would quit. I've come to realize though I cannot change her. I can love her, I can encourage her, but I cannot change her.

As for the people who think you should be farther along..... Screw them. What you've accomplshed is amazing. You should feel so proud. Not everyone could come as far as you have.

Hang in there hun.

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Old 03-26-2014, 03:04 PM   #5
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Thanks guys. I think a lot of it is stemming from the fact that April is 10 years since my dad started to go and everything just fell apart. There's a certain amount of pressure in the fact that a decade is past and feeling like I should have my act together. It's also made me sentimental and less than objective/neutral about things that I can't control.
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Old 03-26-2014, 03:09 PM   #6
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Thanks for the link John P. I'm struggling because I feel like I am doing all the right things but not making much progress. But I am being consistent, and I am making some progress.
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Old 03-26-2014, 04:34 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Radiojane View Post
I think a lot of it is stemming from the fact that April is 10 years since my dad started to go and everything just fell apart. There's a certain amount of pressure in the fact that a decade is past and feeling like I should have my act together. It's also made me sentimental and less than objective/neutral about things that I can't control.
I lost my dad 10 years ago last month; too bad we didn't know each other back then or we might have been able to help each other through it a little.

I guess I have a different set of guilt issues hanging over my head; although my dad wasn't the fittest person around himself, I always felt like he was ashamed of my weight and that I had let him down. I was at my highest weight for what ended up being our very last photo together, and instead of seeing the relationship between us when I look at it, all I can think of is that he saw me at my worst just before he left this world. It's just a horrible feeling to constantly be preoccupied over my weight and worried about everyone else's perceptions of me, and letting it tilt every relationship in my life.

Things really fell apart between my brother and I after we lost our dad. I was feeling extremely judged for the direction my life had taken, as well as my weight. I felt he acted as if I didn't even deserve any of my inheritance because to him, I was a fat, lazy, selfish, nothing (regardless of whether or not he spelled it out that way). I was the one busy trying to survive with no one to lean on (our mother passed away 18 years ago), as he made it clear he had no intention of helping me when he owed me a substantial amount of money while I was facing an eviction notice. Our relationship still isn't quite repaired a decade later, but it gets much more involved than that. I imagine he was wondering why I hadn't gotten my act together back then; not just my weight, but with my lack of direction in life. Oh, and obesity definitely runs in the family but he managed to lose a substantial amount himself around the time (although he never broke over 300 pounds like I did).

And throughout it all, I struggled with the money issues, my [now] ex-boyfriend, and severe (but not yet diagnosed) clinical anxieties that cost me several jobs. Although I worked hard and eventually lost a substantial amount of weight throughout some of it (and despite my ex fighting me every step of the way), I didn't really have the mental strength to make myself a priority and my progress came to a halt. Moving away and starting over helped somewhat, but I've had a few restarts before getting back into the groove in the past 2 years. And now it seems my brother is the one trying to survive with his life falling apart from his divorce. I'm not judging him, but I do hope he's been humbled somewhat.

When it comes to perceived selfishness, it seems we can't win no matter where we place our priorities. We're seen as selfish when we make our health a priority, taking the time to work out and cook healthier food (that other members of the family may not like or even approve of) . . . yet we can also be seen as selfish if we prioritize everyone else in our lives and "let ourselves go" (i.e. get fat). But the way I look at it now, we have to make ourselves and our health a priority if we want to take care of anyone else in our lives. After all, how can we take care of anyone if we're too sick to do so? And at one time, I was definitely too sick to do so, given that I was too weak to walk across my own living room and was well on my way to being confined to a wheelchair.

So don't feel guilty about focusing so much on yourself right now! And you've made so much progress so far; you obviously can't lose it all overnight. Don't let it get to you that others have reached their goals when they've had less of a journey to overcome (both physically and emotionally); after all, losing 200+ pounds is a heck of a lot more difficult than losing just 50.

Hang in there! You're not crazy, and you're stronger than you realize.
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Old 03-26-2014, 04:54 PM   #8
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Wow. Thank you for so much for that Ella. To a lesser degree, I have the same sort of issues with my brothers. It's nice to see someone who has come so far and is so positive that can understand where I'm coming from.

You're all wonderful!
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Old 03-26-2014, 07:50 PM   #9
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Reading these posts just now, you ladies reminded me of friends that I am close to...had to check pics and stats to prove to myself you weren't actually them.

I hope that my friends find a space they feel comfortable talking about (their very similar) struggles.

I have come to realize that so much of this process of weight loss is learning to allow me to care for myself and slowly recognizing and releasing the emotional baggage that brought me here. Understanding that journey is equally important to me as learning this journey.
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Old 03-27-2014, 01:20 AM   #10
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I have felt a lot of the same things. It's not selfish to put your health first. So you spend a lot of time and energy on it now..I think of it as making up for lost time. I think It's admirable that you inspired others but it's a journey not a race and you have a different path to follow. And maybe since you did inspire others then someday you will inspire your brothers to care about themselves too. I try to find the silver lining in everything! It's awesome that you have enough time to devote to your health right now. Embrace it and enjoy it. Life changes so fast and things won't always be this way so I would try to make the most of it now. I lost my dad 8 years ago and I wish my siblings learned from his poor lifestyle too. But the only person I can really change is me and that has been hard enough. Good luck and thank you for having courage to post this. Just getting it out helps someone else know they are not alone in their fears and guilt and all these other emotions that come with this journey!
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Old 03-27-2014, 01:50 AM   #11
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The only thing i will say is this. My father has lost weight and been really focussed on fitness in the last two years. And just of late seems to be starting to eat more and put on weight again though he's still not back in his inactive rut.

But there i go sitting next to him watching him eat badly at time and i tell him DAd you are putting on weight, you should do this, that, the other.

Meanwhile i've only just lost weight and haven't reached my goal yet and when i'm bad, i'm much worse than him. He never binges like i do. IN fact i remember the time he saw me eat a whole litre of ice-cream in one evening. He was horrified and told me it was disgusting. which it is in a way. But I'm thick skinned so i refused to be guilt stricken by his comment.

Anyway, to his credit, he ignores me when i tell him he should do this or that or the other and that he's putting on weight. Generally he does eat well. But what he does that i think is a mistake is instead of eating dinner at 6-7pm, he eats snacks - biscuits and cheese and nuts and so on. Dinner comes much later when he gets in the mood. That's why i think he's putting on weight again so i say dad if you ate dinner earlier instead of the snacks, you wouldn't be putting on weight. But he ignores me.

Anyway we don't have an issue going on. We just can't control what each other does and we have to be able to live with what each other does even if we think its not so good.
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Old 03-27-2014, 09:27 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Radiojane View Post
There's the guilt:

-I'm a crazy obsessive person that only thinks about weight loss.

I'm all talk:

[b]I'm spoiled: I

Which leads me to fear:

Generally though, do you feel the guilt? Have you researched or lived so much that you have a pretty clear picture of what could happen to others in your life?

Am I as nuts as I sound today?
Many of us have struggled with similar issues. You care deeply about those around you, how you relate to them, what you can do to support them or nurture them, how guilty you feel that you spend time on yourself vs them, how you struggle to find ways to help them. But I would much rather you focus on how these people are helping and supporting you. You seem to feel inferior to others in your life why, because you don't have kids? I can't speculate on how you feel about that, but I can tell you that nobody has the right to judge you about that. I sense the judgement is coming from yourself, not from others. And if you are perceiving judgement from others about not having kids then they are just JEALOUS seriously! I love my kid like you wouldn't believe, but I do get jealous of my childless friends who can come and go as they please and spend all their money on themselves and be spontaneous with their time! I wouldn't trade places with them but I do wish I could have that same freedom and it kind of irks me if I see that they don't take advantage of the freedoms they have

We are the loves of our lives. We are put on this earth to take care of ourselves and eachother, but ourselves first! We are responsible for our own well being. In order to nurture anyone you must first nurture themselves. So what if you have a lot of weight to lose? That's your business, make it your job because nobody else is going to put that work in for you and you always have to remember that.

I'm in the process of reading Beautiful You: a guide to radical self acceptance and it has a daily journaling exercise that I find very helpful. Losing weight is not enough to make us happy, we have to build our own sense of self appreciation and self love and it's ok to take the time to do that!
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Old 03-27-2014, 09:40 AM   #13
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I'm in a weird head-space, which is related. I had this something terrible in spin class. It was at 9:30 AM, and I'm surrounded by women who probably don't work either, and they were so toned and fit, one spin class was like "polishing diamonds". So I'm all:

1. I don't work a "real" job, and I don't "need" to, SO I have all this time.

2. Women feel a need to "justify their time". You're not working or volunteering? Why don't you look good, then?

3. My fat sister doesn't work out and eats take out because she "WORKS" and "HAS NO TIME" and "I'M WORKING MY A$$ OFF".

4. I'm the other fat sister, so if I'm not working for money, chasing after small children or saving the world, I better justify my existence by being a decorative accessory.

5. Since I'm not a very good decorative accessory, people are weirded out that I'm at the gym and can surpass them athletically. I am not bragging. It's like you can't compete or get gym wear until you already look "good". You have to already look good to take care of yourself!! Interesting!

6. I feel weird going to the spa or getting nails done. Getting a massage is mental sacrilege.

7. My own mother said about me, after I lost 30 lbs. and gained it back: "Who does she think she is!?" THAT'S the mentality!! OMG, I take up space! Yes, I exist! *apologies to the world!*

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Old 03-27-2014, 11:35 AM   #14
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You seem to feel inferior to others in your life why, because you don't have kids?
You hit the nail on the head. And I know that no one else is judging me for not having them. It's not about keeping up with Jones', it's more that I want them so badly and I'm afraid I've wasted so much time wrecking my body and wallowing in self pity that I won't dig myself out of the pit in time to have them! Thank you for that! I don't think I've said that out loud yet.

That being said, I know that a lot of my friends and family with no responsibilities would trade places with me in a second, but I have had a few older people in my life tell me that I'm missing having "meaning" in my life if I don't have children. Usually I can step back enough to realize that these women cling to being a mother & wife as their meaning because it's all they've done.

Inkrid I can't believe the way we've all been conditioned to glorify "busy" and how guilty we feel when we take time for ourselves! You even see it on Facebook, how people feel the need to share their laundry list of to do's and how exhausting it's going to be! Even my parent's generation took more time to smell the roses than we do. I have a friend that's a stay at home mom and she lives in the gym five days a week (ours has a daycare). She looks fantastic, but quite frankly even with "all the time on my hands" I just don't WANT to spend that much time "polishing the diamond"!
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Old 03-27-2014, 11:52 AM   #15
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You hit the nail on the head. And I know that no one else is judging me for not having them. It's not about keeping up with Jones', it's more that I want them so badly and I'm afraid I've wasted so much time wrecking my body and wallowing in self pity that I won't dig myself out of the pit in time to have them! Thank you for that! I don't think I've said that out loud yet.

That being said, I know that a lot of my friends and family with no responsibilities would trade places with me in a second, but I have had a few older people in my life tell me that I'm missing having "meaning" in my life if I don't have children. Usually I can step back enough to realize that these women cling to being a mother & wife as their meaning because it's all they've done.

Inkrid I can't believe the way we've all been conditioned to glorify "busy" and how guilty we feel when we take time for ourselves! You even see it on Facebook, how people feel the need to share their laundry list of to do's and how exhausting it's going to be! Even my parent's generation took more time to smell the roses than we do. I have a friend that's a stay at home mom and she lives in the gym five days a week (ours has a daycare). She looks fantastic, but quite frankly even with "all the time on my hands" I just don't WANT to spend that much time "polishing the diamond"!
Gosh I can think of a million things that our society tells us we HAVE TO DO that don't and can't make universal sense for all of us. Society tells us that we're a good person if we pick up a salad on our lunch break and eat it at our desk in 15min. So we all do it, to be cool, to fit in. But think how stupid it is! I really really really shouldn't have to feel guilty about wanting to sit down, uniterrupted or with a friends/family to share a meal. Do you think we all look good running around with a paper cup of coffee in our hands? Only in America! What I'm getting at is that we don't have to accept the norms if we don't want to, and the pressure from others to conduct our lives in an xyz manner shouldn't interfere with what we want for our own lives. So take the opportunity to ask yourself what you want out of your life and make peace with it, because if you're not at peace with it nobody else is going to be. Plus when people tell you that your life will be more meaningful with kids they're just projecting their OWN wants on to you. They are validating their own life and unfortunately demeaning yours to achieve that. It's useless to fight the bees, you just go on about your business and let them buzz all they want. You'll be in trouble if you swipe at them.

Quite recently I heard an interview on NPR about the growing number of women that don't have children and the challenges they face. The reasons for not having children is wide and varied including infertility, not meeting the right partner, choice, and circumstance. I think you may enjoy listening to it! https://www.wnyc.org/radio/#/ondemand/354769
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