Welcome to the day after Valentine’s Day. For many of us, it was a time to talk about hearts and flowers, right? To analyze “true love”, open up about feelings, and to share our innermost selves with the person closest to us.
Except, of course, things don’t always work out that way.
The Side We Never See
I could have written a long and truthful article yesterday talking about my relationship with Lor. But anyone who follows Misdirected already knows that we have a loving and successful relationship.
But, what about my friend that wants nothing more than a family, and can’t seem to create one due to societal pressure to be someone she is not?
What about the woman I know whose husband just left her a few months after her bariatric surgery, not able to deal with the concept of a transformed, confident woman in his life?
Was there any place on Valentine’s Day for the man I know who went through dramatic weight loss hoping to find a soulmate, only to discover that, on the inside, he is still a “fat man”? Unwilling or unable to believe that anyone could ever find him attractive, let alone love him?
Valentine’s Day (or V-Day, as we call it around here) can be the most miserable of all holidays.
There may be no greater discomfort than being surrounded by friends, family and co-workers, all celebrating Valentine’s Day. There are flowers on desks. New expensive jewelry being displayed. Casual mentions of the romantic dinners taking place later that night. All of which leaves the single person to ask: what is wrong with me? Why am I somehow on the wrong side of this societal wall?
It applies a different pressure to those in troubled relationships. Why, they ask themselves, does everyone else seem so happy? What is wrong with me? Why can’t I make my love life work?
Our culture demands that a person be in love, and have a happy relationship. No provision is made for those who are alone, no exceptions allowed for those going through difficult times.
This despite the fact that half our marriages end in divorce.
The 50% Rule
What the heck does this have to do with obesity, you might be asking?
My observation is two-fold. First, we are expected to be young, slim, and beautiful as a society. Despite the fact that better than 50% of us are suffering from some form of obesity.
Secondly, obesity is, in and of itself, a stressor on relationships. Destructive lifestyle habits, poor self-esteem, and a sense of personal helplessness do not make for strong interpersonal relationships.
But, maybe worst of all is the sense that no one around us understands. The world expects us to be skinny. We are failing. The world expects us to be happily in love. We fail at that as well.
The world, it seems, is rejecting us at every turn. We do not possess the ability to meet society’s expectations for our body-image or our relationships. What the heck can we do?
Breaking the Contract
We need to learn to break up our unhealthy relationship. Our relationship with popular culture, that is.
Being obese is hard. Making a relationship work is hard. Doing both at the same time may seem to be impossible. The last thing we need on top of all that effort is to be allowing ourselves to worry about what everyone else thinks. Learning to love yourself first is the key to success in both successful relationships and body transformation.
Tell me, does paging through Cosmopolitan make you love yourself more? Maybe it is time to put the magazine down.
Does watching the television commercial telling you that the only way to demonstrate your love is a ring costing several thousand dollars make you feel secure? If not, change the channel.
You might have had a lovely Valentine’s Day yesterday, filled with love and flowers and romantic gestures. Good for you!
You might have spent the day yesterday in uneasy silence with your partner or spent it by yourself. Good for you, too!
We are all worthy of love. And the most important love is the love we need to have for ourselves. Indeed, all other love flows from that relationship.
My fondest wish for you today is that you learn to love yourself. Look in a mirror today and say “I deserve love.”
Keep on practicing until you mean it.