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Overeating And The Well Spouse, A Reaction


Dear Ann,

 

I have been following your articles on being overweight and wanted to tell you my beef (double entendre intended).

 

I am fat. There are other fat people around. There are also skinny people and people of varying sizes both smaller and larger than I. I am trying to be done − I would like to say I am done − with apologizing for my size. No matter how I got here, here I am. Why do I have to apologize for being here?

 

I am not taking anyone else’s space, except occasionally in those miniature seats in some old theatres or on planes looking to fit too many people in too small a space to maximize the number of dollars collected. I drive a Grand Caravan Dodge Van that takes up almost as much space as a 4X4 truck, but the truck hardly ever has to apologize for being so large.

 

I am fat. I don’t eat a ton of food. Often I eat a little less than the next person. Sometimes I even skip a meal and don’t double up on the next one. But whether I eat more or less or exactly the same as others, what I strive to accomplish on a regular basis is not getting any fatter. I try to just stay as I am, and no fatter. In fact, what I try to accomplish more often than not, is to eat my meal, have my snack and get on with my day, or whatever I happen to be doing next.

 

Sometimes that might be going swimming. Sometimes that might be going shopping. Sometimes that might be sitting on the couch and watching TV. And sometimes that might be one of a varied number of activities which women, mothers and grand­mothers have been involved in for many, many years. Do I owe anyone an accounting of my activities because I tip the scale in one direction or another?

 

I don’t have to apologize for wearing corrective glasses and not having 20-20 vision. In fact, when I apply for my driver’s license, an application that demands to have certain knowledge about my ability to see properly, all I have to do is check off a box that says I wear corrective glasses. I don’t have to apologize for enjoying classical music and not liking rap music. When I go to the music store, all I have to do is check the signs and look for the section of the store that houses classical music.

 

I don’t have to apologize for driving a van instead of a car. I don’t have to apologize for playing with my grandchildren and talking to my children. I don’t have to apologize for putting flowers into various vases and distributing and displaying the flowers throughout the house. Or do I?

 

Do I need to justify why I drive a van when my children are all grown up and my grandchildren are being driven around by their parents? Do I need to pretend that I don’t adore those beautiful, adorable little people who were created in God’s image but also share a lot of family characteristics and personality traits? Do I need to shout from the rooftops that my children have grown into wonderful human beings and that their company is a nachas and a pleasure to my soul?

 

Do I have to apologize for having reached a time in my life when my financial priorities and responsibilities allow for the luxury and beauty of decorating my home with freshly cut blooms?

 

I am a fat woman who wears glasses, likes classical music, drives a van, plays with her grandchildren, talks to her children and loves fresh flowers. Get off my case. Get a life. Stop mixing into my business. And for goodness (a word incorporated into the English language from the root word “God”) sake, the comments and the questions and the criticisms and the suggestions and the feedback, unsolicited no doubt, are the worst form of lashon harah.

 

Apparently, you feel it is not even necessary to turn your back on me when you insult me. You simply walk up to me and in my face, you tell me that you do not like what you see, and then you have the ultimate chutzpah to tell me that you are doing it for my own good and out of a concern for my welfare.

 

Well, perhaps you should be looking in the mirror to see what you can see in your own “house.” After all, “charity begins at home,” and if “I am not for myself, who am I?” Get off my case and find your own. There must be something that you can attend to in your own backyard, so please, stay out of mine. And the next time we meet, over the backyard fence or on the front porch stairs, or in the foyer of the condo, perhaps you could smile and say, “good morning” or “good day” or perhaps, “good night,” instead.


Miriam


 


You can address this issue or any other by contacting me at annnovick@hotmail.com.

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When one is blind one learns to use Braille to read. When one cannot walk, a wheelchair gives mobility. Sign language allows a mute person to speak and ocular implants assist in hearing when one is deaf. These are all compensatory strategies that help a person function despite his disability. But compensatory strategies are not just for physical problems. Understanding our psychological weaknesses and setting up our lives to ensure that we are not tempted to repeat our past mistakes, is as necessary as any aid to the disabled.

Well spouses have often discovered that their friends and relatives, despite their closeness to the situation, often don’t realize the tremendous emotional impact living with chronic illness has on the family. With the best intentions, suggestions, ideas and criticism are offered, based on the non-experience of those with healthy families. Even when the good intentioned get a taste of the difficulties, it is sometimes not enough for them to then identify and understand what the family of the chronically ill must face on a constant basis.

Over the past two weeks I have shared letters from a therapist and a well spouse. Both of the letters gave personal insights into the process of losing hope, how we react when that happens and some ways of coping when test scores, diagnosis and just simple repetitive behavior indicate that change for the better is impossible.

Dear Ann,

I’ve read your last few articles on psycho-neurological testing (Oct.8-22) with interest. As a therapist who has counseled couples dealing with chronic illness, I’d like to give you another perspective.

Dear Ann,

Your articles on the Neuro-Psychological Testing were right on (October 8-22). My husband underwent testing twice and your articles explained it things exactly the way they were. Besides the test, we also tried therapy.

Very often when we can’t face our big hurts or big loses we focus on the little ones. We can discuss those. We can cry over the small loses, be angry at the smaller hurts even though it may look trite and sound ridiculous to others.

Over the last two weeks we have been discussing one way in which well spouses can determine whether behavior displayed by their ill partners is caused by their illness or is a way they have chosen to act. We have focused on Psycho-Neurological testing, what it can tell us, as well as its pros and cons.

Last week I discussed a question that haunts many well spouses: not knowing if the difficult and often inappropriate behavior frequently displayed by their partners are caused by the disease and therefore not-controllable, or if the behavior is a choice the spouse makes and can therefore be changed. This doubt can be the source of much frustration and many marital disagreements. One way of alleviating this doubt is by having a psycho- neurological work up done. But that path is not so simple.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/overeating-and-the-well-spouse-a-reaction/2008/06/18/

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