Let me ask you something. And I really want you to think about it. What is your one issue you struggle with on an emotional level? What is that one thing that you really wish you could improve about yourself; that you might even be embarrassed to discuss with anyone – not even your spouse or your therapist. Think about it. Even those of us happy and content people usually have one. Sometimes we have more than one, but for now let’s focus on the worst, the most embarrassing, the hardest to admit. Maybe something major from your past that you’ve done that you struggle coming to terms with, maybe something you sometimes think about doing that make you feel shame. Maybe something awful from your past that haunts you every day?
Do you like pr0n more than you think you should?
Do you shop too much?
Do you lie?
Have you been unfaithful?
Have you stolen?
Do you hate someone in your family?
Do you hate your job?
What is something that you REALLY wish you could change that you really don’t ever talk about it…what is it?
Do you have it in your head?
Now. Imagine if, starting right now, you had to wear a sign on your head everywhere you went that said, “Cheated on my husband.” Or, “Molested by my baseball coach.” Maybe it says, “$30,000 in credit card bills” or “Cheated on my taxes.”
Imagine you had to wear that sign EVERYWHERE. Everyone you met IMMEDIATELY knew that one thing you struggle with in your heart every day. That tragedy from your past you can’t forget. That mistake you still hate yourself for. That habit you can’t break. Everyone you meet everywhere you go thinks of that ONE FLAW every time they interact with you.
Sometimes they’re sympathetic. If you’ve got the outrageous credit card debt, maybe the guy wearing the sign that says, “Lost my son’s college money in Vegas” will be kind to you. But most of the people? Will be judging you negatively because of that sign.
I heard this analogy a long time ago and think about it often. It was used again in this brilliant article, which is why it’s on my mind again.
Because – here’s the thing – if you struggle with your relationship with food and with your weight and with your body image…then being overweight is basically YOUR SIGN.
Or more specifically – it’s A SIGN.
If you are happy with your health, your body image, and your relationship with food but you’re still overweight? Then it’s like you’re wearing someone else’s sign that says, “EATS MY FEELINGS” and people judge you accordingly. If weight/food is NOT your struggle, but you’re overweight? It’s like wearing a sign that says, “UNFAITHFUL” when you are NOT unfaithful. Then people are judging you like you ARE unfaithful and HOW IRRITATING WOULD THAT BE?
But, let’s be honest, most people who are overweight? Are wearing their own sign. I’ve been overweight before and I always had a bad relationship with food and my health – so it was my own sign I was wearing. And now? As I have put weight back on that I’ve lost recently? I’m thinking a LOT about my sign.
First of all? It sucks that everyone can see my sign. Either now because it’s obvious I’ve put on weight I previously lost, or before when I was overweight. It SUCKS that people look at me and IMMEDIATELY know what my weak spot is. It sucks that people are reminded of my sign every time they see me.
But thinking about it as a sign that people who struggle with food/weight are forced to wear, makes it a little more relatable.
Do you know people who just don’t get it? Who look at someone morbidly obese and just can’t quite understand how they “let that happen”? They look at people who binge eat or stress eat and they just don’t see how you just don’t not do that?
Well…if you talk to those people often (I live with one of them) then the easiest way to explain it is with the sign analogy. Maybe that person who doesn’t understand how people overeat, does understand credit card debt. Or beating their kids. Or being molested. They surely have their own issue, their own sign, and they may not understand what kind of people would need the overeating sign…they can at least understand how AWFUL it would be to have to wear their sign in public.
And sometimes…to change tides of judgement…or just to stop someone from being judgmental, that’s all you need. A relatable point. George may not understand why people would overeat, be unhealthy, not run, be obese…but he can understand how awful it would be to have to wear his sign on the outside. And that may keep his judgement at bay. And he would DEFINITELY hate to wear a sign that was not his, so he might stop assuming all overweight people are the same.
I had just forgotten about this analogy until I read that article yesterday, and since I’ve put weight back on in the last 5+ weeks that I previously lost, it seems very relevant. I find myself embarrassed to see people now, will they notice? They noticed when I lost it, will they notice now that I’ve gained it again?
Basically, even though I’m not overweight any more, the obvious fluctuation has me wearing the damn sign again. And I hate it. I hate that my sign is on the outside. I have a few other “secret” things I deal with and I am grateful those are visible too, but DAMN IT. I just want to deal with my issue as MY ISSUE and not have everyone noticing when I fail dealing with this issue.
My word count is over 1000 words right now. Basically just harping on an analogy I like. This is probably the most useless blog post ever.
Except that, when you live with someone who doesn’t understand your struggles, finding those perfect analogies to help explain them? Is like winning the lottery. And maybe you have someone in your life that doesn’t understand your issue – your sign – but maybe they can at least empathize with how dreadful it is to have to wear it. And sometimes, that empathy helps a little bit.
Although – I’ll be honest. My loved one doesn’t seem to have an issue…a sign that would be dreadful to wear. At least not one I know about. So, I’m not entirely sure even the sign-wearing analogy helps.
If anyone finds an analogy that helps explain how difficult it is to be married to someone perfect? Let me know.