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June 14, 2021

Why we need to be Empathetic when people Unintentionally Trigger Us.

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I saw a post where a woman asked people to please stop complimenting her recent weight loss by saying she looks healthy.

She only wanted compliments about herself, not her physical appearance or the perceived “healthiness” she’s emitting by slimming down. She mentioned disordered eating and felt the comments were a trigger for her to backslide.

This was eye-opening for me. I have always had an interesting relationship with the scale and feel dread and panic when the scale reaches a certain number or when my clothes start to feel tight. With my journey to sobriety came a long look at all of my addictive patterns. Emotional eating was a big one for me.

I now know after years of my own disordered eating patterns when I am eating to avoid feeling emotions—whether it is mad, sad, anxious, or scared. I feel the healthiest when I am eating in proportion to my hunger and not overindulging in carbs and sweet treats, which I deem comfort foods.

I also feel healthiest when my weight is in proportion to my frame (I wouldn’t say I am skinny at all, in fact, by a doctor’s standards, I’m overweight). I feel healthy when I can walk long distances and upstairs without feeling too fatigued and winded. I like when my pants and shirts fit without a muffin top or feel too tight or uncomfortable.

Learning how exercise can change my mood and well-being also alleviated me from having to take as many anxiety and depression medications over the years.

Taking things out of my diet was a profound step toward healing.

I no longer eat anything I can’t pronounce. I no longer use caffeine or sugar 98 percent of the time.

I don’t eat meat, dairy, or anything that has a mother. I live on plants, plain and simple. Add in some beans, nuts, and seeds, and I’m golden.

This is my one life. I want to feel good. I don’t want to experience the health problems both my grandparents and parents had.

Obesity can lead to other problems because it’s hard on our bodies.

I’m not saying that if we’re obese, we shouldn’t feel good in our bodies, but it’s hard to believe that being obese is living the healthiest version of ourselves. If someone reads this and says, I’m ready for a change, I’m all for it.

Because I know how it feels not being able to keep up with my kid, feeling self-conscious in my clothes, and embarrassed about my weight. Is it societal or internal? I’d say both.

I strive to be the best version of myself. There will always be someone prettier, skinnier, fitter. It doesn’t matter. I need to check in with myself and ask: “When do I feel my best?” When I’m not comparing myself to anyone else.

A life-changing book for me was Natalia Rose’s Emotional eating SOS. It asked me questions that made me dig deep into why I was choosing food for comfort and how I could find other ways to soothe my restless, lonely, or anxious heart.

My shopping habits have been another place I’ve had to dig deep. I didn’t have enough clothes as a kid and would cry myself to sleep, worried about not having anything to wear to school the next day. I felt like clothes made me worthy and without enough, I felt poor and couldn’t portray myself the way I wish I could have. It caused a deep wound for me and I now overbuy to compensate for my lack growing up. I’m neurotic about making sure my kids and I have enough clothes.

It eats me alive to think one of my kids won’t get what they need becauseas a kid, I knew what it felt like to go without.

I get sad when I see others with their mothers or people saying they are going to eat with their mothers. My mother died in a traumatic way and I still feel a great loss. It does not mean I tell people to stop talking about their sweet mammas. It means I have more work to do to heal this wound.

I dare say we are getting too sensitive, but I know people would say the same about me. It’s true; we all have soft spots that hurt when brushed against. It doesn’t mean we need to harden our shells, but it does mean we can openly share with others to provide context. Someone who still has their mother in their life probably has no idea the sadness I feel when I see photos of them together. It’s just like when I compliment someone on their fitness journey about their weight loss or how they look healthy—I wouldn’t know if it was a sensitive topic for them.

We don’t need to get triggered by others’ non-understanding and inequities. I think most of us are trying to learn to walk in other’s shoes and show empathy, but it takes time and it’s scary to risk rejection when we share these deep parts of ourselves.

We need to keep practicing.

Black Lives Matter.

Pro-life or pro-choice—your opinion matters.

LGBTQ rights matter.

People with disabilities, whether visible or not, need to be seen.

Mental health awareness.

Suicide Prevention.

Addiction.

At the end of the day, we want all people to feel seen and heard.

I have to be honest. I’m worn out and I’m not even on the fighting line for many of these issues. I’m doing what I can for each. I feel passionate about all of them. I also feel very passionate about sobriety and animal activism.

How do we show our support without getting burned out and doing nothing?

Seriously, I’m asking.

I know I risk burning out by trying to do it all but I also know it’s important for me to learn about anything and everything I can about society’s issues.

I hope by writing this, we can come together. We all have gifts to share. We all have expertise and experience in certain areas. This is a call to action. Let’s do more than get upset when people “don’t get us”: let’s explain. If people still don’t understand us, we can move on. But if we know about something someone else is struggling with, let’s help! Let’s educate! Let’s help others feel less alone and segregated.

Let’s reach out our hand instead of putting it up like a stop sign.

Let’s engage. Let’s open the dialogue. Teach me in your own personal way about how loneliness feels for you. Not to dwell on our lack, but to take away its power.

Sharing is the only thing that makes my mind feel right. Once I learned how to open up and speak from the heart, I could never go back. Let’s stop pretending we’re fine.

Nobody is fine all the time and it’s okay.

Pure and simple, it’s okay.

You are loved.

P.S. Right after I wrote this, I went on social media and saw someone I admire raising a glass of champagne to the camera.

I am an alcoholic. I am sensitive to others drinking.

I don’t need to be angry or offended. I just need to breathe and remind myself who I am and why I chose to live a sober life.

It’s coming at us from all angles. Let’s remember we are stronger than temptation. Let’s get to the root of who we are so we can stand strong no matter what we are facing.

People are different. We will disagree.

How am I judging others based on perceptions I have about how they “should be” and letting that ruffle my feathers?

This might take another article 🙂 Stay tuned. Xo

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