The persistence of memory
It's funny the way we remember things. No one person's memory is ever the same as another's. Add to that a rose-tint or a sepia tone, beer or love goggles... and what you recall may be more of a contrast to the person you shared that day with, than you could even imagine.
A lot depends on our perception of any given situation, but even more rides on the emotion that goes with it.
I wrote that on the 4th January, nearly a full year ago. I remembered this draft sitting in my unpublished/unfinished file and today, I run with it. It's perspective, isn't it? Perspective can be a tool of empathy, or a weapon of bias, but without it, our understanding of our own personal universes dissolves. Our connections with others become one-sided, our existence becomes selfish. I cannot remember what prompted me to begin the original post, but, eleven months later, I realise how little perspective, or empathy, I was capable of having whilst in the headspace I was in at the time.
Understanding the emotional experience of others is so crucial to my work. The times I have failed to do so, are the times that I have fallen short. The most meaningful client relationships I have made have been with people who have echoed my own experiences in one way or another, which at first might sound narrow-minded, but upon deeper thought, makes perfect sense. It's a lot easier to empathise with why a 300lb woman can't perform a certain exercise when you have lived the experience of attempting to stand up and sit down at that weight yourself. It becomes a lot easier to convince someone resistant to food accountability protocols of the need to track when you can demonstrate ways in which you can succeed or fail through anecdotal evidence. This job isn't about a textbook. It's not all learning the names of muscles and off you go. People are so perfectly similar and also unique, in that they are resolutely certain that their pain will never be understood. But, I fucking get it. Not because I'm psychic, but because I've been there. You don't become five, six, seven +++ stone overweight because you 'like food' or because you 'can't turn down a biscuit'; it's because food is there when something else isn't, or to suffocate an unresolved emotion or trauma. Eat less and move more? Sure, this is great basic advice, but it's not enough when you're actively fighting with yourself about the next thing on the menu when you haven't even started the meal you're at yet. It's fine advice for the slightly overweight, or if you piled it on after reducing activity levels, had an injury, or just fall into the 'slightly twitchy about biscuits' category. But if you have a serious, unresolved, weight problem that makes your head scream with conflict and makes you feel powerless in your actions, no amount of pragmatism or fat-shaming is going to pull you from that place on a permanent basis. Sure, you can drop a bit here and there, but will the long term trajectory of your weight chart go down? You'll already know the answer if you're in that place. You've already fought years to feel different, to look different, to try to be the person you feel like inside. But all those years of fighting wear you down, and give way to feelings of low self-esteem, further unhealthy coping habits, and the creeping thoughts that maybe this will never change.
I totally get it. Remember, you can change. You will change - but first you have to admit where the problem starts. Shift your perspective from the symptoms to the cause. Binge eating, comfort eating, eating without hunger, undereating: they're all symptoms of your issues. Reverse the symptom and you grant only a stay of execution to what's essentially a foregone conclusion. But, address the cause of your struggle with food, and you can radically change the outcome. You can do both at once, or address the latter, and the former will follow. It's a lot harder than boshing a metric fuckton of meal replacement shakes, but believe me, it's so much more worthwhile.