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The Big Question: It’s Not Me; It’s You Edition | Manolo for the Big Girl

The Big Question: It’s Not Me; It’s You Edition

Today is my little brother’s birthday. Blithely ignoring his HIGHLY questionable sartorial decision making skills–lest we forget the pinstripe gangster suit, complete with patent pleather faux spats and stupid bifurcated goatee– he is my favorite person.

It wasn’t always thus.

As a child I was sardonic, standoffish and prone to plumpness. He was athletic, charming and had the metabolism of a coked out whippet. He would say horrible things about my size. He wasn’t alone.

My great grandmother’s final words to me were “Have you always been that fat?” and my grandmother had a long and glorious career of telling me I was fat, in case it had escaped my attention every single day of my life since I was nine years old.

My mother, who had her own struggles with weight, called me “Fatso Fogarty” a name made all the more vicious because I remember her complaining bitterly about how much she hated being called that by her parents.

So what’s the point of all this dirty laundry?

Forgiveness.

Here’s the thing: People say stupid stuff. I say stupid stuff all the damn time and I’m one of the more thoughtful people I know. I’m sure I gave as good as I got when I was younger.

I’m not saying it’s okay and especially as adults we ought to know and thus do better, but it happens and I think it happens even more to fat women because weight is a huge (as it were) bugaboo for many many people and odds are some of those people are going to be in your family.

If you internalize that stuff, if you hold onto it and nurture it, it will poison you from the inside, and poisoning is only good when you do it to rats…or that lady who took the LAST fuchsia cashmere cardigan in your size even though there is no way on this or any other earth she could possibly wear fuchsia even HALF so well as you. Because seriously, with her coloring? It is to laugh. Sleep with one eye open, you sweaternabbing harpy.

But anyway, you’ve got to get past it.

Let’s switch gears for a second. My grandmother in Nashville loves gin and one night when I was out to dinner with my favorite uncle and his groovy wife at Equinox, I ordered a gin and tonic. He laughed and said I came by it honestly.

It’s been my experience that people come by their fat hate or disordered eating honestly.

It doesn’t make it okay to say hurtful things, but I’ve found that by understanding the backstory, it makes it easier to go “okay, well of course that’s what she’s going to say. That’s about her, not about me.”

The woman who grew up starving in the Depression might very well equate hunger and thinness with virtuousness, the woman who remembered being teased and miserable in school for being a fatty fatty boombalatty might be a leetle too invested and easily triggered when she sees her young daughter filling out a bit more fully than the rest of the kids.

As we complete the old year and look forward to the new, I invite you to think about a problematic relationship you’d like to resolve in 2011. Resolution can look like many things, not just hugs and lollipops. If you’d like to, put the information in the comments. I’d love to hear them.

16 Responses to “The Big Question: It’s Not Me; It’s You Edition”

  1. BrieCS December 29, 2010 at 2:53 pm #

    I don’t know if I’m quite getting it, but here’s my thing. Last year, I made one resolution: eliminate toxins. It sounds kind of funny, I know, but it started a snowball effect I could have never imagined. I got a little healthier, which was part of it, but the real toxins were bad relationships.

    Before the end of January of last year, I had ended – literally ended – over 6 relationships with people who had been dragging me down and damaging me for years. People who, no matter how many times I tried to forgive them, kept doing the same things, and then made bad choices on top of those. So I told them the truth, and ended the relationships. I’ve continued it even up to this week – just last week, I stopped holding back the truths I needed to tell, and ended another relationship just by telling the truth.

    The biggest relationship resolution I need this year is with myself, and with my work. I’m carrying over my previous resolution, because I think it’s a good thing. Social toxins are hard to get rid of, but when you do so, it feels amazing. Some of them are resolved as simply as forgiving and forgetting, but others, it’s a matter of standing your ground and being honest. I haven’t figured out how to fix the relationship with myself, or how to help myself become better “friends” with my everyday work and my life, as well as with my body. But I’m trying. :)

  2. Tara Vallance December 29, 2010 at 4:40 pm #

    Oh Miss Plumcake! You are my hero. Your writing is like mental dessert – I can’t decide which phrase I love more.

    “coked out whippet” or “It is to laugh. Sleep with one eye open, you sweaternabbing harpy”

    Absolutely delicious – thank you. Thank you also for thinking with compassion about the sources of certain things, it always makes me stop and be a little more kind or at least open minded.

    “Coked out whippet” sigh . . . .

  3. Emily December 29, 2010 at 5:17 pm #

    Great thoughts, Plummy.

    I’ve finally come to accept that my parents and I tend to bring out the worst in each other, no matter how well-intentioned we are individually and how much we love each other. This seems to be the case for a lot of folks I know who were the odd one out in their families, and it’s hard to reconcile that reality with the social pressure to be a perfect, happy family. My relationship with my folks got a lot better after I moved across the country and stopped discussing certain topics with them. We still chat a few times a month and see each other once a year or so on non-holidays, but that’s about it and it works.

    I think, when it comes to family, sometimes the best you can do is accept that you would probably avoid each other like the plague if you weren’t related, but try and build whatever kind of relationship works for you in spite of that.

  4. ChaChaheels December 30, 2010 at 2:34 am #

    It’s really hard to keep this truth in mind, but if we all did, every nasty word anyone ever said to us would lose its sting. So here it is: nothing anyone ever says to you is personal. All people do when they hate or envy or criticize
    you is show you what their hang-ups are, what they criticize and hate and cannot accept about themselves (which is why they hate it about you). If we could stop taking what they say about us as law and see it for what it really is (the spewer’s “confession” about themselves, to you) then none of us would ever be so devastated by what they say to us.

    My most difficult relationships were with my mother and father. With my mother I knew I would never get past our hangups, while she was alive (but she did try exceedingly hard to tell me she loved me, and I tried to do the same for her). When she died all of the “reasons why” became apparent, and also, regrettable. It’s made looking after my ailing father much more manageable. Maybe that was the gift in the whole ordeal.

  5. jojo.k December 30, 2010 at 3:35 am #

    Amazing timing as usual.
    I had a blow out right before Christmas (toxic work relationship).
    I walked right into it.
    There is no good fix. In order to get work done I have to work with this person.
    So, I’ve decided to keep all issues documented and work on my resume.

  6. Dawn December 30, 2010 at 10:29 am #

    Wow! I literally just had a conversation with my brother yesterday about his possibly reconciling with our father. We had one of those terrible childhoods full of physical and emotional abuse from our father. Our mother tried to shield us but she was a little mentally unstable and far too co-dependent on our tyrannical dad. From the time I was 10 years old, I begged her to leave him. She finally did when I was in college but only after she attempted suicide. To say things were bad would be an understatement.

    Our mother died in a tragic accident only a couple short years after she finally broke free of that disfunctional relationship. It was devestating but it set me and my father on the path to reconciliation. Somehow, over the course of years, I was able to drop the heavy burden of hating him and blaming him for everything that went wrong when we were kids. My brother doesn’t understand how I can let it go and says that he just can’t. I’m older than he is and I enlightened him about some things he didn’t know that I hoped would help him.

    I think the best advice I gave him is that you don’t have to forgive. You don’t have to reconcile with people who have wronged you. As one of the commenters above said, I cut the toxic relationships out of my life with frequency. It’s OK to move on and away from a person that is bad for you. I would love to see my brother work it out with my dad but I’m not sure that he can and that’s OK too. Deciding not to have contact may be healthier for him in the end.

    Now if I can just figure out how to get along with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law! Hahahahaha!! I told my wonderful man that I would visit his family one time a year and bite my tongue because I adore him. Otherwise, those are people I’d NEVER spend time with.

  7. Becs December 30, 2010 at 1:11 pm #

    A few years ago I was deliberately publicly humiliated in front of a group of people I liked and respected, all because of an accusation of something that was either twisted out of context or completely made up. I still don’t know exactly what I was supposed to have done since the person humiliating me didn’t bother to tell me or give me a chance to respond, but I pieced together what I thought it was about as best I could. I’ve since cut the remaining ties with all the people involved (one of whom was one of my best friends for several years) but I still feel so much anger and sorrow and embarrassment about it. My goal this year is to make peace with the fact that sometimes things are just straight up unfair. Sometimes people are delusional jerks, and sometimes your friends will pick the person they’re banging over the friends who stood by them during difficult times. I don’t WANT to be bitter anymore, but it’s SO hard to let go of it. On the other hand, I feel like the people who hurt me win every moment I let it continue to poison my life.

  8. Michelle Nuno December 30, 2010 at 2:04 pm #

    Great post; really made me think.

  9. Thombeau December 31, 2010 at 1:58 am #

    My beautiful Plum, just stopped by to wish you the most utterly fabulous 2011 imaginable! Peace and love to you and yours! XOXOX

    (Great post, by the way!)

  10. Frances December 31, 2010 at 8:00 am #

    It is bizarre, Plum, but literally on Christmas Eve, I got a message from an old friend. We’ve been besties since we were 9 years old, and real besties, not just the kind when you stick together because of old memories only. We had a stupid, stupid fight over summer about something I can’t even remember and she completely cut me and our mutual friends out of her life. When she contacted me, at first I thought I would just ignore it but I ended up messaging her back and now we’re slowly building a rapport again. Best Christmas present ever!

    Much love and a wonderful New Year to you and all the glamorositude-laden readers of MftBG.

  11. La Petite Acadienne December 31, 2010 at 10:37 am #

    The funny thing is that it’s hard to take your own advice. My mother’s a “fixer” and tries so hard to make people change their ways, if they’re having problems. Of course, the people don’t change their ways, they just go back to the same old patterns, and Mom winds up resented, resentful and frustrated. And I’ve told her so many times that you can’t change people — all you can change is how you react to them. And yet, I’m just as bad, because I keep giving her all of this advice, and yet SHE never changes. So I think that a big part of forgiveness is accepting that people are who they are, and that we cannot change that.

  12. The gold digger December 31, 2010 at 10:38 am #

    I think the best advice I gave him is that you don’t have to forgive. You don’t have to reconcile with people who have wronged you…I cut the toxic relationships out of my life with frequency. It’s OK to move on and away from a person that is bad for you.

    Don’t forget the “but take notes so you can write a best-selling memoir about it all some day” part.

  13. missm December 31, 2010 at 1:07 pm #

    I think I will work on resolving the problematic relationship I seem to have with myself. That seems the best place to start.

  14. Talbot January 1, 2011 at 10:39 am #

    Divine, powerful writing, and funny too!! Awesome New Year’s present. Thank you.

  15. KESW January 3, 2011 at 1:41 am #

    I have been trying desperately to forgive a close (and I mean CLOSE like we share a house) relative for a few months now — said relative comes from a background of abuse and mental illness and while he is a trained professional in helping other people work through their past issues, his method seems to be to either repress it or project it onto others. So I’ve gotten burned a few times to the point where I feel afraid to just be myself around him, for fear that he will interpret everything I say as somehow controlling, demeaning, or arrogant.

    I think it DOES help some to remember that he comes by this fear of loved ones hurting him honestly… watching your parents go at it day in and day out doesn’t exactly lay the foundation for a stellar outlook on what it means to love. I’m going to try going forward to remember that his issues with me are almost always really going to be issues with himself or his background.

  16. VeronicaDarling January 8, 2011 at 6:38 am #

    KESW, I come from almost the same situation. Your last sentence is what you can hold on to. My issues with my sister were resolved when I figured out that even though she isn’t the sister I expected her to be, even though she isn’t the sister I want her to be, she is my sister and I want a relationship with her. (She is, like your relative, a PhD in Psychology. Physician, heal thyself.)

    I decided to not care if she seems uninterested in me; I am interested in her. I am interested in her husband and my nephew and (fingers crossed) new potential nephew or niece. Gentle, short, friendly emails have been received by my sister and communication has slowly led to joking around as we used to. My resolution to resolve this distance between us has brought me into the new year, and I’ll keep working on it because I want that relationship. I want my sister back even if she isn’t the person I thought she was. And my strategy is working! The happy!