Lizzy’s mom was a Southern Belle who kept the family home in the traditional Southern style, and her father was a strong meat and potatoes kind of man from the Midwest. It was in the hearth of the family home, the kitchen, and at the table, that the family did all their bonding while sharing homemade southern classics at each meal. Her mom’s cooking was so good, but so rich, that everyone in the family was bigger than their best size.
Lizzy got picked on at school, more than her brother’s because she was a girl, but the loving comradery at the table each day made it easy for her to eat like everyone else.
Years passed. Liz found a kind caring man, they married and had kids of their own. She maintained her birth family tradition by keeping the kitchen, food and meal time the hearth of their family sharing, but after gaining way more weight than she wanted from her pregnancies she had to make some changes. Fairly quickly she saw that it was the warmth of her own heart that made the kitchen a place of loving connection – not the choice of foods she prepared. Soon the kitchen had light healthy options instead of the heavier ones her parents chose. On special occasions Liz went back to her southern grass roots and prepared grits cooked in harvested bacon grease and served it with homemade buttermilk biscuits, sweet honey butter and homemade preserves. Those meals were quite rare which made those special days even more memorable for everyone.
The weight she had piled on after the pregnancies came off with the new kitchen style she created for herself and the family. Her kids would stay fit too and never know the same fate she had known growing up. Despite her healthy lifestyle with regular exercise for so many years, the extra pounds she had always carried stayed put as if a permanent part of her body.
One day when she was out and about around town she saw Kendra at a distance. Kendra had been the leader of the pretty girl pack at school. Thin, popular, cool clothes and desired by the best looking guys at school. She always had a date on the weekends and for school events. Instantly Liz was flooded with the emotions, thoughts and memories of school years long past – all the stuff she thought had long since vacated her person. She remembered Kendra not giving her but a sordid occasional “hello” in response to Lizzy’s friendly gestures and kindness. Liz felt the surge of envy, annoyance and frustration boil up from inside her. Were all those horrible feelings of hurt and pain still in there after more than 15 years? It was surprising. Without warning she could see that she was angry as a hornet, smoking mad as she did a memory walk about of how she had been treated.
Usually mild mannered and warm hearted she arrived home in disbelief that she was feeling so inwardly hostile simply from seeing Kendra at a distance. It was ridiculous, but the emotions were right there, undeniable and unshakeable. As she got more comfortable being uncomfortable with all the virulence stirring inside her the insights started to trickle down like the ever so slow melt of an icicle on a warm winter day.
“Am I unable to lose the last of my excess weight because I so hate those “pretty popular girls” from my past… the ones that overtly rejected me all those years?”
“Do I keep my excess weight to make sure that I never look like those who hurt me?”
“Am I somehow scared I would be like them if I have a more slender figure?”
Dinner that night was comfortable, but far more quiet than usual as Liz was half entrenched in her foggy passage.
The kids went to bed, the house was ordered for the following day and she moved through her evening bedtime routine more quietly and contemplatively than was standard. As she settled she got more insights, like drops melting off that same icicle.
“Is the part of me that is used to being overweight at battle with the part of me that wants to be slender?”
“Maybe these two parts of me can be friends?”
“Was Kendra thin and the way she was because of her family… in the same way that I was heavier because of mine?”
She dozed off that night with many new perspectives she had never considered before while her husband remained perplexed at his wife’s uncommon detachment.
Morning came all too soon as it always did on a weekday. As she and her husband both got everyone ready and out the door she saw herself with new understanding. “I am incapable as a human of ever being like the popular pretty girls I remember so clearly from my school years – the ones who rejected, refused and judged me. I can have a slender figure AND still be the same me I am now!”.
As the day continued to unravel she saw that those school experiences, as unnecessary and uncomfortable as they were, had forged in her a special natural warmth, compassion and determination to build a life on qualities rather than appearances. What a blessing her life was as a result.
Days and weeks passed following that curious day, she felt a deep peaceful gratitude for who she was AND her appearance. Then as if by magic the excess weight she had struggled with for so many years slowly began to disappear. One by one, the pounds vanished like drops melting off the ever winter icicle and it happened simply by maintaining the healthy lifestyle she had had for so many years.
It was as if the final spell had been broken, lifted and set her on a new course.
See you next week for the next article in this series which will be “To Breakfast or Not?”
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