The thing about emotional armor...
I wish I knew where to start! I've been married over 30 years....like most women, when I married I had a pretty decent figure. Never had children but I was a smoker for a number of years. After smoking for over 35 years, I QUIT!! I was told by everyone not to worry about gaining weight - even my husband agreed.
Not only did I quit smoking but I also entered into menopause around the same time (can you say double-whammy for weight gain!!) I know I cannot blame everything on these 2 things alone, though.
My Mom was on the heavy side as were her parents - heredity - YES. I also take medication daily which adds some lbs. The other thing is I hate to sweat!!!!! Because of that fact I do not do much exercise. I am also a very picky eater so diets are a hard thing for me since what I will even eat is limited. OK there is the background.
I have been smoke-free for 9 years and yesterday, while with friends, the conversation drifted to eating habits and why I was so "picky" and had I always been that way. I gave a brief description of life growing up in my family and how Mom made one dinner - the choice was take it or leave it and if you left it, there was no "other" meal coming. Hubby chimed in with "Yeah when she graduated high school she weighed 95 lbs. I have given thought to taking over meal prep so it would force her to lose weight" I WAS APPALLED!
To me, it was the most hurtful thing. All I was hearing is that he really doesn't love ME. He says the words but does he mean them? I think not. Where do I go from here? I was hurt to my core.
I know you cannot answer every question - but if you could give me something, anything, it would so appreciated. The way I feel right now is to run to see an attorney, then find someone who can love me for me - all of me & what I have to offer.
Dear Formerly Thin,
You’re right darlin, I cannot answer every question that comes in, but yours has an insanely important message that I’m just not willing to let slide…so, let’s get right to it.
First and foremost, let me say this regarding the comment your husband made: I can’t tell you to or not to go get a divorce, so I’m not going to. What your husband said, who he said it in front of, and how he said it all sounds deeply hurtful…I officially grant you the permission to be upset. And…
And I don’t know anything beyond this particular story about your relationship and its 30 plus years, but I do hope that you’re able to communicate the hurt you felt to your husband. Let him know how his comment made you feel, and that it actually made you question his love for you. This is big huge stuff.
But before you do any of that…let’s shift from what he said, to what you said.
Even though you rounded out your question by asking me what to do about your husband, everything that came before that, in some form or another, was an explanation, justification, excuse, disclaimer, rationalization…about your body and its current shape or weight. You pretty much covered all of your bases my darling. You talked about why your body is the way it is because of something physical, chemical, emotional, physiological, medical, and genetic, and that’s telling me that not only are you not happy with how you are, but so much more…
So if I’m really-like really really-doing my job, I’m going to scoop away all the details (what he said-what she said-what your mother did or didn’t do) and send as much love to you as possible while I explain some things that may be really hard to hear...but extremely important. Here I go.
As I was reading the first few paragraphs of your question when you were describing your changing habits over the past 10 years, your experiencing menopause, things you don’t like to do or eat, and things you don’t want to fully blame, an image came to my mind. That image was of you wearing armor; big thick iron metal heavy armor. Each example and justification and routine you can’t give up is representing a piece; one piece here and one piece there, covering your arms and legs and torso and head…until you’re fully enclosed.
Armor is supposed to keep us safe, its supposed to work- and so far for you, it has. It’s helped keep you safe because when you have smoking and menopause and medication and heredity and eating habits and disinterest in sweating and the way your mom fed you all helping to make sure you to never have to talk about whats really going on…well, that’s a lot of layers of protection.
Your story, your reasons, your justifications for why you are how you look the way you do have kept you protected from having to look in the mirror (metaphoric and literal) to not only see, but truly look at the woman you are today.
You’ve entered a new chapter of life gorgeous, shifts have occurred and changes made and my love, you’re doing an amazing fabulous spectacular job of keeping yourself safe from having to face those changes head on. But the issue is, your armor is no longer working. And here’s how I know…
When your friends questioned you and your husband put you down, your armor was pierced. And you reacted how anyone would: You were wounded, so you want to fight back. You want to be angry at those around you for pushing through your armor and hurting you in your “core”, for not loving you for who you are inside…but in a strange, round about and ugly way, they’re trying to do the exact opposite.
When people who love you make ill-mannered comments it can be extremely confusing, but often they are in fact (unconsciously) trying to get to your core, not because they don’t love you or want to hurt you, but because it’s the part of you they love the most…and haven’t seen in a while, since its been buried behind all that armor.
It seems that you wanted to run to an attorney either because there is a way deeper unhappiness in your marriage that’s being lumped into this experience, or because you’re being challenged to look at who you are, how you’ve changed, and who you want to be… and that can be really painful and scary. From the way you wrote your question, what you said, and how you explained yourself, it seems the latter…though you have to make that distinction on your own, and get really honest with yourself.
The thing about emotional armor is that is serves a purpose; a great purpose. It keeps us protected, until we’re ready to shed the story and the rationalizations, and be vulnerable. You and your blood and guts and breath and skin and human-ness and imperfectly perfect self have been asked by your friends and your husband, yes in an unkind way, but asked nonetheless, to shed the layers and bring your authentic self to the table.
My suggestion to you is this: use the word “and” as much as possible right now. Your husband said something extremely unkind and hurtful…and…it’s hurting for a reason. My challenge to you is this: rather than fight back like many would, take a breath and give yourself a gift out of this and look at the pierced armor as an opportunity. Get curious about why you’re wearing it in the first place. Focus on the you behind the stories, inside the armor.
Then and only then, explain to your husband how he hurt you, and share with him what he can do from this point forward to help support you in a way that feels good and kind.
My darling gorgeous vulnerable open sweet kind formerly something or another and presently shifting woman… you’ve been walking heavy. Heavy with thick armor and bulky reasons and sizeable fears. What are you keeping yourself safe from, who is it that you’ve become that you don’t want to show the world, let alone yourself?
Get quiet, ask yourself tough questions and respond with honesty. Who are you afraid to be? Who are you afraid you’ve become? Who is the woman behind the iron clad story?
Give yourself permission to shed your armor, work through and appreciate this experience by releasing your fears and your history and your explanations, and allow yourself to travel through this next chapter of your life…lightly.
Love love love,