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Just like my father...

Monday, December 31, 2012

This Blog post started out as a response to a Blog written by Debra0818 called "Addiction (Dec 26)". It started getting out of hand for a response entry. Debra seemed to have struck a nerve or conjured up something I needed to talk about. So, I offer it here as a Blog entry with thanks to Debra for the inspiration!

My father was a brilliant, kind, quiet, well-loved man. His response when anyone would ask how he was, was always the same, an enthusiastic and jolly, "fat and sassy!" Everyone loved him and his ability to make fun of himself. He laughed, too!

In truth, he would have likely been considered morbidly obese. In today's world, I imagine he would have been recommended for bariatric surgery, but in the era in which he lived and on the income we had, it was not an option. It was also MUCH more dangerous then -- probably more dangerous than the weight he carried. He tried many times to lose weight, but never really lost more than a few pounds...and even then, they would come back on at the first celebration of any kind or holiday which in our family was ALWAYS about food.

Despite his size, my father was a VERY active man. He worked and supervised hard labor construction and road jobs. He was outside all day and came home exhausted, usually sunburned and sweaty -- even in the winter. Through all of that he was a gentle man who loved his children, his wife, and the miscellaneous pets we collected. He was a serious businessman and worker who was well respected by his superiors as well as the laborers who reported to him. I obviously adored him!

Despite his deeply private self and quiet ways, he told me once through teary eyes that he thought he had an addiction to food. I was young and not sure I understood, but had the good sense to ask him why. He said almost every day he vowed to change his ways, to eat less, to eat healthier. But, when the food was put before him, he just loved it so and wanted to eat it. It made him feel GOOD! He felt he could not resist it, that he was somehow addicted.

I often wondered why he chose ME to tell this to. The truth is that I was the one most like him. I looked like him, shared many personality traits, cared about education as he did...and I was also the one who struggled the most with my weight. People would often say, "YOU must be one of Mr. Matkin's daughters! You look like him in every way!" While I was flattered, I always assumed that they also meant I was fat, just like my dad...a confusing thing to process as a child.

My father died 20 years ago, very suddenly at age 66 from something that had nothing whatsoever to do with his weight. He was a healthy man and we were shocked to lose him. When I think back to the day he told me that he thought he was an addict, it makes me incredibly sad. Sad because I think I know how he felt and what he went through...

It is an odd thing to lie in bed at night hating yourself for messing up again, but by morning making a promise that you will never feel that way again. THIS is the day! Everything will be different! I'll make a few small changes -- just a few. Then I'll keep going! I'll feel good about myself! Then...a week or two later or even the very next night, it begins again with more self hating, judgment and promises to change! But, THIS time...

It is excruciating to HATE having your picture taken because you are always surprised and repulsed at your own image when you see it. Smiling, laughing with friends and family, or doing something you love...it should be a celebratory thing. But, when all you see is that body -- Is it the angle? Is it the clothes? Can I REALLY be that big? I look gigantic next to (insert almost any name here). How do I even live with myself? How do OTHERS put up with me? I obviously am a failure. Just LOOK, and you will see!


Is this how my father felt? My lovely, wonderful, kind, smart, compassionate father? Did he berate himself in the middle of the night? Did he HATE all of the pictures that I so cherish of him?

It may seem too late to be talking about this, but, I DO believe my father and I can do this together now. I truly believe I did not lose my connection to him when he passed on.I admit to being very afraid. How can I fail so many times and then keep trying again? "Fall down 7 times, get up 8," right?

So, here I am getting up again. Actually, I "got up" this time a few weeks ago after another major backslide. But, I still fear the end of the holiday break and a return to a very busy job -- which I love, but is incredibly demanding! I'm going forward and hoping, committing, vowing, that I can be the person my father would want me to be...and more importantly, the person I want to be. AND I'll try not to be so hard on myself if things don't go as I had planned...again. I'll get up again.

This, like any other habit...or possibly addiction, must start with caring about myself and then doing what needs to be done to be kind and loving to me and also to those around me by bringing my best, most fulfilled self forward. This is the legacy my father left for me, and one that I can pass on.

GinaBug (a nickname given to me by my father, by the way!) emoticon
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    What an awesome picture and story, my friend. I think many of us can totally relate to your struggles; I know I certainly can. We are always our own worst critics. You look at pictures of your father and see him for his heart and soul and the rest of his wonderful being, yet you look at pictures of yourself and don't see that???

    I just had the honor of meeting you in person for the first time. ALL I saw was a warm, intelligent, caring, beautiful, giving and kind woman ... that's all ... I certainly did NOT notice anything about your size that even gave me cause to think about it. But I certainly know the drill of being my own worst critic as that's one of my worst habits!!! I'm harder on myself than anybody else ever dreamed of being.

    And I honestly believe that when you love another person, you NEVER lose your connection to them! I'm sure you've heard it said before that you carry them in your heart with you always ... and a heart connection is about as strong as it gets in my book!!

    Pick yourself up as many times as you need to ... and keep reaching out to people who care about you ... the only true failure is in no longer getting back up to try again. You are quite admirable in many ways, my friend.

    2650 days ago

    Comment edited on: 1/2/2013 11:56:17 PM
  • no profile photo CD359447
    A beautiful picture of a girl and and her Dad and a beautiful post....definately strikes a chord with me, and I'm sure many others.

    Yep, you get back up and keep going....as one of my very practival and "tough-love" friends said to me once...what else are you going to do? And I didn't, for once, have a snappy poor-me answer. Because the only possible answer is to get back up and keep going. Each time we do, we've learned more from the previous efforts, successes and mistakes and we do a little better than we did before. That is life and being human!!

    We can do it!! We ARE doing it!
    2651 days ago
    Oh, Ginabug. If you were sitting here right now, I'd be hugging you. I love what you wrote about your dad, and I'm sure he is still with you on the journey.

    I too had a major backslide this year. I lost my dad in the spring (he was 66), and in the months that followed, I gained 25 lbs. sucky. I know he would want me to take care of myself, to be healthy, to be happy.

    I haven't made eye contact with my self care program in months. I've been sick, I've been depressed, and, in many ways, I gave up for a while.


    Not totally

    Here I go, getting up for an 8th time.
    2651 days ago
    You can Do this! I'm sure your dad is watching over you and maybe he told you so you would try and make a difference. It's not easy especially when you have alot of weight to lose, but trust me, you can lose it and the feeling you get is awesome. Set small goals and make sure you track your food and exercise. Do this for yourself and I'm sure your dad will be proud.
    2651 days ago
    Here's to a year of caring for the 'new' you!
    Namaste Ginabug.
    2652 days ago
    Wonderful blog Gina. Thank you for sharing. Your on the right track I know your going to be successful.
    2652 days ago
    emoticon Your dad would be so pleased to find you making the effort... and he's helping and encouraging you all the way! I am convinced of it.
    2652 days ago
    Ginabug, what a story. I love that when you see photos of your father, you cherish them because you see your father. Remember that people, especially the people that love you, see you as you are, not for your size.
    I'm now 52 years old and it's wasn't until I read The Power of Habit last summer that I understood how our habits and addictions can sabotage our best intentions. It has a great explanation of the habit loop cue-ritual-reward. Since then I've really been watching out for the cues a lot more closely. It's a book worth reading.
    2652 days ago
  • no profile photo CD9922996
    What an awesome testimony to part of the legacy your father left behind -- a daughter blessed with an open and loving heart, an inquiring mind and the courage to try again when so many things are arrayed against success. I have obviously fallen down many more times than 7, gotten up more than 8 and will NEVER give up on myself. I know that your father sacrificed himself daily for his family because he loved them -- he wasn't able to bring himself to that same sacrificial level of love for himself, but WE CAN. You write beautifully about a wonderful man who left a lot of love in his wake.

    2653 days ago
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