Tuesday, July 19, 2022

How I lost 100 pounds by healing low self esteem

Whether you need to lose weight, gain it or maintain a healthy weight, it's important to address mental health, not just physical. Said differently, weight loss (or gain) is not just about calorie restricting or what diet you're on. It's about dealing with underlying emotional struggles. Part of how I lost 100 pounds was by working on low self esteem and stinkin thinkin (Al-Anon) 

I thought my biggest issue was (and was medicated for) depression. But that was only a manifestation of the real issue: low self esteem. Beginning in 1997 through 2004, we experienced a series of unfortunate events. I had major pregnancy complications with our fourth child, lost two stillborn infants, moved into a house that required huge and unexpected repairs (think all broken windows, a collapsed ceiling and burst water pipes). 

We'd sold our mobile home for cents on the dollar to get into this house which we'd allowed the current tenant to live in till her Habitat for Humanity home was ready. Five months later and multiple queries as to when we could move in (met with "her home isn't ready yet") we discovered she'd vamoosed--leaving unpaid bills, damaged electrical and water pipes, collapsed ceiling, burst toilet, broken windows and a dead snake out back(!)--almost immediately after we'd first seen the home. The landlord, our church, BTW, didn't bother to check up because she was living rent-free. She got her nicely move-in ready Habitat for Humanity home while we were stuck with the mess she'd left behind. 

When we saw the house in November, we noted what would need to be done. And there was plenty then. Needless to say, sitting vacant five months left the house in condemned-notice condition. It was actually us who discovered the tenant had split. We drove by one night in March, saw the doors hanging open and everything a mess. 

We alerted the sellers who basically said we were stuck because we agreed to buy it ("remember what a good deal we gave you??") And we were also desperate being now homeless. We had undersold the mobile home for $3,500 (valued at $12,000) because the mobile home market was low and because we didn't want to LET THE SELLERS DOWN when they were finally ready to sell. 

Everything needed fixing. We had to fix it alone with no help from seller which drained our bank account. Husband was juggling two jobs in different cities. Oh, and we still paid the full asking price of the house, no discount for damages. 

Yes, we should have pulled out or at least demanded that things be restored to the condition we'd originally seen it in. Yes we should have insisted they find us accommodations till said repairs had been done. No I shouldn't have tried get the house livable with just my four kids to help. No my  husband shouldn't have had to work on the house after work, just to get it habitable. No, we shouldn't have been so nice and should have been thorns in various backsides. 

But that brings me back to the original point of this blog post: low self esteem. Both my husband and I struggle with it. Why did we allow ourselves to be so taken advantage of? Because we figured that this shambles was good enough for who it was for. And did the sellers chime in with the guilt: we should be grateful that we were getting "such a good deal." We weren't, they were and they knew it. They'd neglected the house, not monitored the tenant and now would be lucky if the city didn't make them liable, if we didn't buy it. Under the table mind you. 

So like two muggins, we bought it. Stinkin thinkin told us it was the best we deserved. Operative word: we (he and I). We knew our kids deserved MUCH better and we wanted, but failed to get it for them. That caused massive anxiety and guilt. Which drove self esteem even lower. Queue the depression, misery and yes even fights (you tend to take out frustrations with those you feel you owe gratitude for hurting you, on those you love). Weird. Vicious cycle. 

Part of how I lost 100 pounds was to get at why I thought so little of  myself. There is a book series in that answer. And maybe I'll write it someday. Suffice, for this blog post, to say that learning to recognize that I was a beloved child of my Heavenly Father (thank you, Fr. Chuck), who wants the best for me, not just good enough for who it's for, helped a lot. So did giving myself permission to express needs, wants, dissatisfaction and frustrations. To say no to manipulative, exploitative situations. To practice self-care. 

A part of my old stinkin thinkin narrative says I should make disclaimers and defend toxic behavior. The monkey on my back worries that you readers may think I'm dramatizing, attention-seeking or just an idiot. Low self-esteem talks like that. Lots of auto blame-shame. I'm also tempted to defend the house sellers, saying they meant well, didn't realize the extent of the damage, yada yada. But I'm not going to. It should have been handled differently and we were treated badly. We are still dealing with negative repercussions.  

So we got screwed over. However, the real responsibility is down to us, to change this stinkin thinkin. We realize, in retrospect, that we are just too nice, or just pushovers. We've been stung multiple times, and should have spoken up about. We are learning together how to advocate for ourselves and not to let ourselves get taken advantage of in future. Because we don't deserve it no matter what you say, skinkin thinkin. 

This post may seem far afield for a blog about weight loss. However, concepts like low self-esteem are actually a large part of how we get overweight (or underweight, anorexic, bulimic, etc) in the first place. Many physical problems originate in our heads. Not our imagination, our stinkin thinkin. 

Love to you all and stay tuned for more. 



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