Sunday, October 11, 2009

Reality Check - My Sister and Me

I could use some supportive, loving words from the community. If you can find the time, please read my blog post and send me your thoughts and comments, your related stories, anything to help me feel the sense of community and support. I crave these feelings right now.

I could never understand when folks would tell me that they don't speak to a sibling. My brother and sister and I went through a very dysfunctional, emotionally challenging environment growing up together. We all dealt with this is different ways. We were always like soldiers in the same troop, we went through the war together. We had a love and a connection with each other that was the envy of many of my friends. I could never imagine, being in a set of circumstances where I would be able to say to someone, "I don't speak to my sister."

Until today…

My sister and I had an argument about a very personal issue. During the argument, she brought up my eating, which was unrelated to the argument. As far as the argument about the very personal issue, I came to a recognition that no good can come from discussing it, so I put up a boundary of no discussion about it and then I addressed her comments about my eating, and my "killing myself".

In an email, I asked her…. "Are you even the least bit curious about the Fat Acceptance Movement and the Health at any size movement? Have you looked into it at all?  You haven't asked me about it.  Why haven't you asked me about it?" I don't run away from everyone when they discuss my weight, just the hysterical folks, like you, who can't have a calm, respectful conversation about it.  I demand to be treated with respect, even if I or my decisions are not respected.   I have the right to live my life any way I want.  I have found a way that makes me happy.  I will not discuss it with you unless you stay calm. don't raise your voice, and express your thoughts with the understanding that I get to choose to do anything I want.

I'd be happy to talk to you if you can stay calm, not raise your voice and try to understand what I am thinking, even if you disagree with it.  Do not try to get me to think your right. I am clear that you think my decisions are wrong for me.   If you want to talk about it, then, we will.. if you don't raise your voice or yell.  You have to acknowledge my right to make my own decisions.

She wrote me….

I'll admit I am not particularly curious about the Fat Acceptance Movement or the Health at any size movement.  I haven't looked into either of them.  I haven't asked you about them because I honestly think they are toxic for you.  I don't say that to be cruel, I only say it because you asked.  I know that it is not fair to form an opinion about something I don't know much about.  It isn't even in my character to do that.  But I do know what you've told me about them and what you've sent to read.  I agree with their stand on acceptance and tolerance.  I also firmly believe that you do not have to be "skinny" to be healthy.  However, I honestly feel (and am only saying this because you asked) that you have taken it to the next level by using these "movements" as an excuse to continue unhealthy habits like over eating and avoiding exercise.  I know you may feel my choice of words by saying "killing yourself" might have been harsh, but it is truly how I see it.  When you bring up the scientific research argument, it makes sense to you, but you don't consider the research on both sides.  If you are going to feed into a belief and truly take it on as a tool to leading a lifestyle, you need to consider its opposition as well.  When you consider your vote for president, do you only research one candidate?  An analogy Dxxxx gave to me was, "Some people live long healthy lives into old age and are smokers, but does that make smoking any less risky?"  I feel like that analogy could be applied here and to really any risky decisions we make in our lives. 

Are you fellow Fat-o-sphere folks seeing the hypocrisy in her argument here…

I wrote her this…

"As far as the fat acceptance movement goes I need to point out to you the hypocrisy of your argument.  You tell me that I am not considering all sides of the health issues (which I am) in the same paragraph that you say you are not interested is learning about this because you have already judged it without investigation.

In fact, after I tell you I have found something that I am happy about, you write in an email that you are not interested in learning about it.

Would you want to have a relationship with someone that did those things to you?

I am truly shocked at your hypocrisy here.  I am saddened and hurt by your judgement.

Unless you can see, and amend your hypocrisy and judgement here, and you can express to me a commitment to have an open mind in order to get an understanding of Fat Acceptance, I guess that leaves us with cordial exchanges at family functions because under the current circumstances I have no interest in what you think or feel anymore.

I hope you decide to make a commitment to learn about FA and communicate it to me, because, for all intensive purposes, we are done if you don't.

My Love for you doesn't stop because my willingness to associate with you does.

Well folks, I am sitting here and I am surprisingly not extremely sad, although I am sad about this, not angry although I think connecting with some anger might help me, I am actually feeling proud. I am proud to be so clear on what is not acceptable behavior to me. I am proud that I am so clear on my convictions about Fat Acceptance, that I am willing to let go of something that I thought I would never let go of, my relationship with my beautiful, sister. I am happy that she has a husband that loves her so very dearly because I actually feel sad for her and want her to be supported as she clearly sees that I am willing to walk away over this.

I know nothing is forever. Maybe i will soften about my boundaries with her, even if she doesn't compromise on learning about FA, maybe not.

I have spent my life second guessing myself, always buying into other's judgement of me and turning it inward as self hatred and shame. All the years in therapy couldn't help me see what the Fat Acceptance Community has shown me in a few months.

I can stand up to family members who judge what I do, listen to them, disagree with them, and be certain about where I stand.

Yay Me!!




  1. Awesome standing up for yourself stuff, and sad that argument like that has to happen. :/ Judgment is especially painful when you care about the source.

    (The pedant in me cannot resist pointing out that the phrase is "all intents and purposes", not "all intensive purposes". Sorry >_<)

  2. Regardless of how you choose to live your life. It IS YOUR LIFE! Kudos to you for telling her that your decisions are yours and being firm with your boundaries!

  3. HA!!!

    And I don't mean it disrespectfully, I mean it as in "I understand from what I'VE experienced in my situation". My Brother (HALF-Brother is what I am going 2 be referring to him as from now on) is 10 years younger than me so he was born when I was 10 and had I to change poo diapers. I've had to have HIS Father for a Step Father who was a drunk molester and put this HALF Bro of mine on a pedastal.

    I have the misfortune to live with this ass and his 19 y.o. Wife (who's p. cool) and My Husnband p. much pays for almost everything, giving 350 to my Mom and paying 300 for stupid Comcast, which they use the phone waaay more than we do and I have a Diabetic child in Kindergarten!!!

    He FREQUENTLY verbally and emotionally abuses my children (3 & 5) on an almost daily basis.

    "Oh, I'm just messin' with ya..." Well, guess what? That's the LAST FRICKIN' THING I NEED!!!! Whenever he's home I have 2 find a way to haul my 2 small kids and I, one with a condition in the Miami heat WITH NO CAR!!! Yet he doesn't seem to contribute AT ALL and get rides EVERYWHERE even just down the street!!! It's not fair and it sux!!!! And until he grows the eff up IF he ever does..I avoid him as much as humanly possible given we're in a tiny house and I have NO FORM of transportation whatsoever!!

    Thank God I can at least get to church b/c that helps A LOT!!!! Yeah, the thing about being disrespectful, well, I think you can gather from this long ass comment that I get NONE of that at all even though I helped take care of his ass since he was a baby and when he was 3 he stabbed my Sis in the back with a knife and punched her in the breasts on a daily basis but Drunk Molester Step Father would continue to praise and defend him I guess b/c he came from his Oh-so-special and magical sperm and not my Sis and I.

    I mean we're not perfect but were not COMPLETE, INCONSIDERATE ASSHOLES!!!!

    The thing you said about being treated with respect and understanding WITHOUT raising your voice and that I can live any way I want..I COMPLETELY AGREE WITH!!!!

    About your Sis, is she constantly watching her weight? She just might be jealous that she has to try to do that and who are you to not care or some crap like that. I'm sorry I can't be more helpful if only to say I feel you in regards to siblings who think they can comment or dictate your life when they have NO right and REFUSE to acknowledge it!!

    If she drinks or smokes you should turn it around on her.

    UGH!!! I am Soooooo sorry this is so long but you REALLY hit a nerve!

    Thoughts and prayers with you!

  4. This must be very difficult, and I'm really sorry you've come into conflict with your sister. I admire you for staying calm and rational in your responses. I have had the good fortune to have a family that, while not agreeing with all of my life decisions, respects my autonomy and my judgment enough that I am never pushed to "explain myself".

    Your sister doesn't seem to understand that the most important goal for you--or for anyone she cares for--is well being. The definition of well being for an individual and the path that will lead her/him to it is different for every person and different at every moment of that person's life. To stand outside of someone and their experiences and assert that their way is the wrong way is fundamentally arrogant and selfish.

    People who make that assertion sometimes claim to be motivated by love, but love would not deny a person their autonomy. What I've seen most often from people pointing out a "wrong way" is fear. Find out what they're afraid of, and why, and you can usually reach a resolution that doesn't demand a change in path for either individual. Maybe "you're killing yourself" means, "I'm afraid you'll die soon because of what I read in the newspaper". Maybe it means "I'm afraid to accept what you teach because I'm afraid of how I will be treated if I become fat". Maybe it means, "I'm afraid of loosing you as a friend because our beliefs are too different".

    You and your sister will be in my thoughts, and I hope for a loving resolution.

  5. Just yesterday I had an experience in which someone I've known for something like 12 years, with whom I've been very open about fat acceptance, laughingly compared me to both a zeppelin and the effing marshmallow man from Ghostbusters. When he asked me, still laughing, if I thought it was funny, I answered with a straightfaced 'no.' I seethed/ panicked for about five minutes of his nattering, and then told him I needed to leave because of the marshmallow comment. I'm proud of myself. I'm proud of both of us, Ivan, for asserting ourselves and thereby loving ourselves. You've got my support.

  6. I'm so sorry you're having this out with someone so close to you. I had a childhood friend I was close with who was an alcoholic, and she was always scolding me about my weight and how I was going to die (this was long before I discovered body acceptance, and I was constantly dieting), and I finally got fed up and told her unless she got help and stopped drinking, SHE was going to die. Then we made a bet re. who would die first, the fattie or the alkie. It was an acrimonious discussion, to say the least. That was the last time we spoke, it was at least a decade ago. She's been dead now for five years. (I won the bet: sorrow and bitterness.)

    I live 3,000 miles away from my family, and sometimes tell them what's going on with me and sometimes don't. I think it's so much harder when you live near them, as you do, and are trying for a good relationship, as you are. Congratulations to you for doing that. But, as you say, that's not always possible. Your sister's paragraph:

    > I know that it is not fair to form an opinion about something I don't know much about. It isn't even in my character to do that.

    Apparently it IS in your character to do that. And since you admit it's not fair, why are you doing it?

    > I agree with their stand on acceptance and tolerance. I also firmly believe that you do not have to be "skinny" to be healthy. However, ....

    THIS DOES NOT APPLY TO YOU. Please live the way I tell you to.


    I know how frustrating and disappointing it is not to be supported by your family in something that means so much to you. Good for you for setting boundaries. Maybe in the future things will change, but for now, I say do you what you need to do. It really takes courage. I wish the best of luck to you.

  7. Ivan I really know where you are coming from. I too have toxic family members, and my younger brother is one of those. Other than my father, he was the most abusive male in my life, and took great delight in making me feel bad about myself because of my weight.

    And when I stood up and said "You are my brother and I love you, but I will not tolerate being treated like this." I became the bitch of all bitches in the family. I didn't even ask him to do anything but STOP.

    So I cannot have him, or several other family members in my life. I just can't do it, it poisons me too much. It makes it hard because it does distance you from family members connected to them, but in the long run you have to work out what is healthy for you and run with it.

    Good luck, remember it is YOUR life and you choose what you do with it.

  8. I wish I has something wise to say, but witty words escape me. I can say that this must be very hard for you, but always remember that you have to do what is best for your emotional health. The only person who will truly look out for you is you.


  9. Ivan,
    I am sure many of us can sympathize or empathize with your situation. You did the right thing by leaving the door open for a face-saving reconciliation, yet standing up for your own turf.
    Know what? Your sister should be darn glad you're alive in the first place. While surfing the internet, I discovered by accident that Maurice Gibb, one of the BeeGees, died many years ago of atrangulated intestines. As I recall, he wasn't at all fat, and I'm sure he wasn't hurting for money to pay for the best medical treatment available.
    Yet he died from it. You, after a lot of hard work, managed to survive. Separating from your family, even somewhat, is hard too, but it is better than subjecting yourself to the pettiness and willful misunderstanding you get from them.
    Hugs to you.