First of all, I apologize for my unexpected absence this past week. While I had started writing a post last Friday, it just did not feel right, so I never got around to posting it. The post is still there, but needs editing and rethinking. The true delay came with a crashed network from Sunday until late yesterday. We have only just managed to get things restored to a functioning level. The hazards of living where you work, I guess. We think we sorted the issues out though, here’s hoping.
Now, we are going to get involved in the topic of this post. I know it is going to seem odd coming from me in the grand scheme of things. What? Well me actually trying my hardest to be serious about something. While my ministry and work focus mainly on all people and nourishing their spiritual needs, there is my other focus, the one in which I could spend hours upon hours working and still end up hitting my head up against the wall of just not doing enough. That would be Youth Ministry. I love the work, I love the interactions, the conversations, the energy I seem to gain when I am able to act like a 16 year old kid among other 16 year olds, as opposed to myself acting like a 16 year old kid among the 30 – ??? crowd I tend to deal with.
The one thing that crops up time and time again not just with the youth but so many other people as well are the concerns of body image and what others think of “me”. Hell I am not the expert on this, I have degrees in many things, but none of them are in counseling. I am just talking about this from my own personal perspective of life. I remember life before diabetes, I was a happy little kid, there was nothing wrong with me, maybe I had a little excess fat on me, but hey I was young and still growing. I remember though months before diagnosis, I was on a health kick, trying to ride my bike more and do all good things to lose weight. Man, was I ever losing weight though, the running around, the walks, the fun, it was great. I was dropping weight like nothing… Man I thought I had the most amazing diet… I was wrong. That weight loss had nothing to do with my exercise routine. Yet I was so happy, being the tallish lanky kid who musta weighed like 110 pounds.
Obviously, that was the d-attack and once things got back on track I put some of that weight back on not to mention I kept growing. My junior year I once again went on the “need to lose weight” kick. Not for any reason other than I was not mentally happy with how I looked or felt about my body image. The same routine ensued, running, walking, biking, trying to get into shape. That seemed to be working quite well. I was dropping weight like nothing. Once again, I found the magic diet. Nope, this time it was my overactive thyroid that made me drop down to below 120 pounds. Man that was a great year book picture. So that problem was treated and the weight came back. This time without a functioning thyroid the weight was a lot more than I had planned for and had not prepped my body for.
Again, I was never huge, but mentally we have these ideas in our heads of what is the perfect size, weight, shape we should all be. Once college started I tried my best to run, rollerblade, to exercise as best as I could. It worked and I lost some weight, I went vegetarian, I lost some weight. I should have been happy, yet I wasn’t. For the longest time I was never comfortable with my look, my body image was shot. I was always to fat. Even to this day sometimes I have my issues with how I think I look. But in the grand scheme of things I have moved on as best as I could.
(This moment of deep thought is interrupted by a moment of seriousness. See I can’t stay serious for a long time.)
Anyway, that portion of the post was only background. The idea of self should never be tied to our body image and shape and yet it is. Over the years I have heard so many stories of bulimia, anorexia, and even just watching people kill themselves to get that ideal look or that “ideal look”. It pains me so much. To hear the talk where one of the kids who I think is probably the most self aware, self confident, and beautiful person, talks about his/her issues with their body. How they can’t see how anyone can love them because of how they looked. Instead, they talk about doing x,y,z, to get the look they needed. More so when they have that guilt that their significant other broke up with them because they were ugly or something else. It makes me want to punch somebody in the face. Yet, no matter how many times we tell those people they are beautiful, until they embrace truly who they are, they will not see this. They will only see their best hope of being loved is to have a body like my friend Alex.
Not a drop of fat on him, all muscle, but not over the top either. He may or may not like to try to impress the girls with his six pack as well. Hey nobody is perfect.
Sorry Alex, not that he is going to read this. The funny thing though about Alex, who I love he has his own body issues or handsome issues. That could be another story. The thing though is that insecurities people face are rampant. It pains me to hear these stories from people across the board. Not in the I don’t want to hear another story, more along the lines of there is another person facing these issues. What a mucked up world we live in. Why can’t we all just love who we are?
There are two songs out there that I like one old schoolish and one more recent.
We have the classic Christina Aguilera song: Beautiful
I also like this song. Sorry Nick Jonas is pretty okay in my book: Who I Am
There are so many people out there who always talk about these concepts though. The people who are fearful of being judged for who they are, what they look like, etc. I have my own moments of insecurities about who I am. Yet, as I get older and wiser or something like that. I have come to a stunning conclusion, how I look, how I feel I look does not matter to many people. I have tried my hardest to move beyond my younger insecurities to be able to accept me for who I am. I succeed most of the time. I mean yes I want to lose some weight, not for any reason other than the fact it is a healthy idea not because I feel fat. I have embraced my other quirks and issues, my eventual loss of hair saddens me, but just because I hate wearing ski caps to keep my head warm. The fact that I will never have a tan, but will most likely freckle myself to death before that happens, who cares. It was a long process being able to work towards. To be able to be comfortable with who I am, yet this is something that we need to always work on. Not our own body image and issues, but the issue of people in general and how they feel about themselves and how they look.
I wish I had a solution, it is one that I am still working on. Yet as I move into another retreat season where I will here the “same” story over and over again, my heart continues to break for these people. I want to help them. I just don’t know how. The only thing I got is my love of them, my acceptance of them, and faith in the future that all will work out in the end.
If we ever get past this we can get to work on some of the more pressing topics of the DOC and world. DIABETES FACE!
Just this morning I was attacked a few times. I mean who could live life faced with this chronic condition where they have the urge to look like this:
I really tried to be serious throughout this entire post. I think I failed miserably. Oh well. One of these days I will make it.