Tuesday, April 03, 2007

My Thoughts On Unsolicited Comments

Over at LivingAfterWLS there's a post about Unsoliticted comments: Where do they lurk in your life? and it got me to thinking about things people say to kids and the way it can shape their lives.

I've always been "sensitive" to what others say and it hurts a lot to hear what they say to kids that are "different". I'm not sure now or back then who decides what makes someone "different", but boy howdy if you fit into that flexible category you better be tough to survive. I wasn't tough, but I developed many coping skills that serve me well to this day. I wish I could go back knowing what I know now and tell them all off, or at the very least, could have learned to "consider the source" and let it slide right off my hide. The older I get the more I'm convinced that we are the sum of what life deals us. Had I been one of the "beautiful people" maybe I wouldn't of followed the course that was charted just for me. Maybe I wouldn't of taught my girls to try to consider other people's feelings and look for the good in everyone because there is good to be found even if you have to dig deep to discover it.

I was a fat kid, then a fat teen, then a fat young adult who blossomed into a fat wife and mom. As a kid my worst word wounds were from a skinny little piece of crap and his buds who taunted me with "Sixteen Tons" all during the 7th grade. They were like a swarm of bees, waiting for me to venture out into the sunlight and then swarming around me chanting that taunt. I hated them. I still do. I always will. I wasn't all that fond of Tennessee Ernie Ford either!

One of the coping skills I learned was to denigrate myself with humor before someone else could slam dunk me with their hateful or thoughtless comments. I went on to use humor both as a release for my own tensions and a kind of glue that bound others to me. You know the drill ... "all fat people are jolly" .... well some of us are or so you'd think. Looking back it was a good thing that I had to develop others ways to fit in to the small group that made up my world in elementary, junior and senior high schools. I made life long friendships and for a variety of reasons having those friends probably saved my life and my sanity.

Along the way I also developed passive-aggressive tendencies and that's not a good thing. When I do draw a line in the sand to take a stand I tend to go overboard and be aggressive instead of firm and in control of my emotions. OR I drop someone like a hot potato and avoid them like the plague. (Also I can and do combine cliches often in the same sentence! It's both a gift and a curse!) I would rather not face confrontations if I can avoid it. I'd prefer to just never have to deal with that person again.

Even as a long married adult with children of my own I was taunted about my weight. While walking through my own neighborhood, in an effort to exercise, the adolescent son of an acquaintance hollered some unkind words about my need to lose weight to my retreating back as I went by. The first coping skill I ever learned was to NEVER turn around, just keep your back to them and continue walking as if you didn't hear a thing. Never let them see you cry! Never let them think it hurt! Never bleed in public! It made me so angry and upset that I went on a diet then and there and lost quite a bit of weight, but alas it didn't STAY off hence the eventual need for the RNY WLS to amend my pig-out ways.

Words can and do pierce the psyche, and they hurt every bit as much as the sticks and stones, but when you get to a good spot to look back on the past you realize that you are just as good as anyone else and maybe better than one or two. You survived it, you didn't quit, you're the gol-durn Energizer Bunny!

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Attila The Mom said...

I love you, TG, I really really love you!

I have and continued to fight a weight problem over the years. The comments never bothered me too much because I was a smartass (I might be fat, but you're ugly, and I can always lose weight!). Not to say it didn't hurt a bit, of course.

I have two beautiful kids, a husband who adores me, and a really nice life. I have what I want, so as an adult, I know that I can afford to pick my battles.

The most memorable ugly comment was from my now ex-sister-in-law about 10 years ago, when she and my brother came to visit us in our new home up here in the mountains.

"It's NOT fair that Attila has a nice house!" SIL complained. "She's FAT!" Yeah, like skinny girls are the only ones who deserve to have love or nice lives.

Hearing unkind words directed to my kids is another matter. No matter what I've ever heard regarding my weight compares to the shit people will say in front of those who have disabilities.

Once a woman went on a rant to me about how children with disabilities should go to "their own schools" instead of "taking resources away from normal children". I pointed out to her that she was sitting next to my son, who has multiple disabilities.

She eyeballed him and said, "Well you're lucky he looks normal. He could have been born with fins or something."

My husband grabbed me before I could climb over the table and rip her throat out.

Some people are just ignorant asswipes.

What can you do but feel sorry for them?


TxGoodie said...

What can you do you say? Climb over that table and rip their throats out! 'Cept then you'd go to the slammer and I think those gals really could put a world of hurt on a body!

I love you too, ATM. You're a good mom because, if for no other reason, you are THERE for your men all the time. My mom, God rest her soul, was not the sort I could turn to and she dwelled in her own tormented world. She was the original 'when she was good she was very, very good and when she was off her meds she was horrid' gal.

You'd think I would be tolerant and loving, but I too have been known to judge and torment I'm ashamed to say - maybe it's the pecking order - maybe that's the natural order of things. Or just maybe you tear someone else down in order to build yourself up. BUT if you can look at yourself and determine where the cracks in your psyche are and get some caulk and try and patch 'em up then maybe, just maybe there's hope for you after all. I don't do any step thing, but if I did I'd embrace the one where you go to people and say you're sorry and ask for their forgiveness even though I'll never be able to forgive those that hurt me so deeply. Go figure.

Another thing I believe in is the 'what goes around comes around' creedo. You gotta watch that karma stuff all the time. I'm pretty sure I'm mixing up my philosophies here, but no bigee most likely. All of it is pretty much similar - you can throw in the Golden Rule too and folks can't go wrong with that yardstick to measure their behavior with.

I think the most important thing that kids ought to learn is that there is life after high school if you can just tough it out. Don't let the bastards win.

Anonymous said...

Unsolicited comments are just another way of saying you don't like to hear a differing opinion. If someone tells us what we want to hear, the term never comes up. Welcome to the internet...