I’ve never had a visible health challenge before, so this is the first time I’ve experienced people looking worried and shaking their heads at the sight of me. It’s good and reasonable to want to inquire about such a rapid weight loss. I respect that. I also know how heavy some reactions feel to me. I don’t expect people to know how to talk about my struggles, but this does give me an opportunity to discover what feels right and helpful and what makes me want to stay home instead of go out where people might give me that pathetic look.
It’s not anorexia. I eat all day long. It’s not cancer. I’m losing weight because the foods I can digest are ones that are recommended for a weight loss program. I’m losing weight because at this stage of the process, healing the flora and killing the bacteria in my gut are priority. I am not losing muscle – just fat. I’m actually very healthy by most measures.
In fact, I feel more optimistic than ever because I know what I can eat and can’t eat and I know what my issue is and what to do about it. It’s a long slow process, but an exciting and promising one.
So while I appreciate concern and interest, I’d like to feel listened to. And I don’t feel that when someone looks at me and shakes their head with a worried look, and tells me, “Don’t lose any more weight.” Didn’t I just explain that I’m eating all day long (every two hours) and doing everything I can to keep the weight on while addressing the bigger, underlying issue? Or did I imagine that?
How many times do you need to remind me how skinny I am now? If I had gained weight, would you be reminding me multiple times of how fat I’ve become?
I just told you how optimistic I am – that I’m healing an issue I’ve had for years, and I expect to emerge more vibrant than ever. Why are you looking at me like you’re planning my eulogy?
It’s okay. People are well intended. There are plenty of others who can listen and engage with me where my heart is with it. It’s just that I never want to miss an opportunity to learn to communicate better. Next time someone is facing a health challenge in my world, I will know from first-hand experience how to better respect their process.