Inside These Walls

Biggest Loser is one of my not so guilty pleasures. When it first came out, I couldn't imagine why fat people would allow themselves to be humiliated on television for a few measly bucks. And then I started watching. Seriously. It has nothing to do with the money. These people are transforming their lives! Indeed, as I was telling Susan last night, I wish I could watch this show every night because it inspires me so.

But that's not what I want to write about. The beautiful woman pictured above is named Joelle. She had a lot of trouble on the show. She wasn't always sure she wanted to be there. She didn't really connect with any of the other participants; she rarely--if ever--gave it her all. At first it was a little irritating. After all, she had a wonderful opportunity and she was blowing it!

But then I started to watch her face and her body as other people were chastising her. I saw her when her weight loss was low. I saw her when she swore she was pushing herself, even though it was clear she was not. And I realized that she was afraid. I realized that there was some kind of big fear behind that wall of hers, and she was not about to let it out. She was not about to become vulnerable with those people.

I realized that in many ways I am Joelle.

In an earlier post I wrote about making some changes and stopping self destructive behavior. I have stopped over medicating myself with alcohol, I have been seeing a therapist, I have been exercising more, I've been working on my diet.

And life is better. I am down a clothing size, my weight loss is starting to show, my stomach and colon are in much better condition, and I'm doing better at work and in my relationship.

So what do I do? I have had several days this week when I just couldn't stop eating. I caught myself planning to drink the other night. I found myself wanting to hide away--skip work and stay at home (with food and alcohol, perhaps?). I forgot an important appointment with Susan. I mixed up the days for my therapist and missed that appointment. I am, in short, sabotaging myself.

Why? Am I afraid to be successful? attractive? happy? Yes, I think I am. I am also afraid that I will try my hardest and fail anyway.

I'm going to medicate myself with some Joy Harjo:

I take myself back, fear.
You are not my shadow any longer.
I won't take you in my hands.
You can't live in my eye, my ears, my voice,
my belly, or in my heart my heart
my heart my heart
But come here, fear
I am alive and you are so afraid
of dying.


I wish I knew the answer. Congrats on the big changes, and keep hanging in there. I know it's hard.

{I need to remember to medicate myself with poetry more often.}
Scout said…
Yeah, I know the feeling of being afraid and of the oddest things, like being attractive as you mentioned. I've been exercising at the Y for over month now, stopped the wine and been watching the diet. But sometimes I just want to wreckt the whole thing.
Jen on the Edge said…
I think most of us sabotage ourselves in some way. I know I'm guilty of it on a regular basis.
K. said…
The fact that you're becoming aware of the self sabotage feels like a really important step, though. And sharing it here is another one. Both of those things are amazingly brave.

I really thought we were going to lose you from the internet there for a while, I'm really glad you didn't give up on us.

LOVE that poem.
Mary Alice said…
Love yourself. Love yourself enough. Love yourself even more. I am learning to do that too. I'll hold your hand and you hold mine and we'll just keep reminding each other!
Ginaagain said…
"I am also afraid that I will try my hardest and fail anyway."

I think this is one of the most insidious and damaging of fears and yet it is really just a definition problem. What is failure? Missing the mark? Never reaching the goal? Isn't the refusal to aim, the avoidance of setting a goal still a failure? In our fear we settle for choosing our time of failure rather than striding into our future not knowing when it might pounce upon us.

I am so happy that you chose poetry over self flagellation and writing over hiding. You inspire me.
Wow. I hope the insight and self-reflection help. Why DO we sabotage ourselves?
JCK said…
I think it is important that you are catching yourself with the self-sabotage.

Sometimes it helps me to write down brief statements and post them in a prominent place.

You have made big changes already!

Thank you for sharing that Joy Harjo poem.
I so understand.

Thanks for this.

I am so glad you caught yourself! You are clearly very smart and understand that fear is self destructive. You can achieve your goals. As a fellow Craig Ferguson fan, I salute you and hope you continue to overcome negativity and enjoy life.
we_be_toys said…
Good poem to use in place of food or drink! I think I might need to clip and save this one!
The Other Laura said…
Prof. J, So glad to hear that you're choosing poetry over those self destructive detours. Look at you, on the road to being your best self! It's inspiring.
I am Joelle too.

But just knowing you're Joelle is the biggest step.

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