One of my closest longtime friends, we’ll call her Annie, was someone I had in mind when we started this website. When we first got it up and running, I sent out a general email to my contact list and got some great feedback, but I haven’t heard from her yet and it’s making me a little curious.

Annie has been obese for most of her life. She had a fairly troubled childhood, one that at times veered into Jerry Springer territory. I met her when she was in her mid-twenties, and the closer we got, the more she let down her many defenses and told me things she’d never shared with anyone else. We shared many late night chat-a-thons, laughing and crying and carrying on as women often do. The last time I saw her was a few years ago, but we remain fairly close through emailing and all that.

Annie is one of those people who will make jokes about her weight to the point where you almost get uncomfortable. She joked with me enough so that I got used to it, but it still bothered me, because I realized it was a schtick that stemmed from her defensiveness – if I say it first, no one else can say anything that can hurt me. She told me a story once about how when her family was especially hurting for money, they ate Crisco sandwiches. When I expressed my shock and outrage, she said, “Kim, look at me. Does it look like I missed out on too many Crisco sandwiches?” And she laughed. Of course I laughed along with her; I mean, what else can you do in a situation like that. But I didn’t think it was funny then and still don’t. What kind of parent feeds their children something like that? Well, I could tell many stories of what kind of parents she had, but this is not the place for that.

Our relationship has always frustrated me. For as close as we got, she always held back a little. I know she trusted me, maybe as much as she could trust any friend, but there is something that never lets her let go completely. I’m by no means a pushy person, but I’ve always felt a little ripped off in the sense that when I love and bare my entire soul to someone, I want the same in return. Intellectually I don’t hold it against her, but emotionally I admit I resent it a little bit.

She’s come a long way when you consider where she had to come from. She worked her way through school and got an Associates Degree after having dropped out of high school. She has a good job (especially for what the choices are in her area) and a few years ago married a great guy. I don’t talk to her as much as I used to, but I did go to the wedding and was very happy to see it seemed like her life was going really well.

Then a couple of months ago she wrote to tell me she was a few weeks away from having Gastric Bypass Surgery. She’d been dealing with the all the hassles of therapy and insurance and red tape for over a year, but she’d finally managed to jump through all the hoops and it was finally time. I encouraged her to blog about the experience and grudgingly, she started. Right up until and right after the surgery, she wrote some things that made me cry; not that the tears were all sad ones, by any means. I felt like maybe even we’d start to get close again.

Of course soon after that, she stopped communicating much about it and I got very wrapped up in my fertility drama, so I left it alone. The other day she sent me a text telling me she’s lost 31 pounds so far. I responded back excitedly, asking her all kinds of questions, letting her know how happy I was for her, and then…nothing. Still. She gives just so much and then she pulls back.

I’m not sure what I want her to get from this place if she ever comes here to visit. I would absolutely love any input she may have, or even for her to share some of her experiences and the challenges she must be going through now. But I know that’s probably asking a little too much. And as I’ve said, I’m not a pusher. I just get frustrated sometimes. We all have inside of us a great story to tell. And I guess my problem is I won’t be happy until I’ve heard them all.


9 Responses to Annie

  1. Laura says:

    Wow. You’ve got some really profound stuff going on in your head, you know that?

    I understand how you feel, wanting to be given as much as you give, in a friendship. And I think your friend would benefit from this site, because I think we’re all an excellent example of a great support system. We encourage each other, but we’re also honest with each other and tell one another how it is. Like my brain-damaged post yesterday… 😀 It made me feel better just knowing that I had a place to vent, and you guys would be there for me, but also call me on any bullshizz.

    I hope your friend draws closer to you again. As you said, she’s dealing with a lot of stuff. Gastric Bypass is a HUGE impact on every part of the person’s life. Perhaps she’ll pick her head up one day soon and realize she really needs her friends.

    Did you express any of these concerns with her? Can you pick up the phone and call her?

    • Kimmothy says:

      I guess I was doing something similar as to what you did yesterday – serious venting. It’s true that I feel much more comfortable sharing these feelings here than I do bringing up with her. (I’ve never been the confrontational sort). When she was first telling me about getting the surgery, I directed her to Elastic Waist (when it was still up and running) because of Jen Larsen’s amazing blog about the experiences she went through with it and…she never did. So I guess I need to learn when to not take it personally when people ask for my advice, I give it to them and then they ignore it. It happens a lot and it always burns my ass.

  2. Taoist Biker says:

    Speaking personally, Kim, I can say that as someone who was more or less completely closed-off for most of my life, there comes a point at which I would want to open up to someone, and be successful in some respects, but to just completely open up was absolutely beyond me. It had nothing to do with the other person and everything to do with my own insecurity. In the words of John Powell, if I tell you who I really am, you may not like me, and what else do I have to offer?

    I read an awesome book once (actually it was meant as a manual for therapists on shame issues – of course, I’ve forgotten the name of it. D’oh!) that described a person’s boundary as a zipper surrounding their body. Some people feel as though their zipper is on the outside, and anybody who wants to can just come by and tug on it and see whatever they want to see. They need some help to reestablish a mindset that their zipper is really on the inside – they have the control over who sees what and when. Until one gets the emotional handle on their zipper, they tend to guard it (such as they can) pretty fearfully. Trying to get them to open up before they’re ready just makes them clutch it all the harder.

    I think all you can really do is be there, offering yourself as a safe and nonjudgmental friend and one who is comfortable trusting her with your own vulnerabilities. If she can ever overcome her own issues enough to open up, she’ll thank you for it.

    I’m always available to run a column, “Ask the Chronically Closed-Off.” I’m an expert; ask Dys. 😀

    • Kimmothy says:

      The more I’m learning in therapy, the more I’m thinking maybe I should’ve started it a long time ago. I’ve always thought I know myself and others really well, but I don’t think that anymore at all.
      I love the zipper analogy; if you ever remember the book, let me know!

      • Taoist Biker says:

        It was referenced in some other self-help book I was reading a couple of years back. Lemme dig around a bit and hopefully I can get back to ya!

        Edit: Ding ding ding! Not as hard as I thought – it was in the bibliography of the second book I picked up. The book is Facing Shame by Merle Fossum (a country music name if I ever heard one) and Marilyn Mason. It was referenced in Melody Beattie’s book Beyond Codependency.

    • Kimmothy says:

      What an intriguing combination of authors – thank you; I’m putting it on reserve from the library now. Something tells me I should probably take a look at the Beattie book as well (you may remember my nickname for my mom is Lushy), so that’s what I’ll do.

      • Taoist Biker says:

        “Beyond” is the sequel to Beattie’s more well-known volume, “Codependent No More.” That one’s probably easier to find and might make more sense if you read it first – although if my memory serves, it’s not like you’ll be lost if you read “Beyond” first.

        Hell, now I’m starting to think I could write up a brief bibliography of self-help books I’ve found useful. I’m not sure it’s a good fit for this space (although an argument could be made for emotional wellness etc) so maybe I’ll stick it on my own blog.

    • Kimmothy says:

      I for one would be very happy regardless where you post it – I think here would be perfect, but either place really.

  3. crisitunity says:

    I forgot until now to comment and tell you I thought this was a wonderful post. So thoughtful. I really enjoyed it.

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