Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Image, Parenting and Therapy...

Growing up, I was moderately overweight. While I don't think this is something that should have been an area of focus in my upbringing, it ended up dominating it. My parents for some reason felt that they needed to project a family image that excluded an overweight child. Some of my most painful memories are of my mother telling me as a young boy that she was embarrassed to be with me because of my weight. I can never forget that.

(Stop for a moment and think about what it means as a child to feel you are an embarrassment to your parents. The most important people in the world are ashamed to have you as one of their own. How devastating and tragic that feeling is. I don't know what motivated me to keep on living.)

As a child of just 7 or 8 years old I was being sent to weight watchers meetings. When my family planned a vacation, the only way I was allowed to go was if I lost 5 or 10 pounds before the trip. The rest of the family just went, I had to earn it.

As I mentioned in earlier posts I was always the youngest in my class in school as well as in camp. Being sensitive is a vicious cycle. It encourages, excites and feeds into the bullies need and will to harass you.

After a while my parents realized that I was coming home dejected and depressed from school. They decided to send me to a psychologist. What a disaster. Not the idea, that was a good one. The disaster was the therapist they chose.

I am not sure if he falsified his degree. His horrific approach was to further tease and belittle me. He figured that he would knock the "wimp" out of me. He would take my sensitivity and sissiness and shove it back at me. Laughing at me, he would ask why I was such a baby, Why I couldn't be more manly. He would comment on my weight. He would even bad mouth my father to me by telling me all sorts of negative things about him. I know there was more but I've blocked a lot of it out.

It was as if he wrote the book on how to ruin a boys chance at masculinity and used me as his prototype.

This lasted a number of years. While it was going on I didn't know any better. I figured that this was therapy and what I needed to go through to get "healed".

Of course, now I know better. Now I know that all I needed was love and affection.

Parents reading this, I beg you to please consider refraining from challenging your children about their weight. Make subtle changes in the foods available at home rather than hurting their self worth and self image. They will come around when they are ready.

I also beg you that if your child needs therapy, send them by all means, but please research the therapist. Make sure you have references. Maybe interview him/her and learn their approach. The wrong therapist can kill your childs soul and possibly turn them away from the idea for life.

Lastly, for Gods sake, please don't put your image in front of your childs. I promise you, the kid will smell it a mile away and you will lose him or her forever.

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