To a Well Intentioned Person:
It’s been a very long time since we last saw each other. I think we talked about places we had traveled to. I remember wishing I was as well traveled as you, and I still think about I will make that happen.
I have no doubt that you had only the best of intentions when you said I had lost weight since the last time you saw me. I thanked you, and I meant it, but you should know that I’m still thinking about it, in a way you likely did not intend.
First, ecstatic. Losing weight is excellent! I am more impressive and interesting and attractive than the last time you saw me!
Then: Wait, what did I look like the last time you saw me? Was it so bad? Were you thinking, while we talked, about my weight? Did that mean more to you than the words coming out of my mouth?
And then: If I have actually lost weight, it might be because the last year has been really emotionally taxing, and my eating has been inconsistent at best. I’ve been walking what might be considered by some extraordinary distances because it eases my anxiety and helps me write. Under these circumstances, my alleged weight loss seems not so awesome.
And then: The time someone in college told me I needed to lose “twenty or thirty pounds.” The time my mother told me I looked “like a horse.” Every person who has ever made a cruel or disparaging remark to me about weight or food, and every time I have forgotten those remarks and then remembered them.
And then, and then, and then.
I know, Well Intentioned Person, that you did not mean to set off these fireworks in my head, that you were most likely making a simple observation, that it was a compliment. The reality is that talking about weight is a trigger for me, as it is for many people, and that trigger can turn an innocent comment into a spiral of doubt and anxiety. I want to be someone for whom practicing generosity comes naturally, but that is a work in progress, along with the rest of me. I am trying to be patient with myself. In the meantime, please be thoughtful.