In November 2004 I participated in a character development/leadership workshop called Discovery. This happens to be the same time/place that I met the infamous Coach and Aaron. Coach was a leader in the training, in fact, he became my small group leader whenever we broke out into small groups. Aaron, was a participant like myself.
The organization that developed this workshop uses an experiential learning style to reveal beliefs we have about life that we may not be fully aware of and how those beliefs are impacting our lives. I had been involved with this organization for about 4 years in other trainings they do when I decided to participate in Discovery. I knew what I was getting into and I knew and LOVED the trainer who was coming for this, Lawrence. I knew I would be challenged. I also knew how easy it would be for me to hide out, if I chose to, because I knew how the training worked to some extent. I decided before I went though that I would participate 100%, no matter what. I was paying 300 dollars to do this after all.
On the first day, I was told to choose a small group and ended up with Coach as my leader. As I think back, I realize I chose him as a leader because he was my age and single and attractive. If I had any idea what was to come, I am not sure I would have made this choice.
At some point in the workshop, Lawrence started talking about conflicting intentions. This is where you have one stated goal but something else, a hidden agenda, is also at work. For me, this was wanting to lose weight for a long time but never succeeding. Never getting further than 60 lbs lost. As Lawrence explored this with me, lots of things were revealed for me. This was the first time I ever realized and acknowledged the role that sexual abuse had played in my weight gain and in my inability to lose as well. The intention that went against my intention to lose weight was the one to self-protect. This was a very powerful conversation for me to have, although, I never really dealt with the truth I acknowledged here until several years later.
During this conversation about conflicting intentions, Lawrence, who has known for a while of my weight struggle asked me in front of everyone what my goal weight was.
Not so difficult a question to answer, right? Right. I answered that one easy enough.
130 lbs.(please know that 130 is quite arbitrary. I have no idea what 130 lbs will look like on me and I may stop at 150!)
Lawrence turned and wrote that number on the easel.
After a few more minutes of conversation, Lawrence asked me “Kim, how much do you have to lose to reach your goal weight?”
At this point, all I could think was, if I answered this question, everyone in this room (about 50 people) would know my exact weight. It wouldn’t be difficult to figure out. It is simple addition. I couldn’t believe Lawrence could ask me such a thing. How could he? Doesn’t he know how much these questions hurt? He can’t really expect me to answer this question out loud, could he?
So I asked. You want me to answer that out loud????
Yes, Yes I do he said.
At that time, I wasn’t even sure how much I weighed exactly, so whatever I said was a guesstimate. I could low ball it if I wanted, but I knew I couldn’t do that. I remember feeling so ashamed. I just wanted to crawl into a hole and hide. But I came here for something. I wanted something different from what I have always had. And I couldn’t lie. Not to Lawrence. Despite feeling like I was being betrayed by him and feeling like he was using what he already knew about me against me, the truth is, I knew he loved me, and whatever agenda he had, it was not to hurt me.
So in the tiniest of voices and with the microphone held as far from my face as possible, I said. 150 lbs. He turned and wrote this number on the easel.
I couldn’t imagine what all these people thought. All I knew is the shame that was flooding my body as he wrote that number down. Who lets themselves get this way? I must be so undisciplined. Something must be wrong with me.
Lawrence was not done loving me yet though. After a few more minutes of conversation, he had one final question for me. For this one, he stepped close to me and looked me right in the eyes and in the kindest, least judgmental voice he asked, “Kim, how much do you weigh now?”
I didn’t want to answer. The answer was already on the easel. Why must I say this out loud?
Finally, after what seemed to be an eternity, in an even tinier voice than before I whispered…300 lbs.
He wrote it down again, just in case there were some people who didn’t already get it and then we took a break.
When we came back I felt a lightness I had never felt before. This is what I learned outside of the conflicting intentions piece. Secrets breed shame. Shame becomes a prison in which one cannot move or breath or begin to see your way out of. The only way out is to own the truth, fully. No matter how ugly it seems. And to speak the truth out loud. I think this must be why the practice of confession is so powerful. It is not so much to bring on shame, but to bring freedom from the shame that already is.
Later, I spoke to Lawrence, who with tears in his eyes, he told me this.
“Kim, I did not want to ask you those questions. I knew you would be hurt. But I also knew, that if I didn’t, I would be doing you a disservice and I wouldn’t be loving you at all, and Girl…I love you!”
Thank You Lawrence for loving me…you impacted my life more than you will ever be able to know.
That, my friends, was a huge turning point for me in my journey towards weight loss and healing. While painful, I treasure that memory so much and will be forever grateful to Lawrence for the stand he took for me, for my life…beyond the present moment. It was a point that I can say was the beginning of my journey. I can say for sure that God was present and moving me towards looking at the issues that brought me to my weight in the first place. Issues, I continued to avoid for a few more years and finally confronted.
Me and Lawrence at his place in 2008, he is not as mean as he looks. In fact, he is one of the kindest men I know!
He is also one of the silliest men I know, and I had too much wine that night!
As I re-read this draft I have had written for a while, I am struck by a few things. 1. I was probably well over 300 lbs at that time. 2. It is 2010, and I am still hanging out at 300+ lbs. 3. Knowing this, I do not want to publish this post. It is getting difficult to be proud of the 60 lbs I have lost, when I can look back and see that 60 lbs is no different from previous times and it was a year and a half ago that I lost them.
So since shame begets more shame…a posting I will go…