A while back, one of my friends had a baby. She was nursing, working full time, exhausted constantly, and running around like a chicken with her head cut off. It was one day in her office building when a client of hers incredulously gushed at how skinny she was after having the baby and how her body bounced back so well.
They wouldn’t let the point go and asked how on earth did she get back to being so thin? It was as though they were priming an invisible pump hoping to get a well of magic wisdom. Mind you, this lovely client has struggled with weight issues of their own and they probably wanted a fairy dust answer.
My friend, who actually dislikes being called skinny, finally decided to be honest with her client. She told the person that she was thin because she was incredibly stressed out with everything in her life right now and she wasn’t taking the best care of herself and she knew it.
The client stopped talking, embarrassed perhaps. My friend had no intention of shaming her, but rather of letting her know that things are not always what they seem.
I thought about this for a while. I thought about a camp I went to in high school and how we played a game called truth circle where people revealed serious issues in their lives. I remember standing in the circle realizing I had no idea what anyone else was struggling with. I remember thinking that if we all threw our problems into the center of the circle I’d be running to pick my own back up.
I remember at that same camp telling a classmate of mine that she looked great in her bikini, only later that year realizing that she was at the beginning stages of anorexia when I’d complimented her. Ironically, I too was in the beginning stages of mine.
And yes, at first people complimented me too on my willpower, etc. But what they didn’t know was how alone I felt all the time. Alone with my addiction. Because skinny was my chaos.
To my friend who had the baby, skinny meant that she was stressed out of her mind. To a client of mine, skinny meant that she had a rare medical disorder. To others like me, skinny meant that I was anorexic. But more than that it meant that there was something going on under the surface.
Something was happening. I was not happy in my life as much as I wanted to be. But, yes, I was skinny.
If you’re naturally thin, if you’re naturally heavy, if you like to move your body, there’s no judgment either way. But I’d like to invite to consider the bigger picture. When you see other women, or other men, remember that we don’t know what’s happening under the surface of their lives.
We may think that they have it all together when really they’re drowning in sorrow, relationship heartbreak, parent’s with sickness, dysfunction, addiction, depression, loads of stress. We have no idea what’s happening behind someone’s body.
Just because someone is skinny it doesn’t mean that they’re happy. It doesn’t mean that they know some magic fairy dust secret of success. Maybe, just maybe, they’re barely hanging on.
We just don’t know. . . We just don’t know.
Of course we all the see the surface, but I invite you to look a little deeper, love a little more, try with all your heart to see others with compassion. And then, extend that compassion to yourselves.
If you’re struggling with your personal flavor of chaos, seek out help and support. Seek out therapy or somatic therapy.
Check out this article below if you think you might be ready to see a therapist but don’t know where to start. I highly recommend therapy from a professional licensed therapist. In my case, it saved my sanity and my life :).