Monday, July 11, 2011

"You Don't Look Like You've Missed A Meal!"

This is how my 81 year old paternal grandfather will probably greet me when I see him in a few weeks. Never mind that missing meals often results in weight gain, this is one instance during which I'll keep my infamously big mouth shut. Married to a woman who has waged war with her body the entirety of their almost 60 year union, my grandfather-always long and lean- thinks will power is the answer.

My beautiful grandmother and her three daughters are a endless parade of binging, purging, lap bands and gastric bypasses. At 77, my grandmother's extensive collection of hats has worked overtime as she attends funeral after funeral. And yet no conversation is complete without a mention of her weight. My vibrant, globe trotting aunt will casually refer to herself as a disgusting pig who shouldn't be allowed to look in a mirror.

The heavy grandchild, I should be heir to their misery but I'm not. In large part because my mom, who couldn't gain weight if she tried, refused to let me carry their mantle of shame and self doubt.

I vaguely remember a conversation when I was 12 or so, we were getting fit as a family, (which was admirable for the 1980's as I was the only overweight member) during which I told my mom she couldn't relate to my struggles. I barely remember this exchange but it struck a chord with her as she has never mentioned my weight again. Any internal struggles that she might have had with my body were never transmitted to me.

So I'll suffer my grandfather's barbs knowing first off I'm not alone. Upon hearing about my brother's emotionally charged divorce, complete with custody and alimony issues our family patriarch launched into a sermon that began "I told him not to marry that girl. I could see from the get go how this was gonna end!" And more importantly knowing that his feelings don't represent mine...

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