17 June 2006


Early this year, I had a conversation with my business partner that I will never forget and to be completely honest, it is something that has plagued me for months. We always say we want our friends to be honest and truthful with us because we think/know that this is a true mark of friendship -- telling us things we don't always want to hear. Well, after a particularly tedious week of work and amid my growing frustration I approached her and wanted to talk to her about some of the problems we were having and as is typical, our conversation migrated from business to friendship. Among other things, she said that she often felt like she couldn't tell me how she truly feels because she feels my feelings will get hurt. Well, I said, then just say what you feel you need to say. I almost regret saying that...

After a slight pause, she said that she is very, very concerned about my weight. I nod. She says it concerns her greatly, she sees how I am struggling and failing to a certain extent and that if she knew that there was something she could do to help me she would. She says that being this overweight is obviously affecting my life and then she says that it is affecting our friendship as well. She says that it puts on burden on my friends to always have to work harder to find things for us to do, to figure out if I will be comfortable going, sitting, doing whatever, that all this affects our friendship. Needless to say, I was taken aback.

On one hand I understand her concern and was deeply moved that she would say that she is concerned about my weight because in 32 years of life, not one single friend of mine has ever said that. I'm sure the #1 reason why is because they don't want to hurt my feelings. On the other hand, though, I was a little offended because I wasn't quite sure what she was really telling me. To me she sounded like she was putting qualifiers on our friendship. She said that when I lose the weight we would be able to do more things and spend more time together. That we would be able to go to the beach, go shopping, hop in her sports car and go. Yeah that sounds nice and all, but what I was left with is this feeling that wait, are you telling me that our friendship is not as rich as it could be because I'm fat?

In all my life, I've never had any thoughts like that about any of my friends, regardless of their limitations. If we were friends, that's it, we were friends. We did stuff together and if there was something one of us couldn't do, then we found something we could do together. With her it seems like, unless I lose the weight there is no real friendship to be had. As business partners, yes we spend tons of time around each other, but as friends, we don't do squat and it bothers me that my weight could be the issue. It's not like I can't get around. I don't have problems walking, shopping, going places, I go to restaurants (maybe not in booths) and I go do stuff all the time so I don't really understand what the problem is.

In college, when like many college students my friends and I had zero money it never hindered us from being friends. Even with my friends that did have money, it was more important to be together than to do one thing versus another. If our friendship was important then we found time to be together. And all this ties into my greatest fear about this surgery, that what I know about myself and what I know and accept about my friends and family will change. I don't know how I will accept big changes in the people in my life in their relationships with me. I don't know how I will feel with my business partner starts wanting to be better friends with me, like all of a sudden our friendship will matter more...because somehow I can fit in a booth now? I understand it, but I don't understand it. I don't think I would ever put limits on a friendship like that. It's like she's saying to me "Let me know when you're skinny and we can be friends again. I can't hang with you when you're fat."

This really pokes a stick at one of my most painful wounds, that of not feeling good enough. I think many obese people feel this way, especially people who have been this way their whole life and who know nothing else. We always struggle with feeling adequate and with your friends you do feel a sense of relief because you trust that they like you for you and that you're always good enough. Yes, of course, you expect your friends to want the best for you and you want the best for them and you mutually want the best in life for each other. Friendship requires that you have to tell your friends stuff they don't always want to hear and that I accept, but to tell me that the very nature of our friendship hinges on whether or not I lose weight just bugs me and I can't reconcile it with her concern for me. I can't. It's been almost 6 months and I'm still struggling with it.


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