Picture this: We’re on our way back from Mexico. I had just gotten Marshall to sleep after an hour of singing, bottles, peek-a-boo and a blow out. I felt like I just won the lottery. I took some time to write out my ideal schedule for the next few weeks. Jonathan peeks over my shoulder and asks me to share.
“Well, on Monday, I’m going to go to pre-natal yoga, then work for the rest of the day, Tuesday is my day of meetings and calls, Wednesday I’m going to go to dance and then work at a cafe the rest of the day, Thursday morning I’ll have some down time… etc etc.”
Then he says, “Ok, I don’t want you to take this the wrong way…”
“But do you think you should maybe go to yoga five days a week, since you know, you haven’t been going that much?”
OH NO YOU DIDN’T.
“I MEAN, you were just a lot stronger during your first pregnancy, and I want this pregnancy to be easy for you.”
No sh*t Sherlock, probably because when I got pregnant the first time I didn’t just have a baby like 10 minutes earlier. (If you’re new here, I’m pregnant, which happened when my first son was 9 months old).
I was livid. And hurt. And felt like I weighed a million pounds.
I just stared at him, told him I didn’t want to talk about it and locked myself in the airplane bathroom and cried.
Here’s the deal. Jonathan didn’t call me fat, to him mentioning going to yoga is like asking if I was going to get a massage this week, but given my history with feeling terrible about myself and equating being told to workout with needing to look a certain way, it felt so different than he intended.
And, this wasn’t the first time we’ve had a version of this conversation, though it had been a while, maybe years, but it still kills me every time.
Has this ever happened to you? And maybe it wasn’t your husband, but a friend, your mother or your doctor. If it has, you know the pain, the embarrassment and the intense anger. I was in that bathroom for a while, deciding how to deal with this situation because I was clear I never wanted to feel this way again.
Here’s how I handled it and what you can do next time you find yourself in this situation…
ONE: FEEL ALL THE EMOTIONS. I felt shame, embarrassment and anger. I was reminded of all the times anyone had ever commented on my weight, like they were all on the plane telling me how fat I was. I was second guessing wearing my bikini all week, questioning my choices to not work out 5 days a week. I got small, and sad.
TWO: GET STRONG. After I went to the place of feeling like a helpless, worthless ten year old girl, I tapped into my strong inner woman. I got back into my seat, sat up straight and looked directly at Jonathan. I talked for a long time and don’t remember everything I said but the energy was, “I am awesome, I am doing the best I can, and my body is my business. Period.” I told him he was never allowed to make a comment about my body (unless it’s about how gorgeous I am), my weight, working out or food, ever, for as long as we live. It is my domain, not his. This conversation is off the table. I told him how much he hurt me, how angry I was and how he made me feel. Yes, all on the plane, crying, and speaking pretty loudly. I wanted him to really get that this was unacceptable.
THREE: UNDERSTAND WHAT THEY MEANT. Now, this is not about excusing their behavior and making it ok. I believe that people should never meddle in your health, ever, unless you are at serious risk of hurting yourself or others, but I think you get that’s not what I’m talking about here. However, understanding what they meant will help you feel better. The reality was that Jonathan was not saying I was fat, nor was he telling me he wanted a trophy wife or that I was lazy (even though that’s how I interpreted it). He was actually just wanting me to feel strong, so I can be comfortable during my pregnancy. Does this excuse the comment? Nope. But it allows me to come back to reality. The truth is that our partners need to be sensitive about how certain things make us feel, not just what they meant. Just because they wouldn’t feel hurt if we said that to them, doesn’t mean they have permission to say what they want to us.
FOUR: BE CLEAR ABOUT BOUNDARIES Tell whoever it is in a strong confident voice, “My body is my business. period. You are never welcome to mention anything about this ever again, am I clear? If you do, we’re going to have to reevaluate our relationship.” Or something like that.
It’s never easy to feel attacked or shamed by a loved one, even when they didn’t mean any harm, and 99% of the time they don’t. It’s ok to be sensitive, this is just how you are and there’s nothing to be ashamed of. We all have a history that makes us emotional around conversations like these, and we can all do work to be stronger and more self-accepting, but that doesn’t mean we can’t set some healthy boundaries with our partners.
In the comments below I want to know, have you experience this before? And how you would handle a situation like this?
And if you know someone who has struggled with this in the past, I hope you will share it with them by sending an email or using the social media buttons below.
Can’t wait to talk with you below about this sensitive topic.