Tracey Haider-Sprague, a homeschooling mother
of two, is also the Training Director for Small Beginnings, a Lay
Ministry Training Organization in Seattle, Washington where she
researches, writes, teaches and counsels. She, along with her entire
family, began their low-carb lifestyle in April 2003.
posts as ‘Mamasita’ on the Talking Low Carb Forums, where she proves an
inspiration for us all!
"When you are
content to be simply yourself
compare or compete, everybody will respect you."
I want to tell you about a woman I know... Copyright © September 2003 Tracey Haider-Sprague and
Low Carb Luxury
intelligent, attractive, well-dressed, and has a wicked sense of
humor. She makes me laugh when I'm feeling down and is always ready
for a deep conversation. She cares for her family by getting up very
early each morning to prepare her husband's breakfast and to pack
him his hot lunch. She cares for her two children, who are quickly
becoming young adults. Her house is always clean and her family
never wants for healthy, delicious food. She works hard to make
great meals for her family and rarely is seen without her makeup and
hair done nicely. She is hard working, does everything with
excellence, and there seems to be no moment when she isn't thinking
or worrying about her family.
She is in fact, quite a woman.
But she is overweight. Not just by twenty pounds or so. By
her reckoning, she needs to lose two hundred pounds. And according
to acceptable weight loss charts and graphs, this would seem to be
true for her height.
When I first met her, I was struck by
her friendliness; her helpfulness; and by that wacky sense of humor
that made me laugh so hard, I'd spit out my coffee! Her weight
wasn't an issue for me.
As we continued getting to know one
another, sharing a little bit more of our inner lives over coffee,
it became apparent that there was another life being lived. There
were conflicts within her family that routinely went unchallenged
and unresolved. Conversations turned against her. And though she
would put up a feeble verbal fight, she only went so far. It was
more important to her to hold tight to these relationships, than to
assert herself in the moment. Better to be able to live peacefully
today, than to endure the silent treatment from her husband or cruel
remarks from her teenager, should she assert her will.
so she found herself becoming smaller and smaller, as her body
became physically larger. Conflict was going on all around her, yet
she avoided it at all costs.
Now one might see this as a
classic case of an uncaring husband or a spoiled teenager run amok.
But there were issues brewing within this woman that were acting as
a catalyst for all the disrespect — latent... and not so latent. As
we spoke with one another, a phrase came to my mind; a basic
She was living an apology.
apologizing for her very existence each and every day. "I'm
sorry I said that." "I'm sorry I did that." "I'm sorry
you feel that way." "I'm sorry you got upset." "I'm
sorry I argued with you." "I'm sorry I didn't have that
done." "It's okay. You can do what you want." "Oh,
alright, I'll cut your restriction down to three days instead of a
week." "Honey, I don't want you to be mad at me."
told her what I saw, the words struck her... "You really
think I've been living an apology?"
"Yes. You've been
apologizing for everything."
What prompted this dialogue was
that she had noticed a change. There was something different about
her relationships of late. She had begun to lose weight on the
Atkins program. She had never felt this kind of control over her
body before. No cravings, and no feelings that this might not work.
It worked, and worked fast. It was opening up so many possibilities
for her. No longer being tugged at by food, and seeing herself
shrink into smaller and smaller sizes, a new boldness had sprung up
She was at last standing up for herself.
Lest you think she felt better simply because of her weight
loss, you'd be only half right. Surely the weight lost was a
wonderful thing. But for whatever reason, she felt in control of her
life for the first time in maybe... forever.
She began to
see things in a different light, and it both fascinated and scared
her. She found herself speaking up to her husband and not letting
him get away with turning it back on her... making everything her
fault. She stood her ground with an errant teenager who threw a
particularly volatile tantrum that nearly tore the family apart. She
stood up to extended family members who'd shown barely enough
respect for her to get through holiday dinners.
dreaded conflict everywhere and now she did not hide from it.
There were heated conversations, and nights filled with
physical pain from a newfound tension coursing through her body.
There were tears and frantic phone calls to my house asking for a
place to vent.
And as she poured out her heart, there it
was... She was facing the conflict. There was not a single situation
where she acted poorly or needlessly hurt someone. She was
challenging pattern after pattern. She was allowing attempts at
manipulation break against her as waves crashing against a lone
The very people who had been so successful at
getting their way, now resorted to more hysterical acts... until
she saw through it all. They had run out of ideas and were
metaphorically throwing themselves at her in a last desperate effort
to win... to be right. The shock of their powerlessness hit them.
They slowly realized that what were once empty words, now boasted
substance and permanence.
The rules had changed.
looked at me in wonder. "You know, I think you're right! I've been
apologizing my whole life. I felt that since I was so heavy, I was
lucky to have anyone in my life that wanted to be with
me. Why would I risk losing that? I felt that way about my
husband. I even felt that way about my teenager. I put up with so
much... so I wouldn't end up alone."
I thought back on my
own years growing up. I realized that since I had been overweight
nearly my entire childhood, this very issue had affected all of
my relationships as well. I'd had many one-sided
relationships where I was the one pursuing... I was the one doing
all the "work", while the other person received the benefits, yet
never reciprocated. When it was convenient for them to use me to
make themselves feel superior, I was allowed to remain in their
presence. When I showed any sign of having my own opinion or
personality, I was unmercifully threatened with my imminent
abandonment. I can assure you that this has quite a lasting affect.
For those of us who have been, or presently are
living an apology, we may find ourselves in quite a few
relationships that are detrimental to our well being. I personally
think there is no excuse for one human being to manipulate or
control another for their own selfish ends. But, I believe deeply
that the only way that can happen — at least for an extended period
of time — is for the other human being to allow it to
When we see ourselves as having worth, and act in
ways that show it, others believe it too. It would be wonderful if
all people saw everyone else's intrinsic worth, but too often we
simply don't. To be in a destructive situation and choose to stand
up to those who are hurtful, can feel devastating. We may lose
"friends" who realize that we are now useless to them and indeed,
they may leave us. We may find our marriages aren't what we thought
they were. We may have far more conflict initially than we ever
dreamed we'd allow...
But we will no longer be living an
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