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    September 3, 2003    PAGE TWO      
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 Living An Apology
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  Living An Apology by Tracey Haider-Sprague

Tracey Haider-Sprague 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.

Tracey 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
                                       and don't compare or compete, everybody will respect you."
                                                                                               Lao Tzu

I want to tell you about a woman I know...

She is 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.

And 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 truth...

She was living an apology.

She was 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."

As I 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 in her.

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.

There was 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 lighthouse.

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.

She 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 happen.

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 apology.

Copyright © September 2003  Tracey Haider-Sprague and Low Carb Luxury

                                                          



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