I had the opportunity to test this out on a small-scale today, in a phone conversation with my mother. I hesitantly mentioned my diet to her, which immediately sent her into the vortex of negativity I so associate with my childhood. First, there was the inevitable guilt and shame that I apparently heaped on her because I_ went on a diet—she’s obese, so my diet is not only a reflection on the poor nutritutional habits I learned growing up, but it also must be my way of saying _she’s fat.
Then came the personal attacks, as she begins to agree with me: Yes, dkp, you do need to lose some weight. The last time I saw you I thought you were looking a little hippy. It doesn’t get any easier when you get older, you know. And on and on and on.
The conversation made me, predictably enough, angry and hurt. My usual reaction is to strike back, to make a snide comment along the lines of “Like mother, like daughter—except I’m doing something about it.”
But I remembered my goal-
forgive with joy-and how anxious I am about my weight, as well as how sensitive I try to be with my friends and colleagues who also struggle with these issues. So I channeled my inner Miss Manners, held my tongue, and shifted the subject. I asked her about her pride & joy, her volunteer work with her church. The conversation shifted to her and I worked on my deep-breathing exercises during the monologue. I tried, really tried, to hear and appreciate the happiness in her voice. And I tried to forgive with joy, understanding that her comments aren’t really about me.
I’m still trying.