“Well-meaning people” are going to be the death of me…or at least my patience.
Someone I don’t know very well came to me today with the sole purpose of telling me that it’s time for me to have gastric bypass surgery. Please join me as I let out a horrified effing scream.
Before I continue, let me just say that I believe the decision to have any bariatric surgery is an extremely personal one. If you have decided that surgery is the way you want to go, then I support your right to make that decision. After years of waffling back and forth, however, I’ve decided that surgery is not the route for me…and for the last 8 months, I’ve proven that I can do this without it. I’m going to try to choose my words carefully, but please don’t take my message today to mean that I’m trashing bariatric surgery patients…because that’s not what I’m doing.
Back to my….”friend”. Actually, no, it’s not a friend. This is co-worker. And I have never written about a co-worker before, but when you:
A. Are aware that I write a blog about my weight loss efforts and…
B. Voluntarily plop your skinny ass into my workspace to give me your unsolicited opinion about how I should lose this weight and…
C. Are insensitive enough not to see that your comments are unprofessional, unwelcome, and –quite frankly – bat shit cray cray….well, you’re gett’in blogged about whether you like it or not.
Seriously, my heart pounds with the ire of a thousand screaming fat girls every time I think about this conversation. Let me get through the bulk of this verbal exchange and then maybe you’ll see why I’m nuclear-pissed about it.
So there I am, doing my work and minding my own business, when The Co-Worker stops by for a chat and asks me if I’ve ever considered weight loss surgery before. (She and I have already had this conversation, by the way…back when I was sold on having lap band surgery. She just doesn’t remember.) This question would not seem at all strange if I was friends with this person – or maybe if I worked with them every day. Neither is the case.
It’s incredibly weird and uncomfortable to be singled out by someone you barely know because you struggle with a problem that’s too big to hide. Of course, I blog about my big problem…so I’m kind of asking for it, right? I can go either way on that – but that’s not even really why I’m pissed off.
In answer to her question, I shared some of my story with this person, including the fact that I had consulted a lap band surgeon last August and was committed to doing it until I gave myself an Imaginary Lap Band last December. Obviously, I’ve given the matter a lot of thought…and still made the decision that weight loss surgery is not for me.
In her misguided, yet passionate attempt to cure me of my obesity problem she explains that she’s recently spoken with someone who has lost 100 pounds with weight loss surgery.
Oh super! So now, little Miss Never-had-to-lose-more-than-20-pounds is grabbing every fat person she sees and telling them about the miracle opportunity that is weight loss surgery. Thank God I was in the right place at the right time, right?
Excitedly proclaiming how wonderful her friend’s new life is because she is now able to ride her bike everywhere, she asks me “When’s the last time you were on a bike? 10 years ago?”
Okay, now you’re just being a presumptuous bitch. What did you just say to me??? I start to feel like I’m a prisoner in some sort of horrible infomercial. I calmly reply, “No…about 2 years, actually.” Inside, I’m thinking WTF…why did I answer that?
I should have told her to back off of her ignorant attempt to “help” me, but when someone is insensitive to me in the workplace I am almost brainless in my desire to avoid confrontation. In my professional life, I’ve been “raised” to smile around the a-holes we all run into, find a work-around, and avoid them in the future. I don’t call people out. I don’t know how to do it without being a bitch…and it’s not worth the risk of damaging work relationships or losing my job. So I continued to smile through it, desperately wondering how the hell I was going to sweetly reign this girl in.
She says “Think about how great you’d feel if you just lost 50 pounds!”
I pointed out the fact that I lost 45 pounds already. Without surgery. The reply that came back to me was something like “Yes, but you haven’t lost any more…” I can’t be exactly sure because by this point, I am officially in shock. I’m thinking…well, fuck-a-doodle-doo…I didn’t realize I was on this chick’s timetable.
I’d better get crack’in!
As she’s yammering on about the glorious post-weight loss bike riding world, I’m wondering if I can come up with a viable excuse for hurling my stapler at her forehead. Nope. I’m coming up blank in the alibi department. I have to keep playing nice.
Taking in a deep breath and smiling my very best calm-in-the-face-of-ignorance smile, I say “It’s just not for me, really. I truly believe I can lose this weight on my own.”
Would you like to guess what she had to say to that? C’mon…guess.
I said “It’s just not for me, really. I truly believe I can lose this weight on my own.”
And she shakes her head at me and says “No you can’t.”
What the frick?
This is why I am nuclear-pissed. What kind of a person does that? Who the hell says a thing like that? Who in their right mind thinks shit like that is helpful in anyway?
Then she starts on about what I’m doing to my heart. Like I’m wolfing down Twinkies everyday and I’m out of control and she’s staging some sort of partially hydrogenated intervention. I’m trying to assert the fact that you significantly decrease your risk of heart disease every time you lower your body weight by 10%…but I can’t seem to get the words out of my mouth. I am so absolutely stunned…flabbergasted…and riled up, there is no rebuttal to be found on the tip of my tongue.
Thankfully she had to go make a phone call or catch a meeting. Probably for the United Social Morons in Charge of Reeling in the Fatties. Jesus! Maybe she owns stock in a bicycle factory for all I know. I have no idea where this came from.
I know I’ve been a little harsh here and there, so I should say that this person is not a vicious person. I have to believe that this person…somewhere in their poor misguided soul…was trying to be sincere. I think she really thought she was helping me. I believe she was so passionate about trying to help me that she had no idea how she was coming off. She was even shaking her head halfway through my sentences, waiting to prove me wrong somehow. She wasn’t even listening to what I was saying.
I can even overlook the surgery thing and the bike thing…but there is one thing I can’t overlook: sheer ignorance and absolute insensitivity. No, I can’t overlook that. She actually looked me in the face and said “No you can’t.”
You don’t sit down in front of your co-worker, who has finally sorted out her issues with food and decided to attack her problems without surgery…your co-worker who has given up sugar, diet soda, and junk food…your co-worker who lost 45 pounds in 6 months, blogging about it the whole way…leaving a trail of low carb bread crumbs for her fellow fatties to follow…creating an amazing community of fat fighters who support each other on Facebook and on the blog…no, you don’t look at this person – me – and tell her “No, you can’t do this.”
I’m thinking of the character John Locke from the tv show LOST when he yelled from his wheelchair “Don’t tell me what I can’t do!”
Source: shop.cafepress.com via Angela on Pinterest
Hours and hours later, I still can’t believe the gall some people have.
Well, I’m here to tell ya: Yes, I can. In fact, yes, I am doing it. Yes, I will continue to do it. And if I’m not doing it according to your schedule, then piss off!
I almost wish that I hadn’t been paralyzed by office politics because I didn’t stand up for myself. I should have been more outspoken. I should have found a way to stand up for myself instead of sitting there in shock & awe mode.
What an insane thing for her to do. I wonder if she goes to marathons and instead of cheering for the people bringing up the rear, she yells “You’re not doing it right!!!”
Maybe there’s a surgery for that too!
I’m appalled. Officially.
I am so thankful for the amazing co-workers I have who do believe in me and what I have been doing. Every single one of them was relieved beyond words when I told them that I’d decided not to have lap band surgery. Every single one of them has been amazingly supportive and wonderful. Never once have they told me that I can’t do this.
For the record, I may not be doing this as fast as others would like – but I’m not doing this for them. I’m doing this for me. I believe in myself. I know I can do this.
God help the person who tries to tell me what I can’t do.
Don’t ever let toxic, insensitive people bring negative to your door.
5 thoughts on “Don’t Tell Me What I Can’t Do”
Dear lord, that’s outrageous. How does this woman, who seems to have never needed to diet, feel like she has the right to lecture you on something you, not she, are intimately familiar with? And even if she had to say it, she could have much less offensively, like starting the conversation with, “Hey, Dianne, congrats on the weight loss! How did you do it?” And after you told her how, she could say, “Great! By the way, not trying to be rude, but have you ever considered lap band surgery?” And after you told her that you didn’t want it, she could say, “I guess its not for everyone. Sorry if I came off badly, just trying to be helpful.” Conversation ends well, nobody hurt. It’s too bad that some people lack the ability to be tactful and polite.
Yay! Comments are working! 😀 I’ve been thinking about this entry ever since you posted it, and my outrage has been bubbling for days!
I was absolutely floored at your coworker’s audacity! For her to say its not going to work, knowing you’ve already lost 45lbs?!? The ignorance! I understand people trying to help by offering advice that has worked for them, but to stonewall you completely and say what you’re doing is absolutely not going to work is, in my opinion, emotional sabotage! Especially coming from someone who probably has no clue what its like to struggle with being overweight, it makes me doubt whether or not it really was coming from a good place.
I’m just trying to get my weight loss journey off and running and I’ve been overweight my WHOLE life, so I’m completely outraged on your behalf! So many people who don’t have a weight problem just assume that losing the weight would be just so easy, and that those of us who are overweight are just lazy or unmotivated. They are completely ignorant to the fact that there are many contributing factors they are not even aware of!
It seems to me that some people believe that being coworkers automatically entitles them to a certain level of intimacy in which they can throw their unwelcome opinions at someone under the guise of being “helpful”, despite having no relationship with this person. I had a similar run in with a coworker a few years ago. I had recently had the misfortune of suffering a miscarriage a few weeks earlier, and needless to say I wasn’t myself for a little while. One day, a coworker with whom I had absolutely no connection with outside of work came up to me, lead me by the hand to a couch at our reception area because she wanted to “talk”. She went on about how she had noticed lately that my demeanor wasn’t the same and I wasn’t happy as I used to be. She told me that she KNEW if I spent more time exercising and losing weight, and living a more positive life, that more positivity would come my way. She said that my negative beliefs were to blame for the condition I was in. I don’t believe she knew about what had happened to me a few weeks before, but I was absolutely speechless. I didn’t dare tell her the true reason for me being blue, for fear of hurting HER feelings by embarrassing her and like you, I avoid confrontation like the plague. I managed to tell her while I appreciated the advice, I had a lot going on in my personal life that I didn’t wish to discuss at work. She just cocked her head to the side and said “Well, give what I said a try, ok? Maybe go for a run after work? I guarantee it will make everything better!” And bounced off to carry on with her day.
I’m sure she thought what since apparently that works for her, so in her mind it would obviously work for me, but she was too insensitive to consider that there might be other contributing factors. If I were faced with a similar confrontation today, I don’t think my retort would be nearly as docile as it was then!
Despite what Ms. Ignoramus says, very single pound you have worked at and lost is a triumph and a huge success Dianne. You have inspired and given hope to many people like me by sharing the ups and downs of your journey. No one has the the right to take that away from you. Especially not some ignorant presumptuous coworker! I wish you nothing but the best, and am cheering you on the whole way!
P.S. You were not harsh at all in your description of your conversation! Everything you said was nothing but true!
I know 3 people who have had bariatric surgery. All lost an enormous amount of weight. One has gained it all back. One looks 15 years older than he is and feels (he says) like shit warmed over. One has very serious medical problems as a result of it. All of them say they would never do it if they had it to do over, even though they were all enthusiastic when they first lost the weight. I’m diabetic and I get advice all the time from people (including diabetics) who don’t have a clue what they’re talking about. I’m not nice like you are, though.
Oh, I can sure relate to being so stunned by a co-worker’s audacious remarks that I am, as you so aptly said “so absolutely stunned…flabbergasted…and riled up, there is no rebuttal to be found on the tip of my tongue.” …until later. So later I wrote down what I wished I had said, practiced so I would be ready, and the next day went to that person (indeed, straight to his desk) and calmly said that there were some things I wished I had said the day before but was so taken off-guard by your unexpected comments that I was unable to be coherent so I am here to tell you those things now. Then I calmly laid out my response and finished with, “I do not expect any response, but I needed to say these things for my own self-respect.” And then I left his desk. It was tremendously empowering. I said what I needed to say in a calm and polite way. I stood my ground and then I left to go back to where I could breathe. It was a risk, I will allow, because he was far senior to me in the hierarchy of our business and in age. But I also felt the cost of letting it go unanswered was a guaranteed catastrophic loss. I hope venting in the blog has given you the same kind of “back-up” as I got. Standing your ground is important. I am so glad I did.
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