One of the pieces of this whole lifestyle/T2 diabetes/weight loss journey that has been the most mind boggling to me?
Some I had to learn, some I have to set and some I’m just now stumbling into.
In the trail/ultra running world that I have fallen in love with — it’s all about respecting, learning and pushing boundaries. Then you train and work to get past perceived and real boundaries. (Feel the fear, ignore the temporary pain and do it anyway.)
Then there’s people. Holy smokes. Hands down, relationships and boundaries involving people have been the hardest for me. Figuring out where boundaries might be helpful, testing the waters, re-setting, communicating, re-enforcing those new boundaries.
I know I’m writing a blog about ALL KINDS of deeply personal stuff. I’m almost always willing to be in intimate conversations with people (even strangers!) who want advice or need a listening ear or want to share their successes. I speak publicly, openly, honestly about the journey I’ve been on, what I’ve learned and the changes I’ve made in my life.
So I understand that what I’m about to say is an odd, conflicting confession of sorts…
I have also been establishing some boundaries.
I have never considered myself a guarded person. This has been new and uncomfortable ground for me.
Yet, in the past two years I found myself in a place where I had to put up some defenses to protect myself and my newly established habits.
It threw me off balance for quite some time.
I did what I usually do at first when things get difficult; I ignored it all. (Genetic trait, I’m pretty sure.) Big, scary, hard topics coupled with the fact that I harbor a sincere, deeply embedded worry that I might disappoint or hurt someone. So, I just averted my eyes and hoped it would all settle out, resolve itself, go away…
Even when it was painfully obvious that ignoring some of these growing issues was not a sustainable or healthy strategy… I continued to fight it because it just felt wrong and selfish.
‘Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even if we risk disappointing others.’ — Brene Brown
I was 392 pounds, insulin dependent, Type 2 Diabetic.
I successfully battled diabetes and lost a lot of weight (non-surgical). I’m told that losing that amount of weight and reversing full-blown T2 is a rare, single-digit feat of accomplishment.
That low percentage seems legit to me, given that I have only found a handful of people who have done the same thing in successfully re-inventing their lifestyle.
Please understand — I absolutely have stalwart friends, cheerleaders, support and encouragement. 100%. More than 100% at times.
I was 2 years into my journey when I finally connected with a handful of individuals across the US who had ‘walked in my shoes’ and truly understood what I was trying to do. They’d been there. Done that.
It was so exciting to finally make these connections!
Over time, in conversations with each of them, they have all expressed roughly the same version of sentiments about our respective journeys…
It’s a lonely, hard, life-changing, I-will-never-go-back, you-really-have-to-do-it-on-your-own, kind of road.
The other common angst that emerged from conversation with these folks?
Just because we have lost 100+/reversed T2 does not mean we are ready or able to help someone else with their journey.
No matter how badly we may want to. No matter how much others want us to be able to help them.
Hearing this insight being repeated from others in various stages of their journeys, was hugely interesting to me. I was struggling with this very issue. I saw my lack of being able to handle the pressure of it all as a serious character flaw.
They helped me begin to see it for what it was; just another part of the process.
I’m still learning how to thrive and survive and maintain in this new world I’m building.
I mean – c’mon… I’m new to this!
I spent 42 years obese, sedentary and making really poor food choices. I was a freaking expert at living an unhealthy life.
I’ve only been learning and living this new healthy life for 4 short years.
The truth is that I was routinely getting overwhelmed by the fact that even though I’ve been IN this journey; I couldn’t answer all of their questions, I couldn’t help everyone find (or stay on) their own path and I couldn’t fully support other people emotionally on their own journeys.
I’m one person who’s still trying to figure out her own life.
It’s really an impossible equation, yet one I was trying to own and live up to whole-heartedly.
Last year two of my good friends talked bluntly with me about setting boundaries. In their own ways they said they were watching me struggle, quite inelegantly and painfully, with trying to be counselor/coach/cheerleader/emotional support for a cadre of people near and far.
And they could see it was hurting me.
‘Bets, have you thought about the fact that you could likely ‘drown’ while trying to help someone else?’
They were hard, good conversations.
I’m not a crier.
There were plenty of tears as I really tried to accept what they were telling me and then figure out what I was going to do about it all… I mean – I KNOW I was put on this planet to help people.
Know that for a fact.
Yet, they were telling me a very basic truth…
If I’m not focused and actively working on being healthy and whole and stable; What good can I possibly do for anyone else?
As I continue to figure out what I need, how I feel, what makes me feel strong and what I really struggle with — I keep working on boundaries.
Not the kind of boundaries that cut me off from the world and box me in. That’s not at all the goal.
I’m working on living/healthy boundaries that protect and nourish and help me feel safe enough to take some bigger, stronger steps. The kind of boundaries that will ultimately allow me to help others and stay on my feet (running!) for years to come.