Differences- Dorcas Chandler
Shame: is it a universal emotional behavior or condition? Has everyone experienced it? Or Is it just for people dealing with weight issues? I can only speak for myself. At the age of 62 I'm experiencing a lot of different emotions as I continue my weight-loss Journey. I never thought that deep-rooted conditions I deal with and have dealt with in silence for years would now surface to the top of my emotions, and I would have to deal with them publicly. My desire for this website is to be open and honest so we might have lasting changes in our life to become healthy in our spirit, soul and body. So here we go!
There I was in a medical Imaging building for an annual mammogram. Walking into the building was somewhat a chore for me, so I sat down and caught my breath before registering to have the procedure done. Then I requested a wheelchair. The staff was very cordial and very considerate and kind to me. So this article has nothing to do with the staff at this facility – it has to do with me.
They called my name to take me back to the changing room. Once in the area, they gave me a gown to change into before taking the test. The staff person helping me pushed the wheelchair up to the dressing room door. Then she replied “Oh no! I forgot this wheelchair does not fit into these changing rooms. The doors are too small." She then turned me back around and said she would be right back. There were four other women in this small waiting area, so everyone heard my dilemma. Oh my goodness I thought to myself. But that was the easy part. When she returned she informed me that she would have to take me to the men's dressing room because the doors were larger and the wheelchair would fit in those rooms. At that very moment shame consumed me. Why you might ask? Simply put, I'm not a man and I wasn't able to fit in a dressing room like other women. The sign flashed up in my mind you're different , your fat, you're not like other women, beautiful. It gets better. After I changed my clothes in the men’s dressing room, my friend Laurie pushes me back over to where the women were. She didn’t say anything, but I think she felt my pain. The staff lady comes and says to me, "Oh here you are. I was looking for you.” I wanted to say really but I said nothing because shame had consumed me. Then she asked me where my friend was that came with me. Since I was in a wheelchair, she needed someone to come with me to help me with the test. I said to myself oh great. My friend came with me in the room for the exam. I had to remove the gown they gave me, and she wanted my friend to push my back toward the area with the imaging screen, so she could get a clear picture. Really! Really! You see since I have lost some weight, I'm not comfortable with my body. I have stretched my skin so that being in a fat body all my life seems different with loose skin. It bothered me for someone to see that, but I got over it.
Why this story you may ask? Because our mission is to try and answer the text messages, phone calls, and emails of how people don't want to go to the doctor or be involved in any medical procedures because of the way they feel about their body. I simply say… I hear you, but this is what we need to know. If not dealt with, Shame will prevent us from living a healthy life. I have grown accustomed to the Shame inside of me. I know what it is like to feel ashamed, because as soon as someone makes me feel different, I feel that negative emotion. This doesn’t just happen. These feelings and emotions are in our subconscious mind based on the negative treatment we have received in the past. You know what? It is good to feel emotions, because it teaches us what we need to do to improve our lives.
I have a problem and it is me. Now where did I develop the emotion or Spirit of Shame? I remember my first day of school. That was the first time I felt different and ashamed in my life. I went to school excited about learning. The teacher began to call the roll, and when she got to the “D’s” she said, Dor…Dor…Dor…. She was trying to say my name, but she didn't know how to pronounce it. The whole class burst out and begins laughing at me. I got so nervous that I wet myself. The teacher saw what had happen and tried to get the class in order. She took me to the back to change my clothes. I don’t know whose clothes I had on, but I was so ashamed. At recess the kids continued laughed at me. It was then I knew my name ‘Dorcas’ was different. That was just one incident, but people have laughed at my name all my life. Now that I think about it, what I interpreted as people laughing at me was wrong. The truth is that they were laughing and making fun of my name – not me; because they didn’t know me. There is the difference. So when an incident happens that makes me feel different, it triggers that feeling of shame. So what do I need to do? What's the cure or is there a cure? I believe if we ever understand who we really are; we can move forward and live a happy and fulfilled life. Sounds easy right? I don't think so! It takes work! It takes courage, stamina, patience and persistence to shift the negative thoughts and feelings that Hold Us Down. We should begin by replacing bad experiences with positive thoughts of who God has made us. I'm not going to be defeated and allow shame to continue to rule my life. I wasn't born to live in a cage. I wasn't born to feel less than or ashamed. It may take time to replace negative thoughts with positive ones; but I am committed to working on Dorcas! Inward struggles don’t mean we’re not making progress. You are victorious and God wants us to live an abundant life – without shame. I hope this helps you. Let's continue to work on ourselves, and shift negative thoughts in our mind because we're worth it. If you need support, simply ‘’push your foot up against mine. Join Marti McKeon as she will continue this conversation on shame. Also read Marti’s writings below.
You can’t talk about weight issues without discussing the feelings of shame an overweight person feels at various times in their lives. Whether young or old, let’s face it, if you carry extra pounds, you get treated differently. Because shame negatively affects how we live our lives and how we interact with others, it is important for us to understand what shame is and deal with it. Being an overweight person myself, I have experienced shame from family, from friends, at work, and in all areas of life. However, the worst of it was when I begin to shame my own self. Trust me, it doesn’t feel good. This section on shame is focused on helping people understand that we cannot let what others think, stop us from being the best that we can be, or stop us from reaching our goals, and lastly, stop us from enjoying this wonderful life that God has given us.
What is shame? The dictionary describes shame as “A painful emotion caused by the belief that one is, or is perceived by others to be, inferior or unworthy of affection or respect because of one’s actions, thoughts, circumstances, or experiences. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/shame
Are overweight people inferior or unworthy of affection or respect. The sad truth is that society acts on this belief. But it is time for a change in the way society perceives those that are overweight. That change has to begin with us!
The first thing that must be understood is that being overweight is not a character flaw, it is a physical description, like your skin color, your eye color, your hair color, etc… People can have all kinds of prejudices and beliefs; however, those prejudices and beliefs have nothing to do with you. You are more than what someone else believes about you.
In the Bible, King David made the statement to God: “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” https://www.biblegateway.com, Psalms 39:14 It has been my experience that once I realized my own worth, what I have to offer others, the positive affect that I have had on other’s lives, and the fact that I have something unique and wonderful to offer the world, I am forced to stop listening to the flawed beliefs of society. It is time to begin to start looking at your gifts, your talents, your wonderful character, your desire to make a positive difference in the world, the love you have to give, and your creativity which is screaming to be expressed.
I realize that it may take time to change some of the deep imbedded feelings that shame has caused, but it is time to start the process of changing your focus from what others believe and say, to tapping into the wonderfulness of who you are. Next month, we will deal with the false labels society tries to place on overweight people versus magnifying the wonderful truth of who you are.
I’ve spent a lifetime struggling with weight issues. Growing up, I was the “chubby” kid. During junior high and high school, I graduated to being the “fat” kid. And as an adult, I am medically described as being “obese”. These descriptions can take their toll on a person’s self-esteem – they are not very flattering. I have had my moments of being embarrassed about my weight, ashamed of my weight, and frustrated with myself for not being able to lose the weight. However, I learned long ago that if I stayed stuck in embarrassment, shame and frustration, how would there ever be room for a happy life. I realized that beyond the shame of being overweight, there awaits happiness, a fulfilled life, satisfying relationships, wonderful accomplishments and the ability to make a difference in the world.
It has already been established that shame is not relegated to those dealing with weight issues; it can be experienced by anyone. Shame is a toxic and destructive emotion. It makes you feel unworthy, guilty, and like there is something very wrong with you. These feelings lead to low self-esteem, causes self-doubt, and make you want to hide in a dark corner and become invisible. That’s the bad news. The good news is that you can overcome shame. Now is the time to reclaim yourself. Now is the time to rise above shame!
How does a person move beyond shame, and become confident, satisfied and happy. Let me share my experience. Most of my shame has been associated with weight. Have you ever gone into a restaurant and the waitress seats you at a booth and you don’t quite fit? This may seem like a small issue, but to me, it felt like everyone was watching and all I wanted to do was crawl in a hole and hide. There have been times when I did not want to go to the doctor because I did not like being weighed; the blood pressure cuff did not fit my arm (so they had to go around to different stations to find one that fit); the gown didn’t fit; or I had a hard time getting upon that high table in the examining room. I can tell you other stories when I have been embarrassed or ashamed because of my weight.
For me, rising above shame did not happen overnight – it was a process. No, I was never the popular girl in school. However, I was smart, creative, and knew that I wanted to make a difference in the world. I decided I was going to take those positive assets and focus on that. Sometimes it was hard because there is a lot of prejudice and discrimination towards those of us who carry extra pounds. At school, kids may call you names, and even teachers may treat you differently. At work, you may get overlooked for promotions, or many companies will hire the slender “bomb-shell” or the handsome “buffed” guy, before they hire those of us who are “pleasantly plump”. Though this negative feed-back is real, it is more important to understand who you are and see your worth. If you are able to do that, you can overcome not only shame, but fear, guilt, self-doubt, etc.
Moving beyond shame meant I had to change my focus. Yes I am an overweight woman, but I had to stop letting that be the only narrative that defined me. I changed my attention to my positive attributes: intelligence, creativity, integrity, my love for people, and the list goes on. As I began investing my time and energy into these qualities, I started reaping meaning outcomes and feedback. This built up my confidence and determination to continue creating these results. I continue to work on losing weight. At the same time, I am making a difference in this world, and accomplishing great things. I am happy and confident. By letting go of shame, I make room for living a fulfilled life. This is a blessing!