I grew up very close to my mum's side of the family, some lived in the same street and all of us had Sunday dinner at Grandma's every week. I was the oldest girl. I moved cities around 15 years ago so I've gradually met up with them less and less, now it's every second Christmas plus weddings.
In those fifteen years I've put on a lot of weight. And they haven't. I have three aunts in their 60s who could all star in an infomercial about the latest abdominal toning equipment or miracle face cream. My cousins (male and female) are all toned and tanned and slender and athletic. They play sport and watch sport and coach sport and at least one has done some modelling. My mum and I are the only overweight ones.
They are lovely people. They have never done anything to make me feel bad, not deliberately. But in contrast to them I feel short and fat and dumpy and inadequate.
No other group makes me feel like this. My husband's family are all shapes and sizes and I feel very comfortable with them. I am probably the fattest of my friends, but that doesn't bother me. But I am growing to dread every second Christmas. About six months before I generally go into a bit of a diet panic. Six months is long enough to make a difference. Then the months pass and I haven't lost any weight and I feel worse and worse and more desperate.
One of my younger cousins has just got engaged. She's having an engagement party in a month, and I felt like we should go even though I was never close to her, she is nearly 20 years younger than me and she was only little when I moved away. Her big sister is my favourite cousin. But I was dreading it so much that I was lying awake for ages last night agonising about it. Thinking I'd have to get something new to wear but no matter what I bought I would still look dumpy. Not fitting in with the beautiful people partying on a rooftop in the middle of the city. Feeling awkward and clumsy and FAT.
I said earlier in the week that I'd had a bad dream and started the day off badly. At the time, I didn't connect the dream to this. I do now. In the dream I was at my grandma's place with all my cousins and I was being ostracized by everyone. I would try to play with them and they'd slip away and I'd look out the window and they'd all be outside. So I'd go outside and they would leave again. My identical twin sister (who in reality died when we were babies, but she was alive in my dream) was standing up for me a bit, but it was obvious she was just tolerating me to be nice. My grandma was being horrible too.
Nothing like that ever happened in real life! As one of the oldest children I was the leader of the girls. I was the one inventing the games, with the younger ones following me around. And, as I said, they are all lovely people. When I woke up I was sad and upset but I didn't think it meant anything. But I guess that is how I feel inside about my relationship with them now. Despite their best efforts to include me, I feel excluded and just not good enough.
After stressing about it half the night, I told my cousin this morning we couldn't go to her party. So now I just have Christmas to worry about. It makes me think crazy things like "maybe if I only eat vegetables and nothing else between now and then ..." and I know that is stupid so I just want to give up on trying to lose weight altogether.
I have lots of reasons to want to lose weight. This isn't a good one because it doesn't motivate me in a good way. It just makes me feel depressed and desperate and a failure. I've sort of worked through my feelings, last night and today, and I'm ok but completely exhausted.