A hard question to answer
‘How do I answer this one?’ I thought carefully to myself. Normally the questions I am asked regarding health and fitness tend to be similar, and when I answer it’s often as though I merely push rewind on a tape deck and let the words play out of my mouth. But this question was different; it needed to be handled with care.
The e-mail read: ‘Should I address my sister’s weight problem? It’s getting really bad and she’s starting to stop going out in public because I think she’s too embarrassed.’ I didn’t respond instantly. Over the next 24 hours this question was constantly on my mind. This was a really important question and my answer could have massive repercussions - which could be positive or negative.
In the past, I experienced mild depression. It created a hollow feeling in my stomach and a lot of negative self-talk. When I was in that place I started stuttering. I remember beating myself up because I couldn’t do a basic human skill: talk. I lived in fear of others noticing it and I’ll never forget the day when a coworker commented: ‘What’s with your stuttering - can’t you speak properly?’ It destroyed me.
I was too embarrassed to open up to others because I didn’t want to be seen as weak. I tried telling myself that I could get through it, but my pride caused a lack of action, which in turn made my stuttering worse. Finally, it was only through a very special person who showed me unconditional care, love and support that I found the means to pull myself through that time to a place where I was happy again. It was that person I thought of when pondering my response to this question.
The next day, I sat down in front of my computer and slowly started typing. My message was that this person’s sister needs them more than ever but that this support needs to be offered from a position of unconditional caring. They have to remove all judgment and learn how to listen with empathy, or in other words only listen to understand their sisters world. My correspondent’s role isn’t to provide any answers to their sister, but rather to support and assist her in getting the right kind of help. This woman needs to surround herself with people who are experts in the areas in which she needs help and who have experienced success in helping others overcome the hurdles she faces. This isn’t going to be a short journey, but one that requires ongoing support and love on the rollercoaster ride ahead.
I haven’t heard back from the person who wrote me this email, and I suspect I’ll never know the outcome. Nevertheless, I do believe that unconditional support is a huge factor that we all need when we face tough situations. Many of us aren’t too good at asking for it, so don’t be afraid to offer your support when you feel it’s needed.