Her name was Margaret. She came to me in a dream. She was tall, and fat, and very angry. I was taking her to therapy. When I woke up, I realized Angry Fat Girl was me. I had gained 40 lbs being pregnant for nearly 3 years trying to have my son. I knew I needed to lose weight, but I had no energy for it. Even when I did try, I didn’t seem to get any results. I was stuck.
Angry Fat Girl surprised me. Not the fat part, that was obvious; the anger. I was raised to be a nice girl. Growing up Catholic, the underlying message was nice girls don’t get angry. When I came face to face with the fact that my excess weight was related to anger, I was shocked. I actually did not feel angry.
A few months after my dream, I had the opportunity to try hypnosis to see if I could jump start my weight loss. As the doctor visually guided me down the stairs into a boardroom, he said everyone sitting around the table was there to sign a contract that would support my weight loss efforts. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Angry Fat Girl. Her face said it all, “l’ll sign it, but I ain’t doing it!” (I’ve cleaned up her language for publication.) After that session, I gained 7 lbs.
In the second session, the doctor guided me down into a large room where there was a party. There was a smaller room off to the side that held the resistance to my weight loss efforts. I knew when I unlocked the door I’d find Angry Fat Girl. What I did not anticipate was that she would be huddled in the corner crying. Immediately I went over to give her a hug. I told her I’d help her. See, in my own selfish desire to lose weight, I had forgotten her. I had forgotten the part of the dream where I was taking her to therapy.
A few months later, I had the opportunity to attend a workshop teaching a technique called Empty Chair. It requires you to put two chairs facing one another – you take turns occupying both chairs and speaking for yourself and the other person. Usually participants have a conversation with someone they have difficulty talking to directly. Angry Fat Girl went first. She said, “What am I supposed to do with my anger if I can’t eat?” It was a fair question. I could not even feel anger. Angry Fat Girl had taken on that burden for me.
Angry Fat Girl and I agreed that walking might help with the anger so we started there. As we worked together, I got the energy and dedication I needed to lose the 40 lbs I was carrying around to let the world know I was not OK. Angry Fat Girl had been the voice for a slew of emotions I needed to work through – grief, frustration, loneliness.
I have kept that weight off for the last 4 years. It’s because I’ve come to have such love and compassion for Angry Fat Girl. She helped me notice my emotions and how to give them a voice. Now, if sadness settles in, it is because my sadness has something to say. Rather than pushing her out because I don’t like the feeling, I open my arms. “Why are you here? What are you feeling sad about? Is there anything I can do to help?”
Most times, the answer is simply to be present and hold space for that the feeling.
“Surrender to what is. Let go of what was. Have faith in what will be.” Sonia Riccotti