Advice From The Comic Hack 169 – The Physical Forms and Belly Of The Beast Edition

Jul 28

Advice From The Comic Hack 169 – The Physical Forms and Belly Of The Beast Edition

I feel such an affinity to the writings of Irish playwright, novelist, essayist, and poet Oscar Freaking Wilde. I love his artistry, his brilliance, his talent, his sass and his incredible style… I wonder how much more he might have contributed had he been born now and not in the benighted 19th century England. Wilde wrote “The  pure and  simple  truth is rarely pure and never simple.”  How right he was.

Born almost 100 years later author, educator, activist and by no means Wilde’s equal Parker Palmer wrote “Self-care is never a selfish act—it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others.” He too is absolutely correct and yet too few of us realize not only what we want but what we’re willing, able, and required to do to get what we deserve. Sometimes too; self-care will only come at the urging of those who love us. Today a Darling Reader writes me with her ever-growing concerns fomented by her life-partner’s ever-growing waistline. In trying to address her distress I learn some interesting new facts and run once-again into an oft-repeated dilemma. I’ll try to steer this long-suffering stoic towards a better path. I am going to ask you to read, share and comment and don’t forget: Submit questions for future columns to advicequestions@comichacksguide.com. 

So it begins

So it begins

Dear Comic Hack,

 Before I get too deep into my problem I really want to stress that my question is not rooted in an effort to body shame my boyfriend. It is genuinely seated in a concern not only for his health, but the health of our children and the quality of life of our family.

I also want to stress: I’m not “skinny.” But I am active. I can’t sit for too long without getting fidgety and being inside sitting day after day is the pathway for me to fall into depression.

When we met my boyfriend was already fairly large. But his personality  shone through and I fell for him. While I was pregnant with our daughter we both gained considerable weight. After he birth though, it felt like our paths started to diverge a bit. I began losing (and still am working) the weight. I’m not driven by being able to fit into smaller clothes, but by wanting to be able to keep up with our kids and because there is a whole world out there I still want to explore.

He really has no such motivation. At 5’11 he weighs roughly 450lbs. His life is very much ruled by his size, and by extension our family is limited. By that I mean this: If the baby cries it is hard for him to get up from the couch to help her. It is hard for him to help clean the house, or walk the dogs. We have to be aware of seating if we want to go eat, or to the movies or travel….and honestly….it hinders the mechanics of being intimate…

But my biggest concern is our kids….I’m trying very hard to instill a healthy lifestyle in them. So they won’t struggle the way we have as they grow up. At 11 years old, my oldest daughter is already on a bad path. I can only do so much to show her healthy living when I’m the only one doing it.

I know a conversation has to happen. The resentment I feel towards him every day as I’m trying to hold the house together and he sitting on the couch has buried any other feelings I might have for him. But, I don’t know how to start it. I’ve gone through the “we (as a team) should eat better, and we as team need to exercise more. But I’m tired of taking blame that isn’t mine, especially when it gets me nowhere.

I don’t know how to start a conversation that doesn’t put him on the defensive when the message is essentially, “if you can’t change, I will leave.”

If my perspective on this needs some fine tuning I’m open to new opinions. But if you can offer some advice on HOW to start this conversation, then I would greatly appreciate it.

 Sincerely,  Trying to be happy 

Is it wrong that this is the very first image that came to my mind?

Is it wrong that this is the very first image that came to my mind?

Thank you for your preface (prefaces? prefaci?) about not wanting to fat shame your partner. Thank you for laying claim to your own physical “shortcomings”. You are not alone; so few of us are possessed of one of the ideal body types fashionable in the 21st century. I certainly am not. In today’s society it seems like there are only two groups you can make fun of without incurring the wrath of the politically correct watchdogs; The overweight and those with thick southern accents. Lately even those have become increasingly off limits. I was tempted to add “Trump Supporters” but this really isn’t the place for that kind of humor. I am on record, personally, as being attracted to a broad range of corporeal forms from zaftig to rail thin.  And though I have been whiplash lean most of my life, as I am now 51 and starting to sprout nascent “Man Boobs” (or “Moobs”) my perspective and my midriff certainly have broadened. Except for when it comes to the Trump thing. Shudder!

One day, I'll have the BODY of a GOD

One day, I’ll have the BODY of a GOD*

Weight issues have always been with us. I just came across an amazing factoid yesterday –  apparently inscribed on an Egyptian pyramid is the following “Humans live on one quarter of what they eat on the other three quarters lives their doctor.” I also want to say that I know for a fact that there are sometimes valid, physiological reasons for excessive weight gain and not all obesity is lifestyle – related. But your boyfriend certainly seems to be making a choice. And it’s a choice that apparently is having grave consequences in your home, in your life, in your heart and in your bed.

Darling Reader the most troubling part of your tale is not the difficulties in dining out, or travel or the regrettable effect it’s had upon your intimacy. To me what’s most disconcerting is how he’s failing his family, how he’s failing to – if you’ll forgive the horrible-yet-apropos pun – carry his weight in raising your offspring. A functioning couple, especially those with children, needs to be a partnership with agreed-upon areas of responsibility. From what you write your boyfriend is abdicating his duties as a partner AND especially as a father. On some level he’s already left you, all of you. In all of this your primary concern seems to be how this is affecting your kids. You’ve put the children first. He seems to be operating solely on selfishness and gluttony.

Over-indulgence is SO HAWT!

Over-indulgence is SO HAWT!

Another troubling point – I’ve recently read articles and studies  linking one specific trait that is a clear precursor or indicator that a relationship has failed irrevocably. That is when one person in the pair-bonding shows feelings of contempt for their partner. Anger, resentment, even disappointment are hard and damaging, but contempt is usually a death knell. You are voicing that very thing, are you not? I have to wonder at this point whether your feelings have degraded to the point where you cannot recover? Let me ask you honestly – if you could wave a magic wand and fast forward to however this situation is best resolved; what would it look like? What’s your heart’s true desire? Do you secretly prefer that he fixes things or that he leaves?

I do not envy you your current position or what it is going to take to overcome your state. It’s very complicated and nuanced isn’t it? Let’s go ahead and take the weight and the sloth out of this (and between us right now we’ve hit at least two of the seven deadly sins right?) What if instead of an indulgent fatty, he was an unrepentant alcoholic or was hooked on heroin? Could you walk away – or force him to get help – with a good conscience? But to play my own devil’s advocate – what if his issue was beyond his control? What if he were bedridden or in a wheelchair due to illness or injury? Your answers become less clear and your path certainly becomes thornier if he has no agency in this situation. That doesn’t mean you’re compelled to stay. There’s too much at stake because he’s too much at steak… and potatoes and a tub of ice cream.

Not the tub you want but the tub you deserve...

Not the tub you want but the tub you deserve

It’s time for you to get serious. I believe that even as a member of a greater whole, whether that’s a couple, a family, a team or even a country you have be aware of your boundaries and how much you owe the collective versus how much you owe yourself. You have to be sure what you can or cannot accept. You MUST know where to draw the line in the sand and be ready to fight to defend it. You asked me how you should approach this conversation without putting your failing fella into a defensive position? You’re not going to. It’s well past that. Much to my surprise I’m gonna recommend that you stage an intervention. It’s time to confront him, shake him up; forcibly take the scales from his eyes. I know that, as (what I can only hope is) one of the funniest ADVICE COLUMNISTS EVER I should be philosophically opposed to issuing ultimatums. But I’m not. If the message is “CHANGE or LEAVE” … If your heart is trying to figure out if he should stay or if he should go – he needs to know. It may help him decide on better choices. In an ideal world, your ever-ballooning man-child would be deciding of his own volition to take better care of himself and of his family – but since he hasn’t jumped, it’s time to push him. Provoke him. But again – only if you genuinely wish to heal and move forward together.

Or...

Or…

As I was discussing and researching this article – my favorite Taoist challenged me to learn something new on this topic so here’s some interesting facts:  80 percent of all addicts who participate in an intervention seek treatment within 24 hours. Of the remaining 20 percent, more than half enter into treatment within a week. But  (and I knew this part) seeking treatment doesn’t mean you’ll have a successful outcome. The success rate for 12 step programs is about 5-10% which is pretty much the same success rate as NOT using a 12 step program. Doesn’t matter; if your lunk of a boyfriend really wants to change; he absolutely should get some help. If your hope is to save the marriage you should both go to therapy together and he most certainly needs to seek additional guidance to whip himself back into shape. Whether it is addiction, depression or he’s just fucking lazy a major component of this is his internal landscape and his views need to change if he is going to transform himself into something healthier…

and there’s the problem.

I have written over and over and over again about what I always call “The Junkie’s Dilemma” that bleak realization that you cannot save a person until they are ready to be saved. You may not be able to move your man. He may not be able to hear you, or your family. He may not be strong enough or (sadly) motivated enough to fix what is so very broken in him. My advice for you darling reader is spend some time soul-searching. You must decide how you really want this to be resolved. If you’re serious about your boundaries and want to save the relationship (and most-likely his life) then you owe it to yourself and your children to stage an intervention. I know you were open to a new perspective but this is really the only way forward that addresses all of your needs. You must also accept that it may not work. Statistics – and human nature – suggests that you’ll get some initial effort and then he’ll give up. You’ll need to be ready to cut your losses at this point. I’m sorry that your path isn’t easier and I wish you all the strength in walking it.

Or hop in the wheelbarrow; I'll push ya'

Or hop in the wheelbarrow; I’ll push ya’

I shall bring this week’s offering to a close.  Let me remind you  that this column can only continue if you keep sending me fun, exciting and challenging questions seeking my advice. Email them to advicequestions@comichacksguide.com.  I also want to ask you again to LIKE, and  SHARE  this column – it’s the best way to get it noticed. Tweeting couldn’t hurt. So… Tweet! Finally – I really want to hear what YOU thought of today’s column so weigh in! That’s what the COMMENT Section is there for!

I couldn't NOT use this...

I couldn’t NOT use this…

* Yes, I know he’s not a god per se… but for the purpose of the joke…

14 comments

  1. Your Humble Comic Hack /

    What advice might YOU have given?
    Should she stay? Go? Should she accept the changes both physical and around the house? Give me your feedback.

    • Your Humble Comic Hack /

      WOW.
      i just heard back from this Darling Reader. She said that she’d never considered and intervention – now she does… Goodness!

  2. Lindsey /

    I love reading you advice. I look forward to it. An will be sending you my question soon. Hope your ready.

    • Your Humble Comic Hack /

      I’ll keep it up and I am SO ready for more exciting, fun questions.

  3. Colleen /

    What a great read! An intervention is probably the best way to communicate for both parties. She (and he) will have a wonderful opportunity for communication. I hope she is able to get him to HEAR her. I hope it all works out well for her. Great advise! Pat yourself on the back sir!

    • Your Humble Comic Hack /

      It’s something I’ve never suggested before…

  4. One thing to say in that intervention is “Do you want to alive to see your children grow up?” At the size he is now, it is doubtful he will be.

    • Your Humble Comic Hack /

      Another thing – if it’s a GROUP telling you to adjust your ways – it’s a lot harder to dismiss it as just one woman’s opinion.

  5. Brit /

    I think your advice was spot on. When my (now) fiancé and I were just dating, there came a point that his issues began affecting our relationship in a big way. He didn’t know that he was so unwilling to lose me and what we had until that possibility was staring him in the face. He got terribly defensive, I calmly held my ground. It took him a bit after I left to realize I wasn’t kidding nor was I wrong. Eventually it worked out for us, but my point is that a relationship takes two, and if one can’t or won’t do their part, your suggestion of How to resolve it is exactly right.

    • Your Humble Comic Hack /

      You also need sometimes to make someone understand the risks and the costs. The best way might be to offer to remove it

  6. garbski /

    Yes Kat, you’re right – obesity leads to early death because of all kinds of nasty cardiovascular things going on and the heart can only take so much. Plus the danger of diabetes, stroke, and COPD. In short, they are slowly killing themselves. Sorry to be blunt but that’s my opinion. I used to be fat and miserable. Then watching ex leaving me woke me up. I looked at my kid and thought, mommy needs to be here for you. So I lost 60 pounds (or 240 if you count the ex), and still have those pesky 12 left but hey, I never felt better. And 17 years later I still do.

    • Your Humble Comic Hack /

      It’s funny the things that inspire us some times…

  7. SuzAnne /

    While an intervention may or may not work, it’s a good place to start. Point out here that I love my husband dearly, but he was in the same place just a few months ago. What finally worked with him was him developing congestive heart failure. After seeing doctors, and being repeatedly told to get his weight under control, he saw a Doctor Who gave him pills to help lose weight, eight months after he started the medication he has lost 100 pounds. He still has around 150 pounds to go, but he has now started working out and we have had to buy him new clothing several times because of his weight loss. I am profoundly grateful to that doctor because I wanted to keep my husband around. As a partner I find myself in the position of caregiver/dietitian. Ha ha that could almost be a column for you Scaramouche.

    • Your Humble Comic Hack /

      Congratulations and best wishes for continued success.
      I look forward to questions from you for future columns!

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