A Facebook Group Has Done More For My Self-Esteem And Mental Health Than My Therapist

fat obese woman

I recently went into a retail store, feeling empowered after having lost four pounds during my weekly weigh-in earlier that morning, only to be stared down like a pig at a circus by an employee. 

Yes, my belly is large and sticks out further than my breasts.

Yes, I walk with a slight limp because the extra weight has caused my feet to develop "fat people problems” aka planters fasciitis

Yes, my hair is "boy" short because the hair stylist made a mistake and I had no choice but to cut. it. all. off.

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But despite my shortcomings (no pun intended), this man had no right to do what he did next; he picked up his phone, angled it my way, and took a photo.

I'm lucky enough to have a platform where I can relay my personal experiences to others so that they may feel less alone and on the off-chance a dude reads it, feels as disgusting as he made me feel. 

When I wrote about the experience, I really had no idea what kind of response I would receive.

Let's start with the negatives.

My writing was called cringe-worthy, gross, and "it was all in my head because of the anxiety" I admitted to having in the piece.

And then I saw this tweet:

While the author may think she's doing me a service and helping by directing me to do more than burn a "lil calories," in actuality, I felt deflated. And as a writer, we are told we are supposed to have thick skin, and most days I do. Most.

It’s not that I can’t handle criticism because I can — when it’s constructive, not just words adding to my heartache.

But maybe I was looking at the criticsm in the wrong way. 

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Maybe I am just a complainer.

Maybe I am fat, lazy, and need to stop “self #fat-loathing.”

So I reached out to my  support network.

My real-life friends are thin, healthy, and can’t relate to what I was  — and still am — going through. My husband can only take so much before his eyes glaze over. Though they, too, were kind in their comments, I wondered who really could relate.

I posted my article to one of my Facebook groups — a weight loss support subgroup that was borne from one of my true crime aficiando groups. 

This group consists of some of the most caring, thoughtful, funny, and life-affirming women I've ever met on the Internet.

I’ve been to several therapists, none of who were able to help me get through the psychology behind my body issues, none of who were able to provide me the support I needed during times in which I felt suicidal ideation.

These woman flocked to my post, some having had similar experiences, others explaining to me why I am better than the covert paparazzi at the Verizon store.

Most of all, these women showed the compassion I needed at a time when I felt violated and itchy in my own stretch-marked skin.

Life takes you on many paths: some smooth as freshly poured cement, others bumpy as a teenager’s pimple-filled face.

Sometimes the people we look to lean on in times of distress are not always going to be the ones who fill our hearts with joy and positivity. 

It will surprise you who comes through in the battle we fight against ourselves. 

We don’t want pity.

We don’t want toxic words that sting our bones.

What we need is true crime aficionados.

But if that isn’t your thing, finding a special group of people that can provide the encouragement you need can make all the difference.

In the end, if we can all just be kinder, and be examples for future generations, maybe we could save a life or two in the process. 

The irony isn't lost on me that I speak of saving lives and true crime all in one breath. But that’s the 400 foot rollercoaster of life, my friends.

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Liza Walter is a writer who focuses on current events, pop culture, and true crime. She loves cheese, Game of Thrones, her husband, and son. Not necessarily in that order. You can follow her on Twitter @NerdyLiza.