There's a very funny column that ran occasionally in The New Yorker for a couple of years called "The Underminer." The gist of the column is that the Underminer, the unnamed first-person narrator of the column, would run into a friend or an acquaintance, and over the course of their conversation would completely crush the other person's self-esteem by comparing said person's (sometimes modest) accomplishments with his or her own totally outlandish ones.
The column worked because we all know someone like that, who seeks to deliberately make us feel bad about ourselves. (I noticed when I did an Amazon search for the Underminer book that a book called The Sociopath Next Door came up as a Related Title, but that's a discussion for another day.)
Undermining takes a lot of forms, all of them dangerous. For me it was the friends who seemed to want me to stay fat. Most of these friends were fat themselves, and maybe in denial about it. These were friends I used to spend lots of time with. We loved going to restaurants together, watching movies (with lots of snacks!) at each other's houses, and so on. People I'd known for years. But when I started to lose the weight, and started to make permanent changes to my lifestyle, these friends seemed to take it as a personal attack on them.
How does that work, exactly? Because I was doing something, finally, about not just my weight, but my health, I was snubbing them, or making a comment about their choices?
Because we'd been friends for so long, I sincerely tried to keep the friendships going. But while I was enjoying my new, more active lifestyle, my friends wanted our time together to be like it used to be, complete with the calorie-fests that just do not fit with my new life and my new figure. And when I would try to tell them that I couldn't go back to my old ways, they would make rude and derogatory comments. It became clear that I couldn't be thin and be their friend.
Given how incredibly unsupportive my friends turned out to be, I decided I didn't need them in my life anymore. It was a very hard decision to make. But losing weight was without question the best thing I have ever done for myself, and anyone who can't understand or embrace that doesn't belong in my life.
Being thin inspired me in ways I'd never imagined were possible. As I started to lose weight, I began to feel not only better about my appearance, but more powerful. The sense of control over my own body made me want control over my life. Losing the weight indirectly empowered me to finally leave my abusive marriage.
You don't have to be overweight to find yourself in an abusive relationship, but I do think that the low self-esteem that often goes hand in hand with a weight problem makes it harder to find the strength to leave.
It took discipline, motivation, and courage you probably didn't think you had to lose the weight and join the Thin Club. Now that you're in, use that same courage to achieve the personal relationships you know you deserve.