I spent three hours reading and re-reading many of the stories posted on your blog and I felt compelled to share one of my own, but mine involves an MFT (marriage and family therapist).
Since early 2007, my husband and I have been coping with the fact that his ex-wife is engaged in parental alienation with their nine-year-old twin sons. Since March of 2008 he and I have been in court for eight ex parte hearings (all dismissed in our favor) as well as a multi-day civil misdemeanor trial against his ex-wife for violating a court order (the parenting agreement on file with the courts). We’re gearing up for a second trial later this year, and this time his ex is looking at felony charges.
One result of this nightmare is the fact that both my husband and I are emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically exhausted, and back in April of this year we decided we needed an MFT to help up navigate our experiences, keep what’s left of our sanity, and help his sons cope with their mother.
Because our situation is so very convoluted, the therapist we chose spent three sessions just doing an intake interview with us. We then spent another session outlining our goals and aspirations for therapy. And then, somewhere in the middle of our fifth session with this individual, our session took the following turn:
MFT (at me): Do you think your weight has anything to do with what you’re experiencing?
Me: No. I’ve been fat all my life and accepted my body years ago.
Husband (at MFT): She’s got the best body image of anyone I’ve ever met, which is one of the things I love about her.
MFT: How much to you weigh?
Me: I don’t know. I haven’t been on a scale in years, but I can tell you that clothes I’ve had since 1990 still fit the same, so my weight hasn’t changed much in 20 years.
MFT: Well, exercise and eating for fuel and not for comfort are so important in staying healthy. All of your excess weight (waving a hand in the general area of my abdomen) is so hard on your heart and joints, and just about every system in your body.
I shut up at this point, but my husband – bless him – tried to stay calm as he explained to her that I do exercise, I do eat well, that I don’t overeat. She listened, but I could tell from her body language that she really wasn’t buying it.
That was our last visit with that particular therapist, but I did learning something from this experience. Before our first appointment with our current therapist, I wrote a letter to him explaining that I’m fat, I know I’m fat, I’m not concerned about my fatness, and that my fatness has nothing to do with the stress and anxiety I’m currently under. I’m stressed because my husband’s ex-wife calls the police to our house on weekends we have visitation because she claims to hear us hitting and swearing at the boys when she calls them. I’m stressed because the boys panic when their mother calls them at our house and says she misses them so much that she thinks she’s going to die. I’m stressed because twice this year she’s told the boys that unless they tell her that they don’t love their father, she’s going to commit suicide. I’m stressed because we missed 21 days of visitation in 2009 because his ex-wife refused to deliver the boys. I’m stressed because we’ve spend nearly $50k of our retirement money in lawyers and court fees defending ourselves and trying to mitigate her pathology with the boys. In other words, I’m stressed for a lot of reasons, but *not* because I’m fat.
So far he seems to understand where I’m coming from because the only time I’ve been asked about my weight was when he asked both of us if either of us has experienced any dramatic weight loss or gain since all of this started during the intake interview. I’m hopefully cautious that this therapist might be a keeper.