What makes you worth loving

These days, I snicker a little when I hear doctors say it’s a privilege to take care of people. If it’s a privilege to submit to this shitty schedule, that crazy attending, and those revolting bagels, I sneer, I don’t want to know about the punishment. But in clinic the other day, I actually understood what they meant. All it took was a fat kid.

She was 13 years old and quiet in a sweet kind of way, and she weighed 250 pounds. “I’ve been fat all my life,” she said, “and I just want to lose weight.” On the parental questionnaire, her mother had written only, “I am concerned about my daughter’s overweight.” Not about her failing grades, not about her having a boyfriend for the first time. Only about her weight.

I was a fat kid, too. In my family, this was also a Big Goddamn Deal. For most of my adolescence, all I wanted was for someone to sit me down and say, “Your body isn’t what makes you worth loving,” but it didn’t come–not for years.  And now, suddenly, here is the me at 13 sitting in front of the me at 30, asking for help.

I gave her help–a few small, practical changes to make, and an appointment to follow up after a month–and found myself thinking, my God, this really is a privilege. It is a privilege to sit in a room and talk about being fat and not be the one crying. It is a privilege, whether it’s right or wrong, for the younger me to find a little bit of healing in whatever the older me offers to a patient. It is a privilege to say both to her and to myself, “Your body isn’t what makes you worth loving.”

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6 Comments on “What makes you worth loving”

  1. HH Says:

    I love you!!!

  2. Garth Says:

    All this Kumbaya talk is fine and wonderful, but it’s not going to fool her for long. At 13 years old and 250 pounds, this girl is a freaking beached whale! She (and her parents) better darned well be concerned about her weight. Amphetamines, military school, whatever it takes. Even diet or exercise.

  3. LF Says:

    Ouch. I actually think it is the “Kumbaya talk” that will encourage this girl to love herself and move her towards a healthier standard of living. Sometimes we just need a little love and a little grace. Well done, my friend, and for what it’s worth – you are right.

  4. HH Says:

    “Beached whale” might just be a little harsh, Garth. I mean, we don’t know how TALL she is. 🙂

  5. Little Red Says:

    Not that I have any special interest in medical practices (I’m more of a humanities girl), but you’re such a great read!

  6. not all countertransference is bad.

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