Getting Support
by Barbara Altman Bruno, Ph.D.

As some of you probably know by now, my book, Worth Your Weight, has finally been published! From the time I decided to write a book until it actually appeared in salable form took about nine years. So far, I have gotten some thrilling responses to it -- people whose lives have been changed, for the better, as a result of reading it. It has been an enormously satisfying time in my life and it would never have occurred at all without support.

I guess the first form of support was the feedback from my psychotherapy clients and students, which helped to steer my work. I think it behooves us to see what results we are creating in the world, and use that as feedback about whether or not we are producing what we want. And then adjust what we do to better achieve our intentions.

The second support was via my best friend, with whom I have enjoyed many discussions over many years. She told me, years ago, that people needed to hear what I had to say. My reaction was along the lines of, "Little me? You mean someone else might really want to hear this ?" Being my best friend -- perhaps --she reinforced that my message was really that important! Her belief in me is what led me to start the very long process of putting my ideas into book form.

Support then came both from loved ones and from newcomers. My husband, a computer consultant, helped me move from a typewriter to a computer, and then allowed me the mental and physical space to write. Other people in my life also tempered their demands to accommodate my new schedule. One friend put me in touch with a professional writing coach, who helped me organize chapters and thoughts. I used the coach and others to make promises to about completion deadlines -- or else I would have gladly played hookey rather than force myself to write. Some gave advice about agents, publishing and/or what to change in the manuscript. AHELP, the Association for the Health Enrichment of Large People, gave me information, as did NAAFA. And my embarrassment about not showing up with the book at one more AHELP meeting led to me actually having it done -- in the nick of time -- for AHELP's most recent national meeting.

To make too long a story shorter, I couldn't get a publisher. I had begun to feel like the book was an albatross, and dreaded people asking me how it was doing. A regional gathering of AHELP was to occur a couple of years ago. I didn't know why I should bother to commit yet another weekend to all this stuff, and have to face still more questions about the bookthatwasn't, but I discussed the gathering with colleagues beforehand. They urged me to go and to use that weekend to help me revitalize the book. I went, and when people asked about the book, they and I realized I was burned out about the whole project. One member offered to read the book and give me her feedback. It was an infusion of energy when I no longer had any myself. After reading it, she offered to edit it, then to publish it, and finally to find me a publisher who could also help me to distribute it. Thanks to her, the book became a reality! Another dear friend did the cover artwork, capturing just the feeling of celebration and lushness I wanted to convey. Yet another, a lawyer, handled the legalities. And just last weekend, thanks to my local NAAFA chapter, I did my first book signing, with my husband's help doing the selling. And Dimensions was generous enough to offer to promote it for me! If you have read the book and found it valuable, you could help me and size acceptance by promoting it to bookstores, media, and potential readers. (Very big hint...)

All this is a very long way of urging Dimensions readers to get support for themselves and for realizing their dreams.

Our fatphobic society would have us believe that fat people should never show themselves in public; that they should not and cannot live healthy and happy lives; and that they should not and cannot have lovers. If you are reading this, Dimensions has shown you that those notions are not the truth --and a glance at the letters in any issue confirms how much support readers get from this publication, as well as other fat-friendly publications like Radiance and organizations like NAAFA. So many of you know what a wonderful feeling it is to discover that you are not alone in the whole world, but that there are others who are like you! And then, moreover, to find clothing, friends, social opportunities, travel opportunities, information particular to your needs, and even artwork and fiction which help you to feel acceptable, desirable, and included.

In my book and in my life, I have been interested in how people have managed to beat the odds against them --whether fatphobia, homophobia, serious illness, poverty, or starting out in a non-nurturing family (or not having a family). In general, they have decided to define what is possible for themselves regardless of others' limiting notions, and they have gotten support from someone or somewhere, My first NAAFA friend, Maryann, told me that she was fortunate enough to be raised in a family where she was told she could be anything she wanted if she did the work. But many people are not blessed with such nurturance! In that case, they have sought support where they could find it -- through friends, someone else in the family' or in school (or elsewhere), reading, or finding some sort of role model. People who have managed against formidable odds to create a new life free from alcohol or other drugs or compulsions have used 12-Step groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous. The self-help movement blossomed in the 1980s, perhaps because so many people moved away from their original families and hometowns, and now it is possible to find self-help groups for all sorts of situations. either locally or through a national organization.

If you have a particular dream for your life, get support for realizing it! Sometimes there are people who are ready and willing to offer that support. Sometimes it is useful to pray, or to meditate on support; sometimes to read, watch, and listen. Sometimes it is useful to pay for it, and sometimes you may have to advertise for support. Believe in your dream, surround yourself as much as possible with whatever helps you to sustain that belief and the actions which will bring it into being, and keep on keeping on.

Everybody, every body, has something to offer. And the rest of us are waiting for it!



Well Being