Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Thank you to the Chinese Lady

In September 2007, I wrote about an unlikely cheerleader who witnessed my weight loss journey:
The Chinese Lady: I don't think anyone is more excited for me than the Chinese lady at my shoe repair shop. I kept meaning to mention her - I pass the shoe shop at least once a day. She calls me in to tell me how beautiful I look, and in broken English asks me "how much" (weight I took off), "how long" (have I been doing it) and "how often" (I work out). The thing that makes me laugh is she always asks me to turn around- so I do a full spin for her. And she always says "You so beautiful now- before- you so fat- but now- wow!" and she traces an hour glass shape in the air. If anyone else said that, I might smack them, but I realize her English isn't perfect and by the smile on her face, I can see she is genuinely happy for me, so I get a kick out of it.
I wrote that nearly 3 years ago. I've seen her hundreds of times since and she's still happy to see me...

Just tonight, I saw the Chinese Lady on my way home from the gym. And still, 3 years later, she has the same reaction when she sees me. The only thing that has changed are her questions. In broken English, she asks if I'm going to the gym (no, I just finished punk rope), and asks me if I'm "done" (losing weight), telling me "no more" (don't lose any more weight) and she still asks me to turn around so she can see my whole body. And every time I finish my spin, she puts her hands up to her cheeks like McCauley Caulkin in 'Home Alone' and says "Wow!". Then she compliments my skin, my face, trying to communicate how good it looks. And she always tells me I'm "beautiful" and always says "so healthy!".

I love the Chinese Lady because she's always so happy to see me that it can't help but make me smile. I try to answer her questions in as few words as possible since her English is limited. But she has no idea how much her enthusiasm means to me.

One day, I stopped in to say hi and her daughter happened to be in there. Her daughter was probably born here because she spoke English very well. When I came in, her mother said something to her daughter, and the daughter said to me "My Mom talks about you all the time. She says you look like Marilyn Monroe". We chatted a little - apparently the daughter knew I had lost weight because her mother told her. This woman was talking about me at home, how proud she was of me. Me. A total stranger. Just a customer.

I was so glad to have the chance to talk to the daughter, since I can't communicate very well with her mother. I told the daughter that her mom is great. I hope she knows that. I told her the truth: Her mother is more proud of my transformation than my own mother. 

You may have noticed I never talk about my Mom. It's because I'm not close with her. I never have been. And I rarely see her or talk to her. I did see her - about a year ago, right after the 5 Boro Bike Tour (which I'm sure most of you realize was a significant event in my life). She didn't know I was doing the tour ahead of time because we don't communicate. I don't tell her anything about my life. But since I saw her, and was still beaming with pride and excitement over the event, I very proudly told her I had done it - Ten hours. On a bike. In the rain. In the cold. 50 miles. All the hills. I was determined and I did it!

I waited for the reaction. The "My god, Sheryl, really? That's amazing! I remember how lazy you were growing up - what a significant accomplishment! I'm so proud of you!"

You know what I got? This was her response:

"A guy that lives near me (upstate NY) bikes into Manhattan."

It took a second for it to sink in, to realize that was her response. And I could feel my face go expressionless. I was speechless. But why should I have expected anything from her? Why should I expect her to acknowledge what a huge event this was for me? Why should I expect her to be proud of me or happy for me? She wasn't supportive or nurturing when I was growing up, why should she care now?

It was at that moment that any guilty "I should really try to be nicer to my Mom and have a relationship with her" thoughts I may have had vanished. It was that moment I realized we would never be close. She would never be the parent I wanted or needed. She gave birth to me and that's it. I never felt a connection to her and I never will.

A lot of people know this story, but I'm sure most of you don't. I wrote this on myspace April 20, 2005:
For as long as I could remember I was really into being a girl and couldn't wait to grow up and be a 'beautiful woman'. Of course growing up is awkward, and at the very unattractive age of 9, some boy (another 9 year old) said to me "You're pretty.... PRETTY UGLY!" So I later work up the courage to go to my mom, and in a very vulnerable moment I ask her "Mom, am I pretty?" Her response: "Well, you're no Raquel Welch" Thanks Mom, you're the best.
Seriously. My mother said that to me when I was nine. It baffled me at the time (who is Raquel Welch? I wondered) and it's hurt me since. I told her this story when I was in my 20's and she had no memory of it. But I remember it down to the bedspread on her bed (crushed red velvet) when I walked into her room and asked her that question.

Who says that to a child? A child obviously vulnerable and looking for approval. Why wouldn't you point out that internal beauty is more important than external beauty? And then why wouldn't you finish by telling that child that yes, she's beautiful and oh by the way, you love her? Why wouldn't you do that?

I considered writing about her on Mother's Day, since I was very aware of the day but didn't contact her. I wrestled with the idea but thought it might just look mean-spirited, so I didn't write about her. However, seeing the Chinese Lady tonight - seeing her face light up when she sees me, seeing how proud she is of me - just reminded me how different I wish my mother was. But wishing doesn't make it so. She'll never tell me I'm beautiful. She'll never be proud of me.

And in case you're wondering, I don't need to worry about her seeing these words. She doesn't read my blog. In fact, she was the first "unsubscription" notice I received years ago. How's that for a slap in the face? She didn't even care enough to keep in touch with me via my blog - to see my progress or how I changed over these 3.5 years. She doesn't care. She never will.

And you know what? I'm going to stop caring that she doesn't care. I don't need her or her approval.


  1. You sure fucking don't. Her loss, honey. She sure is missing out on a fabulous and wonderful person.

  2. Fuck. Her.

    When I read things like this, my first reaction is to think that people should need to pass some kind of test before they're allowed to procreate. But she would've failed and the world would've been short one awesome woman if that were the case.

    So instead, both my middle fingers are extended in her direction. And hey, at least you got a great dad!

  3. And she doesn't deserve your time or that space in your head. I'm not your mom, but I am a mom, and I am ridiculously proud of you and all of your accomplishments. I talk about you and what you've done almost daily because you are awesome and more people should know of it. I love you, sweets, and couldn't be more proud or happy to call you my friend. xoxo

  4. I'm sorry that you dont have a supportive mom, Sheryl. To be honest, it hurts. Im one of the lucky ones, who has a mom who is both a mother and a best friend. However, growing up, my best friend, who was my neighbor, had both parents like that. They had three boys ahead of her and they stopped caring at what she did.

    When she became anorexic and bulimic, and the school found out and told her parents, they made her sit in front of a steak until she ate it all. She was a vegetarian at the time and a long long time after. Im sure you can relate to the horror she felt then. It was awful watching her grow up like that, and I was so happy my house was a safe haven.

    I wish you had had a safe haven too when you were a kid. I kind of wish that I had met you when you were little (of course, im 22 lol)

    Who knows, maybe we could have been friends. Its a shame that your mother has to be that way, but like you said in your WW guide, that there are people who will build you up and be proud of what you've done and help you and there are others that won't. :(

  5. And I've told you before, Lore - I think you're an amazing Mom and those boys are so lucky. I wish I had a mom like you. Thank you. I'm so glad to have you as a friend, too. xo

  6. Thanks for sharing that story. I read your blog all the time but rarely (if ever?) comment. But this time I couldn't help myself. I appreciate your honesty so much. You bring a lot of humor and wisdom to my life by way of your blog. I just want to say thank you.

    I think many people will be able to relate to your story.

  7. I don't blame you, just because people brought you into the world don't necessarily make them your family. Family to me are people who support you whether you're blood related or not.

  8. God bless the child whose got his own! You should know you're a beauty but a mother's validation and approval mean so much to us all.I've been there myself and every Christmas, Thanksgiving and Mother's Day is really tough.It feels like every mother/child relationship is close and loving except your own. Know that you're not alone and you are a gorgeous, lovely woman.

  9. I was stabbed with the same hurtful words when I was in 2nd grade. An older boy on the bus said: "You're pretty...... pretty UGLY!" I cried so much, kids can be so mean. I have been following your blog for a while now and I think you are one of the most inspiring, strong and beautiful people I have ever seen. I wish I had half the confidence and drive that you do!

  10. It's her loss... you're amazing and she doesn't deserve you. I so love that the Chinese Lady is rooting for you the way she is. How cool is that?

  11. Hi Sheryl,
    Thanks once again for such a honest and emotional post. I wonder how many of us who have weight issues have emotionally vacant mothers. I have gone from anorexic and compulsive exerciser to where I am today (compulsive emotional out-of-shape eater). My mother only valued me when I was skinny and even then, I wasn't good enough. I certainly don't have her approval and gave that up a while back as well. Go on you for loving yourself. You rock.

  12. Oops. Meant good on you.
    PS-Ironically, my mother owns and operates a diet clinic.

  13. All I can say is this brought tears to my eyes. You are so lucky to have met the Chinese Lady to give you those kind Motherly words you so deserved. You look Wonderful Sheryl! And you are Beautiful!

  14. thanks for sharing S!
    I've had a similar situation. Only my Mom is still in my life albeit from a far.
    You GO Girl! You are amazing! Don't ever stop knowing this

  15. I have tears in my eyes over this one.

    I'm a mother of two and I don't for one second kid myself into believing that I haven't disapointed them in some way. They will likely grow up and look back and wish I made more crafts with them, or played more sports with them, or kept a cleaner house. But they will both go to their graves knowing that I loved them with abandon and did the best I could.

    The fact that "Chinese Lady" has been captivated and inspired (along with countless others) by the magical life you've created for yourself is no doubt little consolation for the utter ambivalence your mother has shown her own daughter. That you overcame such treatment is a testament to your strength and desire to achieve something better. You rescued yourself and take my hat off to you.

  16. Oh, that story sounds so familiar. My mother moved across the country when I was 7, kept up spotty communication at best through the years, and when I went to visit her for Christmas my senior year of high school, she got drunk on Christmas Eve and picked a fight with me, then called her sister saying "Come pick up your niece, I don't want her here anymore." Nice. I too have reached the point of just letting it go and realizing I don't need her. Good for you. You are beautiful, and you are worth more than she is.

  17. oh, I do relate. I think the Chinese lady knew you needed a little mothering . Thank God there are special people out there to make up for the ones that suck.

  18. Sheryl,
    Thank you for your honest post and for sharing your feelings with us. I also have a mother who has never been nurturing towards me. She left my father when I was five. He got sole custody and she never showed up for weekend visitation, even though she lived 10 minutes away.
    She has since developed early onset dementia. I am still not close to her, but she has expressed regret about the choices she has made throughout her life. That doesn't fix things, but it does make me feel a little better.
    Sheryl, it sucks to have a mom who never cherished her daughter. It hurts, but we learn how to move on. That Chinese Lady makes you feel special... and if she fills any part of the mommy void... that's a good thing!
    You are not alone. I understand how it feels to have no mom present (yet alive) and I hope that somehow helps.

  19. It Sucks not to have a caring/supportive mother:( We spend alot of our lives getting 'over' our childhood. She lacks a emotion/empathy button-psycho.
    Sometimes our 'true' mom comes in another Chinese lady!

    10hrs on a bike-jeez I need a jack&coke just thinking bout it- you are Sooo Awesome.

    Kicking my mother out of my house after she told me my body is ugly was one of the Best moments of my life. I finally realized I don't need or want her approval. You don't need hers either, you have all of us to remind you of how lovely you are, and Chinese lady ;)

  20. A really good quote I heard from someone once was, "What other people think of you is none of your business." It can be harder to keep that in mind when it's someone like family, whose approval and love and respect you do want, but I'm glad that you've decided to let go and realize there's nothing wrong with you. You're amazing, and there must be something terribly wrong with her if she isn't proud of the way you've completely turned your life around.

  21. Sweet girl... You worthy of a loving mother in spite of what your experiences feel like. I am in a small group of women and we were just having this discussion...You are not alone- my stepdaughter tells me that every time she is around her mom it is like going in a bakery and you get inside and look around and all you see is hardware... every time- I hurt for her and for you ...Thank God he has provided you with 1. An approving voice 2. The insight to know it is not your fault 3. The transparency to share your hurt... others feel validated when you do- therefore your pain becomes redemptive.
    Here is a nice nurturing approving reassuring hug... You are a daughter to be VERY proud of. Shes missing it. I feel sorry for her. She is depriving herself of a dynamic relationship with a sweet girl. ( who can kick some serious butt when necessary).

  22. I love the chinese lady story. People often times don't know how much they can touch our lives sometimes. Too bad she doesn't speak better language, I bet you would have some great conversations :)

    Sorry to hear about your mom. You are nothing but amazing.

  23. I completely understand you on this one: my mother once gushed over how "lean and fit" my 6 year old brother was and when I asked if I was lean, too she told me "You're...average." She was also the first to point out I had a big ass and had me conviced I was fat at 18 yrs old and a VERY fit 135 lbs. It took gaining 60 lbs for me to realize I was never fat to begin with. Some parents are just awful, and you're so right, you don't need her approval, and no matter what you do you will never be "good enough" in her eyes. You are such a fantastic inspiration, don't ever let her drag you down.

  24. I can relate completely. You are not alone.

    You have come such a long way, you should be so proud of yourself. And if your own mother can't do that, so many others will.

  25. my mom doesn't read my blog. my friends don't read my blog. my hubs doesn't read my blog. i think it's common. if it makes you feel any better for years my family has always told me what a pretty face i had, if i would just lose some weight. guys have told me that countless times, guys i've had crushes on have sent their friends to let me down easy. you're not alone. it sucks and i feel for you, but you're so not alone.

    it's funny about your chinese lady. for me, it's the ladies at the nail salon. they always ask me if i'm pregnant or just had a baby. that just can't believe anyone fat would get their nails done i guess. my fave line ever was when a woman described her son to me by making a fat face (blown up cheeks) and motioning big hips with her hands saying, 'my son, big, big, big like YOU!' that sucked hearing in a crowded nail salon.

    good for you though - you are an inspiration!

  26. I have a mother like yours - and I too would have liked to have had one that was supportive and loving. It bothered me for a long time and I tried to get closer.

    Then I realized, just because she gave birth to me doesn't mean anything. She saw me as a mistake that kept her from living a better life (her words) and I see her as a person that I would never socialize with, we didn't connect on any level.

    When I realized that I realized that there was really no reason to keep her in my life. My interactions with her only made me sad or angry.

    I stopped having contact with her in 2003 and it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

    I believe it was a good decision for you to stop having contact with your mother. It only causes pain to continue a relationship with a person who is emotionally unavailable.

    I think it's wonderful that you have someone who takes such an interest in you and your journey.

    You should be so proud of yourself with what you have accomplished. You are really inspiring - I love your blog.

  27. The sad thing is we dont get to choose our family, I was lucky that i had a wonderful mum, but there is a void in my life now she has passed away, I get those reactions fromthe rest of my family, I made the conscious decision that I woudl eliminate those negative people from my life, family and all, and it was the best thing i have ever done, I dont want my own kids growing up with that negativity, You are beautiful, big or small, you are beautiful and no one can ever take this accomplishment away from you, you dont need validation fromanyone else, yes it is nice, but the only person you are ever answerable to is yourself , and as long as you love yourself , you dont need the love from another, it is just a bonus if you get it xxx

  28. Dear Sheryl,
    I have been following your awesome blog for quite some time. I am a fellow WW and have been inspired
    each day by what YOU have to say.
    I never felt the need to write until today.
    You are a beautiful woman and you don't need your mothers approval for anything. You are who you are in spite of her. It's her loss.
    If only that wonderful Chinese woman knew what she meant to you!
    Fondly, CJ

  29. I feel so bad for you, but I also feel sad for her. Having a daughter and sharing experiences with her is one of the greatest things in life. She certainly doesn't deserve your time, but I find it truly amazing that she doesn't want to cultivate a relationship with you (which you can tell by the comments she makes).

  30. I wanted to say I have the same mother. I have cut her out of my life(and I know she doesn't care either). Too many guilty feelings about doing it in the past but it was incidents like you talk about that made me finalize it.

    I must tell you(although you already know!) that you CANNOT keep going to a dry well for water. That is what I kept doing by looking for support from "unreachable, unsupportive, dysfunctional people". Don't give them any ammunition to hurt you!

    You rock, girl! Keep it up. I love your journey, it is so inspiring!

  31. So weird that she doesn't acknowledge how AWESOME you are!!! I am glad you know enough about yourself to be strong and proud--and know that you don't need her approval. You are strong enough for YOU--you are all you need, and everyone is right, it is HER loss.

  32. It's sad that we don't have the support from the people who should be our biggest cheerleaders.

    I've blocked out so much of my childhood and have very few memories but the ones I do have my sMother says "that NEVER HAPPENED."

    It's probably better for us to stay away from those toxic relationships even if they are with the ones who gave birth to us. Giving birth doesn't give them the right to destroy us with their words or mind games.

    Luckily we have good friends to make up for it.

    You are BEAUTIFUL .... do a twirl ;)

  33. If I could come through the computer and hug you, I would. What an awful thing for a mother to say. Every day I tell my children I love them. Every day, I call my children by what I've called them since the day they were born. My son was "sunshine of my life" (he's now 14) and my daughter was "my precious doll" (she's now 10). I don't care how old they are. I will always refer to them with love in my heart.

    I remember hearing those exact same words growing up, although they were never said directly to me. Kids would taunt others with "you're pretty...pretty ugly" and "you're tough...tough to look at". :(

    I am so glad that the Chinese women gives you joy. Sounds like the genuinely cares about you.

    Toronto, ON

  34. Wow, that sounds just like my grandmother. I remember calling her several years ago to tell her I was engaged (which I didn't want to do but my mother insisted) and all I heard was silence on the other end. She didn't care.

    It hurt but eventually I learned to wish her well from a distance. I sometimes wish I had a "real" grandmother (she makes me call her that by the way, not grandMA) that was loving, nurturing and pleasant to be around but oh well. I just have to appreciate the good people I do have in my life.

    I love the story about the Chinese lady :)

    p.s. My father-in-law has also used that line about Raquel Welch!

  35. I was in therapy for a long time to try to get over my issues resulting from my relationship with my father. Finally, I got to a point where I freed myself from needing a resolution. I told myself it was OK to disconnect, because I would never get what I needed from him to be able to have an honest relationship. Interacting with him was always emotionally exhausting and usually resulted in my getting hurt. I decided that while I did love him, I didn't owe him. I'm civil, I do what I need to to be friendly, but other than that, my job is to protect myself. And if I need to distance myself from him to do it, that's OK. It's more than OK. It's treating myself with respect.

  36. Hon,

    I have been reading your column for a while. I am sorry about how things are with your Mom. I have kind of the same thing with mine. She told me once that she didn't hold me or hug me when I was a baby or a kid because I was so cold (as in cold hearted) and didn't like to be touched our hugged. Seriously, a baby and kid who doesn't want hugs. So, on the plus side of this...I hug and hold my kids everyday and never let them go out of my site with out telling them how much I love them. Some peole are just broken and are not self aware enough to know it. Don't let her shortcomings harm your life...You are an amazing young woman...

  37. That's so hard.

    I'm not that close to my mother either.....

    Only thing I've come to realize with age is that you CAN pick your friends, but you CANNOT choose your family.....sometimes you just have to survive them.

    Hugs, lady - you deserve so much better than that.

  38. Wow. The Chinese Lady is more a mom than your real mom. It seems like possibly your mom created part of your eating habits, do you think? That maybe your relationship with her made you go to food for consolation? ANyway, look at you now, beautiful, confident ... you've found your way! I'm sad that there is no relationship there. She's missing out, she's missing a great daughter.

  39. I say like everyone else...fuck her! You are amazing and don't need her to make you feel that way. The little chinese lady seems to be doing a damn fine job of that. Not to mention how cute is she!

  40. It's very sad when you come across that odd mother out there who is obviously jealous of her daughter, and for that jealousy to begin at such a young age. How utterly selfish.

    On the other hand, your Chinese lady friend is just precious. How incredible it is when people can put themselves aside and just joyously celebrate and praise another-Like Mothers do. It's also a reminder that there may be someone else out there who is longing for some "Mother love" who is never going to get it. I'm going to really have to keep my eyes open for that. You're a beautiful person Sheryl, inside and out, and most people can see that.

  41. We have the "same" mother which is why the universe puts people like the Chinese Lady into our lives to give us perspective and help lessen the blow.

    I'm so sorry but know that you are not alone. We, the "motherless," make do.

  42. Sheryl,

    I have read your blog for a year and have never commented or written to you before now. I have appreciated your journey, your changes, your inspiring example of self-care. But this post hit home like nothing I have ever read.

    I have the exact same mother, and I have been struggling with trying to come to terms with who she is and who she is not to me. I feel guilty often that I am not close to her, that I do not try to connect with her more. And a lot of that guilt comes from her yelling that at me. But like your mom, she has never given me a reason to want to reach out to her. She has hurt me for most of my life, and I want to say thank you for writing that post. Thank you, because I know I am not alone. And I am not a bad person for separating from her. You are an inspiration.

  43. I've been reading your blog for a long time now and wondered if you've stumbled upon books by Geneen Roth yet? She's getting a lot of attention right now because Oprah "discovered" her, but in fact she's been writing books that speak very much to the kinds of things you write about on here for like 20 years now. I found them about 6 months ago and keep reading and re-reading them!

    I, like a million others, went out and bought the new book and this passage I'm including here has stuck with me... I feel a lot like you do about your mom and struggle with similar things. Anyway, today when I read this entry in my Reader, I thought: I should share this with you in case you haven't read it...

    The path from obsession to feelings to presence is not about healing our "wounded children" or feeling every bit of rage or grief we never felt so that we can be successful, thin, and happy. We are not trying to put ourselves together. We are taking who we think we are apart. We feel the feelings not so that we can blame our parents for not saying, "Oh, darling," not so that we can express our anger to everyone we've never confronted, but because unmet feelings obscure our ability to know ourselves. As long as we take ourselves to be the child who was hurt by an unconscious parent, we will never grow up. We will never know who we actually are. We will keep looking for the parent who never showed up and forget to see that the one who is looking is no longer a child.

    An older book of her's though "When Food Is Love" is amazing too... there's more, of course, of this new one on ( )

    Hope that helps somewhat. Over the past 6 months or so I've seriously found myself reading, underlining, re-reading and writing in my journal about things I'm prompted to think about by her books. Maybe you will too.


  44. Sheryl - I don't know if you've seen this. I love this video. It was a link on a friend's facebook so it may have made the rounds and I'm just a late-comer.

  45. And I meant to say how much this post resonates with me. Not my parents but my mom's family. Not very nice and entirely clueless about how to speak to children.

  46. I am so sorry to read this. I strive to be a great mother to my girls. I tell them all the time they are beautiful even though mine didn't. My mother loves me and tells me. She just kept me on diets all the time to make me more "beautiful"; as if I were better thinner, etc.

    I am of the impression that your mother's lack of love and interest for you stems from very low self esteem taught by her own mother; and she has yet to realize that she can break the cycle. I believe she is depressed. And that is not your doing or your fault.

    You are lovely, beautiful, and charming. I look to your blog to see the results that I had 17 years ago and long to obtain now. I am amazed by every detail of your dress and grooming, and especially your food and fitness. Just know that you don't need a biological mother to approve of you; you have the support and encouragement from the blog world and those that interact with you on a daily basis.

    You are loved!

  47. Hi Sheryl -- It must hard to continue to have the hope that your mom will change -- and then she continues to show up in her same ole consistent manner.

    One you let go of the hope and expectation that she will change -- will allow her behavior to not sting as much.

    It sucks.


  48. Our mothers are unfortunately are best examples of how to be WOMEN. How to dress. How to feel about your body. How to know beauty and feel it. But sometimes our mothers don't set those examples for us. And sometimes they actually do the opposite. Set the insecurities and judgments. But as long as you have people like the "Chinese Lady" or the 47 people that have commented on your blog or the hundreds of followers you have........You'll know that her insecurities and hurtful comments don't have to hold you back. You're a beautiful and capable being. And we ALL know it.

  49. I can relate to this SO MUCH. Her "oh, whatever, let's talk about someone else" response to your 5 Boro Bike Tour? Yep. That is my Mom/our relationship EXACTLY. You've already said it - what should you expect? You know who she is and how she is. I've had a lot of therapy that's helped me a lot and one of the key points that keeps getting stressed over and over is "what do you expect? You know he's a liar, why do you get mad when he lies? You know she's self-absorbed and indifferent, why do you get mad or hurt when she acts self-absorbed and indifferent?" The point isn't that I'm wrong to be mad but that with some people you have to dial down your expectations of them considerably so they don't have any chance, any "space" to really hurt you. Y'know? When I have enough information about someone to figure out I can never have a balanced or fair relationship with them because of their issues, I tell myself "expecting fairness from them would be like depending on a 10-year-old to drive a car..." The best you can hope for is to keep yourself "safe" and keep your boundaries intact around them.

    People who pooh-pooh therapy say "oh, it's all just blaming your parents for everything." But your parents taught you who you are, how the world works...really, what else IS relevant to talk about in therapy, when you think about it? No, it's not productive to learn to blame your parents or hate them as people, but it is VERY important to unlearn the bullshit they fed you that makes you feel insecure or incomplete or "broken."

    Wow, I could go on and on, but I guess I'll stop. Thanks for this entry. Have a good day.

  50. You are so not in the boat alone! Your mother could very well be mine also. I have tried so many times to foster a relationship with her, but every time she'll do something to make the whole thing blow up in my face. But I finally found a true mother's love when I met my mother-in-law. She would tell me often that you don't have to give birth to someone to be their mother. Truer words have never been spoken. The two of us were so tight that people thought she was my mother instead of my husband's! How great is that??!!
    She passed away 5 years ago, but I still feel the unconditional love and support that she gave me. My own daughter is told that she is loved and hugged and kissed numerous times a day because of the love that my mother-in-law showed me - not the hate that I see in my own mother's eyes!
    The Chinese Lady is your mom - there's no doubt about it. Bask in her praise and support of you and that's all you need! She sounds like and amazing woman!

  51. It's the same with me and my mother...
    To read that you're so strong and beautiful and charismatic in spite of the words your mother has said to you.. well, it's inspiring!!

    Her loss.
    My mom's loss too.
    We're both awesome. ;)

  52. how sweet is that lady. and how sad for your mother, she is really missing out on a wonderful strong woman.

  53. Your mother sounds as awesome as my fiance's. It took him meeting my parents to understand why most of his college friends were happy to go home during the holidays. *hugs* and go you for being a better person than her.

  54. Also I just remembered that someone once made fun of me for being a fan of horoscopes. I was like - fuck off, they're free and they say nice, caring, wise-sounding things I wish my Mom said.

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  56. What a shame about your mom. I have a complicated relationship with mine.

    I totally wish I had a Chinese Lady in my life! She sounds awesome!

  57. It takes a lot of courage to do something like that with a parent. Good for you! When my stepdad first came into our lives, he told us and everyone else that my mom and I were "double-breasted wallet grabbers." I was eight. I interact with him civilly now if I have to, but nothing more. I'm more important than any obligations society thinks I should have simply because he was a (theoretical) parent to me.

  58. *Bitch Cakes* I have to rant. I cannot help it, so please forgive the length of this comment: I've been reading your blog for months, but have been too embarrassed to comment since I don't *know* you in person; however, that being said, your post really hit a nerve with me. We cannot pick our family members, but it sure as hell does not mean that we need to remain tethered to toxic family members when we get old enough to give em the boot. It's obvious that your mom must have something that she has been carrying inside of her -- baggage of some type -- that has made her unable to express any love or show any support to you all your years. That's a reflection on her, not you. Shame on her! I don't know you in person, but in having had the privilege of reading your blog/s, I can totally SEE that you are F A B U L O U S! Not only have you developed your own sassy, glamorous, classy style, but you are articulate, have an engaging writing style, are smart, self-sufficient, sensitive, an inspiration to HUNDREDS of subscribers...and dammit! YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY A KNOCK-OUT. Anyone with a set of functioning eye-balls can see, all I can say is that if one of your subscribers all the way in the backwoods of Texas can *see* that you are "all-that-and-a-bag-of-chips" but your mother can't, f-her, keep on moving on, and don't ever look back. She will one day come to regret that she could never be half the woman that you have come to be...on your own. Phew! I feel sooo much better now...I hope you do too.

  59. I just want to say that i discovered somethings that really help me when i am feeling pain and can't seem to shift it. Tapping (EFT) helps a great deal, somehow the energy shifts by doing it and helps you to work through the layers of the onion that you are peeling. I also find that homeopathy is wonderful support during times of healing, it takes about a week for the remedy to kick in, but you feel an immediate shift out of the state that you were in. I know it is crap to feel but its good too because the sooner you work through and process the pain the easier it will become to go there and move forward. I read your blog often, i am only at the very beginning of may weight loss journey, you are a great inspiration and find your blog stunning to read. If you want details on the tapping technique let me know. Hope you feel better soon. Natalie

  60. Something just grabs me right now about this post. I have been on a diet since I was 3. I went from 272 to 187 with hard work, no pills and no support from my family. Now that I am pregnant I am gaining weight but I have gained the knowledge of knowing how to bond with your child and I will not repeat those mistakes of my family's past.

  61. I strongly believe we all have several "moms" or mothers in our lives. Not just the person who gave birth to us. Some are for a short period of time, so are longer. It sounds like (to me) that the Chinese Lady, in her way, is "mom-ing" you. Unbeknowst to both of you maybe?

  62. I am so sorry to hear that your mother is like that. I have a wonderful mother who loves me very much but my father is another story. Unfortuately I have to deal with him on a daily basis since I work for the dickhead. He has actually told me that I was worthless because I didn't know how to do something on the computer after we had an embezzlement at our family business. Right at the moment I can't quit because of financial reasons. I will never get over that comment or any of the other things he has said that are negative. I get knots in my stomach most mornings before I go to work because he is so hard to deal with on a daily basis and I never know what he is going to come up with next. In least with your mother you don't have to see her or deal with her on a daily basis. I love the story about the Chinese lady.

  63. I am so sorry. This post hit home for me as I have a very superficial relationship with my own mom. The line about "she will never be the mom I want or need" really struck me. My own "Chinese Lady" is my fantastic mother-in-law, who treats me more like her daughter than my own mom does. Thanks for this post.

  64. I don't understand people like your mother. It makes me just freaking furious. You don't treat people you love like that. You just don't.

    I'm going to stop before I get myself so worked up I can't get on my treadmill, LOL. So I'll join the rest of your commenters waving her off with a one-fingered salute.

    Shoot, I'm so impressed with what you've done I've told my sister (who lives in Park Slope -- I've told her to look out for you LOL), I've talked about you with my husband... and I've only been reading you for a year or so.

    So your mother can just take the proverbial long walk off a short pier. Some folks should have to have a license to breed. Well, but then we wouldn't have you, and honestly Sheryl, that'd be a serious loss.

    You rock.

  65. I think that the saddest thing about this is that all of these hurtful comments she has said in the past are NOT ABOUT YOU. In fact, they have nothing to do with you whatsoever. They are all about her.

    What a sad, sorry woman she must be. Good for you for releasing yourself of HER, and for relieving yourself of the burden that hurt and anger cause.


    Melanie :-)

  66. I've been a longtime lurker, but I can't keep my mouth shut anymore! :) Your post made me feel so good, because IMO you don't need to have a blood relation to be family. I haven't spoken to my own mother in 3+ years and endured 30+ years of similar comments until I decided NO MORE! I've been so richly rewarded with the support of friends and strangers and I don't miss her one bit. Your post just really touched me.

    Not sure if this made any sense, it's been a long day and I'm rambling, but I love the Chinese Lady and the fact that she's acting like a mom SHOULD! I think it's wonderful that you have her continued support, I know it must mean so much. :)

  67. Sheryl,

    I'll be your Mama. :) Everybody needs a loving mama to be there for them. My mom has never been there for me, and tho I'm almost 50, it still hurts like hell. My "revenge" is making sure all of my kids, but especially my daughter, never doubt for a minute how proud I am of them, and how much I love them.

    Hugs babe!

  68. Sheryl,

    I'll be your Mama. :) Everybody needs a loving mama to be there for them. My mom has never been there for me, and tho I'm almost 50, it still hurts like hell. My "revenge" is making sure all of my kids, but especially my daughter, never doubt for a minute how proud I am of them, and how much I love them.

    Hugs babe!

  69. You probably don't know it but you have changed some little girls lives by writing this. I have two daughters who I dote on and will continue to do so (not just for their outer beauty but also for their kind hearts and intelligence). My father is a lot like your mom and my own mother told me just a few weeks ago "once you stop trying to gain his approval you will truly be free" It's so true. I think you are free and you should definitely realize that you ARE beautiful, you have accomplished so much, and if anything your mother is totally jealous of your accomplishments!

  70. This post made tears come to my eyes. My mom is my best friend and I feel like she is amazing, but my sister will never see how cool my mom could be and my mother will never see that my sister is a good person.

    They try to have a friendship, but they always end up bickering and hurt by each others words and actions. Seeing their lack of communication is just as hurtful as if they were expressing it to me.

    Your post made me wish that they could someday have a good relationship, but it also reminded me that they both are slowly filling the whole that the other left when they stopped communicating. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as you can pick who your friends are, but not your family.

    I hope you know that your cyber-family loves you and is proud of you.

  71. Blood is's true...but family--that we build on our own. The people who don't share our blood become the closest to us, the ones that matter, the ones who support and the ones who care. And those who see us daily also become part of our family. Like your Chinese Lady—genuinely giving a complement, genuinely happy for your success. YOU get to build your own family in the shape and form you need…blood isn’t always right and doesn’t always love the way we want. And yeah, it sucks.

    But the family you build, the people you call yours, they love and support you all the way!

  72. I love the Chinese lady too! My own mother and I have had our share of issues over the years, but the thing I cherish most about her is that almost every time we see each other (only a few times a year, we live far apart) she tells me how great I look. She tells me she loves my style. Growing up she always said I looked healthy and beautiful. Now, I know I'm not what anyone would call gorgeous but I think it's a mother's job to make her child feel beautiful. I'm sorry you didn't and don't have that. But what a treasure you have in your blog readers, your friends, and your Chinese mother!

  73. I've been thinking about this post a lot and it really breaks my heart. I wish everyone could have a mother like mine, who loves me unconditionally, would never do anything to hurt me and does everything in her power to make me happy. And I wish every mother would feel about her child the way I feel about mine--that is, that I love her unconditionally, that I would never do anything to hurt her and that I would do everything in my power to make her happy. Both of these women have brought so much joy into my life, I cannot imagine my life without them.

    On the other hand, my husband's mother was very self-absorbed, much like you've described your mother. It hurt me for a very long time until I realized that we would not be able to change her, we could only change the way we reacted to her. When she passed away this winter, we were sad that we didn't feel sad about it. Some members of my husband's family blamed him for the estrangement, but we all know the road goes both ways and she had plenty of opportunities to reach out to us. Apparently she was happy with the status quo. RIP Laura.

  74. I cut my dad out of my life last year, so I can empathize with what you're going through. The realization that your parent is never going to be the person you need them to be is painful, but also freeing. It took a long time, but I no longer feel guilt about this estrangement, only sadness that things couldn't be different. It's sad how much easier life is without him in it.

    If your mom can't see how awesome you are, the problem lies with her. Whenever I'm starting to flag in my progress or feel disheartened, I go to this blog for inspiration. I don't even know you, but you've helped me a great deal. Thank you!

  75. The kindness of strangers.

  76. Could not read all the comments--you are so popular! I don't know what is wrong with your mom, but something is--either she hates herself or is jealous of you/is devoid of love inside. I pity people like that now but for years was in pain over it or angry. I had a very difficult time with my mom--and I'm older than you. I think one thing is clear--having no nurturing made you the person you are. You are very real, kind, charming and few are like you.
    My mom has become more at peace and we still have to meet in the middle and yes I had to do all the work to make it happen, as she herself had no mom. I realized she took out her pain on me cruelly at times and does not recall.
    I hope 1 day your relationship is not too far gone that you can accept she's messed up and not feel wounded, only to allow yourself peace, that she does this out of her incapacity and no reflection on you at all. Nonetheless its hurtful and I'm sorry. I hope you know you are not alone in this.
    I hope you get buckets of compensatory love for aeons.

  77. Sheryl,
    Thank you so much for posting this. I have had an "absent" mother my entire life.
    When I was young she was on drugs... growing up she chose men over her children... she is also bi-polar.

    I have tried to make a connection with her. I've forgiven her- have tried to make it work. But she is such a selfish person and believes that SHE is and has always been the victim.

    In the last couple of year things had gotten worse, or well maybe b/c I'm now in my late 20's I have not been so protected from her actions.

    My entire life I used my situation as a positive propelling me forward in the right direction. Now, it seems the anger, sadness and frustration all 28 years of it had caught up to me.

    In the last year, I had finally stood up for myself. I had to uninvite her from my bridal shower. Yes, that's right my aunt had to "ruin my surprise" b/c she was wasted at 9am in the morning and I had to make the decision on whether or not she could come.

    But in that moment, something miraculous happened. I became my OWN person. I felt so strong. So empowered. I was not going to allow her actions to control my emotions anymore.

    She did end up going to rehab. Problem is, her personality is still the same. She actually asked if she could bring some guy she met from rehab/parole office to my wedding. I told her no and she said, "well I have no way of getting there". She said this just after she told me how she was going to take 2 trains, a bus, and a cab to go visit him. Bullshit...
    so I uninvited her from my wedding.
    Best decision I ever made.

    My wedding, a small affair surrounding me and my new husband with only those people who truly love us clued me in to something...
    All those people that were there have shown me more love. More compassion, more support that she ever did. THEY are my family.

    And so now I'm where you are. Realizing that she is NEVER going to change. And I am now an adult.

    I know this was a long response, but your words meant so much. You are not alone. You have given me the courage to realize the decision I have to, want to make is the right one.

    Thank you.

  78. I read this the day it was posted but I am commenting now because I have thought of it many times since.

    I love exercise and dieting (ehh... exercise mostly). I love the gym. I love outside.

    My 2 daughters, on the other hand, not so much. They are 18 and 14 yrs old. I try to be careful with everything I say concerning their weight or their level of activity. I do not want to ever be remembered as saying something mean to my precious little baby girls.

    the pain you were relaying was so thick, I could almost feel what you have experienced at the end of your mom's words.

    Your post really got me.

    BTW- I lost my mother to cancer 6 years ago and I have adopted a few "Chinese ladies" along the way. They also have no idea that they bless me as much as they do.

    Great post,


  79. As a mom to two little girls, this post affected me deeply.
    It sounds like your mom has some major issues with how she feels about herself, and she projected them onto you.
    What a terrible shame. She has missed out on one of the greatest joys in life.
    I'm so sorry you missed out on having a mom that nurtured you and supported you.
    Any woman can have a child, but not every woman can be a mother.

  80. Could I loan your 'chinese' lady sometime :-) I'm so proud of you and I have only been visiting your blog for a couple weeks. You're such an inspiration and I'm sorry about your mom, I'm sorry that so many of us women walk around with complexes and hurts caused by those who are supposed to love us 'no matter what'. Sadly, its her loss. I keep preaching to people around me to remember that the subconscious mind has not sense of humour nor a sense of right or wrong, and the little comments made, that people think mean nothing, can have lifelong and profound effects on the person it's said to. I hope I'm doing it right with my troupe :-) Hugs to you

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  82. *sigh*
    you have no idea how much this post meant to me today (i know i'm late- as usual)
    i have a very similar relationship with my mother (to illustrate: two years i ago, i gathered enough guts to tell my mom- i had been sexually abused years prior. now granted- we were in a heated conversation when i brought it up...but in response to my revelation- she said, well you must have liked it because you never told anyone about it...yea) .
    despite her issues, i still struggle with a lot of guilt and confusion when it comes to our relationship. i can't help it- i love her. i have good memories of her. she seemed to suddenly change on me about a decade ago. i often wonder if i should just "accept" her for who she is, realize that's she's been hurt in her life and misplacing those feelings on me, not have such high expectations of her, etc. but "this time" (i've said this to before)i have come to the decision that i should not allow myself to continue in this [verbally/emotionally] abusive relationship. most people i tell this to essentially think i should just forgive her and move on, which contributes to my feelings of confusion and guilt. so it's refreshing to read about someone who has also decided to stand up for themselves.
    as usual, thanks for sharing your stories and experiences- it means more than you know!

  83. The way your mother has treated you is indicative of HER issues. They really have nothing to do with you. I know that doesn't make it easier, but it is the honest truth.

  84. Great story. We should all be lucky enough to have a Chinese lady in our lives.

    On another note, I cannot believe that your mother unsubscribed to your blog. You're right: you don't need her approval.

  85. When I get home tonight both of kids are going to get extra hugs because of this post. Thank you for reminding me to be gentle and loving towards my children. God bless the Chinese lady.

  86. I too have a similar relationship with my mother. Both parents actually. I have a younger sibling who gets all the attention and he's the one who is always in trouble. All I want is a compliment. It's sad that my husbands parents pay me more compliments that my own.

  87. Hello,
    Thank you for sharing your experiences. I have a strained relationship with my own mother for many many years now. It can be hard at times but I have a good network of friends and some other family members who I like :)
    My grandmother was basically my mother for real. She pasted away not long ago and I have realised how great she was. Im sure you have some lovely friends and family who you hang around. Just ignore your mother! Good to read your blog again after a break from blogging myself. Your pictures are great!

  88. I'm new to your site, but really love it. Love your recap of ww meeting topics as well.

    This post touched me too.

    I remember being about 16 and asking my Dad if he thought I was pretty. He told me that an aquaintence of mine was extraordinary looking. Then I asked him what about me. He actually told me I was ordinary looking. For whatever reason that has stuck with me forever. I have good days, days where I feel really really pretty...and then as women we have the not so good days, or bad hair days. I those days I can hear my Dad's comment. I'm 41 now. So strange. I'm happy for my life, and even happier that since I've joined WW I've lost 36 pounds...

    sigh. Parents. I guess we have to just learn to forgive them and not repeat their mistakes. Too bad it takes getting so much older and wiser to not let those comments hurt.

    You are amazing...and really really pretty too.

  89. East Coast Surfer Mom- that was hurtful just to read (what your Dad said). I'm not surprised it haunted you for so many years. Thank you for what you shared though. And thank you for the compliment.

  90. Wow, I feel sick. What a heartless, ignorant old bag.

    I believe that people like this are put in our lives on purpose for us to learn from, but that doesn't make it any easier, especially when it's your own mother.

    I am so glad you aren't going to let your guilt boss you around.

  91. I feel sick after reading that.

    What an ignorant, miserable, heartless old bag.

    I am glad you aren't going to let guilt boss you around.

  92. Just wanted to stop by and show some love. Your blog has inspired me to become healthier. Thanks so much for sharing your journey with me and all your other readers.

  93. This post really struck home to me. After reading "Her mother is more proud of my transformation than my own mother," I broke down in tears because I can truly relate to this. I decided to move away from my family and circle of friends in Southern California to a place so strange to me, Eastern Oregon. This was the first time I've lived far away from my mom. She put me on fad diets since I was 9 years old and still continues to send me "care packages" with nothing but diet pills, no note, no letter, nothing. Moving away has made me realize strangers I have just met can be the best support I can ever have, even more so than my own mother. So, sadly, each trip I take to visit her, I'm putting up my guards and lowering my expectations, because one sentence from her can undo so many months of self-work I've done to feel better about myself.

  94. Wow I just read this and almost wanted to cry. Maybe I should cry for your mother who chooses not to see what a beatiful smart quirky (that is a compliment by the way) daughter she has. You are beatiful!!! I remember the first time I saw you in the street I was in awe of you!! Sometimes though family members dissapoint us, so we just move forward. I am glad to see that you have - and you should and you should always do what Tina Turner did - she never looked back !!! Keep moving forward Sherly - Love Erika and Hugo

  95. sorry I spelled your name wrong - darn keyboard

  96. Hi, this is Elise's friend, now reading backwards, which is why this is at a weird, much later date. I just wanted to say that I so get this, and I even went on to marry my mother. EX, now. I got home from the hospital after *major* surgery and being in for several days. The first words out of his mouth not two hours after I was released were "did you see my facebook page?" Not, "how are you feeling," or "I hope everything went ok." No. And I married this person. Now I try not to be hurt by this stuff, and instead see it for the absolute ridiculous *unrelated to me* crap that it is. As my best friend likes to remind me, sometimes you have to muck through the crap to become the absolutely fabulous person that you are now. It really has nothing to do with you. People like this are broken. You, my dear, are not.

  97. I found your blog about 8 weeks ago. I've been reading it ever since and this story just chills me to the core. As far as I'm concerned, you are one of the most beautiul women Ihave ever seen in my life (and I love your hair, lol). I've certainly had my up's and down's with my Mother over the years but I love her to death even if she DOES piss me off sometimes. I hope that when my girls' get older, they realize just how much I love them, even if I can be an ogre at times. I know I'm not the only one who finds you utterly inspirational! Weight loss is hard and finding others that understand this journey is exactly what we need to keep us going. So... Keep smiling, stay happy and gorgeous and positive and wonderful. You don't need people bringing you down...

  98. People should be required to get a license before having children, for real.

    You are GORGEOUS!!!!!! We have seen your other baby/childhood pictures and can attest that you were always beautiful.

    Miss Kim sounds like a blessing xoxoxo

  99. One of the nicest things i ever heard about me...not hey youve lost weight haha. one of my daughters friends said you are so lucky, you have such a good mum, your mum has been a better mum to me than mine ever will. it made me 10 foot tall just for a moment.

    I love your blog and you are one talented lady. Raise a glass (of water but in a pretty glass) to the Mrs Kims' of the world who speak to people from their heart without fear ♥