In case of an emergency, please secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others.
So in case it has not been made clear yet, all of this searching and learning and general spiritual journeying has come out of getting a handle on the food. I did that first. It was my only goal for years. Literally years. I went through every day with the single mission of keeping my eating under control. Everything else that got done was gravy. I also trained myself to stop seeing foods I don’t eat when I pass them in the world. Now they don’t even register in my field of vision. But I got that ability through practice. I learned to distinguish what is not mine. I stopped making love to the thought of cake. Cake is not mine anymore.
And there were other things I had to do too. I had to stop being a good girl. “Good girl” is now a derogatory term in my lexicon. It goes hand in hand for me with being a fat girl. I had to stop giving a shit what other people thought of the way I ate. I had to protect my new relationship with food. I had to come to the conclusion that my family would not die if I didn’t accommodate them by eating at a restaurant that couldn’t accommodate me. That my friends could handle it if I brought my own food to their wedding. That the nice lady at the holiday party would get over it if I declined her homemade, pride and joy dessert.
Indeed, what other people thought about me became irrelevant around food when I realized that I was the one who was going to hate myself. And hurt myself. That nobody else was going to gain 150 pounds from my eating. That no one was going to come into the bathroom with me to hold my hair back while I stuck the toothbrush down my throat. I had to live in my own body. I had to look at myself in the mirror every day. And I don’t just mean at my fat body. The craziest and most out of control time of my life was the year before I found my solution to the food. And as numbers go, I was a normal weight. But I had never known more shame or unworthiness. I had never felt more hideous. The things I did to myself would disgust you. You don’t need the laundry list. And I’m guessing that if you don’t have an eating disorder yourself, you cannot imagine. But I promise, it was hell. So in order to make sure I never went back to that life, I had to get real indifferent to being judged for refusing to participate in the food culture.
Slowly, but surely, I also stopped caring what people thought of me in my daily life. I had to start saying no to people when I couldn’t afford to say yes. I had to get enough sleep. I had to eat before I was starving. I had to be responsible so I didn’t get resentful. Resentment makes me hungry.
So there I was, thinking I’m taking such good care of myself, when something happened at work the other day. I was talking to my boss about scheduling when she asked me what I wanted. I went slack-jawed. I didn’t even know what she meant.
Huh? What do I want?
I want to make you happy. I want to meet your needs. I want you to like me!
My answer was, “I want to do my job.” Her response was, “I don’t want your people pleasing. Can you just be with the question of what you want, and I’ll ask you again later?” (Yes. She really does talk like that. Yes. It’s pretty awesome.)
So I was left to ask myself what I wanted. I was expected to have an opinion about my own time. My own life. I was expected to be responsible for my own desires. I was expected to have desires.
When my eating was out of control, not caring about myself, or even asking myself what I wanted, was how I built up something that kinda feels like self-esteem to the fat girl. Kinda feels like, but is not. Putting myself last, if at all, was how I showed that I was nurturing. That I was kind. That I was worth something. It was how I apologized for existing. My value lay in how willing I was to devalue myself for the benefit of someone else. Look! Look! I’ll do anything to make you happy!
Of course I have made a lot of progress. I don’t want to diminish the work I’ve done. But obviously the good girl still lives inside me. She’s just another face of the fat girl. She can only be tamed and kept at bay. And I can only keep control of her when I’m in control of the food. But I am also incredibly grateful that there are people who care enough about me to help me keep her in check. I am honored by the people who want me to live my best life. I want to keep them close. I want relationships with people who like me because I like me.