Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the month “February, 2012”

Damn! I’ve got a great body!

I realized about 10 years ago that my body is the only thing in the world that I own outright.

Bodies are interesting phenomena. They are the vehicles for life. No body, no life. At least not in the scientific sense. (I won’t speculate about metaphysical matters here.) But when I was eating compulsively, especially when I was fat, I believed that I was not my body. Like somehow I could separate my life from my body. My life was my thoughts, feelings, and desires, and my body was…I don’t know what I thought my body was. I tried not to think about my body.

When you are abusing your body, it helps to separate from it. If I thought of it as “me”, I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself. The brain is a fantastic and fascinating organ. It can make anything occur as “normal”. Survival instincts are incredibly powerful. Human beings have had to learn how to live through atrocities. My own personal atrocities have been self-inflicted. But they were still atrocious. And somehow I had to make them “ok”.

But the reason I am writing about my body today, is that I feel completely out of control of it. I still have the food under control. Thank God. That’s not what I mean. But I haven’t been able to stop crying for days now. The muscles in my legs keep tightening up. I’m having chest pains. I have been waking up in the middle of the night. I have been feeling nauseous. My menstrual cycle is all messed up. (No. I’m not pregnant. Getting pregnant requires having sex. And trust me, no sex going on over here…)

My life has gone through one big upheaval. My mentor did decide to move on (as referred to in my last post, The Rolling Stones were right.) I’m mourning our relationship. And life has thrown me some stressful situations on top of that. Things I had no choice but to deal with.
But actually, that’s not true. I could have eaten a chocolate cake. I could have decided to “not deal” with them. Of course that wouldn’t have made them go away. It wouldn’t have made them easier. But it would have made me numb. And these emotions would not be manifesting themselves in my body. Or at least not as physical pain. They would be manifesting themselves as fat. And insanity.

Truth be told, all of this grieving and stress does not make me feel insane. It does not make me hate myself. It does not make me hate my life. It just hurts. Pain. Plain and simple. Excruciating. But just pain. And pain doesn’t last forever. Nothing lasts forever. That’s the way life works.

It’s funny that I lived my first 28 years with no control over my body. No control over my eating. No control over my weight. No control over my physical capability. And here I am, six or so years of being in control, and a few days of not feeling in control and I’m angry at my body. Like it has betrayed me.

My body has been so much better to me than I have been to it. It turned out strong and healthy. And beautiful. I had to start being nice to it. I had to honor and respect it. But it let bygones be bygones. It didn’t hold any grudges for having to carry around 165 extra pounds for years. (Please keep in mind that that’s an entire person. Bigger than me. Made entirely of fat.) It does not have diabetes, though I pushed it to the limits. My muscles and joints work. I can run and walk and jump and dance. I can do these things up a flight of stairs. Up multiple flights. I can keep up with a three-year-old for nine hours at a stretch. I can hang upside-down from the monkey bars at the playground to show off for her.

So obviously, my body is not betraying me. It is telling me I don’t feel safe. That I’m scared. It’s telling me I’m in mourning. That I need to get the poison out. That there are feelings inside me that will kill me if I don’t feel them. And it’s also trying to protect me. Because it knows I do not like to feel. My body knows I’m not good at that. It’s letting those feelings come out as physical pain, because it knows that emotional pain can make me turn off and shut down. It’s saying “Here’s some chest ache, instead of some heart ache. Here is a tight muscle instead of a choked soul. Here is some nausea so you can remember to get it out instead of stuffing it in through your mouth. Feel. Cry. It’s ok. You get it out and I’ll live so you can go on having your thoughts, feelings, and desires.”

Damn! I’ve got a great body!


The Rolling Stones were right

A very important person in my life, a mentor and a good friend to me, is thinking about changing her life. She has not made this decision yet, as far as I know. But if she does choose to change her life, my life will also change. She will stop being my mentor. And our relationship will change. I will have to find a new mentor. I will have to bring a new energy into my daily life. And let go of our energy (hers and mine). If. It’s only if. But two days ago, there was no if. And today, change is on the table.

My first reaction when she told me was no reaction. But then the thought of it woke me up it the middle of the night that night. Repeatedly. Worry. Fear. Half formed memories of vague nightmares. Change. Loss. What kind of turn my life could take. Not knowing. Not feeling safe.

There are people that I like. A lot. People that, when we are together, create an experience I treasure. All relationships create something bigger than the sum of their participants. But sometimes that something is so beautiful and so powerful that it changes who you are in a way that makes you love your life. That makes you grateful for loving that person.

Potentially, I could have a beautiful relationship with any human being on the planet. But practically, I am cautious, and a loner, and I have this kind of relationship with very few people. I am available for it with very few people.

This friend, mentor, peaceful woman is someone I have this kind of relationship with. I love her. Exactly as she is. And I have no responsibility for her life decisions. I have no right to judge or make them. Even if they affect me directly. There are things that are none of my business. Everybody else’s choices are on that list.

But I want. I want to keep my mentor. I want things to stay the way they are. I want her to do for me what she has been doing for me. And what I have come to expect. I want. I want. I want. I grip and grasp. Can I will what I want into existence? Can I manipulate what I want into existence? How can I get what I WANT?

But this woman was brought into my life by God. And she taught me my greatest lessons and gave me my greatest gifts so far. And they are now mine. They live inside me. They will continue to live inside me, whatever our relationship may be from this moment. Because they were true lessons and real gifts.

Who my mentor has been for me is Peace. She has taught me how to be peaceful. Day to day, moment to moment. She has taught me so many valuable things: Life on life’s terms. More will be revealed. Take my time. Everything in its own time. Changes happen when we’re ready for them. All I have to do is show up. Remember what I have to be grateful for. Be grateful. That I am a miracle. And I am.

But here’s the most important thing my mentor taught me. Go with the flow. Life is always right. Trust life. Let go of wanting it my way. Let go of wanting. Let go.

I will continue on my journey, no matter what. There certainly are things that are my business and my responsibility. I have my own choices and commitments to attend to. I will find a new mentor, if it comes to that. I will be grateful if it doesn’t. I will figure out what to be grateful for if it does. My mentor taught me that too.

I am willing to trust life today. I am willing to trust that if my mentor does choose change for herself, and can no longer mentor me, that it will benefit me. And that if she continues as my mentor, that will benefit me as well. That God will send the lessons and the gifts exactly when and how I’m supposed to receive them. That life is always right. And I believe that life is always right. That when I stop resisting because I “want”, what ever it is that I’ve got, is just exactly what I need. My mentor taught me that.

I am my own best frienemy

So after my last blog post, my friend recommended I have a sit down talk with fat Kate. Not the fat girl who lives inside me (I already know about her. She still wants her cake back), but with the Kate who had to live in a fat body. Ask her what she wanted and needed. Apologize to her. Ask her how I wronged her and make amends.

I learned a long time ago, that when we wrong others, we have to diminish them in our minds in order to live with our own cruelty. We have to be able to justify it. And we will go to great lengths to justify it. Unless we clean it up. That’s part of the human condition. Sometimes…ok, often…hell, usually, the people we have wronged have, indeed, done something wrong to us as well. Something that hurts us. Maybe they wronged us first. Maybe even maliciously and intentionally.

But there is a person I want to be. It is the kind of person whose highest priority is peace. And peace does not come from revenge or blame. Peace comes from doing what you think is right. Peace comes from being able to look God in the eye and say that you did your best for love and from a place of love for the whole world. (This is not the Good Girl talking, by the way. She didn’t have peace. This is not about being a doormat. This is about being responsible for the ways that I do wrong, regardless of how I have been treated. Boundaries are important. They should be tended to. But the way I treat others and the way I am treated are not connected! I only have control over my own actions.)

So I want to clean up the messes I make. Even if it’s with someone who made a mess all over me.

And that includes fat Kate. She had to live in a shameful body too. And I have wronged her. I’ve been Peter at the crucifixion. Who her? She’s nobody. She’s just this girl I used to know. Don’t mind her. Let’s just go over here and you can check out how fabulous I am now…

But hating her was starting to hold me back and pull me down. Hating her was hurting me and stealing my peace. And not knowing why I hated her so much made it scary and murky and painful. So I took my friend’s advice and stopped to listen to fat Kate.

I didn’t know how! Really! You have to believe me! I was doing the best I could! I always did the best I could! And you became the woman I always wanted to be. I didn’t like me, but you are amazing and fabulous, and I honor you! I gave up sugar and eating and I felt all of that pain, was willing to feel all of that pain, because I wanted to be you. I wanted to do whatever it took to be someone I respected. So I did the work as much as you did. I did it because I didn’t like the life I was living. I got clean around the food and around life. But you pretended that you got a new life. You did not get a new life! We are still the same person. It’s just that I am eternally stuck with the body and the pain, and you get to move on. But you won’t fucking move on! You keep looking at me like I’m the definition of Kate. Like no matter what we’ve managed to do together I am Kate, and you are something else. Something not real. But we are both Kate. And I would appreciate it if you would feel about you the way I feel about you instead of feeling about you the way you feel about me. If I had looked and spoken and acted like you, I would never have considered myself unworthy. So stop living like you are unworthy now.

My life has been built around “begging the question”. It’s a logical fallacy. I have been surmising that nobody will value my love because my love has no value. The answer is the question. The question is the answer. This is little kid logic. But then, I have been using this logic since I was a little kid. My body looks different, but it is the same body. And in that body is the same brain. And my brain has been thinking these same thoughts about the worthlessness of my love for as long as I can remember.

I have been thinking these thoughts so long that I know them without putting words to them. But that’s the key. To name them. To distinguish them in words. See, I’m basically an avoider. Oh no! There’s something scary! Don’t look! So I don’t look. And it stays scary. And unknown. And undistinguished.

But when I distinguish it, I get information. Quality information. Information I can use to find a solution.

I wronged the girl I was by refusing to see that she was doing the best she could. And I refused to see it because I was using her as a scapegoat. I saddled her with all of my self-hatred and left her in the past, so I wouldn’t have to look at why I hated myself. Because it’s scary. Because I have been afraid that the things that caused me to eat myself to morbid obesity were not in my past, but a living part of my soul. And I wanted to hide them. I wanted to con the world into thinking that I am worthy and honorable. It doesn’t matter that this life I live now is not a lie. I have been living as if it is a lie. And that has the same psychological effect on me as if it were. It leads to the same kind of worry and hiding and shame.

What’s funny is that fat Kate could see it all along. Stuck there in a 300 pound body. Still hating herself. Still in immense pain. Eternally. Perhaps that is why she could see it. Because she looks at her and then at me and says “Hot damn! I turned out great!!!” But I didn’t want to listen to her. I didn’t want to look. Because it was scary. Because what if I looked, and I saw that I have an ugly heart and a broken soul? What if I found out that this life really is a lie?

Losing a lot of weight takes a lot of time. And the changes may be drastic, but they come slowly and subtly. Actions and behaviors can be changed. But that happens slowly too. It happened so slowly for me that I never had to stop hating the person I was. Until life held it up to my face and refused to put it down.

No, I will not stop thinking of my love as worthless by tomorrow. It will take time, and more importantly, practice to change my thinking about myself. But in listening to fat Kate, I got information that I can use.

So this is what fat Kate wants me to understand: I am my words and actions. By being a woman who tells the truth, honors her word, and works for peace, I am being a good person. Being a good person means I am a good person. That the circular reasoning going on in my head leaves no room for value. The question and the answer both rely on my lack there of. And that she did not go through hell so that the world would think I was beautiful. She did it so that we, she and I, would think I was beautiful. Inside and out. She wants me to stop trying to bamboozle the world into thinking there is nothing wrong with me. She wants me to start seeing that there truly is nothing wrong with my heart and soul. That there was never anything wrong with hers. She just wasn’t good at life.

She really was doing her best all those years. She really didn’t know how to do any better. I know that. I was there. And when the opportunity presented itself, she really did do whatever it took to get her shit together. I know. I was there for that too. So I’m sorry. I’m sorry I was too afraid to look and listen. I’m sorry I was too selfish to honor her. I’m sorry I treated her like an obstacle I overcame, instead of a sad and scared little girl. I’m sorry I looked at her like she had an ugly heart and a broken soul. And I am grateful that she could see me when I could not. Thank you, Kate. You did a really great job.

Telling the ugly truth and letting the chips fall where they may

This blog has surfaced an inner conflict in me. It’s hard to put words to. It has me confused and hurt and ashamed. It is about how I see obesity in general, and the way I was treated when I was fat, the way I saw being fat when I was fat, and the way I see it from this body. They are all jumbled and mashed together. I am full of fear and anger. And I am sad.

Being fat in America is not fun. It is associated with being lazy and a slob. It is associated with not caring about yourself. With a total lack of will power. With being pathetic. It is associated with many things that are not true. Some of the go-gettiest go-getters I know are overweight. Some of the most meticulous house-keepers. Some of the best dressed/coiffed people I’ve ever met.

But living in a 300 pound body was a horrible experience for me. It was exhausting. And shameful. To huff and pant my way up a flight of stairs. To dread the thought of tying my shoes. To live in abject terror of having to hurry, God forbid, run anywhere. And most especially, to have to do any of those things in front of other people.

Because I also remember the looks, and the comments and the cruel ways that I was treated by others. And it hurt. I was so sensitive. I was fair game. Except it was not fair. Everyone was allowed to express an opinion about my body. Everyone! Heroin addicts living in boxes on the street were allowed to comment on my size. Society told them so. Too much cake, it seemed, was my waiver of any claim on common courtesy.

But I hated being fat too! I thought it was shameful too! How could I disagree? How could I stand up for myself? How could I separate being treated disrespectfully from the reason it was happening? I couldn’t then. And I am not sure I can right now. I know that belittling and shaming me was gross behavior, but who punished me more than me!?

I do not lack willpower. I can be the most stubborn mule on the planet. But I was never ever ever able to control my eating with willpower. Because my eating disorders are bigger than will. I’m sick. I treat them now, but they are chronic. They will never go away. I will never be able to eat sugar again. At least not if I want to be happy and peaceful. Not if I don’t want to kill myself with diabetes or other obesity related illnesses. Not if I want to like myself and my body. Not if I don’t want to be fat. And I don’t.

For the first 25ish years of my life, I thought there was something wrong with my body. That it was fat. That it was broken. That by the luck of the draw, I got a bad one. And then somebody said to me. “Sweetie, there’s nothing wrong with you! Calories in calories out. Do the math.” And I was skeptical. But it turned out she was mostly right. There is, actually, something wrong with my body. It can’t handle sugar. When I eat it, I can’t stop eating it. But my body is not naturally fat, as I believed for so many years. The problem I had/have has a solution. There was and is something to do about it. And doing something about it was literally the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. If that woman hadn’t said that to me, “Do the math, Kate”, I may have gone through my whole life hating myself because God cursed me with a fat body. But I’m not cursed. I’m blessed! I’m so incredibly grateful!

So here’s where is starts to get sticky and muddled and painful. I promised myself (and you) that I would be honest in this blog. And I am afraid of the things I am about to write. They are not what is known as “tactful”. And I am afraid of hurting people. People I genuinely like and love.

But I hate seeing fat people. It hurts my heart. It makes me feel ashamed. It brings up a lot of guilt and bad feelings I don’t even know how to name at this moment. And that is confusing in this body. Because even at 5′ 6 1/2″, 134 pounds, I see me in them. I am them. And I hated myself in a big body. I felt ugly and grotesque. I felt less than. Totally unworthy. And when I look back at her/me, I still feel like she/I was totally unworthy. Seeing another person living in a fat body brings up my own self hatred. It makes me look at the person that I was, whom I don’t like. Whom I’ve never liked. I did not like her then. I do not like her now. She is the part of me that I wish I could wish away.

It’s funny. I learned to reconcile with the liar in me, and the drama queen, and the good girl. I learned to reconcile by stopping those behaviors. But now it seems I have to reconcile with the body itself. And right now I don’t know how to do that. It is not enough to just not be fat anymore. I am not fat. I have not been for years. But that has not eliminated the icky feelings I have around obesity.

So the honest-to-God truth is, I do not know how to honor another person’s choice to be fat. I can live and let live. I can be respectful. But I do not know how to not care. I do not know how to see someone live in a fat body and not relive my own pain and self-loathing. I do not know how to reconcile the body I have with the body I had. I never want that life again. But, good Lord, I never want that body again.

And it’s fucking possible! It will always be possible. Like I said, my condition is chronic. The possibility of a fat body lives inside this little body. It wouldn’t take long for me to reach 300 pounds (and then some) if I lost control of the food. Seriously. A year. Maybe less. So how do I honor someone’s choice to live in a body that I fear?

Of course I have fat people in my life. Yes I love them. Yes I do understand intellectually that not everybody who is overweight has eating disorders. But when I hear overweight people say that they are comfortable with themselves, I cannot imagine it. I have a fantastic imagination. I can grasp many foreign concepts. But I have lived this “concept” of being fat, and it was nothing but torment. So in all honesty, I do not know how to not judge it. It’s personal. It’s raw. It is not fair, but it is what is so. And I am ashamed of my own judgment.

I don’t know how to wrap this up. I don’t know how to give you the moral of the story and an eloquently executed insight to take with you for the day. I do not know what to do except tell you, and pray to God for a solution to my own judgment. So now I have told you and I am praying about it. And it’s time to let the chips fall where they may.

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