Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the month “October, 2012”

What do you get when you cross an oven with a mountain?

I started out writing this post a couple of days ago, but since then, I have become aware of something that has changed everything. I was given some insight into how I operate and how it affects my life. I’m having a hard time processing it. So I wrote this rather mixed up post with two analogies that don’t go together. The kind of thing only Shakespeare can get away with. And it turns out he’s dead. But bear with me. It’s at least short and ends with an interesting point…
On Friday, I started out writing about how I deal with relationships by trying to “do it right”. I used cute cooking analogies. I explained that how you cook something affects the result you get. If you cook at a high temperature for a short time, you get a different result than if you cook at a low temperature for a long time. Pan searing versus slow roasting. But that I had come to the realization that I was wrong thinking I could “do it right” when it came to relationships. That unlike food, people are autonomous. And that, as a good friend reminds me, I am only 50% of any relationship. So I was about to declare to you that I was going to give up trying to do it right in relationships. That I was going to start living like I couldn’t do it wrong.
Ok. Now that I have a little more clarity about my MO, let me give you a better analogy about the way I have been viewing relationships. I have been living like sad loneliness is all around, everywhere. And love is the very peak of a colossal mountain with dangerous terrain. That in order to love and be loved I am going to have to scale this mountain. I’ll have to be at the top of my game, in perfect physical and emotional shape, and even then, one false move and I could lose my footing, lose everything, and end up right back at the foot of the mountain. Or I could climb and climb forever and never reach the peak. There is only the peak, or sad loneliness. The journey will be treacherous. There is no room for error or a lack of focus. And my success, as well as my ability to succeed is doubtful.
So here is what a friend pointed out to me. That all of this caution, all of this tentativeness and focus and “doing it right” is doing it wrong. Because it’s dishonest. It’s inauthentic. It’s a manipulation. Because I am doing my best to be what I think I should be in order to be loved by this one, instead of just being who I am and finding the one who wants to love me. Because I’m so worried about not getting rejected, that I fail to notice that I’m not actually getting loved.
So let’s go back to my cooking analogy. I’m going to say that I was wrong about being wrong about doing it right. (No, it’s ok. Feel free to take a minute to diagram that sentence if you need to…I’ll wait.) I have been wanting something to come out slow roasted. But I have been unwilling to stand in the heat of an uncomfortable kitchen. So I’ve been pan searing it. And I have been pain-staking about pan searing it exactly right. But in the end, it still comes out pan seared. And that’s not what I want. So it’s time to turn off the stove top, turn on the oven and heat up the house.
I’m trying to remember that it might not come out right at first. That it might take a few tries before I get the dish I want. But at least I’m on the right track now…
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Resistance is futile. And drama is a lame a** drug.

I don’t have particularly high hopes of being coherent in this post. I am having a hard time unraveling my thoughts and feelings. A lot has been going on this week. In my life and in my head. But I’ll do my best for you.
Last week I distinguished that even eating within my boundaries, I had some foods that I was using to “make it ok” that I am lonely. And realized this because I limited the amount I eat of those foods, as per the recommendation of a friend who helps me set my food boundaries. But I was fighting it. Resisting. Being a brat. I don’t mean that I hadn’t been staying within my new boundaries once they were set. I am talking about my attitude.
This week I decided to stop resisting. I decided to stop fighting this change of my food boundaries.  I decided to surrender to less food. And specifically less of my comfort foods.
Resisting, and the drama that comes with resisting, is another way I “make things ok”. I get to be a victim so it’s not my fault. And I get to be angry at life and the world. And I get to forget that my life is my responsibility. Or at least pretend that it’s not. But more importantly, I get to wrap myself up in a big spectacle so I don’t have to feel my actual feelings. Or investigate the truth of them.
So when I gave up my comfort food and the drama of resisting, when I surrendered, I was left with some enormous, scary feelings. Overwhelming feelings about my worth. And my wholeness. Feelings from before I had words for them.
These feelings are the reason I want to make it ok that I am lonely.  After all, who would want to be ok with that kind of pain? Unless the alternative were worse.
Here’s where it starts to get mishmashed and confusing in my head and heart. I am positive that no one will ever love me. Nor will anyone ever want my love. This is the context of my life. My primary conviction. (That is not me being dramatic. It really is how I see myself.) But I am terrified to actually test this out. Try to prove it wrong. Because I am afraid that it is true. And that I will just end up proving it right. I am afraid of finding out beyond a doubt that my love is worthless and that I lack the capacity to inspire love. And somehow it’s like if I never push too hard or too far, if I never seek or ask or request, if I can just live with being lonely, then I will never have to know if I am unlovable. I am 35 years old and I have never had a boyfriend. I’m beautiful. And smart. And funny. And I am not shy. At all. So why? Why have I been alone my whole life? Is it because I believe that I am unlovable? Or is it because I actually am unlovable?  And if I do decide to risk my heart, how do I learn to accept rejection without believing that it ultimately reiterates the point that I cannot be loved. That I’m broken.
Yes. I can understand why the girl I was ate herself to 300 lbs. It was easier to eat those feelings than to feel them. It was easier to smoke them. It was easier to eat a vat of deep-fried onions once a week than to have to ask myself if I’m willing to put my sensitive heart on the line. And maybe find out that there is something fundamentally wrong with me. Yes, I can see why I have been willing to do anything and everything to make it ok that I am lonely.
But there have been other things in my life that I thought were undeniable truths too. And I was wrong about them. I thought my body was broken. I thought I was fat and could never be thin. I thought I could never stop eating compulsively. And I was afraid to give up sugar. I was afraid to put boundaries around my eating. But I did it. And it didn’t matter that I had held those beliefs about my body and my self-control for twenty-something years. The fact hat I was willing to do something different, even though it was terrifying, and excruciating and left me feeling vulnerable, changed the way those beliefs manifested in my life. Yes, I had to work through those issues. And I had to feel a lot of pain, instead of numbing it. And no, that thinking will never fully go away. After all, it’s why I write this blog. But they are not truths anymore. Now they are irksome thought processes. I can distinguish them. And they don’t get a vote when it comes to my eating and my body. I never, in a million years, thought I would be able to control my eating. But today I don’t have to eat compulsively. So I guess anything is possible.
I took some actions this week. In spite of my fear. I just thought you should know.
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Love, hold the onions

I wrote my first entry for what would become this blog on January 2nd of this year. I didn’t know at the time that it would become “Onceafatgirl.” (Or maybe I did somewhere in my heart.) But it was the 6th Anniversary of having my eating under control. And I was still thinking and living as if I were walking around in a 300 lb body. Growing up with food issues can mess with your head. Once a fat girl, always a fat girl. No matter what you look like on the outside. And I knew that it was time to let go of thoughts, feelings, and beliefs that had become obsolete.

And so far, this has been a year of healing and spiritual growth. Writing this blog has been a gift to me. What I wanted most was to be willing to take risks with my heart. I had always kept my life small. Been highly risk averse. Unwilling to risk rejection. Or humiliation. Especially in romance. And that kept me lonely. So here I am. For 10 months I have been telling you my dark secrets and painful truths. I keep my self-censorship to a minimum. I keep it honest. I make it intimate.

And when it comes to men and romance, I did, indeed, take a few risks. I am proud of myself. But instead of getting bolder and more sure of myself, instead of letting each risk be a reference to the fact that I survived it, I started out bold and got more and more timid. I started to get scared. I started to doubt.

And then BOOM! All of a sudden I find myself back where I was in January. Feeling small. Feeling my life constrict around me. Feeling lonely and ashamed. Unlovable. Unworthy. Burdensome. Broken.

And this has come up again now because I had to give up some food. And some serious fat girl issues got unearthed. Yes, even though I have maintained strict boundaries around food and my eating for over six and a half years.

See, what occurs to me is maybe a giant plate of deep-fried onions once or twice a week made it ok that I was lonely. And when that got taken away suddenly I was still lonely but I didn’t have the onions anymore to make it ok. So of course I just wanted my onions back. But maybe if I think about it, I don’t want them back. Maybe I should stop wanting things that make it ok that I’m lonely. And maybe I should stop finding ways to be ok with being lonely. Maybe I don’t want onions. Maybe I want love.

What I’m saying might not make sense to you. Maybe you have spent your life knowing that you deserve love. And maybe you have never put something between you and your fellow human beings. But food was my best friend and my lover for the first 28 years of my life. And then even in the past 6+ years, with strict boundaries around my food, I allowed it to be my comfort. And as soon as my comfort food was taken away, I felt vulnerable. Shamed. Punished. Growing up, food was how I convinced myself that I could survive without love. But it was also the reason I felt like I would never be loved.

There is something I am noted for in my work life. “Quality information.” I can be counted on to give it, and I am always grateful to receive it. But that is not true of me with men. With romance I always want to avoid information. Or at least keep the information I seek irrelevant. I never want to look at the truth. It’s too scary! Because I am absolutely positive that no man will ever be interested in me. That has been something I have “known” for as long as I can remember. So I don’t seek quality information. I don’t ask the relevant questions. I just answer the questions myself. Always with the answer that I am most afraid of. Always telling myself that no man is interested in me. You would think I would just ask them! When I answer for them, I never stand a chance.

It’s almost like when I was fat and I would make a fat joke about myself before someone else would do it. I’m rejecting myself on every man’s behalf first. I won’t give them the satisfaction.

Which just goes to show how warped I am. I’m not interested in jerks. I don’t like arrogant or obnoxious human beings at all. And certainly not to date. If I like a man, it’s safe to say that rejecting me would not bring him satisfaction.

I know that fear of humiliation is part of being human. It doesn’t make me different or special. And when I am paralysed with fear of rejection, it’s because I’m thinking that I have something to lose. Maybe I do. But I need to stop aching. And crying. So let’s try this again. I want to take risks with my heart. This time without giant plates of deep-fried onions.

I call a do-over. Starting…now.

I won’t stop being a brat and you can’t make me

So my weight gain has continued. And this time I gained a whopping 10 lbs in one month. I have now gained 22 lbs since I quit smoking. And I can’t stop crying. I really can’t stop. I’m crying right now. I cry during my morning meditation. I cry on the subway. I cry at work when nobody is looking. I cry sitting home reading. I cried while I was out having coffee with a friend. I have been puffy and red and totally dehydrated for days.
First, I hate my body. Hate it. The sight of it in the mirror makes me break down immediately. And I am deeply resentful that I have gained all of this weight without eating compulsively. I have not eaten sugar. I have not broken my food boundaries. I have not done anything “wrong.” And here I am 22 lbs heavier.
And then something even more devastating happened to me. My food quantities changed. Got smaller. Because I have gained so much weight. And I feel punished. And deprived. I feel unloved. Unacknowledged. Unappreciated. And totally powerless.
Let me note that I don’t “have to” accept these changes in my food. I buy my own food. I cook my own food. It is my responsibility to deal with my food. But there is a woman in my life that helps me make decisions about my food. I requested this help. And I have agreed to take her suggestions. I took her suggestion when she told me to eat more food because I was dropping weight quickly. And her suggestion now that I am continuing to gain weight, is for me to eat less of certain vegetables. And to eat less food in general.
This is rational. It makes sense. Obviously, if I have gained 22 lbs since I quit smoking, my metabolism has slowed way down. And since this is the case, my body doesn’t need as much food anymore.
But, of course, the vegetables I get less of are my favorites. Winter squash. Carrots. And onions! Losing my giant plates of deep fried onions is a huge blow. The idea of a portion a fraction of the size I have been eating for years makes me nauseous. (Literally. That is not an exaggeration.) It makes the thought of them repugnant to me. It ruins all of my joy in anticipating them. As of right now, I am sure I will never eat them again.
And this attitude is embarrassing to admit. Because what an obnoxious brat I’m being! If I can’t have it the way I want, I won’t have it at all! As if anyone cares if I don’t eat my favorite food anymore. As if it’s a punishment to anyone else. But I’m so hurt that I really don’t want my favorite foods. I am actually not enjoying my meals. Which is saying something, since I’m a compulsive eater and food addict.
I have never had this happen to me before. Hating my food. Being resentful of my food. Since I stopped eating compulsively, I have always been grateful. I have been mostly grateful that my eating has been under control and not running or ruining my life. But also, my food has always been delicious. And felt abundant. But then, it has always been abundant. In fact, in 6+ years, the only way my food boundaries ever changed was that I was given more. I have been used to eating huge quantities of food just to maintain a small body. I was unprepared for my food to be reduced. I haven’t been this emotional about food since I first gave up sugar and put boundaries around my eating years ago.
Maybe my food is still abundant and I’m just blinded by the fact that it is now less. I can’t tell.
And I am sorry I never realized I was skinny until I stopped being skinny. It is apparently true that you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone. I wish I had noticed that at 131- 133 lbs. I was a little thing. But once a fat girl, always a fat girl. At least in my own mind.
Now I weigh 154.4. I’m writing it for you because I don’t want to. I’m admitting it because it’s humiliating to admit it. And I don’t want to run from the truth.
And also, this crying and overwhelming sadness was triggered by having my food reduced, but it’s not about food. This sadness, whatever it is, is old. It’s big and deep. The tears are fat and hot. The crying makes me convulse. It hurts to breathe. The pain in me is bigger than me. Like an undetectable extension charm in Harry Potter or a bag of holding in Dungeons & Dragons. (Oh yeah. I’m a total nerd.) This pain is the same pain I had when I was 4 years old and I lay crying in my bed, and I said to God, “If this doesn’t get any easier, I’m not going to be able to do it.”
And that’s how I feel. I can’t do this, God. If you don’t make it stop I’m going to…
What, Kate? What are you going to do?
I’m like a defiant 8-year-old. I’m full of empty threats. I’ll run away. I’ll stop loving you! Or worse yet, real threats. I’ll hurt myself!
But there is a message I keep getting. Over and over. That this is my transition. Into womanhood. This might seem silly to you since I am 35. But I have been fighting growing up at every turn for my whole life. And since I got my food under control, I have been living the life of the girl I never got to be when I was actually a girl.
But I quit smoking because I wanted to grow up. And it has not escaped my notice that the weight that I have gained from this particular act of growing up has gone to my breasts, hips, thighs and belly. That it has made me curvy more than anything. Womanly. That’s the word people keep using. Womanly.
Maybe these are my last moments as a child. This bratty refusal to accept changes in my life, my body and my food with grace. And trust that God, Life and the Universe are preparing something beautiful for me. Or maybe this is limbo where that desperately terrified 4-year-old girl is in the process of passing that overwhelming pain to that grown woman who is brave and strong. The grown woman who can feel the pain without being destroyed by it. Because she has peace and love. Because she is a woman.
Because when I realize that I have no ultimatum, no leverage against God and Life, I know that I can, indeed, handle the pain. And the uncertainty. And it’s even ok if I am not willing to be graceful yet. If I insist on being a brat. I know me. I’ll give it up eventually. I’ll chose peace in the end. It’s just the kind of girl I am. And maybe it’s the kind of woman I am. And I just haven’t realized it yet…

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