Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the month “November, 2012”

If the world ends right this instant, I will at least have made one more afghan

One thing I’m prone to is obsessiveness. And right now I am obsessed with crocheting. I have 2 projects going simultaneously. And I’m in love with them both. Which is a blessing and a curse, since they are both gifts I’m going to give away.

Mostly, a little obsession over a hobby is not a bad thing. I am pretty good at crochet. I use it to do a lot of calm thinking. Each project has a natural conclusion, so it never feels overwhelming. And it’s deliciously satisfying to spend my time making something tangible. When I have put in a certain number of hours of work, it turns out there is an afghan. Or a scarf. Or a hat.

But if there is a problem, it’s that I never want to stop. I’m on a roll! I want to keep going! One more skein, one more row, one more stitch. I may never have the chance again! It may all disappear and slip away in an instant.

I see this with so many things in my life. This obsession. This wanting it NOW. Before it goes away. It’s more than just the desire for instant gratification. Somewhere in my warped mind, I really believe that it could all go up in a puff of smoke.

I buy an apple for every day of the week to have for breakfast. But every morning, I want all of them. Now! As if they will disappear. As if there will never be another apple ever again!

If I am reading a particularly good book, I read until I pass out. Literally. I may wake up with a book or my kindle on my chest. I can’t stop. Just one more page. Just one more sentence. Just one more word. I may never get to read it again!

And of course, when I was eating compulsively, this is how I dealt with food. I wanted it all! NOW! Before it went away! And I had no rules, no boundaries. So I ate it all. Now. Because there might never be any more ever again.

Don’t think the irony has escaped me. Oh God! There will never be another piece of chocolate cake ever again! led directly to Thank God! There will never be another piece of chocolate cake ever again!

Plus my obsessive nature can cause me to burn out. At first I want more because it’s fun. Or exciting. Because it feels good. But after a while, whatever it is that I’m obsessed with becomes a need. It’s not so much that I like it, as that I am afraid I will be unhappy if it goes away. It’s about my inability to let go.

But I can’t live like that anymore. And I am grateful that the way I live my life now insists that I keep my obsessions in check. I have things that I am committed to doing. Daily and weekly.

I must eat 3 times a day: breakfast, lunch and dinner. I must meditate every morning. I must write a blog post every week. I must sleep 7-8 hours a night. I must go to the market. I must cook my food.

And thank God! This structure reminds me that my crochet projects will still be there in my free time. And if they are not, well…I will live. I will move on. It will all be ok. I have lived the last 6+ years without chocolate cake. Happily. Joyfully. Without regret. So if I can do that, I am pretty sure I can survive just about anything.


You don’t feel sorry for me, and I won’t tell you where you can stuff your turkey

At the farmer’s market yesterday, somebody wished me Happy Thanksgiving. She must have thought the 4 lbs of Brussels sprouts and 3 lb head of cauliflower were for some huge gathering I was hosting. She probably also assumed that the 9 apples were for a bunch of pies that I was making to share with my loved ones.

No. It is all for me. Share and food are not words I like to put together. In fact, that last sentence makes me a little uncomfortable. And if anyone were to try to touch my market haul, they might lose a hand.

Needless to say, being wished Happy Thanksgiving reminded me that my favorite time of year is here.

If you know me personally, you know that this is really the ultimate in Kate sarcasm. I hate winter. I hate cold and snow and dark. And I absolutely abhor the holiday season.

I do not actually hate individual holidays themselves. There is nothing wrong with Thanksgiving or Christmas. But I don’t participate.

And even this would not be a big deal if people wouldn’t make it such a big effing deal.

What I hate about the season is that every year, everybody and their brother has to make a big to-do about how nobody should be alone for the holidays. And here’s why I’m super-duper über not looking forward to this year. Because I’m already unhappy. And I can already see the pouty simpers on the faces of all the kind people who will insist that it would be a terrible thing for me to be alone for Thanksgiving. They would be worried about me. Especially when I’m having such a hard time.

Let me assure you I am not suicidal. But that I might become homicidal if you simper at me…

Let me also assure you that the last thing I want is to spend the day when I am already blue around a group of people and an over abundance of food. Food I don’t eat.

Let me also also assure you that I have a family. They would probably like to see me. It turns out they like me. But they also like to fill various rooms with food. Food I don’t eat. And for the most part, they have come to terms with the fact that I won’t be joining them.

It’s not that I don’t like people. For the most part, I do. But I also need a lot of time alone. And there is a particularly frustrating, annoying, obnoxious thing that people do, particularly during the holiday season. They want to give me permission to “cheat” on my “diet.” (I am not on a diet. And I don’t cheat. Ever. No really, never.) Oh go on. It’s Thanksgiving. Treat yourself. Because they don’t understand that the rest of that sentence is like crap. Spiral ever downward into an eating disorder hell prison. (And just so you know, if I were going to eat outside of my boundaries, I would not wait for somebody’s well-meaning permission. In fact, I would probably steal Mr./Ms. Well-Meaning’s pecan pie out from under their nose.)

But maybe what I am starting to understand that I never realized consciously before is that I need to stay away from Thanksgiving and Christmas because they are dramatic. Not because people make them dramatic. More because they make people dramatic. They are about light in the darkness. They are about survival when the Earth has gone to sleep and isn’t going to provide for a while. They are about the end of a 365 day cycle, and looking at what you have made and done for a year. They are about taking inventory of your life. These are big, dramatic things. So we as humans celebrate these things with spectacular displays. To show that we honor how spectacular life is. With bright lights and shiny decorations. With abundant food and dramatic music. (Sure I hate Christmas music, but who isn’t moved by Oh Holy Night?!)

When I am not feeling burdened by the expectation to participate, I can see that there is something beautiful in this way of celebrating life. I’m moved just thinking about it. But I can’t handle it. It’s too much for me. It’s too big for my already sensitive, overly emotional heart. On the scale of 1-10, I live life at a consistent 8 ½. And the holidays can ramp me right up to a 100 in the blink of an eye. And I’m not the only one, of course. Ask any parent. ‘Tis the season for over-stimulated-meltdowns.

Anyway, I will be having a regular Thursday this week. That’s what I choose. But let me wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. I hope it’s moving and dramatic in the best possible way. And I hope the only meltdowns are the cheese and the chocolate.

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I’m sorry, I’m too busy to go out of my way to not give you the satisfaction

I have been unhappy lately. For a long time actually. Months now. On and off since I quit smoking in June. Pretty consistently since August. Generally blue. Occasionally in a lot of emotional pain. Occasionally just raw and irritable. And invariably thinking. Thinking and worrying and puzzling and solving and predicting and planning and scrapping and reformulating and worrying some more.


I am purging a lot of old pain. It’s hard to squeeze out of my chest and throat area. It burns. Letting it go is interesting. I’m not used to it. It’s the kind of thing I’ve been holding in since I was 4. For the most part, it comes in a huge wave and dissipates. It sneaks up on me and it suddenly occurs to me that I’m going to cry. And then it occurs to me that I am holding it in. Holding it back. And I don’t want to do that anymore. Hold it in. Deny that I’m an emotional, cry-baby, wussy-girl. I am. I am not cool. I am not too hip to care. I care. So I cry. And my face gets all red and blotchy for a minute. Maybe two. And my eyes get glassy and wet. And then it’s done, passed. And maybe a person or two on the street or subway noticed. Maybe.


I have been humiliated a few times recently too. I was the butt of the joke for an entire bus full of people during the snowstorm this week. With my train not running and taking an unfamiliar route home, I waited for an hour in the snow for the wrong bus. In retrospect, a few of the buses that would have taken me home passed by. When I realized I was on the wrong bus, and asked the driver to let me off, everyone began to laugh. Tell other passengers who hadn’t heard. The hardest was the little old lady in the front cackling about how stupid I was not to have asked. I was shocked by how delighted people were by my difficulty. How they thoroughly enjoyed my pain.


But there is something that I have given up. Not letting them see me cry. Not giving people the satisfaction of seeing that they got to me. I don’t care if they see. I don’t care if they enjoy it. I don’t care if they get off on my hurt heart. If I need to cry I will cry. I’ll do it with dignity too. Because I do not cry because I am weak. I do not cry because I am pathetic. I cry because nobody gets to tell me how to deal with my feelings. Nobody gets to tell me not to be so sensitive. And if someone enjoys my tears, that’s none of my business. But I can pity them for that. More than I pity myself for feeling the pain.


I do not enjoy other people’s pain. I feel it too easily. It seems too real. I actually have to work every day at not taking on other people’s pain. I have to remind myself that just because there is suffering in the world does not mean I cannot have peace and joy and love. That just because the world does not have peace does not mean that I cannot have peace. I have to remind myself that peace begins with me. Inside.


I love my empathy. I am honored to be a compassionate woman with a big sensitive heart. I don’t love everything that comes with it, but I don’t see it as a weakness. And I don’t need to hide it because some people are jerks.


Because I used to have a surefire way of not being affected by the sadism of jerks. I smoked it. Or ate it. Or somehow got high enough that it couldn’t scrape at me. But here I am, right on the ground. Well within reach to be scraped and scratched. Too available to get by unscathed. Though, really, getting by unscathed because I was too effed up to be available wasn’t exactly the cat’s pajamas either. Or I wouldn’t have gone through all the pain I have to get here. Present. Available. Hurtable.


The other thing that has me unhappy is trying to acclimate to a new level of confidence and self-love. I have a new understanding of what I deserve. What I am worth. And here I am in a life built by a woman who liked herself less.


It’s even funny to think about how I am in so much pain because I went from being a woman who liked herself a lot, to a woman who likes herself even more. I was already so impressed by my honesty, integrity, honor. Was already overjoyed to wake up every day with such dignity and self-respect. Had already done so much incredible work on myself. And yet the gap between this new understanding of myself and my life, and the (still pretty fantastic) life I was living six months ago makes for heartache. And sadness.


So I’m unhappy. But let me tell you what I am not. Depressed. And that’s important to note. Because when I was eating compulsively and addictively eating sugar, I was depressed. Always. The level of self-hatred I lived with was staggering. I hated myself so consistently for so long that I didn’t even know I hated myself until it stopped when I quit sugar. I felt crazy on sugar. I was crazy. I had no hope. I lived in the depths of despair.


But today I am not in despair. I know that this will pass. It’s just a difficult stretch. A very long, difficult stretch of unhappiness. And yes, I wish it would hurry along. Because I miss being fun and funny and easy to be around. But everything in its own time.


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It would be nice if you were honored. But really, I didn’t do it for you.

Since Sandy hit, I have been stranded in my neighborhood. So I have been doing projects. Mostly, I have been crocheting. The other night, when I looked at the scarf I had been making for 2 days, I realized that the whole day’s work was lop-sided. I have a rule that when I don’t know what to do, I don’t do anything. So I went to bed.  And in the morning, I looked at it and I thought about it, and I ripped out row after row of stitches. Many hours of work. Gone in seconds.
I don’t know if I would have done that a month ago. I may have tried to see if I could finesse it. Hide it. Or maybe just labored on and let it be lop-sided. I mean this scarf is not for anything. Except to escape boredom. And it was a lot of work.  But today it doesn’t matter how much work I put in. It doesn’t matter how much I have invested. It doesn’t matter how much of myself and my love I have offered. If the result isn’t satisfying, I can let the whole thing go. Without regret. Or resentment. Without being tormented. Without feeling like the work or the time were a waste.

It turns out I have had a shift in the way I understand value. Recently. This week. I have had no way to get to work. No way to get almost anywhere. And a monotonous hobby. Crocheting is meditative. It puts me in a sort of trance. It let me think a lot about what I want, and what I have done to get what I got. What is my part and my responsibility. And what I can change. To get what I want.

I recently sent a breakup letter to the guy I wasn’t dating. (No. That’s not a typo.) It was as bold and honest as I could be. I said everything I had held back for fear of being rejected. I was embarrassingly authentic. I took a big giant scary risk.

And what I got back was a (kind of mean-spirited) rejection. It was maybe worse than I had expected. Which is saying something because I have a history of being rather gloom and doom when it comes to men…But I kinda can’t blame him. Kinda. I probably should have anticipated that breaking up with someone you are not actually dating can make them a little irritable.

Needless to say, I was shamed. It was explained to me that my love wasn’t wanted. And that I really shouldn’t feel that way. And there was even a smattering of a who-do-you-think-you-are kind of arrogance. Which is hard for me because it pokes at a lot of sensitive childhood wounds. (Or at least that was my experience. Which, admittedly could be clouded by my sensitive childhood wounds…Just sayin’.)

But also, I didn’t die. And I didn’t smoke a cigarette. And I didn’t eat a chocolate cake. And really, it wasn’t so terribly horrible. It is not even as terribly humiliating as I thought it would be.

And here is what I have decided. 1) I got a lot out of loving him. I learned a lot about myself. It made we want to grow up. Be better. And I am a better person than I was. I like me even more now. So it was all worth it in the end. 2) Whether he wants my love or not doesn’t have to have any bearing on whether or not I love him. I am allowed to love whomever I choose. I don’t have to give him power that doesn’t belong to him. I have decided that nobody gets a say in the validity of my feelings. I can’t shut my heart down anymore. And 3) I want to be the woman who does whatever it takes. To have the kind of love she wants. Not whatever it takes to make myself what I think someone wants. But whatever it takes to find the one who loves me back. To be honest when it’s scary. To be bold when it’s risky. To be authentic when it means I could be shamed or belittled or mocked.

I do whatever it takes to keep my food boundaries. To have a relationship with food that honors my soul. Every day. Every time. No matter what. I want to do that with love now too.

I hope you are well and safe. And I hope somebody loves you. Even if you don’t know, don’t care, or don’t love them back.

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