Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the month “December, 2012”

It turns out 2012 *was* a good year! Good thing I decided to go back and check!

Like you (probably), I have been looking back on 2012

When I first started thinking about it, I was thinking that 2012 has been a difficult year. Or at least a painful one. But when I go all the way back, and start looking at the beginning of the year, I remember that it has been pretty extraordinary. And that some amazing things happened.

Life threw a lot at me this year. It threw me some curveballs. It threw me a couple of bones. It threw me some parties. And it threw me in the lake a few times. But whatever it threw me, I caught it.

Maybe the most noteworthy thing that happened this year is that I kept showing up. Over and over. When it was hard. And when I didn’t want to. And when I was scared. I showed up anyway. I showed up because I want to be the person who shows up. And I think I maybe figured out this year that I could. That I was capable. Which I never thought I was before.

I have changed in the past 12 months. It has been subtle and gradual, but so consistent that I am not the person I was on December 29, 2011.

The first thing I did this year was start this blog. (Ok, the first first thing I did this year was shout “Happy New Year” on a dance floor. But on January 2nd, I started writing this blog.) When I started, I was filled with shame and fear. And secrets. About the ways that I felt and the things that I thought. Especially about myself. And they were poisoning me. And keeping me stuck. And keeping my life small.

Now I am still easily overwhelmed. And I need to take things slow and in small bites and baby steps. But I have kept at writing. And I keep writing this blog every week. And I am ever closer to shameless. And I am so much more gentle with myself than I have ever been in my life. And I have some room to be human and imperfect. So thank you. Because I got (keep getting) this gift for myself by writing for you.

And I am proud that I have kept my word to you and to myself. That I write every week. That I tell the truth. That I keep it honest and intimate. That I do it because I do it. That how I “feel about” writing is irrelevant. It has been a moving experience. To be a writer. Not to want to be a writer. When I grow up. Or when I have time. Or when inspiration strikes. To be a writer by virtue of writing. Putting in the time and the thought. The key strokes. And to know that I’m pretty good at it.

I quit smoking this year. I let go of an unhealthy work relationship. I paid my taxes. I started crocheting again. (I’m even making myself a sweater dress at the moment. Ambitious much, Kate?)

But the most important thing I did this year was fall in love.

No, it didn’t end up going anywhere. And it sure didn’t end well for me. But while I was in it, it was pretty spectacular. I was filled with excitement, and tenderness. I was motivated to be a better person. A better woman! And I was inspired to pray and wish and hope for someone else’s happiness. Maybe the best part was just knowing that my heart isn’t atrophied from lack of use. Or maybe the best part was figuring out that I am not so ashamed of myself anymore that I want to hide away from love, for fear of being belittled as unworthy, or exposed as a fraud. Or maybe the best part is that on this side of it, love and partnership and commitment look a few steps further from impossible and a few steps closer to obtainable.

Thanks for being a part of my 2012. You made it special. I hope we get together a whole bunch in 2013. And, of course…HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

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It’s a good thing I’m not my boyfriend, because I’d have to break up with myself

I’m wondering if you are as sick of hearing me talk about how much I hate my body as I am sick of telling you. And of hating it. But it’s what’s on the table this week. So here goes…

As I have mentioned before, my eating and body image disorders are irrational. And knowing that does not make me rational. I cannot simply say “Well, that’s irrational,” and then start thinking like a normal person. But there is sometimes some relief to be found in distinguishing and pointing out the irrationality. To being able to laugh at the bad logic and false beliefs. Or at least use the knowledge that something is false to change the channel in my head. Not let those kinds of thoughts become bigger, louder and more daunting. Not let them repeat on an endless loop in my brain.

And I have also mentioned before that there are conflicting, often opposite, thoughts and concepts about myself and my life that live side by side in my understanding. And right now, I am kind of immersed in one of my dual realities.

I hate my body. I feel like I can’t say it enough. I hate it. It’s fat. It’s grotesque. It is a neon sign blinking THIS WOMAN IS BROKEN. THIS WOMAN IS UNWORTHY. THIS WOMAN DOES NOT DESERVE LOVE. My body is ugly and I am ugly and no man could possibly find me attractive.

But they do. More than ever before. And entirely differently. There is something akin to reverence in the way that they look at me. Strangers. Men sneaking glances at me when they think I’m not looking. Men smiling nervously at me, struggling to say something. Men who seem to say “who me?” when I smile at them on the street or the subway.

And if there is an opportunity, I try to find my reflection to see what they are seeing. And Holy Mother of God! I’m positively, undeniably stunning! I can see it too. It’s true. I am better looking at 35 than I have ever been. Ever in my entire life. And that’s sayin’ somethin’. When I turned 30 and woke up from the fog of sugar withdrawal, it occurred to me that I was, in fact, a beautiful woman. And all of a sudden, five and a half years later, I am out of my own league.

Did I mention that I am hideous? Fat and misshapen and totally unloveable?

The truth is actually that I am beautiful. And not “somewhere in between” my two concepts of myself. I am absolutely as beautiful as I have been telling you I am. Drop dead, knock out, gorgeous. (If you are laughing at, or shocked by my willingness to “toot my own horn”, I’ll just say that I am sure that there is nothing wrong with knowing and acknowledging my beauty. I find no shame in it. I don’t believe in false modesty. It’s for pre-teen girls and people fishing for compliments, of which I am neither.)

So I have to look at what this hatred is. Because yes, I have gained 24 lbs in the past 6 months. And yes, I have gone from a size 6 to a size 8. But I am comparing myself to obese women, thinking I look like them. I am breaking down in hysterical sobs at the sight of my body in the mirror. I am being more cruelly critical of myself than is healthy or just. I see women who I know are bigger than me (because we’re friends and I know what size they are), and they do not occur to me as fat or ugly. They are beautiful and healthy. It is obvious that there is nothing “wrong” with their bodies. If I were a boyfriend, I’d tell myself to dump my abusive ass.

It has occurred to me that I am using this weight gain as an excuse to hate my body. As if I have been waiting and wanting to hate it for years. As if when I stopped eating compulsively, and got a beautiful, normal, healthy body, I became a sheriff and my body was the bad guy who had crossed state lines. Fine. You got past me this time. But I’ll be watching you. And if you set so much as one toe out of line, I’ll see you hang. I have been waiting for my body to disappoint me so I could go back to despising it and myself.

I don’t know why. And I don’t know what to do about it.

I want this to stop being an issue already. I am exhausted. What I want is to go into hibernation, and wake up when all of this is resolved. Because this obsession with my body is overwhelming me. Try to love my body. Let myself hate my body. Stop thinking about my body. Buy new clothes for this body. Stop caring about how I dress for now. Meet men who think I’m beautiful the way I am right now. Don’t try to meet anyone until I feel attractive again.

My biggest fear is that I will be stuck here. I don’t just mean in this body (though I definitely fear that too). I am afraid that I will never get past this self-hatred, and that I will never allow myself to be loved. Because the one thing I understand fully is that this all comes back to love. That I want to love and be loved and that I am afraid that will never happen for me. I did all of this work to be a better person so that I could be someone I was proud of. And someone I could be proud to offer as a woman and a partner. And I am afraid that I have come as far as I am capable of going. And that it’s just not far enough. And maybe I needed a scapegoat. Someone or something to blame for not being loveable. And maybe my body is it.

It’s always an eating disorder blog because I always have eating disorders

I wrote a post earlier today, but I don’t think I want to share it. Not today. Not yet. It’s about my anger. My hate. My distrust. I have a lot of it. I am overflowing with it. And it’s ugly.
I am not afraid to show you my ugly. But it would not do any good right now. It would not serve me. Or you. There would be nothing for either of us to learn from it. Except that I am human. And that I have ugly feelings. Which I already knew. And you probably did too.

I am doing my best not to be ashamed of my ugly feelings. I am doing my best to remember that denying them doesn’t stop them from existing. And that the closest thing there is to making them disappear is to eat them. which is not an option. And I would like to say that I know that there is nothing virtuous in turning my hate in on myself instead of hating the people who have hurt me. But I have always used self-abuse and martyrdom as a kind of substitute for virtue. And I can forget when my rage scares me enough.

So for today, I will spare you my ugly feelings.

A friend said recently that my blog is as much, and maybe more, about quitting smoking lately than it is about compulsive eating. I think that may be true. And I told him that I made a decision a while ago to let it be what it is. That both the experience of getting control of my eating and that of quitting smoking are similar for me. I’m actually pretty sure that in time, my eating disorders will return to the forefront. I just happen to be going through a particularly difficult time with regards to quitting smoking. I am having a hard time with the feelings and the weight gain. I am having a hard time finding my footing after making a significant choice about who I want to be in the world. And who I want to be in the world is even more awake and aware and alive. I want to be not numb.
But there is something that I know, that you might not. In my mind, every day, always, I think of myself as a woman with eating disorders. I am a compulsive eater and bulimic with body dismorphia. A woman with a sugar addiction. And more specifically, woman who painstakingly takes care of her life with food so that she can be sane and stable. That is my primary identity. (I know…sounds super sexy, right?)

I have given up many things as a compliment to that identity. Smoking is one of them. Along with alcohol, and smoking pot, sugarless gum, diet soda and excessive caffeine. And behaviors like making rash decisions, and acting out in anger. But first, last, and always comes the food. Food was my first drug. It was my first numb. And getting control of my eating and letting go of getting high on sugar led me to realize that I actually wanted to be alive. That I don’t actually like numb. And that one step at a time, I want to come back to life fully.

I am in excruciating pain at the moment. I am more angry and hurt and scared and tormented than you can possibly imagine. I am burning with rage. I am overwhelmed with grief. I wake up puffy and swollen and encrusted with dry tears. My throat is sore from how tight I clench it. I am more miserable than I can remember being in the past (almost) 7 years.

But I do not eat to numb it! I would rather be here in honest, living, livid pain than be numb. Than be dead. Because eating compulsively is death to me. Numbness and death.

Yes, I have been talking a lot about smoking. And I’m ok with that. But my life, all of my life and every fiber of my being, is about being free from the food. I was able to quit smoking because I have my food under control. Because I learned how to feel pain when I let go of sugar and put boundaries around my eating. And if I thought that my eating boundaries were in danger, I would certainly go back to smoking. Or caffeine. Or chewing gum. Or whatever. Because the food will kill me quickest and make me hate myself the most.

So I hope you’re ok with my smoking talk. That you can somehow see that quitting sugar and quitting cigarettes are connected. Or if you can’t, that you still think I’m brilliant whatever I write! Or that you’ll humor me…

Is it just as judgy to judge people for judging?

I’m a little less body-miserable these past few days. Maybe it’s because, with weigh day behind me for the rest of the month, I put my body hatred it in its compartment. Maybe it’s because I have hope that by next weigh day, my metabolism will have started regulating itself again, and I will start losing this weight I have gained. Or maybe it’s starting to seep in that I am not, in fact, grotesquely fat in this body, and that I can have some peace if I can surrender to it being what it is. (That last one’s a stretch, but I believe in miracles.)

My big issue this week is how aware I am of people giving me unsolicited opinions and advice. And how offensive I find it. And how aggressive it makes me feel. (Not act…Ok, maybe a little. But I have managed to keep my clever and cruel remarks to myself.)

There is a saying I love. “If you want what I have, do what I do.”

I keep hearing from people who do not have what I want.

For example, I do not want health and lifestyle advice from a morbidly obese girl more than 10 years my junior.

I do not want to be told that my quitting smoking is “really for the best” by a woman I never see smile. And who looks something between bored and disgusted. Always.

I am glad that I quit smoking. For all of the pain that has come with it, there has been a new clarity and a deeper level of self-love, self-awareness, and self-confidence. I love that, even though it has not been an easy six months. But I don’t want other people telling me what is best for me. I like to decide that for myself.

And today, I can. When I got control of my food, I stopped doubting myself. I could trust my eyes and ears. I could trust my thoughts. I could trust my assessment of situations. I stopped wondering if I had it all wrong and was doing it all wrong.

And another thing I lost when I got control of the food, was the need to get it all right. (Ok, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. There are still things that I get very angry at myself for getting wrong.) But every day that I don’t eat compulsively, I have a lot more room for my humanity. And for everybody else’s.

And even one more thing is that I stopped feeling the need to give other people advice. I stopped needing to show that I had all the answers. That I was so smart. I started to understand the value of minding my own business! Who knew!?!? (By the way, I had zero answers when I was eating all the time. I sure hope nobody was actually taking the advice I kept forcing on people…Oh well. Too late now…)

So why am I so upset with people giving me their unsolicited opinions and advice? Why can’t I have room for their judgment? Why can’t I let it roll off my back?

I think because cigarettes were how I numbed the feeling that other people didn’t like me. Didn’t approve of me. Didn’t think I was doing it right or well. Didn’t think I was good enough. Being judged hurt. And cigarettes made that pain go away. It was a kind of manufactured indifference.

But now I have to acquire a new coping mechanism. And I don’t think I want it to include indifference. But I don’t want to own someone else’s judgment of me either. I need to figure out what that’s going to look like. Because I don’t know.

What I do know is that I don’t want to judge those who judge me for judging. I want to acknowledge their right to have thoughts and opinions about me and my actions. And know that those thoughts and opinions are none of my business. Even if they insist on telling me. I want to have room for their humanity, whether their words come from love or spite. I want to be protected by my confidence and personal sense of security. I want to learn to love my fellow human beings. Not because they deserve it. Because I do.

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I may *be* insane, but I’ll manage to not *act* insane. Good enough?

I have been an unholy wreck this week. Crying and anxiety. I’m restless. I want to claw my skin off. And the bulimic girl who lives in my head is disturbingly loud lately.

I weighed myself this morning. I always weigh myself on the first of the month. And only the first. The kinds of eating and body image disorders I have can make me obsess about the number on the scale. So in order to keep it in perspective, there is only one day that I step on the scale. And since my quit-smoking-weight-gain started, the week before weigh day has been overwhelming.

I gained another pound and a half this month. I weigh 157 lbs. That is 24 lbs heavier than I was on June 1st. I have been eating less and less and have still gained weight every month. (A friend said that sounded like its own special circle of hell. I’m pretty sure it is.) And I am so angry. And I feel so punished. And I am absolutely positive that I am going to be alone my whole life.

I don’t know how clearly I understood it myself, but looking back I can see that I quit smoking because I wanted to have a shot at love. I wanted to be able to be intimate with a man, which is hard when you have a fiery torch in your mouth and are exhaling a toxic smoke screen. But I wasn’t prepared to gain this much weight. And I am a former fat girl. The size of my body matters to me. I have spent years rigorously maintaining strict boundaries around my eating. Every day. No matter what. And that was supposed to keep me thin. It did keep me thin until six months ago. And I do not know how to love my body this size. And I don’t know what man would be interested in me this big. Because I think I am so ugly right now.

I’m telling you I hate my body. (I am writing this thinking You can’t post this, Kate! You’re supposed to be uplifting. Don’t tell them you hate your body! Don’t tell them anything is wrong. Just write something charming and spiritual. But obviously I am telling you. Because it’s honest and it’s my story.) And it occurred to me the other day that this emotional rough patch I have been going through is all about hating my body. And that the week before weigh day, how much I hate my body is all I can think about. And the other three weeks of the month I put it in a compartment and wonder why I am so sad and when I am going to feel better.

I have been making a lot of empty threats to God this week. And then sometimes just begging. Please make this stop. I am doing everything right. I’m doing everything I am supposed to do. I can’t take it any more. If it doesn’t stop I’m gonna…I’m gonna… something.

And boy does my bulimic girl want me to something. Laxatives, castor oil, throw up, starve. SOMETHING!

But the truth is I’m not gonna something. For some reason I realized when I put down sugar and stopped eating compulsively, that I had to stop hurting myself to spite difficult circumstances and situations. That circumstances and situations don’t care. That God isn’t an indulgent or exhausted parent who will give in if I throw a scary enough tantrum. And thankfully my boundaries aren’t just about not over eating. I may not under eat either. I may not purge or abuse laxatives. I may not honor my bulimic girl at all. I have boundaries around acting sane, even if I feel crazy. And God, I sure do feel crazy.

So maybe there’s an uplifting message after all. I have a commitment not to hurt my body, even if I hate it right now. I have a promise to keep my food boundaries, even if they are not keeping me as thin as I would like. (I mean, I hate having gained 24 lbs in six months, but I’m a 300 lb girl in a rented body. I pay rent on this body by keeping my food boundaries. If I were eating compulsively, I could have easily gained 24 lbs in two weeks. )

This is my prayer: Dear God. Please let me love myself and my body exactly as I am. Please let me know that I am beautiful as long as I am taking care of myself.

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