onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the month “February, 2013”

That actions have consequences, and other things that piss me off

I’m having an interesting week with my body. I have been continuing to think it’s beautiful. Loving the way it curves. Really enjoying how big and round my butt is. No seriously. I’ve never had a butt before. I carried all my weight up front when I was fat. I’m not trying to escape my body. I’m not disowning or disparaging it.

But then, weigh day is coming up again. Like it does once a month. So I am attempting to stay off the roller coaster that has me worry myself sick, and then be devastated by any weight gain anyway. Even just writing this I am starting to panic.

I want to start being in control of my body again. I want it to go back to making some semblance of sense. Eat less, walk more, lose weight. Or at least even out. At least stop gaining.

I wonder how much of the panic and unhappiness is the lack of control. How much is about feeling crazy. And wanting to explain all the time that I haven’t eaten sugar! I’m not eating compulsively! I haven’t done anything wrong!

Because I feel like I look like I’ve been doing something wrong.

When I was eating compulsively, it felt like a moral issue. Eating the way I did felt wrong. Shameful. If I were a good person, I would be able to control my eating. And that I couldn’t control my eating, that I was weak and pathetic, or just plain bad, was written all over my body. And here I am, being incredibly “good”. In fact, some people think my boundaries are “extreme”. And I feel like my body is saying I’ve been bad. I feel like I have gained more weight than is natural.

Of course, it is natural. It is what happens when people stop smoking. And I was a heavy smoker. My poor body surely doesn’t know what the hell is going on. It’s doing the best it can. It’s built to survive. That’s how life works. It’s the nature of evolution. The body that is best equipped to survive goes on to produce survival-equipped offspring. Humans have been around for a while now. So it’s probably safe to assume that the human body has learned a few tricks. And I’m sure my body is doing its best to keep me alive.

But that feels so incredibly unfair. I want everybody to know it’s not my fault!

But that, of course, is not exactly true either. I was a heavy smoker for 20 years. I can’t expect that doing a drug 20 times a day for most of that 20 years isn’t going to affect my body. It’s like saying “I wish actions didn’t have consequences.” Um…Ok, Kate. Good luck with that. And wouldn’t I be pissed if my body didn’t get healthier because I quit. How interesting that I want it to all work out the way I want.

But I have also been thinking about beauty culture in America. And how standards have gotten more and more narrow throughout my lifetime. And that as we as a population have continued to get fatter, we have glorified skinnier and skinnier woman. Women who are so skinny that their bodies stop working. Women who only exist in photographs, because even the model was “too fat” to represent the clothing line, shoe line, makeup line.

I keep saying that the amount of weight I have gained (27.4 lbs from June 1st to Feb 1st) is a lot for a girl with eating and body image disorders. I have just exclaimed to you that it’s not fair! I weighed 300 lbs. I completely changed my life to get into a healthy, beautiful body. I did my time. I paid my dues. I should be exempt from this.

But I am not the only one who is in a body they wish were different. I am not the only one who feels less than. Who feels judged. Who feels her body isn’t “perfect enough to be beautiful.” Welcome to being a woman in media saturated 2013 in America, Kate.

I never wonder why I bother maintaining my food boundaries. Even in the face of gaining so much weight. My weight certainly has something to do with why I keep boundaries around my eating, but I mostly do it to stay sane and clear-headed. I do it so I can keep on liking and respecting myself. I do it because it affords me dignity. I know that food makes me crazy. That I am bad at life when I am eating sugar. Plus I know that this weight gain has to stop at some point. Where as if I were eating compulsively, it would never stop. Screw 9 months. The way I eat when I’m eating compulsively, I can gain 30 lbs in two weeks.

So let me tell you what I would like. I would like to stop pitying myself. I would like to stop comparing myself. Even just to myself a year ago. I’d like to be grateful that I quit smoking with ease. That I have not struggled or relapsed. I would like to be grateful that I have gotten through the hardest part. And most importantly, I would like to remember that I am incredibly lucky to have a solution to my food problems. When so many women don’t. And that while my food is under control, I stand a chance to love my body. And myself. And my life. While so many women can’t.

I don’t know what will happen this week. Or on weigh day. And I don’t want to be too hard on myself. Because I have a serious problem with eating and body image disorders. Which is not trivial, or shameful, or something I can just “get over.” And I do a fantastic job of living in the solution every day. But I want to have a good attitude. I want gratitude and humility. I want to love my life the way it is. And I want to be an example of that. Of self-love and grace. So I’m telling you now, that what I want is to love my body as much on weigh day as I do today. And maybe, just maybe, because I have told you, I can have that.

My other body is a Porsche

The few weeks before this week were filled with all sorts of insights and revelations. They were exciting and moving. But, as happens in life, the new and exciting makes way for the practical. Don’t get me wrong. Things really have changed. And I have used my new information to make some changes. But life goes on. It’s like that Zen saying. Before Enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After Enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.

I have been making a point to be in my body. To feel every feeling and experience every sensation. The way my clothes feel. The way my stomach feels after my meals. What it feels like when I wake up and I’m hungry. The way an emotion registers physically. How I feel in my skin.

I have also been looking at it in the mirror. Not to scrutinize. Not to look at it to make declarations about what “needs work”. I have even chosen not to suck in my stomach. Not to distort or imagine my body in some other form than the one in which it exists.

I have decided to celebrate it. To admire it. To love it. To enjoy it. To enjoy the physical experiences of being alive. Not just the intellectual. To think it’s beautiful. Now. Right this moment. And I do. It’s beautiful. I love it. Most of the time. Which is a pretty good start.

I also changed my Facebook profile picture to one of me in the body I’m in now. (I might change it again. To a different picture of me right now. A friend said it’s cute and pretty, but not very sexy. And, you know…That’s a big part of how I identify myself.)

I hadn’t wanted to change my picture. I hadn’t wanted to exhibit my weight gain. I was thinking I would wait until I at least started to lose weight again. But to intentionally not post a picture of myself the way I look now felt like hiding and manipulating. It felt yucky. I can go many months without changing my picture and not think twice about it. But this time I wanted to specifically not do it. On purpose. So I pulled a Jedi mind trick on myself and changed it anyway.

And it worked. Putting up the new picture eliminated a lot of my worry and anxiety. The truth was out. There was nothing left to struggle against.

I even took some pictures of myself in my sexy underwear. (No! Not for Facebook! I don’t need to be that sexy! Good Lord! Get your mind out of the gutter! They are just for me.) And I’m hot. Seriously. And taking them made me feel hot.

All of these little actions have helped me stop thinking negative thoughts. When I notice myself having a negative thought about my body, I stop having that thought. I cut it off. Like I cut off thoughts about cake. Instead, I have a thought about how beautiful and sexy my body is. I create the new thought.

It’s something I understand now. That if I do something, take an action, that is different from what I have been doing (and usually different from what I want to do), it opens up an opportunity to change my thinking. When I change my thinking, it opens up an opportunity to act differently.

It’s scary to me how I pass judgment my body. And I wonder in some ways who I am judging it for. Who is telling me it’s not good enough. And why am I agreeing? Because I have been seeing it as beautiful. And basically, because I have been choosing to.

But first, actually, I had to stop running away from it. I had to make a choice to let myself be me in this body.

Of course, there wasn’t any other option. It is my body. I am me in it. But I have been spending many months disconnecting in my head. And this is reminiscent of how I thought about myself when I was fat and eating compulsively. I was not my body. I was my ideas. My personality. I was so much better than my broken, gross body. It was just this unfortunate card I was dealt.

I once heard a woman say that when she was fat, she carried around a picture of herself when she was thin, and would show it to people and say, “This is what I really look like.”

Since I gained this 27.4 lbs when I quit smoking, I have been doing something like that.

My real body is in the shop and this is just the loaner they gave me. I mean, it’s ugly, but it gets me around.

Um…Ewww. That’s repulsive of me. It’s so disrespectful of my body. And my journey. It’s such an eff you to God and Life. Not to mention a blatant denial of reality.

Plus, being disconnected from reality has been making me miserable. Just like it did when I was fat. And when I stop fighting what is so and surrender to life, everything always feels better. My experience is always better.

I don’t know how I will feel next week. But for now it feels right not to identify as my mind, my thoughts, my personality. To remember that I am my body. And my body is me. And that there is nothing wrong.

I have a confession. I did not pop out of Zeus’s head fully grown 7 years ago…

So oh wow, oh boy, and here we go. This week’s post is about my past, and my body, and the fat girl I was growing up. Who is me. And from whom I have spent the past 7 years distancing myself.

It seems that my fortress, my youth and adolescence, and my body, then and now and a year ago, are all tangled up together. And that I won’t be ready for love until I come to terms with the fact that I am the same person that I have always been. Which I have been dying to forget.

Here’s a little of the ugly truth. The girl I was didn’t believe she was worthy of being loved. And I have never believed she was worthy of being loved either. And for the past 7 years, I have considered her the obstacle I overcame. I have always considered her a burden to others. I assumed she never made an impact. I considered her not worth knowing, or remembering. I considered her not worth caring about. And I am just starting to realize now that when I end up back in touch with people from my past (Thanks Facebook!) I assume that they had no love or interest in the girl I was then. But that they would probably like this new, improved Kate. This beautiful, intelligent, sexy woman. Who did this really impressive thing. She lost the weight of an entire person! Who wouldn’t want to know me? I’m awesome. Now, anyway…

Sure, a few old friends have told me they missed me. Liked me so much then. Were happy to be back in touch with their friend Kate. But I never had to let it sink in. They’re women. They’re kind. I could love them and be touched without ever having to look very hard at that part of my life.

And then recently something happened that changed everything. I got a letter.

It was from a man from my adolescence. Well, now he’s a man. He was an adolescent back then too. And he was important to me. He was my friend.

When we got back in touch via Facebook, I figured he didn’t really remember me. 20 years. Why would he? I was just some girl. Plus I was “the fat girl.” What was there to remember? Who was she to care about? But I was very happy to introduce this new me to him.

But the letter he sent me was to say that he did remember me. Then. As I was. Yes, fat. Yes, weird and insecure. But his friend. And the point was that he remembered saying something hurtful to me. Not maliciously. But hurtful none the less. And he was apologizing. He was asking my forgiveness.

There are two things about this that have had a significant effect on me. And made me look at that relationship I have to my younger self.

Of course, I forgave my old friend. His apology was sincere and touching. It was vulnerable and unselfish. There was no reason to hold a grudge. But it took me a long time before it even occurred to me to think about that teenage girl. You know, me. I was worried about him not feeling bad. I was very much interested in him knowing that he was forgiven. But I didn’t give a thought to her. I never bothered to worry about her heart.

But Eventually, I did think about her. And when I did, I was overwhelmed with her pain.

Good Lord, I lived in constant pain growing up. And my life was colored by the underlying belief that I was a burden. That my love had no value. So yes, I had loved him so much. He had been so special to me. But it had seemed inevitable that eventually he would realize that I was unworthy of his care. I already walked around knowing that I was unworthy. I was just waiting for the sign that the other guy knew it too.

But maybe even more significant for me was that he was not apologizing to 35-year-old Kate. He was not apologizing to the beautiful, sexy, eloquent, confident (for the most part) woman in a thin body. He was apologizing to the fat, unhappy, self-loathing 14-year-old girl who had been his friend. Because she had been his friend.

I can’t remember a time, before I got my eating under control, that I didn’t hate myself. Really. I hated myself all the time all my life. And a huge part of that was about being fat. And being aware of the fact that I was fat. Growing up, it was constantly taking up a corner of my mind. I spent every moment of my life aware of it. It was the definition of me. Anything else that you could have said about me, that I was smart, and funny, and generous, and a good singer, and had really long hair, came after being fat. First I was fat. Everything else was incidental.

It’s hard to think of myself then as somebody’s friend. It’s hard to imagine meaning anything to anyone. It’s also hard to think of myself then as me. And I think maybe this friend understands, better than me, that that girl and myself are the same person. I think maybe it’s so much clearer to everybody who has known me than it is to me.

A friend told me that I have been feeling stuck because I am smart. And I have been letting my brain try to run away from my body. And she’s right. I can see it in how I have been dealing with this weight gain. I keep saying “You’re not my real body. Go away. Are you gone yet? No? Go away. You’re ugly and gross. You’re not mine. Are you gone yet?” In other words, if my body is not what I think it should be, I disown it. It’s not mine, it’s not me. It’s not good enough. I deserve better. Are you gone yet?

When I changed, I changed so comprehensively, and so quickly, that I was able to pretend that I am not the same as that fat girl I was growing up. And I probably needed to do that. At first, anyway. I had to get my feet planted firmly in my new way of living. In many ways I had to walk away from her in order to change.

And I do not regret changing. I do not regret getting a handle on my eating disorders. I do not regret stopping a lot of dishonest and unhealthy behaviors that were part of my addictive and disordered eating. I do not regret the confidence and peace that I have now, that I never had then.

But I can’t pretend she is not me anymore. I don’t understand the how or the why, I’m not clear on the logistics, but I know in my heart that somehow, loving her is the key to finding love. I don’t have to be her, but I have to stop denying that she is me. And I have to consider the idea that she was loved. Maybe she didn’t love herself. And maybe I didn’t love her. But somebody did. Maybe lots of people. Maybe more people than either of us ever knew.

If you ask me today, right now, what am I afraid of, the answer is “everything”. I’m afraid of being alone. I’m afraid of being in a relationship. I’m afraid of never being loved by a man. I’m afraid of finding out that I am incapable of being loved by a man. I’m afraid of being loved by a man. I’m afraid of being rejected. I’m afraid of having my heart-broken. I’m afraid of existing my whole life without taking a risk. I’m afraid of getting the end of my life and never having lived. But maybe right now, for the first time ever in my whole life, I am not afraid of being mistaken for that girl. And I’m not afraid of acknowledging that it wouldn’t be a mistake.

For my next trick, I am going to *not* juggle…

So it happened. I gained more weight. 3 more lbs. I weigh 160.4 now. Over 160. I’m kind of devastated. It makes me wonder if it’s ever going to stop, let alone reverse. It also makes me feel crazy. Because my clothes are getting looser.

And I wanted to not write about it. I wanted to not mention it this week. I have never been happy to tell you my weight in numbers since I quit smoking and started gaining. But 160. Holy shit! It feels epic. It feels shameful. I imagine you sitting at home thinking Wow (or ewww) (or so pathetic) 160 is really fat. So I wanted to skip talking about how I gained weight this month. Not because I have better things to write about (though I do have better things to write about…) but because I wanted to keep it a secret.

I can’t keep secrets. It’s not that I’m not capable. I am much too good at it for my own good. But secrets eat away at me. And feed my ugly thoughts. And skew my view of the world and reality.

I have made a point to tell you my weight through this whole experience. Not just that I gained weight. But how much. And the number. This may not make any sense to you, but if I kept the number a secret, it would make me question if I was actually keeping my food boundaries.

Secrets live in me like a form of lying. And they trigger that same lack of clarity, muddled thinking, and hatred, or at least distrust, of others that lying perpetuated. That I can tell you the number, no matter how embarrassing, is a reminder to myself that I am not lying cheating or hiding my food. That my integrity is intact. That even if I am ashamed of the number, I don’t have to be ashamed of myself. And it’s a reminder that I’m ashamed of the number because I’m sick in the head around my body image. Because I don’t know what I look like. Not because the number or my body are shameful.

And it’s the same as it has been while I have been gaining weight. Not only am I not fat, I’m gorgeous. I’m sexy. Men dig it. Why do I have to feel so ugly? And crazy? Why can’t I just be with it? Why can’t I just trust that like every other person who has ever quit smoking, my body will readjust?

A friend told me to forgive myself for being unhappy. And scared. Irrationally afraid. Because these issues are at the core of my personality. To give myself a break. That I am doing a great job. Keeping my food boundaries. Being in touch with my feelings. Being present. And then she said, “Get on your knees and pray.”

Now let me tell ya, I pray. A lot. But I don’t get on my knees for much.

But I got down on my knees.

At first I just did a lot of whiny-baby-poor-me complaining. And a little how-could-you-do-this-to-me accusing. But finally I asked God, what’s the solution?

And God said “Sweetie, you are going to have to drop your fortress.”

I know that quitting smoking really did slow my metabolism. And I know that there are things about food and weight that are basic math. Calories in, calories out. But I also believe that thoughts, ideas and beliefs can affect me physically. And when I heard this, on my knees, asking for a solution, I understood.

I collect fortresses. So I can juggle them. A fortress of fat. A fortress of bitch. A fortress of indifference. I spent my life building them with food and cigarettes and drugs and drama and taking my toys and going home. When I would drop one, another would go up in its place. Something had to keep men out of my heart. Or there was going to be love. And love inevitably leads to getting hurt. Even when it’s beautiful. And reciprocated. And lasts.

But who am I kidding. I built them because I “knew” the beautiful, reciprocal and lasting weren’t meant for me.

The truth is, I really do have better things to write about this week than gaining 3 lbs. I have had some really intense epiphanies about love. And a personal paradigm shift. I have to reevaluate the impact I had as a girl growing up, even though I was fat. And the assumptions I made about myself. Then and now. And how I painted the girl I was into a corner. And how she painted herself into a corner. And how I projected my beliefs about my own insignificance on others. And possibly (probably) provoked it, fed it, created it.

But if I did that work, if I got down to the business of healing, I would have to dismantle my fortress(es). And that would leave me unprotected.

See, I think that maybe I don’t want to lose this weight. Because this weight let’s me feel bad about myself. Irrationally. Ridiculously. It let’s me say that no one will ever love me so fat (while men go bug-eyed when they check me out on the street…) And it gives me something to make a big dramatic stink about. And I even wonder if I manifested it so that I could have a nice upset to distract myself. Because my clothes are getting loose. And clothes don’t lie. But a “significant” weight gain when I thought my metabolism had started up again sure did give me a break from all of my progress toward love and intimacy and partnership. Because it was starting to look like a possibility. And a reality. And close. Like it could be just around the corner. And I could be ready for it when it showed up.

Good thing I had a weight/body image crisis! Phew! Dodged that bullet.

I don’t want to be hard on myself. I know that I am doing the best I can. And that it’s pretty fantastic. Especially for a girl who spent the first 30 years of her life expecting to be eternally alone. I am just telling on myself. Because I would like to move on from here. Soon. I want to get back to the task at hand. To take down my fortress. And not put up another in its place. To be available to be loved. In whatever body I happen to be in at any given moment.

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