Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the month “March, 2013”

Now that I’m normal around food, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat…

I want to talk about my body dismorphia again this week. Because I don’t have it today. And it really seems gone. Like *poof*. Like magic.

The first of the month is just days away. That’s the day I weigh myself. And I will weigh myself April 1st. And I am not worried. I feel beautiful. I think I look great.

Sure I could freak a little if I gained more weight. But I’m pretty sure I would get over it pretty quickly. And I am not filled with anxiety anticipating getting on the scale. Knowing weigh day is coming is not eating away at me like it has for almost a year.

I’m in love. With a man who thinks my body is beautiful. Right now. Not skinny. And I’m happy. Stupid happy. If I were not-in-love Kate looking at me this happy, I would make myself gag. Seriously. It’s ridiculous how doe-eyed I am. How filled with benevolence toward all of mankind.

That is the thing about my eating and body image disorders. They are excellent at occurring like they have disappeared. Especially when I’m super-duper crazy happy. Like now. Don’t be fooled. I am not fooled.

It’s imperative that I remember that just because I am happy and in love, it does not follow that I am better. Or normal. Around food or my body. Being in a good mood does not make me cured. Love doesn’t take away my eating disorders. I am just as sick around food and my body as I have ever been. And this could even be even more dangerous. It’s not, but it could be. If I’m not careful.

I feel normal. Or more like super-human. Eat uncontrollably? When I’m so happy? When the world is all sparkles and tickley and pink? Why would I? How could I?

But I know. Of course I could. And I know I would kill this buzz by acting like I’m normal. I know I could hate myself in an instant by acting like I’m neutral around food all of a sudden. It wouldn’t take much. A chocolate easter egg. One of those little itty bitty ones. Wrapped in pretty, shiny gold foil. A little bite. A little extra. A little taste. And I’m royally and undeniably f***ed. Just so we’re clear.

Many times I have been told that I don’t look like I need to put boundaries around my food. Of course I don’t look like I’m sick with food. I look the way I do because I put boundaries around my food. My default setting is a 300 lb girl who can’t stop eating.

I don’t keep boundaries around my food when I’m fat, until I get thin. I don’t keep boundaries around my food while I’m unhappy, until I get happy. I don’t do it when things are not going my way, until circumstances are better. I do it always. Under any and all conditions. No matter what.

And here’s another thing. I have a brand new reason to maintain my boundaries. One that I haven’t had before. If I pick up sugar, grains, or starch, or start eating compulsively, a really important part of the woman who my boyfriend fell in love with goes away. And so does a part of the woman who was ready and able to fall in love with him. I don’t do what I do for him. God knows I did it for years as a single woman. For myself. But now there is someone else I want to take care of myself for. I want to like myself when I’m with him. I want to know that I have integrity when I talk to him. I want to know that I have been treating my body with respect when it is in his arms. I want to be present for him. I want to be available for our relationship. I want to make sure he stays as important to me as he is right now.

Because if I were eating compulsively, I would care about food first. More than myself. More than him. More than love. Cake would trump my relationship. And that is not hyperbole.

I am not telling you this because I feel like I’m in danger right now. I am not actually worried about crossing my boundaries. I’m telling you to keep myself out of danger. I’m telling you because I have to regularly remind myself that I have food and body issues. Every day, in fact. It’s a preemptive measure. And especially right now, when I “don’t seem like the kind of girl who needs to keep boundaries around her food”, it’s in my best interest to remember that this beautiful, happy, glowing, beaming, stunning, effervescent, specimen of radiant joy and serenity is a 300 lb, binge-eating, laxative-abusing, 14-miles-a-day-running, bulimic. Who hasn’t had to do that stuff for so long that she had time and space and peace enough to fall in love.


Wow am I ever glad I didn’t quit 5 minutes earlier…

About seven years ago, when I had just quit sugar and stopped eating compulsively, people who had gone before me would say that if I kept boundaries around my food, my life would get better. They would tell me to just keep moving ahead. Not to quit 5 minutes before the miracle.

I don’t remember what I thought of that at the time. I don’t think I had much imagination for what kind a miracles they could have been talking about. Just not eating a whole cake seemed like its own kind of miracle. I vaguely remember thinking that not eating compulsively would have to be better. That being thin would be better. But I don’t think I thought it meant that my whole life would get better. And yet that’s what they were telling me. And not just me.

It’s what they would tell the woman going through the ugly divorce and/or the heart-wrenching custody battle. The one getting evicted. The one who just lost a job. They were telling people who were going through difficult and scary situations that if they just kept their boundaries around their eating, their lives would get better. That there were miracles if they just didn’t give up. If they just didn’t eat compulsively.

Now I sometimes tell people who are just starting out the same thing. And so many of them get frustrated. Or incredulous. Or even angry.

How can putting boundaries around my eating make my life get better? What does eating have to do with anything?

And I have to be honest with you. There are things about it that just plain don’t make sense.

Don’t get me wrong. Some of it makes perfect sense. I can see that I face things head on when I have my eating under control. That my first instinct is to deal with people and situations with honesty and integrity. That I don’t manipulate. And let’s face it, honesty and integrity simplify everything.

And I mostly make good choices. I am clear-headed. I am thoughtful. I trust myself. And I remember that if I make a choice that doesn’t work out well, I can go back with honesty and good will and do my best to make it better.

I like myself too. So I make most choices from a positive outlook, not from a place of fear. I don’t choose to hide myself, or appear in some affected or manufactured form in order to please someone. Or keep them from disliking, or judging me. I can be who I am. Comfortably. Happily.

And I am open to life. To good and bad. Every day that I keep boundaries around my eating, I am better able to go with the flow and roll with the punches. I’m able to show up for life exactly as it is. And that’s cumulative. I’m better at that today than I was last year, or the year before. I was better in 2008 than I was when I started in January of 2006. I get better at it every day I don’t eat compulsively.

But there really is something more to it too. Something otherworldly. Just like they told me seven years ago. Magic or Miracles or Kismet. Whatever. I don’t know what else to call it. And I don’t know why it happens. And from straight out of the blue. But it does.

Like now.

I’m in love. And he is too.

It’s sudden. It’s intense. But it’s beautiful and exciting. And a little bit surreal. And I’m so clear. And so honored. And so ready.

And I wasn’t ready until now. I can see that. I spent the last seven years getting myself to a place where I really and truly liked myself. And I spent the last two years making myself the kind of woman I wanted to offer as a partner. I even started writing this blog because I wanted to heal my heart so I could fall in love.

And just about as soon as I was ready, there he was. And he was ready too.

And it’s so incredibly easy. And perfectly comfortable. It all makes perfect sense.

I can imagine that it might look impulsive or ridiculous to the outside world. But then again, maybe not. We are not 19-year-olds. We have both lived. We are adults. Well into our 30’s. With some scars and some wisdom. And that makes it all the more magical to me. That instead of ending up jaded, we have young, pure hearts.

I had spent over 30 years resigning myself to the fact that I was unlovable and destined for loneliness. And then I wondered for several years if I could find love if I fixed myself up spiritually. So I did that.

And then about two years ago I tried to have faith. To trust that love would come. In God’s time, and on Life’s terms. And faith and trust were hard. And I didn’t do the best job with them. But it turns out I didn’t have to do them perfectly. I did them just fine in the end.

But this is one thing I am clear on. What I did get perfectly right was my commitment to the food. Not that I never made an honest mistake. I have made a few. But I never crossed a boundary willfully or purposely.

I got love because I put boundaries around my food. And I kept them. And I continue to keep them. I got love because 3 meals a day, for over seven years, no matter what has gone on in my life, I have practiced deep self-love. Nourishing my body with real food, and nourishing my soul with boundaries around that food.

How can putting boundaries around my eating make my life get better? What does eating have to do with anything?
Everything. I don’t know how it works. Or why. I just know it has made me available for love. And miracles. I just know that I kept my boundaries and my life got better. I just know that I am incredibly grateful that I didn’t quit 5 minutes before the miracle.

Things I want that I didn’t even know I could have four days ago…

This is going to be a pretty short blog this week. Sorry.

I’m not really sorry. The reason it’s short is because I’m happily distracted.

I’m away on my trip. And it has been pretty spectacular. The weather is warm here. The company is too. And There are two specific things that have been going on down here that have made me feel like a combination of special and “normal”.

I put normal in quotes because I know that normal doesn’t really mean anything. But what I do with food, the specifics of how I keep my food boundaries, is noticeable. If you were to eat with me or see me eat at a restaurant, most likely, you would see that I’m not doing what everybody else is doing.

And that is totally fine with me. Sure some people have a problem with it. But whether or not people like it doesn’t affect whether or not I keep my boundaries. And it doesn’t particularly matter to me what people think. And frankly, for the most part, people don’t care.

But these past few days, I have been staying with a man who really really wants to support me in keeping my food boundaries. Because he knows it’s important to me. And he wants me to be happy. He went out and bought many pounds of vegetables for my visit. Things he doesn’t eat himself. He checked ingredient lists. And he has been cooking for me. Asking if he can add this or that to something. Asking if I have everything I need. Asking if there is anything he can do.

He doesn’t just not care that I have a specific way of eating. He supports me in it. He honors it. And he asks questions, but he doesn’t question.

So it does make me happy. It’s romantic. It makes me feel like I’m just a normal woman who is special to him. Which is kind of a big deal for me.

And the other thing that had an effect on me was going to the beach here. I’m not anywhere fancy. It’s a small town. Not far from the Gulf of Mexico. And the beach we went to was not a party place or big spring break location. It was just people who live near the water. And many of the women wore bikinis. It didn’t matter what shape or size they were.

There was one woman in particular that stands out in my mind. She was a bigger girl. Definitely plus sized. And she was wearing a pink bikini. And she was absolutely sexy. And beautiful. And it occurred to me that she looked completely confident. So confident that it took me a long time to realize it was confidence. She didn’t look proud or defiant. She wasn’t taking a stand to be who she was. She just was who she was. Her body, even in a bikini, was absolutely a non-issue.

I want this! I want what this woman has. Or, if she doesn’t have this, and I made it all up in my head, I still want it. I want to be so confident in my body and around my food, that I don’t even have to be confident. I can just be me.

How many bodies can one girl have?

I’m going on a trip! South! I’m so excited! I get to escape the city! I get some sunshine! I get to spend time with an old friend! And he has a Y chromosome! (Just sayin’.)

While I am definitely looking forward to it (as you may have gathered by the number of exclamation points in that first paragraph), I was a little upset when I started packing. I had to go into my spring/summer stuff to find some things to bring with me. And when I was trying things on, I found that a lot of them don’t fit anymore.

It’s funny. It actually seems to be a Pavlovian reaction. Experience clothes not fitting, feel fat and get upset. But I have a commitment not to indulge in negative thoughts about my body. When I notice a thought about my body being ugly or not good enough, I stop having it. I cut it off. I have given up the right to disparage my body. I am already trained in being ashamed of it. I am retraining myself to love it.

What’s fascinating is that a lot of my dresses do still fit. (I only wear skirts and dresses in the summer. After 8-9 months of cold I don’t even want to look at a pair of pants from May to August!) And for the most part, my favorite dresses still look fantastic on me. Not passable, Fan-freaking-tastic! Which is such a blessing! I’m not dreading the thought of suffering in clothes that don’t fit, or worrying about having to buy a new summer wardrobe.

It’s my cheap, babysitting dresses that, for the most part, don’t fit anymore. The dresses I bought for between $8-$15, with big, bold prints, so that when a 2-year-old touches me with their ketchup hands, I don’t feel like a careless slob for the rest of the day. And I can live without those. I don’t have to mourn them.

But no matter what, putting on clothes that used to fit and don’t anymore is very confronting. It forced me to acknowledge the truth of my body. Again. On an even deeper level. But once I got over the part of me that wants to fight against the truth, and agreed to accept what is actually so, something interesting happened. I became aware of my body in ways I haven’t been since I started gaining this weight. Yes, I am decidedly bigger. I already knew that I gained at least 27 lbs, and apparently all in my ass. But more than that, I am an entirely different shape. I thought that my stomach was so much bigger, but it is really that my back arches now, pushing my butt back and my stomach forward. My weight distribution is different. The way I stand is different. Even how I hold my shoulders and neck is different.

Somebody asked me if my butt was always the first place I gained weight. But it’s not. I have never been this shape before in my life. Not when I was fat. Not when I was losing weight. Not the last time I weighed this much. This is a whole new body to me.

And a girlfriend pointed something out to me. She said that I am a whole new me. That this body is accompanying a new lifestyle. When I quit smoking, I did it because I wanted to grow up. And what I got was a whole new level of presence to life. When it comes down to it, this body is the direct result of being willing to become more present than I have ever been before. And then taking the action to do it.

It does not escape me, by the way, that I quit smoking to “grow up” and got a more womanly body.

At first, I was a little embarrassed (or maybe disappointed) that this body was going on the trip to see my old friend, instead of my skinny, size 6 body. But when my girlfriend said that to me, I realized that the girl who lived in that skinny, size 6 body would not have been available to go on this trip. Personally, emotionally, or spiritually. That this trip and this body are inextricably linked.

And then I had another epiphany of sorts. This is not going to happen less as I get older. It’s going to happen more. Menopause. Muscle loss. Slower and slower metabolism. It’s called aging. And it’s going to happen to me. (At least if I’m lucky.) So if I’d like to do it gracefully, now is probably the time to start practicing that grace. I’m a beautiful, healthy woman in a beautiful, healthy body. And even while I stay beautiful and healthy, it is going to keep changing.

I want to keep loving my body. And keep remembering that loving my body will keep it beautiful. In whatever shape or size it is in at any given moment.

And, by the way, my ass is actually pretty fantastic. Just so you know…

It’s not you, it’s me. Oh no. I’m wrong. It’s totally you.

The first thing I want to note is that I did not weigh myself yesterday (March 1st). I did not make the decision for myself. I have a select group of people with whom I discuss my food boundaries. And one specific friend who helps me make decisions about my food and how I deal with my body and body issues. And she said that it made sense to skip weighing myself this month. That it seemed punitive to get on the scale. She said that the amount of torment I was experiencing far outweighed the benefit of following my rule of weighing myself on the first of every month.

It’s not forever. I will get back on the scale on April 1st. But for this month I’m grateful to not have to worry about the number. And to have not made the decision myself.

When I make decisions about my food and my body by myself, I can get confused, paranoid, ashamed. Crazy. And even if the decision is right and good, I don’t know it. Because I don’t trust myself around food. (And I shouldn’t.) I don’t trust myself to know what I look like. (And I shouldn’t do that either.) These are the things I am sick about. But I also don’t go around asking advice from any and everyone either. A select group of people who have experience in this area. And one friend to help me make final decisions. I trust her. I don’t expect her to have the perfect answer to my troubles every time. But when I go along with her and trust her, I don’t have to question and second guess myself into insanity.

The other thing that’s on my mind this week is my Good Girl. She’s been popping up this week. Or perhaps I should say that I am noticing the places I have been letting her slip by in my life. And what I am realizing is that there is a deeper level of Good-Girl-ery that I hadn’t been aware of until now. And I don’t like it.

Yesterday, I came home from work and was making dinner, when I realized that one of my knives was not where I left it. And then I realized that it was not in the kitchen at all. And I was pissed. I was banging-cabinets-and-swearing-pissed.

What I really was, of course, was scared. When my food or my utensils are out of order, I feel unsafe. I feel violated. I feel crazy and out of control.

I was taught early on in life to feel bad about getting angry over having my boundaries crossed. To be ashamed of expressing my anger. I think many people are taught that. To be ashamed of being so “selfish”. It’s just a knife, Kate.

And even though I do get angry, and even though my body has a physical reaction, instead of honoring my feelings, I have been feeling bad about getting so upset over a knife. (Or a pot. Or a spatula. Don’t even ask me about the time I came home and found my roommate cooking a kind of food I don’t eat in my antique cast iron skillet…)

And people in my life want me to “calm down”. They want to run interference. They want to explain me. Explain for me. They want to soften my harshness. “For my own good.” “You can’t live like that.” What will the neighbors think?

And I often take that on myself. Want to apologize for my crazy. And for getting so upset. You know, the old “it’s not you, it’s me.”

But guess what? It’s you! You took my knife. When there are plenty of knives in the house. You took it (which you shouldn’t have done in the first place), and then you left the house without putting it back. You live with me and see with your own eyes that I maintain strict boundaries around my food. Every day. You see me treat my food, my cook ware and my utensils with love and respect. And yet you took my knife? So wait, why am I apologizing for being angry? Right! It’s so not me. It’s definitely you!

Yes, I can imagine that my kitchen stuff looks very appealing. Things that are loved and cared for the way I care for mine look inviting. Your stuff could look like that too if you took as much care of your own.

When I was telling the story of the knife to my friend, (the one who helps me make decisions around my food) I was telling her all the ways that I am not selfish. And she stopped me. She said “Selfish is not a dirty word. It means interested in ourselves.” And I thought, Yes! I know this! I believe this! This is right!

I feel like part of it is that my issue is food. It occurs in the world like such a minor “problem”. And cook ware? Utensils? How could that stuff be so important? But it is important! It is very important to me. And I want to stop agreeing with people who tell me that thinking so makes me petty. Or cruel. Or in some way bad.

I was even going to end this post by telling you about all of the ways that I am generous. And all of the ways being selfish actually makes me a better person. But I’m not going to do that.

I care about myself. I want to take care of myself. I want to put my own needs first. Unapologetically. It turns out it’s my life. I have to be able to live with myself. And if you want to live with me, it would behoove you not to touch my food or my utensils. Period.

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