onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the month “April, 2013”

Here we go…

So it’s another short one this week. I’m with my boyfriend again. And this weekend was spent meeting each other’s parents. Which was great. But, you know…Thank God that part is over. Even though everybody was cool, and we’re obviously in love and happy together, it was stressful.

And now the next part is that I’m leaving New York to be with my boyfriend full-time. I’m going back to my Brooklyn apartment one last time to pack it up and ship it to his place. Before June, I will no longer be a resident of New York.

It might look fast from an outsider’s perspective. Although, maybe not…I’m actually surprised that we haven’t had more people question our choice. Basically everybody has been happy for us. My friends are all supportive. Go! We’ll miss you! But, go!

Of course, I am 35. Not 15. Or even 25. But also, I have so much clarity. And self-assurance. They know that I make good choices. That I have excellent judgment.

I talk about my clarity a lot in this blog. How it’s one of the gifts I got from quitting sugar and putting boundaries around my eating. But there is another gift that I talk about less. Maybe it’s because for me it’s about God, and I know that “God” is a loaded term.

The one thing I will say about God this week is that my relationship with God is about my life. God doesn’t talk to me about what other people should do or think or say or be. God talks to me about me.

And I know that God wants me to pick up my life and move. That He wants me to be with my boyfriend. There is not a doubt in my mind.

That “knowing” is what I mean by self-assurance. The answer is obvious. God wants me to keep boundaries around my food. God wants me to leave New York to go be with the man I love.

In September I wrote a post about how it was difficult to leave my own kitchen. That I was attached to sameness and routine when it came to food. Now, just 8 months later, I’ve been traveling like crazy. With a future life of moving every 2 months to a year. (My boyfriend moves around a lot for work.) And it’s suddenly easy. Peaceful. Obvious. I’m not afraid.

Because I know it’s what God wants for me. God wants me to keep my food boundaries. And He wants me to be with this man. How do I know? I have no idea. But I know both things like I know that the sun rises in the East. I know them like I know how to walk. I don’t question. And I don’t have to. And because I know these things, I know that as long as I am willing to keep boundaries around my food, God will make it possible. Even if we end up living in hotels with hot-plates for a month or two.

I am nervous. I’m an anxious person. The unknown always makes me nervous. That may never change. And I am about to leap into the unknown. But I am not afraid. Here we go…

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If you can make it there, you’ll make it anywhere. You just might not realize how good looking you are…

About 2 years ago, when I was skinny (and didn’t know it) my mom came to visit me in New York City. When she saw me her first reaction was “You’re so skinny!” And not in a you’re so beautiful way. In a should I be concerned for your health? way.

I, of course, scoffed. I was not skinny. I was thin, certainly. But not terribly so. I was regular. She was just used to me being about 10 lbs heavier.

Later, as we were standing in front of the restaurant waiting for my stepfather to join us after parking the car, my mom watched a woman walk by. She made a funny face when the woman was past and said something like, “Oh. Does everybody here just look like you?”

I think my response was something like, “Sorta. It’s New York City.”

I am bringing this up because until a few days ago, I was feeling big and fat and uncomfortable in my skin. But for the past few days I have been down south with my boyfriend again. And a lot of my body image issues have calmed down. I mean I look in the mirror and I am not any smaller. But I am not embarrassed. Or ashamed. I feel normal. Better than that. Beautiful. Sexy.

Of course, I am spending my time with a man who thinks I am incredibly beautiful and sexy. And I am sure that that helps.

But I knew that he felt that way about me when I was in New York. And I am in love with him. I was not walking around the city looking for male attention. I am perfectly clear that I am madly in love and don’t want anyone else. And yet even knowing that the man I love is deeply attracted to me, I felt fat. Big and gross and ugly. Or maybe just not good enough.

One thing I will say about New York City, often people don’t notice that I have special food needs when I eat in public. Because almost every New York woman is on a diet of some kind. Low fat. No fat. No carb. Just a salad. Dressing on the side. Is there oil in that? Can I get it with no oil? No potatoes, no toast. Can I get tomatoes instead of potatoes? Whites only. No skin. Steamed. Is it baked or fried? How big is it? Just one, two plates.

Women in New York City are hyper-aware of their food. Because they are hyper-aware of their bodies.

New York is filled with thin people. So many, that skinny seems to be average. I think it is self-perpetuating. You look around and see that the majority of people are thin, you work hard to stay thin. The woman you are looking at in comparison to you is looking at you. You are thin, she needs to stay thin.

And it is a culture of judgment. Everyone is being critiqued on their appearance at all times. Usually silently. But it’s around. It’s almost as if it is in the air. There’s an ad that was up in the subway for a while. “New Yorkers. Tolerant of your beliefs. Judgmental of your shoes.” It’s funny ‘cause it’s true.

Please don’t misunderstand. I love New York City. I love the fashion. And the energy. I love the people. And I even love some aspects of the “judging appearances” lifestyle. I love the parade we put on for each other. It’s a real-life runway show all the time. Love your dress! Fantastic shoes! Where did you get that bag? Fabulous!

And I am the one with the issues. I have the eating disorders, and the body image problems. They live in my own brain. I am the one judging my body and my beauty. And my worth based on my body and my beauty. Nobody else gets to dictate how well I love myself.

But being away has me see that the city has its stresses for a girl like me. That it makes it harder for me to love myself the way I am.

I guess more about my body image disorders will become clear as time goes by. I have the whole rest of a life to deal with them. And get to know them better. And I’m sure that they will morph and change as I do. But it’s nice to be in a place, and a time where I can enjoy my body as it is, and not have it be an issue.

The easy way out…I don’t think it means what you think it means

So here’s the thing about not eating compulsively. You feel everything. Absolutely, positively everything. There is nowhere to hide. And for a person like me, well…that can suck. As I have mentioned before, I am insanely sensitive. Any feeling is a lot for me to handle. I’m so incredibly in love, and I am so grateful for it. And so happy! But it’s intense. I’m saying that even my joy is a little overwhelming.

But when the feelings are fear, anxiety and shame, the kind of feelings I have around money, I want to turn off, shut down, and forget all about everything.

When I was eating compulsively, when things got scary or overwhelming, (which was all the time, frankly) I would eat a lot of sugar. And that would wrap me in a cocoon of carelessness. That would shut everything off, and I could drift away to oblivion. If I was worried about how I was going to pay my electric bill, I would eat a cake, and suddenly, it didn’t matter how I was going to pay my electric bill. In fact I didn’t pay my electric bill. I just got super, crazy high on sugar, and hoped it would somehow go away. What often went away was my electricity.

When I stopped eating compulsively and got sober from sugar, I started paying my bills. I had to. When I wasn’t high as a kite, it was too scary to not deal with things like that.

When I don’t eat sugar or eat compulsively no matter what is going on in my life, it means I can’t get numbed out when I don’t want to deal with things. I can’t check out. I have to sit there in awful feelings that make me crazy and scared and sick. But it turns out I can’t. I can’t just sit there. I can’t handle crazy, scared and sick for too long. I have to do something. And not just something. Something productive.

So it’s tax time, and I had a scary experience. I was trying to do my taxes myself, and things were not computing. Thousands of dollars not computing. And I was in a panic.

I knew that this didn’t make sense. But I didn’t know how to fix it. And panic makes it so that the fact that I don’t know what the solution is means there must not be a solution. And money, especially money and the government, are loaded for me. It’s one area of my life that I still have a hard time dealing with head on. I’m working on it. But it’s a tender issue, thinking about what I’m “worth”. It brings up a lot of insecurity.

But I couldn’t just sit there. Because there was no cake. And no numb. I had to do something not food related. So on the advice of my boyfriend, I called an accountant. And she told me I was missing a document.

Oh…

So I called my employer. And she said that she didn’t think she had that document, but she’d check her records.

And she did. She had the document. The whole time and didn’t realize.

In other words, it was all fine. And I spent my time panicking. And worrying myself sick. Because it’s taxes. And money. And that stuff is scary to me.

But I didn’t eat!

See, if I ate a chocolate cake, I wouldn’t have made it to the point that I understood that it was all fine. I would have passed out in a food coma. And not done my taxes. Then I would have had to justify and rationalize why I wasn’t going to do my taxes. I would have actually caused a situation that was “fine” to become “not fine”. I would have let it get to the point where it became a mess to clean up, rather than a situation to deal with.

There is a woman who tells me, “Food is the problem. Everything else is just a situation.”

This was a situation. It’s not anymore. It has been dealt with. I got through without eating over it. And really, I got through it because I didn’t eat over it.

I’m a big, emotional chicken. But when I don’t eat, I take brave actions. Even if I don’t feel so brave. Because when I’m awake and aware, when I’m alive in my life, being brave is the easy way out…

I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore. Is it time for lunch?

There are 2 things I want to talk about this week.

The first is that I gained just under 2 lbs in the past 2 months. I weigh 162.2 lbs now. And I did freak out a little, like I thought I might. But like I also figured I would, I got over it pretty quickly. But there is a thought process that keeps getting clearer and clearer in my head. And maybe all the more clear because I’m not panicking. It’s an irrational thought. And I know that. But knowing doesn’t stop it from occurring as true. The thought is that the weight gain will never stop.

I do not eat compulsively. And I do not eat enough to get fat. But I am sure that I will keep gaining weight. Even eating the way that I eat, I do not trust that it will stop. I have a thought that is something like You got to be somewhere between thin and skinny for seven years. It was a good run. But now you have to go back to living in a fat body you hated. You always knew it would come back to that. You always knew you were broken.

This is sick thinking. It’s ridiculous. It’s also scientifically not sound. But what it shows me most clearly is that I do not trust that things are going the way they should. Which is fascinating if you consider that I just got a fairy tale love story out of the blue. Apparently, I can agree that God got the man exactly right, beyond my wildest dreams, yet I refuse to give Him any credit for knowing what to do about my body. Even while I’m doing my part! I do not eat compulsively and I keep boundaries around my food.

The other thing I want to talk about is how grateful I am that having boundaries around my food gives some stability to my life. I have had people say to me that they could never do what I do because it’s so inconvenient. And I can see how it can occur as inconvenient. And it has, on occasion occurred to me as inconvenient. But I’m going to tell you something. Right now, when a twister has just picked up the little Kansas farm-house that is my life and is spinning me around and kicking up dust on my way to wherever it is it’s taking me (I’m keeping my fingers crossed for someplace magical in full Technicolor), it’s pretty damn convenient to have some structures in place to remind me of who I am, and help me feel safe.

I have mentioned before that one of my rules (and I have many rules around food) is that I eat 3 meals a day. Always. And only. I don’t eat in between meals. I don’t have snacks. I don’t grab something quick to tide me over. And I don’t skip meals. 3 meals a day.

One thing that means is that I plan my life around that system. Not the other way around. Don’t get me wrong. I definitely have a life. (Or I could if I wanted one, anyway.) If I want to go to a party or a play or just meet up with friends, I can do that. I do not have rigid or non-negotiable times that I must eat. (Though there are times that I definitely prefer to eat.) But whatever is on my agenda, somehow, I need to figure out how I’m going to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. Each within all of the various rules and boundaries that go with eating for me. If I can’t make that work, I can’t do it. This is a powerful tool for me. I already have my first priority. That makes everything and everyone else on my priority list easier to place.

Another thing it means is that 3 times a day, every day, I stop what I’m doing. I stop thinking. I stop worrying. I stop planning. I stop acting. I stop everything. And I enjoy a meal. And I mean enjoy. I take my time. I savor. I talk to my food. I make “mmmm” and “oh my God” noises.

And at this time in my life I am so grateful to have a priority I hold as sacred. And three pauses built into my day. Because right now, my brain will not stop. And everything feels uncertain. My life is totally unfamiliar. I wasn’t prepared to have my belief system about myself, and to a certain extent, the way I identify myself, get thrown over. Basically over night.

Please understand, being in love is fan-freaking-tastic. I am not complaining. It is what I have always wanted. And it has turned out to be even more wonderful than I ever imagined it could be. But the whole thing is so new. For the second time in a year, I’m in emotional free-fall. And I am not calm. Or peaceful. I’m incredibly happy! So joyful! But my brain is in overdrive. And that can make me feel overwhelmed. And being overwhelmed can make me either shut down, or spin my wheels. And most often, alternate between the two.

So right now when I am walking in circles (sometimes literally, by the way) wondering what I should do or where I should go or what’s next and where to start, I can start with the food.

Did I eat breakfast? Do I know what I’m having for lunch and dinner? Do I have them on hand, or do I have to make or get them? Do I have a plan for getting them? Do I have everything I need in the house for tomorrow’s breakfast?

Having answers to the what, when, how, and how much questions about food has a special effect on me. (Sometimes anyway.) It can calm me down enough to figure out the next, non-food-related thing that needs to get done. Or when it doesn’t, it reminds me that eating three meals within my boundaries and not eating in between meals is enough. That it’s a hell of a lot better than whatever it was that I was doing when I was eating compulsively 7 ½ years ago. That not only do I not need to conquer the world, I don’t even need to conquer my breakfast dishes. Earth will not explode.

And there is a sense of safety to eating 3 meals a day. I can stop in the middle of something because it’s time for a meal. I can take a break from cleaning, crocheting, writing my blog, even cooking tomorrow’s meals. It turns out that whatever it is I’m in the middle of will be there when I return to it. And even better, I will be well fed. Everything looks different after a meal. Better. Clearer. More manageable. It reminds me that I can take my time and do things in baby steps. It makes me feel safe and stable. No matter what revolutionary changes are happening in my life, there will be 3 meals a day. And there is always another meal coming.

And my favorite is when it’s actually time to eat. When it’s time to eat, nothing matters but eating. All of the mistakes I have made and will make cease to exist. All of the things I have to do – the people I have to call back, the emails I have to respond to, life I have to deal with – disappear for the time that I am eating. For that time, it’s me and my food. Guilt free food! That’s heaven!

Look, I’m trying to stay out of my own way when it comes to this whole being-in-love-with-an-amazing-man thing. I’m trying to remember that he knows that I’m not perfect and he loves me anyway. And that I will make mistakes in our relationship, and that it will be ok. I’m trying to remember that my life is easier when I trust that everything is going the way that it should. That God wants me to be happy. And I don’t want to lose sight of the fact that I am happy. And well fed. And in love. I might be walking in circles, but I’ve sure got a smile on my face.

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