onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the month “October, 2013”

Stopping to smell the roses, the spices, the coffee, the cooking (but not the garbage. Hurrying past the garbage.)

I’m writing this from the airport on Thursday, though I won’t be able to post it untl Sunday because my time over the next three days is jam packed. I’m waiting to fly to New York City.

I spent yesterday cooking and packing my meals for the plane trip. Plus my meditation books and my food diary. And various accouterments that pertain to my food boundaries. Plus extra food just in case. And I only fly with carry on bags. So clothes are secondary. (Though of course I brought really cute clothes. I mean it is New York. Just not a lot of them. Food is more important.)

Clearing security means some changes to a lot of my regular eating habits. For instance, no yogurt (a personal favorite of mine). It also means no glycerin-based vanilla flavor. (In case you didn’t know, glycerin in airports tends to get you stopped, swabbed and checked.) And it means packing as small as possible. Again, not the norm for me. I love to eat! I am a quantity eater.

But I’m looking forward to a few days in the city with friends. And even more, I am looking forward to grocery shopping! No seriously!

I want to go to Fairway! I want to go to little India and buy flavors and tea in the shop that smells like exotic spices. I want to go to the farmer’s market for 1 lb apples.

I’m looking forward to walking! Walking from shop to shop. Passing bodegas and fruit and vegetable stands. Bouquets of flowers on the streets.

My boyfriend takes incredible care of me. If I want something, he makes sure I get it. Whether that is over the internet, or driving to the nearest big town. But living in smaller towns means there is one store for groceries. If I am lucky, there are two. I always always always get my needs met. But living in a one store town eliminates one option I miss (just a little bit – I love my life with him). Browsing.

When I lived in New York, Saturday was a day of lazy shopping. It was about strolling. I would mosey through the markets and shops. I would leave the house in the morning, and manage to make it back home in the early evening laden with apples and cantaloupes, brussels sprouts, heads of cauliflower, bunches of greens, turnips, radishes, flavors, teas, spices, and all manner of deliciousness. It was slow and easy. There was no hurry. It was as much about the experience as it was about the haul.

I am going to miss my boyfriend this next few days. I wish he were able to come with me. And I don’t miss New York now that I’m with him. I’m much happier with love than I was with farmer’s markets. But I sure am going to enjoy a couple of days of slow shopping where I get to drink in the sights, sounds, and smells.

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All that adventure seemed to slip my mind

I was about to start this post by saying that it has been a quiet week.

But then I remembered. Right after I posted last week about how I was getting better at going with the flow, my boyfriend called to say that the truck had broken down, that he was waiting for the tow truck, and that he didn’t know what was wrong with it. He just knew that we were definitely not going to make it on the road in the early morning. And he wouldn’t even know when we could make it back on the road until the next day.

The truth is, I wasn’t that bothered. We had a place to stay. I had enough food. There was nothing to do about it but wait. And hey, it meant we didn’t have to set alarms and get up at the butt-crack of dawn. So that was nice.

And in the end, it was a quick fix. We were on the road by 1:30 in the afternoon, and my boyfriend made it in to work the next day.

And now we’re back in our apartment down south. And I love it here. I loved getting back here and unpacking our travel bags from Illinois and Indiana. I loved doing the laundry and putting everything back in its place. I don’t know why. I didn’t expect to love it here. I was a New York City girl for almost 15 years, after all. And it’s not as if I do so much here. Or that there is much to do. I’m just very comfortable.

And I have lots of time to cook for myself. And lots of room to experiment. My boyfriend bought me a deep-fryer and this week I made deep-fried brussles sprouts, deep-fried artichoke hearts, and deep-fried green beans. (The green beans are not that good, the artichoke hearts are actually better reheated later, and the brussles sprouts are ambrosia – you know, food of the gods…) I’m looking forward to making some double fried chicken wings soon.

I have mentioned before that this new life where I travel (and probably more importantly that I am in love) has made me more willing to experiment with my food. I hadn’t eaten cabbage or cranberries in years for fear that I would be disappointed. I have been enjoying both recently. And I started making pork tenderloin. I made one wrapped in bacon and one rubbed with onion powder.

And then I have a bunch of travel over the next two weeks that I am looking forward to. Later this week, I go alone to visit friends in New York City. And then the week after, my boyfriend and I are going to his cousin’s wedding. It means a lot of preparing and packing of extra meals, but I have traveled so much in the past 6 months that it doesn’t even scare me anymore.

Plus tomorrow, I am going to meet up with a woman I have never met before, but got in touch with via the internet. She and I and a friend of hers are going to have coffee for a bit and talk about food and our solutions to eating disorders.

I guess I’m getting even more adventurous. Or maybe it’s just less afraid. Either way, my life seems to be moving ahead, and I seem to be managing to keep up. Maybe it’s not about a quiet week. Maybe it’s about a quiet mind.

The best life in the whole world

I have spent this week in Indianapolis. My boyfriend was on a short job. 6 days. Tomorrow we leave early in the morning and take a 12 hour drive south to a long-term job. Roughly 9 months. Or that’s the plan anyway.

We were supposed to be at that job already. We thought we would be there mid-September. And then early October. We already have an apartment there. We moved in, and then packed up a handful of things and left it again for a few weeks. Because the work was elsewhere.

My boyfriend keeps telling me, “Nothing is certain in construction.” Apparently….

But I’m getting better at this whole moving around thing.

Today I have already packed up for the drive tomorrow. My 3 meals are ready to go. As well as a bit of extra food for the next day so we don’t have to go to the grocery store tomorrow night after the long drive. I did the laundry and all of my clothes are packed except the ones I’m wearing and the ones that I will wear on the drive tomorrow. I have opened up the drawers and cabinets to make sure we won’t leave anything behind.

And I’m also getting better at this whole uncertainty thing.

My boyfriend said that he was surprised at how well I took it when he told me would be coming to Indiana before we went back to our new apartment.

Yeah. Historically, I haven’t been the best at dealing with change. Especially sudden change.

When I got control of my eating, it became (and still is) the most important thing in my life. There is a quote by Thomas Jefferson. “Eternal vigilance is the price we pay for liberty.” I understand that this is a universal truth. Jefferson was certainly speaking of the liberty of the nation. But it is just as true regarding my liberty from food addiction. I have been a slave to food. I have been oppressed by my eating disorders. I am free now. But in order to stay free, I must never take that freedom for granted. Keeping boundaries around my food and keeping my eating disorders under control does, indeed, require constant, eternal vigilance.

I’m not complaining. It has never not been worth it.

But because of this desire to protect my freedom, I have often been very bad at “going with the flow.” For years after I quit sugar and put boundaries around my eating, I kept my life in a strict routine. I did not step out of my comfort zone. I ate my meals at home, or at restaurants I knew well. I avoided trying new things with food. And making plans to go out for a meal, or even around a meal time, would often fill me with anxiety. I could never be comfortable until I had eaten my meal and that was out of the way.

Because of this, the thought of travelling was terrifying. The only place I ever went was my hometown to visit my family.

Vacation? Vacations are about relaxing and enjoying. Not anxiety. How could leaving my own kitchen be a vacation?

But here’s the interesting part. All of that vigilance opened up my life. Made me available for new things and new experiences. Made me available to fall in love. Gave me the clarity to realize that what I was supposed to do was leave my life in New York City and travel the country in a pickup truck with the man I fell in love with.

It’s funny. All of that habit and familiarity and routine directly lead me to give up all of that habit and familiarity and routine.

Of course, I am still vigilant. I want to keep my freedom. So I protect it.

But it turns out that there are so many more ways to take care of my food boundaries than I ever thought before. It turns out I can do it and still move around the country.

But also, I am with a man who is not just supportive, but who goes out of his way to take care of me so that I can take care of myself. He makes sure I can get to the grocery store. He booked us a hotel with a kitchenette this week, so I could cook for myself. When we went out to eat with his family, I picked the restaurant so that I could be sure of getting what I needed. And I did.

Plus, I have all of this experience now that shows me that when I am committed to keeping my food under control, I can. And I do.

So, yes. I am getting better at this. The roving and the roaming. And the unknown.

I’m with the person I want to be with most. I am experiencing new places and things. And I am more comfortable trusting that everything will work out than I ever thought I could be.

The truth is…so far, I love this life.

I’ll end with a little story. We’re in an extended stay hotel, so many of the guests are regular travelers. I met a woman today in the elevator. We got to chatting a little. I told her my boyfriend was in construction, and that we travel. I said, “The truth is, it’s a pretty sweet life.”

She got a little teary-eyed. She said, “I just recently lost my husband. But he was in construction. And we travelled around too. And yes, I had the best life in the whole world.”

With friends like that, who needs enemies?

Last week, I learned about the existence of something that I found deeply upsetting. (This is gross hyperbole, by the way.) And I had to decide if I wanted to write about it here. Because I didn’t want to give it publicity. Or help steer people toward it.

But I realized pretty quickly that I needed to write about it. Because it exists. And my responsibility is to tell my truth. Not to shield others from reality.

This thing I’m referring to is something called Pro-Ana. As in pro-anorexia. As in “all for starving yourself as a means to be as thin as possible in order to be beautiful.” There are people who refer to anorexia as Ana, and often personify the disease. Like I’m hanging out with my friend Ana. She’s the only one who understands me.

Obviously, this creates a visceral reaction in me. When I looked into it, I immediately became an unsettling mix of angry, nauseous, and down-right terrified. And that kind of knee-jerk response makes me want to spout off. It makes me want to say cruel, sick things. It makes me want to lash out at these people, and verbally attack them where they are weakest. Because I know where they are weakest. It is where I, too, am weakest, and most afraid.

But I’m not going to do that today. Today, I am going to talk about disease. I am going to talk about the ways eating disorders affected my spirit and my mind. The way they ruined my life. Until I found out how to deal with them. I figured out how to control my eating disorders. Not “myself”, or my weight, or my eating. I did eventually get control of all of those things. But first I had to get control of the disease. The spiritual, mental and emotional sickness.

I’m not going to spout about health and beauty. Because to focus (attack) on health and beauty is to imply that I would like to deny people their own standards and opinions, their own choices, and their own rights to live as they want to live.

And the terrified girl inside me does want that. Wants to say that pro-ana should not be allowed. Wants to vilify the people who are creating blogs and websites promoting eating disorders, giving tips and tricks for how to be better at starving and/or purging, and glorifying extreme weight-loss with pictures and stories.

But I don’t get on my high horse when it comes to smoking, or drinking alcohol, or drug use. I have respect for healthy people’s life choices, and sympathy for people living in addiction.

But eating disorders revolve around obsession. They eliminate even the opportunity for satisfaction. And they lead to deeper and deeper self-involvement that leads, not to self-love, but to self-loathing.

I have been morbidly obese. But I have also been a bulimic, an exercise-bulimic, and a laxative abuser, among other things. I have less experience with anorexia, but I have some. I have gone through short periods of starvation. And I have gone through periods where I restricted to the point of shutting down my body. Eating only egg whites and raw vegetables. Not eating any fat. So that I stopped getting my period. And ended up so bloated that people started asking me if I were pregnant.

I went to a gynecologist when my period didn’t come for 3 or 4 months. She asked me how and what I was eating. I was secretive and dishonest. I wanted my period to come back. I wanted her to fix me. Even though I knew that the problem was the way I was and wasn’t eating.

She could never understand. I had been so fat. I could never go back there again. I needed to lose more weight. I just needed her to make me start menstruating again. It was none of her business what I was or wasn’t eating.

She put me on birth control pills. That made me get my period again. But it didn’t stop the bloating. And it didn’t stop me from feeling out of control, and crazy. It didn’t bring me the peace I wanted. I wanted my period to come back because I wanted to be assured that I was ok. But I was not ok.

So then I went on a 6 day green juice fast. I had nothing to eat for 6 days. I drank 3 green vegetable juices a day from a juice bar. That made me feel fantastic! It made me feel powerful, and in control and like master of my weight and body. It made me lose all of the water that I had been carrying in my belly. I think I lost over 15 lbs in those 6 days. And that triumph was followed by the darkest period of my life so far.

It led to uncontrollable bingeing. It led to the most damaging bulimic acts I would ever commit. It lead to the deepest self-hatred I have ever experienced. It lead to self-enforced isolation. It lead me to distrust everyone. I was delusional and crazy. I was miserable.

And I felt trapped. I couldn’t see any way out. I felt doomed. Either to perpetuate this horror of bingeing and purging and exercising and starving and striving. Or just plain giving up and gaining back the 150 lbs I had lost. And living in shame for the rest of my life.

One thing that my eating disorders did was allow me to convince myself that a certain weight would bring peace and happiness.

Of course, I might reach that goal. I did. A few times. And I would be happy. Maybe even satisfied. For a moment. But then I would either want more, or I would be tortured trying to maintain what I had accomplished. I’m saying it was never enough. I was never good enough. I was looking for perfection. And I was positive that if I were only good, better, worthy, I would attain it.

That is what my eating disorders did to me.

I can’t go on anymore today. It’s too big a topic for me to be able to handle in one post. Even having had this week to think about it. I’m feeling how scrunched up my face is at this moment. This has been painful for me. But important. I’m glad I got to write it. And I will probably write about it again in the future. But for this week, put a fork in me. I’m done.

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