onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the month “November, 2013”

As in life, so in crochet

Yesterday I finished crocheting a new small throw blanket. And there is a story about this throw. And the story is an analogy.

Several months ago, I made a baby blanket for a specific baby. (Unlike my tendency to make things, including baby blankets, for no one in particular.) And when I was done, I had quite a bit of extra yarn in a shade of pink that I loved.

Around early September, I learned how to crochet squares with flowers in the middle. And around that time, I found a light shade of green yarn that I liked a lot. So I made a bunch of pink and green flower squares. And they were lovely. But I didn’t know what to do with them. And I didn’t really have enough of either color of yarn to make much.

Plus, I had just purchased some fancy (superwash cotton and wool blend) yarn at a specialty yarn store. Needless to say, I was very excited to make something with the fancy yarn. So I put the pink and green aside and I completed a project with my fancy yarn. And then it was done. And it was time to do another project.

So I went back to my pink and green flowers and decided I would make it a 3 color blanket. I went to the store and I bought a bunch of skeins of another shade of green. I brought them home, held them all up next to each other and thought, “Ugh. This is not right. This is going to look terrible together.”

But this was the yarn that I had. So I decided to move ahead with the project. And I kept telling myself, “Just do the next thing.” And I kept crocheting.

And I kept stopping. “This can’t be right. Should I quit? Should I just give it up before I put a bunch of wasted work into it? Should I go online and order more of the light green and the pink? Well, for now just do a few more squares. Just do the next thing.”

So I crocheted. And stopped. And crocheted. And scrunched up my face wondering if this was going to end up a complete fiasco. “This really can’t be right.”

But it was something to do. And even with all of the stopping, I had already gone pretty far. So I kept just doing the next thing.

And it went on like this for the whole project. Right up until the very end. “I should just stop now. This can’t be right. Ugh, just be quiet and do the next part.”

I think that this turned out to be one of the most amazing pieces I have ever made. It is maybe my favorite.

pink green throw

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pink green throw 1

And I could never, ever EVER have planned it. Because it seemed like it couldn’t possibly be right the whole way through.

I see life this way. It starts out with something I love or I want. But I don’t know what to do about it. So I don’t do anything. I just go about my business. And then opportunities arise. And they turn out not to be what I expected. Or what I thought they should be. Or what I would have chosen as the best option for my happiness. But they are what I have. So I do the next right thing. And I stop. And I make false starts. And think, “Are you sure? Really? This can’t be right.” But I keep doing the next thing. In bitty baby steps.

This happened for me with food. (Give up sugar? Forever?!?! That can’t be right.) And it happened with writing this blog. (Write every week about being fat? Or bulimic? Tell people personal things about myself and my eating disorders?! That can’t be right.) And it happened for me with falling in love. (Leave New York City? With my childhood friend? To travel Small Town America in a pickup truck?!?! That can’t be right.)

And in the end, these turned out to be the greatest decisions I have ever made in my life.

I am limited. I can’t imagine anything outside of my own experiential frame of reference making me happy. But I have this amazing tool. Willingness. Surrender. To go along. To not seek too far into the future. To just do the next right thing right now. And to trust. That life knows better than I do. About blankets and yarn and blog writing and love and food. And anything else that I am willing to be open to.

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That’s really deep and all, but now it’s time to eat breakfast…

I don’t usually cook for breakfast. I usually eat a cold breakfast. So there’s minimal prep, and I can get right down to blissful, guilt-free, thought-free eating right after I wake up. But on the weekends, I often eat a hot breakfast. Which means that while I cook there is some time to stand around in the silence and be quiet. I like quiet. I like standing around. I like peace.

This morning while I was cooking breakfast, I was thinking about all of the things that I was told I was all my life. Explicitly or implicitly. And how I believed those things. For so many reasons. Because I knew I didn’t have any answers, and everybody else seemed to. And because those things that I was told I was seemed particularly true. And I didn’t know how to do anything about that. And sometimes I even didn’t agree outwardly. Denied that I was these things that I was told I was, but secretly believed them.

And there is another aspect to it. I believed that these things were unalterable, undeniable truths. That they were somehow written down somewhere. Heaven, or The Book of Life, or in my DNA. But they were and must always be inescapable.

I was fat. I was lazy. I was smart. I was too loud. I was obnoxious. I was funny. I was selfish. I was strong. I didn’t have the talent or the drive to make it as an actor. I was a great singer. I had so much energy. I was unlovable.

When I was in 5th grade, one of my classmates looked at me in the mirror in the bathroom on picture day and said, “You have a big nose.” And for many years after that I truly believed I had a big nose.

One hairdresser told me that my natural hair color was flat and boring. I told people that I had boring hair for another 10 years.

And I was always looking for more of these “truths” about me. And more importantly, what they meant! What did it mean about me that I was (blank)!?!?

There are things that I understand now. About life. About myself. And about other people.

That other people don’t have any answers that I don’t have. Not about me, or my life anyway. That other people give advice and make comments based on their own reality and issues. Bless them…

That life doesn’t have a lot of absolutes. And I don’t have a lot of absolutes. There is not an Ultimate Kate somewhere in an alternate dimension shadowing my life. Sometimes I’m smart, and sometimes I am a total moron. Sometimes I’m loud, even too loud, and sometimes I am soft-spoken or silent. Sometimes I am funny, and sometimes I am serious. And sometimes I mean to be funny and am not. I am anything at any moment. And I change. I can and I do.

What this has to do with eating disorders is…kind of everything. When I got my eating under control, I got my first experience with overthrowing that absolute truth called “I am fat.” Probably the most ingrained and shameful absolute truth of my life.

And then as I continued over the years to control my eating by keeping my food boundaries, and gained more and more clarity, I stopped doubting myself. I started to hear my answers. The right answers. Answers for my own life. The answers I had been looking to other people for. The answers I had been believing because other people told me they were right.

And then all of that mental clarity and self-assurance made me start to realize that nothing “meant” anything. That today was just a day. That this moment was just this moment. And that life was just life, one now at a time. That it’s ok to make mistakes. And to succeed. It’s ok to be brilliant. And it’s ok to suck. And it’s even ok to be lazy and mediocre and blah. That it isn’t all that serious.

And then I ate breakfast and drank coffee and got to slip into that blissful oblivion that eating breakfast is.

Putting the ‘fun’ in functioning like a normal human being

This is the first weekend in long time (6 weeks? 7?) that my boyfriend and I didn’t have any obligations to take care of. I didn’t have to jump out of bed and get ready for the day. I got to lay around until whenever this morning. (Whenever was about 7:30) I had a leisurely breakfast. I took my time cleaning up the kitchen. I threw a couple of loads of laundry in.

The last couple of months have been exciting. It has been great to travel. It has been fun to see friends. To celebrate life and love. To dance. To experience new places and things. I have enjoyed it very much.

And I am also positively loving this lazy day at home with my boyfriend.

One of the best parts about having my eating under control, is that I can enjoy just general life. (Frankly, the very best part about having my eating under control is having my eating under control, but anyway…)

I was basically unhappy when I was eating compulsively, but not just about being fat, and food obsessed, and ashamed. I was also never satisfied. With anything. I would have been easily angered and frustrated by all the traveling I enjoyed so much this past month. I would have been devastated by the smallest hiccup in any of the plans. The truck breaking down. My flight from New York being delayed. I would have been so worried about embarrassing myself and trying to be, look and act perfect that I wouldn’t have enjoyed the wedding.

And then this morning, I would have been some nonsensical mix of anxious and bored. Or I would have spent my entire day doing nothing (high on sugar), and then have been humiliated at night when I did nothing all day.

The other thing that I sometimes forget is that when I ate compulsively, I never slept at night. I stayed up until at least 1 or 2 in the morning, if not later. If I had to be awake in the morning, I often overslept. If I didn’t have to wake up, I would easily sleep until 1 or 2 in the afternoon.

I hated the daytime. People were doing useful and productive things in the daytime. I wanted to eat and smoke and read comic books and not have anything be expected of me.

I am so the opposite of that now. If I am up past 10 pm, I am exhausted! I love the morning. I love breakfast and coffee and sunshine and making the bed and straightening up the house from the night before.

When I was eating compulsively I lived in terror of missing out on all the fun. But I never really enjoyed the “fun”. Now, I show up for what is going on, and I usually have fun, whatever that is. Whether it’s driving for 12 hours, dancing at a wedding, or laying on the couch reading and drinking coffee.

And finally, there is one more thing I want to talk about today. At the very end of September, I spoke to my friend who helps me make decisions about my food, and she recommended that I stop weighing myself on the first of the month for a while. She understood that it was torture for me. She said that as long as I was keeping my boundaries around my food, I was doing the right thing. And that there was no reason to punish myself by weighing myself. This is what I’m doing for now. The time when I begin to weigh myself on the first of the month will probably begin again at some point, but that point is not now.

Well… since I stopped weighing myself a little over a month ago, my clothes have been getting bigger. Around mid-September I bought some new jeans. One pair that I bought was a size 8 and fit. One pair was a size 6, and I could get them on, but they did not fit. Last week I noticed that the 8s were falling off of me, and today I am wearing the 6s.They fit.

Everything in me wants to get on the scale. Wants to see the number. Wants to see exactly how much weight I have lost in the past 2 months.

But the truth is, that will only lead to eating disorder thinking and I know it. I will not be happy with the number. Whatever it may be. I will want to lose more. More quickly. Now.

And the other truth is that I do not think it is a coincidence that I started to lose weight after I stopped weighing myself. I have not been eating any lighter. (If you didn’t know, I got a deep-fryer!) I believe that fear of my weight kept me stuck. I believe that the obsession with my weight wouldn’t allow me to release it. In other words, I couldn’t let it go until I let it go. I don’t want to think about my weight any more than a body-dysmorphic girl with eating disorders has to. And insisting that I get on the scale, when I have been given a loving suggestion not to, is to go looking for pain and drama.

I don’t want to care about my weight. Yes, I want to be healthy. Yes, I want to be sane. Yes, I want to be in a comfortable body. But I want to be free to be comfortable in the body I am in…

I’m trying not to think of it as the “un-holyday season”, but don’t push me

I got back home from a fantastic trip to NYC, and I’m already gone again to the Chicago suburbs for a wedding.

So yes, there was more food prep and packing for the airport. And there will be lots of getting ready for the celebration. Grooming and dressing as well as even more food prep and packing. Thankfully, I’m going to celebrate love and union, not to eat.

And then after the wedding, welp…it’s the holiday season. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year.

Oh, and Happy Halloween! This year I went as the place where socks go when they disappear from the laundry.

I actually love Halloween, and I always have. And no, it’s not about candy. It’s about dressing up. And it always has been. I was fat. There was always plenty of candy in my life. But Halloween was something else. It was a chance to show off how fun, creative and original I could be. It was a chance to be clever.

Since I had been fat all of my life, I tried very hard to be identified as something else (especially because I self-identified as fat, and hated it). I have always been proud to be clever. So I have never been one to buy prefab costumes. The fun was always finding and making them piece by piece. And I was good at it. I always enjoyed the details.

But the holidays coming up have not historically been my favorites. Thanksgiving and Christmas are not about being clever. They are about food and people. And they are filled with rituals that are specifically designed to raise our emotions to a fevered pitch.

I hate this. I am too susceptible to this already! I live in a state of high emotion. I don’t need winter holidays to touch my heart. My heart is all too easily touched as it is.

I don’t know. Maybe I’ve changed enough that none of it matters anymore. Maybe everybody in the whole world knows that I keep my food boundaries all the time, no matter what, even for Christmas, and maybe they just don’t care. And maybe I have enough peace that I won’t find holiday festivities emotionally exhausting and dangerous for my eating disorders. Who knows anymore. It has been many years since I celebrated either Thanksgiving or Christmas. And my boyfriend and I have agreed to spend Thanksgiving alone on a mini vacation this year. So that’s at least one I don’t have to worry about…And really, I have no idea what to expect. Maybe I will positively love Christmas. (Ok, that’s a stretch, but I’m keeping an open mind…)

I guess I will find out how far I have come by the end of the year. But one thing is for sure, I’m sure not going to leave the whole thing to fate. I am going to prepare. I’m going to protect myself. And never forget that I have eating disorders, and that keeping my eating under control comes first.

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