onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the month “April, 2014”

Keeping my eyes on my own plate

I feel sort of silly writing today. I am not feeling particularly qualified to inspire lately. I’m feeling a bit like I have regressed into some behaviors that I don’t particularly love.

No, not with food. With food, I am as committed and vigilant as ever. Thank God. Frankly, that’s the reason I can tell that I’m not behaving my best.

I am probably not behaving as badly as I fear I am. I can be a little blind to the reality of things. Especially when I am observing myself. I would do well to keep in mind that I am growing. And that growing is not a straight line. That there will be some regression. Some circling back. That just because I can see the person I want to be doesn’t mean it’s possible to just be that person. It takes time. And work. And a whole bunch of failing at it. That’s the way of it. And it always has been. I am without a doubt a better person than I was. I have grown and changed for the better in huge and fantastic ways over the years. But it has always been by baby steps. Why would I expect it to be any different now?

So what I am going to focus on for now is minding my own business. That is where I want to grow today. One baby step at a time.

Yesterday I had some good friends come to visit. While I was doing something else, one was refilling the coffee pot with water. She didn’t know that the part that holds water is removable, and was using a cup to pour water into it. I said “Oh, that comes off so you can refill it in the sink…” And then I stopped and said, “But that works too. Never mind. You’re doing great.” Because she was. What she was doing was working perfectly well. She was getting the job done. I was trying to be helpful. But in that moment, I recognized that what would have been even more helpful was to keep my mouth shut.

I did the same thing to my boyfriend while we were trying to find the place we lost in our audio book. I insisted on “helping.” But all I succeeded in doing was expressing that I didn’t think he was capable. (Which isn’t true, sweetheart!) And it clearly offended him. (Sorry!)

There is a saying I learned when I first got my eating under control. “Keep your eyes on your own plate. And keep your eyes on your own life.” It doesn’t matter what anybody else is eating. I only have to be concerned with what I am eating. It doesn’t matter what anybody else is doing. I only have to be concerned with what I am doing. It doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks. Even about me.

And frankly, what a relief!

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If it were easy, they would call it something else.

So um, yeah…This is not one of my favorite blogs to write. Because it involves admitting that I have been behaving badly. Like an asshole even…

See, I have this job. And where I work there is a specific culture. And in this specific culture, people are allowed to behave badly. They are allowed to throw pens at people’s heads. They are allowed to belittle each other. They are allowed to shame and humiliate each other. They are allowed to take credit for things they do not do. And blame people for things they should be taking responsibility for. They are allowed actively harass and abuse people. To get under their skin to the point that they quit. To actually try to get people to quit. They are allowed to act out and throw temper tantrums and be jerks. And then, when they are done, so everybody can continue to do their jobs, everybody just pretends that this bullsh*t never happened. *whistle whistle whistle* Nothing going on here, Why do you ask?

It’s also particularly difficult for me because when I was in New York as a babysitter, my job was to teach people how to grow up to not be like this. My job was to show young humans how to deal with difficult emotions and situations with honesty, compassion and grace. To teach them that as people, they would sometimes be hurt, angry, jealous, unhappy, cranky, and a whole host of other things that are uncomfortable for the person feeling them, and for the people around them. But that it was possible to honor those emotions without lashing out at people. And even that it was ok to lash out at others occasionally. The point was to know that it was not your “right.” That it was not justified. That when you did something unkind, and behaved in a way that was unacceptable, you took responsibility for it. That you mended that relationship.

When I first started this job, I felt very much above the pettiness. I could see it, but I had a sort of kindergarten teacher aura about me. I simpered and nodded and for the most part ignored anything that was not directed at me. And parried the blows that were directed at me.

But as time goes on, the more I feel myself becoming part of the culture. Taking part in the gossip. Yelling at my co-worker. Snapping at my boyfriend. (This is the hardest one to deal with. This is the one that scares me the most. That I’m going to become an old fishwife. And stop being the kind of woman I want to be in a relationship with the man I love.)

And then I have this fear of being the kind of person I want to be within the culture of my job. I am afraid of getting eaten alive. Because the people I work with would not see this as honor and integrity. They would see it as weakness. And I might be the next one who was tortured until I quit. Or perhaps my boyfriend would be that next one.

If you are wondering what this has to do with food addiction, the answer is that this is the kind of thing I used to eat over. Yes, being treated badly. And a constant, underlying fear of the next “episode.” But more, I ate over being an asshole. I ate over all of the things I did and said that made me ashamed of myself.

I don’t know what to do about this situation. I have a commitment to not quit right now. To give it more time. I will continue to do my best to be a good person. And to find peace in myself around my life and my job. And to behave in a way that I can live with. And if I behave in a way I cannot live with, I will do something about it that does not involve eating sugar or breaking my food boundaries.

But the thought I want to end with today is that I need to remember that I am growing. As a person who wants to live a life of honor and integrity. As a person who wants to live in the solution. As a person who wants to be a part of the solution. And that growing is not easy or obvious. And I will most certainly not be graceful at it. If I were already good at it, I would not be growing.

As every parent knows, “There’s nothing wrong with the one you’ve got.”

I’m in a funny place about my body lately. Not terrible. But not great either.

I have not been weighing myself for many months. And I am grateful for that. For some reason, numbers make me irrational. But I can tell I go up and down. In the way my clothes fit. And how big my butt is.

For whatever reason, a few weeks ago, I was up. And I can tell that I am in the process of going back down. And while I don’t know how much in terms of pounds, it is not a lot. I am not growing or shrinking out of my clothes.

But I am disappointed lately. Because I had hoped that I would have lost more weight by now.

If you don’t know, I quit smoking for my 35th Birthday. And I will turn 37 in less than 2 months. In the first 9 months of quitting, I gained 30 pounds. Not because I was eating to compensate. But simply because that was one of my side effects. I had others too. For the first 6 weeks I had open sores in my mouth and for about 10 months I was depressed. But it was the weight gain that was most devastating to me.

As a former fat girl, I have all sorts of eating and body image disorders. Sometimes they are dormant. And sometimes they are active. Though only in my head…When it comes to eating, starving, binging, purging, laxatives, over-exercising, and all other manner of acting out with food, I have the action part under control with strict rules and boundaries. And I have for over 8 years.

So gaining 30 lbs, especially with my eating under control, was triggering for me. It made me crazy. And unhappy. And it was hard to reconcile myself to it. I felt like I was being punished. And it was especially frustrating because I felt like I was being punished for quitting smoking. You know, no good deed goes unpunished, and so on.

But I felt like I could handle it, because I thought it would be temporary. I thought that after some time went by, I would lose that 30 lbs. Or at least the greater portion of it. And here I am almost 2 years later, and a full year since the excessive weight gain stopped, and I have not lost any weight.

There is something that I have told more than one person recently, and I would do well to remember it myself. When I was actively eating compulsively and eating sugar, my eating habits were surely the reason I weighed 300 lbs. (Duh.) But since I got my eating under control and stopped eating sugar, I have noticed that what I eat has generally had the least to do with my weight. The thinnest I ever was in my life was the time that followed the illness of my Dad’s mom, who was the first love of my life. In the months that led to her death, I must have dropped 15 lbs, and I was already thin. Then, and in the years following that time, it did not matter what I ate. Drenched in butter, deep-fried, bacon, full-fat dairy, huge portions. Every day. Just to maintain a tiny little body. And then I quit smoking. And even cutting portions in half, reducing fat content and limiting how often I ate certain foods, I still gained weight. I gained 30 lbs, eating less than half of what I had been eating before I gave up cigarettes.

I’m saying I don’t want to start worrying about what I eat. That I don’t want to start drinking skim milk and eating nonfat yogurt. I don’t want to start steaming my vegetables. I don’t want to stop eating roasted squash and carrots. In the (possibly vain) hope that I will lose 20 lbs. Because for years now, what I eat has not had nearly as great of an impact on my weight as all of the other things going on in my life. My stress, my sadness, my anxiety, my withdrawal, my unwillingness to let things go.

And I’m also saying I want to stop judging my “willpower” and my looks so harshly.

I know that my eyes are broken. And I can see that sometimes I think I look like women who are significantly bigger than I am. But also, the truth is that I am not particularly thin right now. And I don’t like it. And dammit! I don’t like that I don’t like it.

I really want to be comfortable in my own body. Exactly as it is. And I don’t want to feel like I should eat diet food. And I don’t want to judge myself on what I am eating. And I don’t want to feel like my worth is based on how “good” I can be. And I don’t want how “good” I am to be based on how much I can deprive myself, and how much I can suffer for a smaller body. And I don’t want to buy into the notion that a smallest possible body is always healthier, prettier, better.

Because that is the notion in modern Western culture, right? That any body bigger than tiny is fat. That the best body is the smallest one. That as a woman, that’s the one to strive for. And if you are not striving for the smallest possible body then you are somehow lacking. Lazy, or shameful, or ultimately unwomanly.

There is a kind of person that I want to be. And it involves having peace around what is so. And it involves trusting that I have exactly the body that I am supposed to have. And knowing that this body is beautiful. Because it is well cared for. Well fed. Well hydrated. Well maintained. Well used with out being abused.

And I want to be the kind of person who has some perspective about bodies. Specifically my own body, but also in general. Human bodies in the world. To have a realistic and sane outlook on them. To see that they aren’t all created to grow into doe-eyed, pouty, ectomorphs, if only their owners would behave properly. To understand that they all grow into different shapes and sizes. And at different rates. And that I got as good of one as anybody else. And you did too.

This is me showing up

I’m home for the weekend. It’s a thing my boyfriend and I do every once in a while. We fly out on a Friday, then for two days we run around like crazy people seeing as many people as possible and running the errands that need to get run. And then we hop back on a plane on Monday. And as soon as I get back, I have to make sure I have enough food packed and prepped to start back to work on Tuesday.

Thank God I have my eating under control. So I can do the stuff that needs to be done. Or at least take the next right action. And I can be with all of the people I get to see. I can talk and catch up. I can play and dance with my boyfriend’s granddaughter. And she can get my full attention. I can be with people and actually be with them. Instead of eating. Or being high on food. Or thinking about food. Or planning how to get food. Or how to sneak it without being seen. And judged.

So this is my few minutes to write my blog. Because that’s something I am committed to doing. Before it’s time for lunch. And then off to see more family. And then back to the house to pack up clothes and food for tomorrow’s travel.

I’m saying I’m here. Doing what needs to be done. Because I have my eating under control. And that means that I’m too aware and awake not to do what needs to be done. And it means I am clear and confident enough to have the capability to do it. In other words, when I don’t eat compulsively I not not can show up, I have to.

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