Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the month “August, 2014”

…But that’s none of my business…

Over the past few weeks I have been thinking about what it looks like to let people be themselves. Make their own choices. Fight their own battles. Live their own lives.

It’s a hard thing. I know that it is hard for everybody. And I like to think it is something that I am relatively good at.

Relatively. I mean, it’s not easy. Especially when I love somebody. Or in my pride I think I know what would be best.

And maybe what I think other people should do really would make them happy, or give them peace, or just generally make things work out for the best. But none of that matters.

When I was growing up, a lot of people wanted me to lose weight. Doctors and family and friends. Not because they didn’t like or love me fat, but because they did. They wanted better for me. They wanted me to be healthier and happier. They didn’t want me to get obesity related illnesses. Or be made fun of. Or get hurt and rejected.

But nothing those people wanted for me ever helped me. None of their opinions or advice ever landed as anything but judgment, cruelty, and conditional caring. I am not saying that that is what it was. I am not saying that it was not genuine love and concern. But it did not occur that way. It occurred as intrusion. And for the most part, it still does.

I love advice.

When I ask for it. Because I am choosy about whom I ask. I go to people who have something I want when I ask for advice. When I wanted peace around food, I went to people who had peace around food. I did what they did. Not people who were skinny. Not even people who had lost a lot of weight. I wanted food to stop being an issue. So I went to people for whom compulsive eating was no longer an issue. When I wanted to open my heart and find a powerful relationship, I asked for advice from people in the kinds of relationships I wanted. Not people who happened to be married. Not women who were trying to land a husband. It was about relationships. When I wanted to quit smoking, I went to people who had successfully quit smoking and were empowered by it. Not people who still had a puff every once in a while. Not people who had never had or wanted a cigarette. People who quit so that they could grow.

What I do around food is not for everybody. Plenty of people are not sick with sugar addiction or eating disorders, and can eat sugar and drink alcohol normally and without negative repercussions. Or have other food issues that would be exacerbated by what I do.

And no. Not everybody wants what I have. And I can understand that. I think most people can’t imagine how sweet and delicious my life is. I don’t think many people can fathom what it is like to have found a certain amount of peace. I bet they think that what I have is a dull as can be.

But even more, there are people who do, indeed, want what I have, but are unwilling to do what I do. Almost everybody wants to know how I live with the idea of never eating chocolate cake again. Or never having a glass of wine with dinner. Or they want to make sure that I know that they never could. So many people, when they hear my solution, decide that it’s too much. They want an easier, softer way. Not so hard. Not so extreme.

And who am I to tell them differently? Who am I to judge them for not doing what I do?

And it’s not just food. Food is just the most obvious example to me. My “amazing” weight loss transformation that is written all over my body. (Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while will know that I put amazing in quotes because I happen to know that my weight was the symptom of my eating disorders. That what’s really amazing to me is the gift of having my eating under control, which takes care of my weight issues. And that more than amazing, it’s work and dedication and giving myself over to grace.) Who am I to offer advice about any choice. Who am I to tell anybody anything? Who am I to tell another person how to live. Or what happiness is. Or where to find it?

Unless you want to ask me. And then I would love to tell you what works for me. And even then, I give it as a gift. With no strings. To do with what you will. Because your life is yours. And you get to live it for yourself.


I might go through hell, but I don’t need to live there

So I wrote a blog yesterday that I was going to post today, but yesterday was so insane that I decided it was better to write a whole new blog. So here goes.

Yesterday my boyfriend and I were set to travel to Florida. We got to the airport in plenty of time for our flight to Tampa, where we were going to connect to a flight to Ft. Lauderdale where we would arrive around 3. Then we would drive two hours down to the Keys. We’d hit the grocery store first to stock up the kitchenette we were renting, then head to a bar we like walking distance from the hotel so we could relax with beer for him and diet coke for me.

But then our flight to Tampa was so delayed that we were not going to make our connecting flight. So the airline did their best and managed to get us redirected. We would get into Ft. Lauderdale at 9:45 at night. By way of Kansas City. And then Nashville. No joke.

Now this is annoying. And while things were not settled, and we didn’t know how or if we would get to Florida, it was very stressful. And for about half an hour, I was really upset. But I kept reminding myself to breathe. I had all the food I needed, because I travel prepared. And my boyfriend called the hotel and told them we would miss check in. They said they would hide our key and we could check in in the morning. Plus, I was with my boyfriend, so it was all fine. We laughed about it a lot. Even as it was going on. We were both able to take it in stride and make the best of it.

So we finally get to Ft. Lauderdale after 8 hours of numb butt cheeks. We rent a really nice car for a good deal. We drive the 2 hours. I buy an apple at a rest stop and I have some protein packed in my bag so I have breakfast for the morning so we don’t have to run to the grocery store first thing in the morning. All is well. We’re exhausted. But the day is done.

Or so we think.

We get in about midnight, find our hidden room key, and go to the room. I open the door and the first thing I see is a mountain of garbage. Pizza boxes. Water bottles. A banana peel. There is a pile of towels on the floor. I turn on the lights (afraid there will be people in there) and the beds are all unmade. And it smells.

We are both clear that we are not going to sleep in the beds. (Duh!!!!) So we take what seem like unused pillows and go sleep on two chez lounges on the screened in balcony attached to our room. No joke.

So there are two things I want to say about this.

1) I didn’t have to eat over this. I didn’t have to drown my feelings with chocolate cake. I didn’t “deserve” something sweet at the end of a hard day. I don’t eat outside of my boundaries no matter what.

Sugar wouldn’t have made anything better. And in the long run, it would have made everything so much worse.

2) I had to learn to live a certain way when I got my eating under control. I had to learn to let life happen the way it happened. I had to learn to let go of anger and resentment. I had to drop self-pity.

It’s true that I was just plain miserable from midnight until I fell asleep on the lounge chair. And I was anxious for the hour that I was awake before the office opened and we got a new, lovely, clean room. And a refund for the night. (Obviously.)

But the trip is not ruined. We were able to be calm and loving and happy through the whole day. And I am perfectly happy right now. I’m laying by the pool watching iguanas eat bugs around me. My boyfriend and I have had a lovely day so far. We have even enjoyed telling our family and friends. We are already laughing about it.

I got that freedom from getting control of my food addiction. When I was eating compulsively, just the trouble with the flight would have been enough to positively ruin the whole time away. The. Whole. Trip! It’s not fair! Life isn’t fair! I hate everyone!!!!

But today it doesn’t matter if life is fair. All is well. Because I can let it be done. I can be happy in the now.

So that’s my story. But now I’m warm. I need to post this and get in the pool.

I hope you have a beautiful day. I am going to.

Let the chips fall where they may. (Because they are going to anyway.)

It’s funny to realize that you don’t know yourself. Or that you are not who you once were. Or that maybe you were never that person you thought you were and you didn’t realize it.

I have always considered myself a person who never took chances. Who played small. Who never risked.

To a certain extent, I know that it’s true. Until a couple of years ago, I never took risks with my heart.

But when I look at the things I did do, I can’t help but note my own daring. I auditioned and got hired as an actor in a famous, long-running comedy in Chicago at 20. I moved to New York City at 21. I danced with a modern dance company for years. I wrote a play that went up in San Diego and spent a month there while it ran. And through all of this, I never thought of myself as a risk taker.

I also did all of these things while I was fat and food obsessed. I am not saying that these were bad decisions. They were not. But I was high on sugar. I made these decisions, but I didn’t always take responsibility for them. I had grand notions, but I was not a high-functioning addict. A lot of these exciting things were marred by my needing to get rescued when I couldn’t pull my shit together to see them through on my own.

When I got my eating under control, I let my life get kind of small for a number of years. In retrospect, I can see that it needed to be that way. They tell people who are just getting control of their eating that they shouldn’t make any major life changes for the first year.

The first year. That makes me laugh. I needed at least 5. But I have always been a late bloomer. Quick in understanding, slow to process. Fast with ideas, paralyzed around actions.

But then I started writing this blog, and keeping a commitment to write weekly, which was risky in my little life. And then because of this blog, I fell madly in love and let myself get risky again. Really risky. Like leave-my-home-and-go-start-a-new-life risky. Only this time I was sane and healthy. I was sober. I made bold choices, not rash decisions. Choices I knew I would take responsibility for. Because I had the clarity to think them through, past the current moment. And because I had given up trying to control life.

When I put boundaries around my food, I learned that you can only do the best you can, only do the right thing, only follow your heart. And then you have to let the chips fall where they may. And go from there. I learned that I don’t get a say in where the chips fall. That I can’t control the outcomes of my choices with manipulation. That even exquisite planning and execution don’t deliver the results I think they “should”. In other words, when I put boundaries around my food, I learned to let go.

And since I have been in love, I find that I really do love adventure. Yes, I am afraid of the unknown. I think that is part of being human. But I am not paralyzed by it. I am actually excited by it. I think love makes me excited for the next adventure. Because it’s an adventure with my boyfriend. Because it’s not my adventure, it’s ours.

And it may be time to embark on the next adventure. I don’t know for sure yet, but it might be time to move forward. And I don’t know what that looks like or where it will take us. And I can’t wait. Because there is something else that I learned when I got my eating under control. If you do your best, follow your heart, and let go, things always get better. Maybe not right away. There might be dips and stalls. But ultimately, I have always ended up happier, wiser, more content, and in a superior position. So there’s always that…

Oh, is that your cry? I hope you don’t mind that I borrowed it.

Gosh am I weepy lately. I have read a book and watched two movies in the past 3 days that made me cry.

I am not sad. I am not unhappy. I am just emotional.

It’s funny to be able to pinpoint this idea. That I am having emotions that make me feel a kind of pain. A pain that makes me cry. (And I’m not talking about pretty, sparkly teardrops delicately skittering down my cheeks. I mean streaming, snotty, puffy, phlegmy sobbing.) But also knowing that this pain does not mean anything about me. It is not the result of something being wrong. It does not have to be about an event, or a personal experience. It is simply about being alive. Being human. Living in a body in the world with other humans.

And it feels good. Letting it go is kind of gross at the time. Not particularly comfortable or pleasant. But freeing. Relaxing. Cathartic. Holding it in hurts.

But I’m an addict. And pain used to be something different to me.

First of all, I was terrified of it. I have mentioned before that I have a sensitive heart. I feel things very deeply. And when I was a little girl, those feelings were overwhelming. I can remember being 4 or 5, lying in bed and saying to God that if life didn’t get easier, I didn’t think I was going to be able to do it. I certainly didn’t know what the alternative was. I just knew that being alive hurt too much to bear sometimes. I don’t remember what had happened. It doesn’t matter, really. Or maybe it does in the sense that whatever happened, it was not monumental. But my pain was.

Since I have gotten control of my eating, I have often wondered if it is that extreme sensitivity that made me an addict. Because food allowed me to control that pain. Not entirely. And not forever. And the truth is that it always made it worse, ultimately. But I could cease to feel for a little while. I could suspend the ache.

But there was something else about being an addict. I did not trust myself. I could not look at myself. If I had looked at myself, I would have had to have done something about the way that I was abusing myself. So I had to accept things blindly. I had to believe my feelings. If I was weepy, I must be sad. If I felt pain, it must be mine. If I was uncomfortable there must be something wrong. If a book or a movie made me cry, I let it stir up my own personal pain. Wounds that I had not let go of. It would not have even occurred to me that I was feeling something separate from myself. After all, I could feel it so acutely. It must be real.

There are so many blessings to getting my eating under control. But one of them is feeling without drama. It is so nice to feel something and know that I feel it because I am a human being living in a body. And that’s all. That it does not have some deeper meaning. That it does not mean anything about me personally. There is something wonderful about a good cry. Especially when it’s not really mine. When it belongs to the world. And I just get to borrow it.

I make me feel like dancing

I have been listening to pop music and dancing around the house.

This is something I used to do all the time. Singing and dancing have always been a huge part of my life. From the time I was a small child.

There are two things about this that are important to me.

1. I don’t think I have done this since I quit smoking.
2. I am so grateful to be in a body that I am comfortable both moving in, and moving in front of people.

I have always danced. I danced as a small child. I danced when I was fat. I have always been a good dancer. (No seriously. A really good dancer. Like strangers feel the need to tell me.)

But when I was fat, I was always ashamed. As if I shouldn’t subject other people to having to look at my body. That my inability to control my eating forfeited any right to love moving that body.

It’s not that I didn’t dance. I did. Even in public. Because that’s how much I love dancing. But I was always self-conscious. And through my teenage years, I can remember being mocked at school or park district dances. But kids are mean. Even then I knew that kids were mean. And that I couldn’t stop dancing because of it. But it meant that I could never “dance like no one was watching.” I could never dance like I did alone in my bedroom.

And then, thank God, in my early 20’s I made friends with people who loved to dance as much as I did. They were great dancers too. And they knew that I was a great dancer. They told me. And to them, being fat and being a great dancer were not mutually exclusive. And we went out dancing two to three nights a week. And sometimes I forgot to be embarrassed. Sometimes it was just me and the music and I was free to honor my body by moving and shaking. Only sometimes. But that meant that I was no longer always worried and ashamed and embarrassed.

But even though I was graceful and talented, it was hard. It was hard on my body. I have always had an incredible amount of energy. But I had pain. My feet especially would ache. I wanted to dance all night, but I physically couldn’t. So I would sit out a few songs. But inevitably some song would come on that I just could not sit through. And I would hurt. I was hurting my body to nourish my soul.

But when I got control of my eating and lost my excess weight, dancing became one of my greatest joys in life. In public or private. I no longer worried if people were looking at me because they were disgusted. I no longer had to sit out any song. I could choose to dance to every song if I wanted.

I don’t know why I have started dancing again all of a sudden. I do know that I go through phases. With almost everything. I read constantly for 3 months and then don’t pick up a book for another three. I crochet in fits and starts. I eat the same thing every day for a year and then forget it exists. (What can I say, I’m a Gemini.) So maybe it’s a coincidence that I haven’t done it since I quit smoking. But I’m glad it’s back. It feels good. In my body and soul.

If you are wondering what I am dancing around my house to, here’s a sample.

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