Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the month “April, 2015”

What is more beautiful than a woman in love?

I write a lot about my body image issues in this blog. I write about my body-dysmorphia, and my insecurities. I have even written about how I feel less attractive living in The South, or in the suburbs of Chicago, because strangers (men) are not particularly forthcoming with gentlemanly admiration, like I got used to in New York City. And, of course, I am heavier than I like.

It’s coming up on 3 years. 3 years is a long time to hover somewhere between misery and meh about your body. Though, I lived in overwhelming hatred of my body from around the time I was 7 until I was 28, so I suppose meh isn’t so bad. But once upon a time, I had years when I loved my body. I woke up every day just plain liking it. Thinking it was fantastic.

So right, for almost three years, not so much. Except for one crazy exception. When I am dancing. When I dance, I think my body is gorgeous. Not just meh. Not just not terrible. Really amazingly beautiful. It’s not about what clothes I am wearing. (Today was faded yoga pants that are fraying at the inner seams and a t-shirt with a cartoon of a turtle on its back that says “AWKWARD.”) It doesn’t matter if I am sweating. (And if I am dancing, I am sweating. And red-faced.) I look at myself and I think Hot damn, I am f***ing sexy!

I don’t know why it is that way. In some ways, you would think that it would make me feel worse, fatter, less attractive. Jiggling and bouncing around. But no. I think I’m the cat’s pajamas when I dance. I’m a really good dancer, which probably helps. And maybe it has something to do with the cardio of dancing burning off stress hormones.

But the other thing that occurs to me is that maybe, just maybe, my body looks so beautiful to me because of what dancing fundamentally is for me. It’s a celebration! Not just at a wedding, or a party. Any time I dance, I am celebrating my existence. And that existence is manifested in my body. I am expressing joy and gratitude. Dancing, for me, is about love. How much I love life and the infinite experiences of living. And what is more beautiful than a woman in love?


Reunited and it feels so good…

Yesterday was my 20th High School reunion. I didn’t expect to go. 

I went to a pretty prestigious high school. 20 years out, most people have pretty prestigious jobs. Doctors, lawyers, scientific researchers. Me? I’m just a college dropout with no job.

Of course, I don’t think that’s true. I mean it is true. But I am not even a little ashamed of it. I love my life. I have always done what I wanted to do. I have never lived by anyone else’s rules. And I do not judge my success in life by education, money, or recognition. 

I am happy. Truly, deeply fulfilled and satisfied. I like myself. 

So I guess that’s why I went. 

I was cripplingly self-conscious in high school. I had so much fear and self-loathing that my teen years were torture. I was fat. I couldn’t control my eating. I was overwhelmed with life to the point of paralysis. I was incapable of dealing with my giant emotions.

Perhaps that is true of most people. Hormones and school. Being essentially imprisoned with people because they happen to be the same age as you. 

But to my miserable teen self, nearly everyone else seemed to have everything totally under control.

To be blunt, the reunion was a lot like High School itself. I ate at a table in a corner with the same person I ate with at a table in a corner 20 years ago. I had nice conversations with a handful of friends from 20 years ago. I was ignored by the same people who ignored me 20 years ago. People who were nice then, even if we weren’t exactly friends, were nice yesterday. People who were obnoxious then, were obnoxious yesterday.

I brought my own food. (And thank God. There was a buffet dinner, but almost nothing I could eat.) Only one person who didn’t know about my food boundaries noticed that I was not eating what everyone else was eating. There was a little eyebrow raising, but nothing major. 

My eating habits were, for the most part, not a topic of conversation. But they were the reason I could be there. I was completely confident. Not just in my body, but also as myself. I didn’t feel nervous or awkward. I wasn’t judging myself. I didn’t care if I was being judged. I had a great time catching up with people I hadn’t seen in so long.

Having my eating disorders under control is, without a doubt, the foundation of my peaceful life. It gives me a freedom that I never had as a teenager. 

Especially when I have had my body size on my mind for a while now, it was such a blessing to have such a clear illustration of the gifts of having my eating disorders under control. I wasn’t thinking about my body yesterday. I was just enjoying the company and the nostalgia. I wasn’t thinking about food. I wasn’t sitting at home on my couch so ashamed of myself that I didn’t want to show my face. I was just being myself. And liking it.

Walking my mean dogs

I went for a walk yesterday. It was nice. I haven’t gotten to walk much in the past year.

I don’t miss living in New York City, but I miss various lifestyle options I had there. New York is a city of walkers. If it’s closer than a mile, you may as well walk there. If it’s a beautiful day, you may as well walk there. If you have the time, you may as well walk there.

Here, in the suburbs of Chicago, I haven’t had as much of a chance to walk. 

This winter was so long. It’s already mid April and we have only had a handful of nice days. 

And people don’t expect me to want to walk. Regularly, my boyfriend or neighbors will tell me to call if I want a ride, and then be surprised when I go wherever, or return from wherever, never having called them. People around me are always taken aback by my choosing to walkover getting a ride.

For me, walking is a great way to keep my eating disorders at bay. Especially my body dysmorphia. 

My body dysmorphia is dormant right now. I am not in the throes of hating my body. But where I am is a place of resignation. I don’t look at my body and feel content. I still don’t love my size. I wish I would lose this 30 lbs I gained when I quit smoking. But I’m ok. I can be with it.

But I can feel that there is a body image disorder attack in me somewhere. So I am looking forward to being able to walk every day.

When I walk, I do a few things for myself. It’s a kind of meditation for me, so I get my head straight(er). I work off a lot of my stress hormones, so I feel peaceful. It makes me feel like I’m doing something for the health and strength of my body. And it’s exercise, so it lets the bulimic part of me calm the hell down.

I mostly manifested my bulimia through exercise. Though I did have a short (thank God) stint of old fashioned making myself throw up.

I keep a watch on myself when it comes to exercise. When I start asking myself how many calories I figure I just burned, that’s a glaring red flag. Seriously. A have-a-seat-and-drink-a-diet-soda-because-that’s-enough-for-today red flag.

When I was fat, people treated me as if I didn’t care what I looked like. They seemed to assume that if I were really ashamed (and a lot of people thought I should be ashamed), I would do something about my weight. But I was always that ashamed. I cared so much it was killing me inside. 

And now that I live in a healthy weighted body, people seem to think I shouldn’t care so much about what I look like. But I do. Because no matter how I have learned to take care of myself, and lovingly put boundaries around my eating, I am still that same person.

It’s funny, because people encourage others to work out. Excessive working out is often praised. And I truly believe that people who work out because they love their body and want to nurture it are praise-worthy. Same for people who do it for love of sport. Or any kind of love. 

I exercised because of hate. I hated my body. I hated the way it looked. I hated how I couldn’t stop eating and I wanted to hide that fact from the rest of the world. I exercised to the point of exhaustion and injury. I was punishing my body for not looking like society told me it should look like. What society told me it could look like if I were disciplined enough. What it would look like if I were a “Good Girl.”

I had to give up those notions, but I am still sick around those things. I will always be sick. I have to actively keep from killing myself with exercise. Just like I have to actively keep from killing myself with sugar and compulsive eating. And I have to remember to accept myself the way I am right now in the moment. So I don’t abuse my body.

It’s OK. As problems go, it’s not the worst. I have a solution for my eating disorders. And along with that, a way of life that keeps me happy, sane and well adjusted. And now that the weather is breaking, I will get to walk, and keep my body image issues on a short leash. Like the mean dogs that they are.

I suppose “better late than never” is a saying for a reason…

I was in the shower today, and I realized that for the first time in over 3 years, I forgot to write a blog.

Obviously, here I am, a day late. Writing because I have a commitment. But I have to be honest with you. This scares the crap out of me.

I fear the first chink in the armor. I fear the first mistake. I fear the first slip. Because I fear that snowball effect. I don’t like knowing that I forgot to write a post and the world didn’t end. It would be so much easier on me if everything had bigger, scarier, more life-changing immediate consequences.

I am so incredibly afraid of my own lack of character. I am terrified that if I let my guard down, I will revert to being the kind of person I have been. The kind of person I was ashamed of.

I feel like the words I am writing here are not enough to explain to you the terror I am in. I sometimes wonder if anyone can understand what it is like to hate yourself so thoroughly and completely that you don’t even know that you hate yourself until it stops.

I fear slip-sliding back to that place. In tiny movements. In nearly imperceptible increments. An insidious regression.

I have gained so much peace in the past 9 1/2 years, since I got my eating under control. Even when all is not well, I am well. Even when I am in pain or unhappiness, I am still strong in my heart and soul.

But today, I am afraid. Not of what I am, but of what I know I am capable of being, because I have been something else before. And it was a terrible way to live.

I am also reprimanding myself right now for my perfectionism. It’s a kind of sickness for me that is also tied in with my eating disorders. It is the M.O. of The Good Girl who wants to please everyone but herself. But on the other hand, that same perfectionism is the very thing that can allow me to say “F*** it! You’ve already ruined everything,” when I slip up, like I did last week when I forgot to write a blog. My perfectionism is the back door to my laziness and resignation.

Forgetting to post in the past two days was, without a doubt, an honest mistake. I have had a lot on my mind lately. And Easter yesterday made it more complicated in my head. So far, in 2015 I have had a lot of malice pointed in my direction. And it has been taking its toll on me. It makes me tired and has me distracted. I have accidentally hurt myself more in the past month than usual. It takes a lot of patience for me to let things go again and again and again. And then messing up on my own, especially something so important to me like this blog, makes everything feel so much more overwhelming.

And I am embarrassed to have screwed up. I don’t like coming here and saying that I have a commitment and I failed.

Needless to say, I am putting an alarm on my phone to remind me to post to my blog every week from now on. I don’t want to let this mistake become a regular occurrence until I just stop blogging and the whole thing falls away.

I don’t want to be cruel to myself. I don’t want to blow this out of proportion, either. But the fear of regression is real for me. I don’t want to wake up one day hating myself because I let my commitments break apart one by one. It took too long to live a life I love to let it go without a fight.

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