Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the month “June, 2016”

What I’m missing 

Last weekend, my husband and I were home for a few days. On Father’s Day we went to my husband’s parents house. I ate lunch long before the party, and I wouldn’t eat dinner until the evening. I drank water and black coffee with artificial sweetener. I went there knowing I was not going to eat. I had a really nice time.

But of course, there was a lot of food. And of course, people use food to show love. So my father-in-law, who really doesn’t understand my food boundaries, assured me that there was vegetarian pizza if I wanted it. Now, I think this is hilarious. Partly because meat is a thing people regularly assume I don’t eat, when in fact, meat is a huge staple of my diet. And partly because pizza of all things is almost entirely bread, which is definitely something I can’t eat. I’m not poking fun at my father-in-law. I already knew that he doesn’t understand, and that he probably never will. I never mind. I love him, and I love his hospitality. And I have known for a long time that for so many people, the extreme nature of what I do is difficult to wrap their minds around. 

But that is not really the point of me telling you this story. The point is that whenever my father-in-law offers me food, which he does all the time because we genuinely like and love each other, I can tell that he feels so incredibly sorry for me. I can tell that he really wants me to accept, not because it’s a gift, but because he really believes I must be suffering. It has occurred to me that this may actually be the reason he doesn’t understand my food boundaries. Because he thinks it must be painful for me.

That weekend we also took my dad out for lunch for Father’s Day, and when I called the restaurant to make the reservation, I flagged myself as an allergy. (I do this regularly when I eat out.) The woman taking the reservation asked what specifically I was allergic to, and when I told her it was sugars, grains, and starch, the phone went quiet for a second and then she said, “Wait, wow, really?” I laughed and I said “I know. It’s intense.”

People think I must be miserable. People think it must be horrible. So many people feel sorry for me. Even people who know me and know how happy I am. 

I will tell you something. If I didn’t get something out of it, I wouldn’t do it. I wouldn’t be able to. 

I don’t believe in willpower. I don’t have any. And I think that expecting anyone else to have it is silly. I believe that we as humans do things that offer us something more. I have said it before. I have never given up something to lose something. I have only ever given things up to gain. I have gained freedom, self-respect and trust in myself, every time I have let anything go from my life.

So today, we are having company again. Some are people I have never met. I have bought them a kitchen full of food that I won’t eat myself. There will probably be questions and incredulous looks. But all is well. I already know what it is I’m missing, which is to say, I’m not missing anything at all.


AspireAssist! Because regular old bulimia is hard. (Sad face)

Yeah. I’m going to talk about AspireAssist. I don’t really want to. Every time I think about it I get a little queasy. But it’s my eating disorder blog, and it’s too relevant to ignore. 
If you don’t know, AspireAssist is a device where you have a port installed through your abdomen directly into your stomach, and after you eat, you attach a drain to the port, and you drain about a third of the contents of your stomach directly into the toilet. 

No, I did not make this up. And yes, the FDA has approved it. 

When I talk about my own short stint with the kind of bulimia where you make yourself vomit, I explain that bulimia is hard. And I was bad at it. It’s not like you eat whatever you want and then go make yourself throw up. It’s difficult to puke on demand. It matters what you eat. It matters how long you wait to make yourself throw up. It matters how many liquids you have consumed. And even if you are successful, it’s not like vomiting gets all of the food out of you. Bulimia did not make me skinny. It really only made me crazy.

So when I see that the FDA has approved AspireAssist, I’m floored, terrified, disgusted, and sad. Because AspireAssist is absolutely bulimia. Government sanctioned and doctor assisted bulimia.

Below is a quote from the press release the FDA put out this week:
“The AspireAssist device should not be used on patients with eating disorders, and it is not intended to be used for short durations in those who are moderately overweight. It is intended to assist in weight loss in patients aged 22 and older who are obese, with a body mass index of 35 to 55, and who have failed to achieve and maintain weight loss through non-surgical weight-loss therapy.”
If we use the example of a woman who is 5’5″, a BMI of 35-55 means she weighs between 210 and 330 pounds. How can you talk about someone who is between 65 and 185 pounds overweight as not having an eating disorder? And how can you talk about someone who needs to implant a foreign object into their body to eliminate food directly from their stomach because they cannot stop eating, and not be talking about a person with an eating disorder? What does the FDA think bulimia is? 

And we are also only talking about 12% reduction in weight. That means instead of being 330 pounds, you could be 290 pounds. So still morbidly obese, and now, with a dangerous hole in your body. A hole that may leak, cause nausea, get infected, etc.

What the FDA has done is make bulimia easy. Terrible and gross. And maybe even more dangerous than before. But easy.

The truth is, if bulimia had been easy in the first place, I may never have found peace around my food addiction. If it had been enough of a fix, I may never have looked for something better. But it sucked and was hard, so I found a solution that gives me peace around food. 

I cannot stop people from choosing this option. I wish I could, but I can’t. So I’m just going to tell you that bulimia never did help me, or anyone I know. And I promise that AspireAssist is just bulimia, no matter what the FDA says. Take it from someone who knows bulimia intimately. 

From instant gratification to the long slow dance of application.

There are things about life that my addict self is bad at. Like process. Like anything slow that takes effort. Like anything that doesn’t come naturally to me.I’m good at stuff. I’m smart. And I have always had a knack for understanding the way things fit together. Literally and figuratively. 

But being good at stuff made me impatient. When “easy” is the norm, anything remotely difficult becomes frustrating. And I never dealt well with frustration. I learned to numb it early. I used sugar. I got through life that way. I didn’t shine. But I did get by. 

But it made people call me lazy. I suppose that is one way of looking at it. But in the past few years I have chosen to have some compassion for the person I was then. I was overwhelmed. I was terrified. And I was in the throes of an addiction I didn’t even understand.

When I put boundaries around my eating, I wasn’t expecting anything except to deal with my weight. But it ended up shifting the way I saw the world. It made me less afraid of failure, and more willing to take risks. And it freed up a lot of time. And time opened me up to the possibility of process.

For one thing, I didn’t have the option of zoning out on sugar, so when I came to the point where I got frustrated with something, I couldn’t get so high I just forgot about it. And also, getting high on sugar went from being the most important thing to me, to being the thing to be avoided like the plague. All of a sudden, I needed other things to fill my time. 

A little over 2 years ago, I first tried to learn to knit. I tried on and off for over a year and a half. Did you get that? Over a year and a half. From March 2014 to November 2015, I tried and failed to knit. 

In November, something clicked for me and I finished my first project, a simple basket weave baby blanket. And suddenly, I could knit.

There are different ways to knit that have to do with where you hold your working yarn in relation to the needles. (I happen to be a continental knitter, in case you were wondering.) But there are also ways that people knit that are about the way one thinks about knitting. In other words, are you a project knitter, or a process knitter?

A project knitter sees a scarf, a sweater, a pair of socks, or a bag and thinks “I want to make that for myself or a loved one.” A process knitter sees a stitch, a pattern, or a technique and thinks “I want to be able to do that!”

I, personally, think of it as a continuum, more like you fall somewhere on the spectrum of “project” to “process,” than being strictly one or the other. But I am pretty we’ll situated on the process side. 

I like acquiring skills. I like learning things. I like the challenge and the reward.

What an amazing thing that was to learn about myself! What a miracle to discover that inside that “lazy” girl who insisted on instant gratification, was a woman who loved the long, slow dance of attention and application. 

I am not saying I don’t get frustrated when something takes me longer to learn than I think it should. I occasionally groan and curse and put it away for the time being. But in the end I am always called back to learning. I guess it’s just the way I am. And I never would have known if I hadn’t put boundaries around my eating.

Age is just a number. And thank heaven it doesn’t start with a 1 or a 2 anymore!

Tomorrow happens to be my 39th birthday. It feels good. I am grateful that I am not afraid of my age. I like myself. I like being the person I am. I had to take time and do work to be this person. In my teens and early 20s, I wasn’t the woman I am now. I never understood people who lament the passing of youth. I never feel that youth is wasted on the young. Instead, I feel more like experience is wasted on those who think youth is wasted on the young.

But, I’ll admit that it may have something to do with the fact that my body story is different than most. When I was in my early 30s, I was dancing with a company and a fellow dancer sighed and said to me, “Remember when you were sixteen, and your body was perfect and the world was yours?”

I just laughed and said, “No. That’s not how my story went.”

At 39, my body is stronger, healthier, easier, and better looking than when I was 16. My life is easier too. And my food addiction is under control now. It was not when I was sixteen. Then, I couldn’t jog 2 miles a day. I couldn’t go into a regular clothing store and try on whatever I wanted. But even more, it’s not just about my weight and my body. It’s about my integrity. 

I was talking with some people yesterday about what I was like before I got my eating under control. I was always doing something I shouldn’t, and not doing something I should. And I was constantly anticipating when I would get in trouble for one or the other. I lived in constant fear. 

I’m not saying these were monumental things I was doing or not doing. Seventh grade homework is not life or death. But I was taking chunks out of my honor and my character. I never realized how stressful it was to live like that until I got sober from sugar and got some integrity. And that didn’t happen until I was 28. And even then, putting down sugar was just the beginning. It still took time to wade through the muck of having been so dishonorable for so long. It took years to clean myself up to the point where I felt good about myself. 

But I did and I do. So I am looking forward to tomorrow and my birthday. I’m looking forward to 39. And 40. And so on. I am looking forward to the whole grand future. And I am loving every day I get to enjoy, because my eating is taken care of. 

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