onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the month “May, 2021”

Would you [date] me? I’d [date] me.

I really like my husband. A lot. I am a fan. I have a very happy marriage.

I feel like this should be an obvious thing. Of course I would like the person I married. Of course I am a fan of my partner. Isn’t that why we chose each other? Isn’t that why anyone chooses a partner?

It turns out that this is not an obvious truth for a lot of people.

This week my husband came home from work and said one of his crew members was being a jerk on the phone to his wife in front of everyone. Making faces to show his disdain for her to the other guys, while being rude and patronizing to her. 

Somehow it came up that he asked my husband if he liked his wife. (Me!) And he said “I adore my wife.” (Well, that is what he told me, anyway. Swoon.) He said “We like and respect each other.” (Give me a sec. I’m going to have to swoon again.)

The reason I am bringing this up is being a recovering addict is the primary reason I have a happy marriage. I got the tools to be who I want to be in a relationship by getting my eating under control and then living in a way that I could keep my eating under control, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

I grew up fat and sugar addicted. And in that time my relationship to love and romance was twisted and sad. I thought for all of that time that being fat made me unlovable. And I am not going to go into it today, but being fat really is a huge obstacle to dating in US culture. And it is not about attraction. Because I certainly had plenty of that kind of attention. It’s about what it says about you (especially as a man) when you date a fat person. The implication being that you must be somehow lacking, because if you were better, you could have a thin person. If you were better, you could do better than fat.

So needless to say, when I got my eating under control, and I lost a lot of weight, and was a total knockout by societal standards, I expected to find the man of my dreams right away. I thought the problem had been my fatness, and now that I was not fat anymore, it was inevitable that “The One” would be right there. 

But “The One” didn’t show up! In fact he wouldn’t for over 6 years!

But in that time I got some advice from a woman who does what I do with food. She had been single for many years like myself and she had just recently found her wife. And she said to me, “Stop looking, and take this time to make *yourself* into the person you want to date.”

And I’ll be damned if that didn’t work!!! I don’t think I had really ever thought before about what someone would get by being with me. I was too wrapped up in what I would get from them.

But then I got “The One” and I had zero experience in being in a romantic relationship. And boy, was that a learning curve.

One of the most important things I learned in addiction recovery is that I am responsible for cleaning my side of the street. I am the one who has to right the wrongs I have done. I have to make amends for the ways I have done harm. I have to acknowledge my part and fix what I broke. 

So much of my relationships for all of my pre-boundary-life was shifting blame. It was to never admit to anything bad. It was to manipulate all situations so that I looked like either the hero or the victim. Especially when I was actually the perpetrator.

Some things I learned through my recovery about being in a relationship include that my husband is a grown-ass man and he must be allowed to make his own choices without my nagging or unsolicited advice. That I don’t get a say in how he does things, and that if I think it’s important for a thing to get done a certain way, I better do it myself. That I must not take his emotions personally, and he is allowed to have feelings that I find difficult. That Ruth Bader Ginsburg was onto something when she said “Sometimes it helps to be a little deaf.” That not everything needs to be a conversation. Sometimes I need to work things out for myself, and often, something that irks or annoys me is really my own problem and has nothing to do with him. (Look, sometimes we have to have a conversation about something that has upset me. Obviously. But I don’t go in assuming it is all his fault.) But maybe most importantly, that I must give him the benefit of the doubt. My husband is a good man who loves to provide material things, but also, a happy home. So I spend a lot of my marriage energy making sure he feels comfortable and peaceful in the space we are creating together. It’s about the way I respond to a question with a generous spirit, or give him my attention when he asks for it, or anything else I can do to let him know that our marriage is the most important relationship in my life.

And in return I get the same. I get a man who likes and respects me as much as he loves me. I get days filled with laughter and affection. I get honest communication from a position of resolution rather than “winning.” I get appreciation and honor. I get a happy home and a happy home life. 

I don’t think I would ever have been able to be the wife I am if I had not put boundaries around my eating. I don’t know if I would have been able to get out from under my own selfishness or victimization. I don’t know if I would have been able to see my own bad behaviors or cruel actions in the food fog and downward spiral of my sugar addiction. And I don’t know that I ever would have been in the vicinity of someone with the life changing advice that I should make myself into the person I wanted to date. But even if I had, I can’t imagine I would have been able to take it.

Self-awareness does not always make us wise

Today I ate half of a terrible cantaloupe. What’s funny is that I bought it because it seemed ripe (it was not) and it was not huge. I thought I was doing myself a favor by only buying a very large cantaloupe instead of a gargantuan one. And instead it ended up *feeling* like the biggest cantaloupe ever because I had to force myself to eat it. (Before you worry about why I ate a cantaloupe I didn’t want, let me assure you there was nothing *wrong* with it. If it were rotten or even just tasted bad I would have been able to make a call and eat a different fruit. But it was fine. Just flavorless and kind of hard.)

My eyes are definitely bigger than my stomach and I have a long history of buying cantaloupes that are bigger than my head. When I buy them I am excited to eat them but then when I *do* eat them, they are often too much. I fee a little sick and a little overstuffed. But I do it anyway. I forget that it’s too big. I forget that I get enough food every day. I forget that when I have a “mere 8 ounces” of fruit weighed out on my scale, it is plenty of fruit, and along with the rest of my big breakfast will keep me satisfied for many hours until lunch. That I don’t need half of a 4 pound cantaloupe to be sated.

Even after over 15 years, something in me is often worried that I will not get enough to eat. That there is not enough for me. That I will end up…HUNGRY!!!! It does not seem to matter that I have learned to live with hunger when it occasionally happens. It does not seem to matter that I am almost never hungry anymore. That perhaps I have the experience a few times a year. It does not seem to matter that I know intellectually that I eat enough food every day, no matter the circumstances. 

I think this is an important thing to note as a food addict. I forget about the reality of my food situation all the time. I forget the ill consequences of my eating. And I always have. Addicts call it a “built in forgetter.” We forget about the outcomes of our actions. This was true when I was eating compulsively, yes. But it has stayed true on some level since I got my eating under control.

For years since I started putting boundaries around my eating I have bought cantaloupes that made me kind of sick. And I ate them and got kind of sick. And then went to the store or the farmers market and bought more ginormous cantaloupes that would make me kind of sick in the coming week.

I am going to throw away that 2nd half of cantaloupe today. But here is an interesting thing to me. I am going to throw it away because it does not taste good. Let me assure you, however, that if it were delicious, and all it did was make me a little sick and a little overstuffed, I would eat it tomorrow as planned. I would look forward to it. Because I have my priorities when it comes to food, and taste is way up there in importance. And being a little sick from too much fruit is a thing I forget easily when the fruit is delicious. In fact, if the fruit were delicious, I would not be writing this blog. And I would have *already forgotten* that this morning’s breakfast was too much.

Self-awareness is lovely, but doesn’t always make us wise.

Managing in my contentment

It is sometimes the hardest to write this blog when I am happy. And I am happy now. I am content. My life is free of real-world drama and filled with fictional drama, exactly how I like it. But it makes it hard to think of something to write here.

When I was eating compulsively, my life was filled with drama. And not the kind I find in novels and comics. 

I sometimes write about learning the skill of changing thoughts. In fact I wrote about it last week. And for the most part it is not really something I deal with consciously anymore. Because I have already done 2 things. 1) Created a new set of “default settings,” and 2) learned to keep my mind elastic enough that changing my mind is not that complicated.


My default settings growing up were always selfish and nearly always to argue. I did not trust anyone to do anything in my best interest. I expected the worst from people. Or I had a thought about the way something or someone should be and any deviation from that created a need to fight in me. Well…fight or manipulate. I was a better manipulator. I was a kid, and I knew that kids don’t win fights. At least not fair fights.

My current default settings are to trust. They are to trust Life, but that also means to trust people. I don’t mean blindly. I am sure I will never be that trusting. I am not now, nor do I expect I will ever be a “turn the other cheek” kind of girl. If you got the one cheek, that’s life. But I don’t believe in anything like a Christian heaven. So the other cheek will stay facing the direction it is, thank you.

But there is a relief to trusting first. I don’t think I ever understood to how much energy I used in being constantly ready for battle. There is peace in not always expecting war. This is obvious in retrospect. And certainly when you put words to it like battle and war and peace. But growing up it felt like the way it was. It felt like reality. I didn’t understand what choices I had or even that there were choices. I felt like the world, or life, or other people threw circumstances at me and I had to throw them off as best I could in order to just survive. How exhausting.


And as I said last week, I have learned how to change my mind. I know how to stop a thought in its tracks. I know how to change a thought. I know how to switch my focus. It’s not always easy to accomplish, but it has stopped being hard to fathom. The obstacles to it are usually about pride and self-righteousness, or about not wanting to give up my grasp on something, or about not wanting to lose. They are about being right and wanting to be right. They are about willingness, not capability.

Growing up addicted to certain foods affected my braid chemistry which affected my thoughts which affected my actions which affected my habits which affected my food. My food life and my inner life were like an echo chamber, feeding and reinforcing more of the same, taking me deeper and keeping me ever more entrenched.


What changed was I changed my food. I stopped giving myself the fix. I stopped giving myself the drug foods that perpetuated the same cycle. I interrupted the pattern in a very specific, concrete way. I did not only change my mind, though I did, indeed, do that too. But I also acted differently. I acted differently by eating different foods and that stopped a literal, physiological, chemical reaction. And then I continued to do that until what felt normal to me was something new. Something I created.

I created my own peace. It was not easy. And it was not immediate. And it is not even done yet. I am still working at it and growing into to it and pushing toward it. But I created it for myself and made myself into a different person.

I made myself into a person I wanted to be. And now that person is happy and content. And happy, peaceful me still managed to write a blog post in the midst of all of my contentment, so wins all around I guess.

Build the muscle to change a mind

Yesterday my husband and I had friends over for dinner for the first time in forever! And it was awesome! 

My husband is a great cook and he loves to do it. But when we have company he usually makes things I can’t eat. So I either eat the parts I can, and supplement the rest of my meal, or I just eat my own food.

Last night my husband made pasta, so that was a no-go for me. And the fancy sauce he made was also not one I could have. But I cooked up some of our homemade Italian sausage, which is a personal favorite of mine. And he made, for lack of a better term, an Italian salsa for bruschetta as an appetizer. And while you probably already know, I don’t eat bread, I did get to have the salsa itself which was super delicious. 

I am grateful that I no longer look at the things I can’t have as “missing out.” My dinner was delicious. And guilt-free. But that took something. It took a conscious choice to take control of my own brain and stop certain thoughts. To recognize them, and stop thinking them. To change the channel. And that did not happen today. It happened a little at a time over years and years.

If I have one piece of advice for people who want to start abstaining from their drug foods, it would be to understand the nature of their own thoughts. It would be to become aware of how much control we each have over our thinking, which seems, at first, like something we have no choice in.

I am a completely different thinker than I was when I was eating compulsively. I had been thinking a certain way for 28 years when I finally put boundaries around my eating. I had worn certain paths in my brain. Certain thoughts necessarily lead to other particular thoughts. All of those thoughts, all of the paths they created, led directly to the foods that made me feel miserable and out of control. 

It takes something to leave the path. It takes a kind of bravery. It takes a kind of fortitude. And it takes practice. It’s like building a muscle. You don’t start being able to do 100 push-ups. You do a few with bad form and much heavy breathing at first. But you get better and stronger every time. And if you do it regularly, you build the muscles to the point that a push-up is second nature. Your body remembers. It knows. 

I also understood that I was never going to get anywhere different while I was walking the same paths. If I wanted to change the way I ate, I had to change the way I ate. If this seems like an obvious truth to you, let me assure you I tried for many many years to change the way I ate without having to change anything. I quite literally wanted my cake and to eat it too.

When I got my eating under control, people who went before me told me to change my language. Not to call things “favorite foods” anymore. To remember that they were poison to me. To refer to them as such. To stop romanticizing them. To stop thinking of them with longing. To stop thinking of them at all. To build that muscle.

So much of changing my life was in changing my mind. One thing at a time. One word at a time. One wishful thought at a time. And the gift of changing my mind about sugar also gave me the option to change my mind about other things. To know that the thoughts in my head were not “me.” They were merely thoughts. And I was in control of all of them, because once upon a time, even when I was really bad at it, I was willing to change my mind.

It’s not really food I’m craving. My stomach might not know.

Lately I have been having cravings. I don’t necessarily mean food cravings, though food would do it if I still did that. I have been craving “more” or some “soothing.” In other words, my addict wants something to drug her so she doesn’t have to feel uncomfortable.

I am grateful to have a history of, and a point of reference for abstaining from most sugar, grains and starches, my personal drug foods. Saying no is easier when I have already said no and found that the world didn’t end. It’s easier when I know what to expect and have tools to manage and deal with the feelings.

My work life has been up in the air for a while. One job fell through. Then we were told we would be assigned to another job. Then told we were not. Then told we were again. And at this particular moment I do not know the truth of the situation. And I don’t even feel like I can just ask, outright. I feel like I have to tread lightly. Manage management’s expectations of who knows what about want. It’s frustrating. I am frustrated.

That is one of the specific things about the culture of the company I work for that makes me a rather crappy match. There is a lot of secrecy that necessarily leads to gossip. And let me assure you that grown-ass construction workers are every bit as gossipy as we accuse teenage girls of being. In fact, some gossip about me (totally untrue, by the way) made its way to my husband and back to me.

When I got my eating under control, I had to stop lying. But I could not stop lying about food while I continued to lie about other things. (Oh believe me, I tried!) I had to stop cheating, stealing and hiding. 12 steppers often say “we are only as sick as our secrets.” 

I am also committed to authenticity. Being myself is another form of honesty. I am straight forward and blunt. I am kind, and I am likable, but I am also interested in getting to the heart of things. I am interested in honoring other people’s time and energy. And I am very bad at smiling in the face of people whom I know are lying to me or cheating me. And in my experience, what most people call “diplomacy” is disingenuous and underhanded.

So I am uncomfortable about work. And about my future. And that affects both my self-esteem and my money. And those are exactly the kinds of things that I ate over when I was eating compulsively. Am I good enough? Will I be able to pay my bills? Being uncertain about these things masquerades as hunger. Luckily, at this point in my life, I can spot that uncertainty and the discomfort it brings, even when it’s in a full mask and a billowing ball gown.

So now I am in the position of asking myself if I should stay, or look for something better suited to me. But that is also an anxiety inducing prospect. My job may be a devil, but it’s a devil I know. And there are aspects to it that I love. I love working with my husband. I love my coworkers. I love how good I am at what I do. I love making good money. But I also know from experience that when I keep my eating under control, my life gets better, even when I thought it was getting worse.

Years ago, I got this job shortly after I applied for a different job, a writing job for a different company, where I was the only person being considered. I thought that I was a shoo-in. I was even told as much. But in the end they eliminated the position, rather than hire me. At the time I was devastated. And I was depressed. But in retrospect, it was a gift. I can see now that I would have been unhappy there. And I would have never gotten the chance to learn this new set of skills, and find that I excel at them. I would not have made as much money as I have at my current job. I would not have been able to support my husband in doing the caliber of work he does. My support (I mean practical, data and spreadsheet support, not emotional support) allowed him to grow in his job too. And I loved that for both of us.

So I am uncomfortable and worried about my job and I have been having cravings over it. And I don’t know what to do. (About the job. I know exactly what to do about the cravings. 1. Don’t eat outside of my boundaries. 2. Make sure I eat *really* well at meal times.) But I do know this. When I keep my eating under control, Life always gives me something better than the thing I thought I wanted.

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