onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the month “July, 2021”

A job, some fear and anxiety, probably a miracle.

One of my favorite things I had the opportunity to learn when I got my eating under control is how to go with the flow. How to let life happen as it does (because it will) and to make the best of it. To handle new and difficult situations with grace and ease.


On Tuesday morning this past week I got a call from management in my company, asking if I would take on a new position. And could I start the next day?


I was certainly happy to take it on. I have mostly just been working part time for almost a year now. And while I have enjoyed it, because I love having lots of alone time, the truth is I like work. I like being of use. I like being good at what I do. I like the feelings I get when I accomplish things. I like being impressive. My best friend’s old therapist said that a huge portion of our self-esteem comes from our job.


And there is another part of it for me right now. I am not working with my husband on this job. My boss is someone I just met for the first time on Wednesday. And while I love working with my husband, and we make a great team, there is something exciting about getting the chance to show someone else what I can do. And knowing that what he has to say means something different to the company, coming from a stranger and superior, than it does coming from the person who chose me as a life partner.


The other important thing about getting my eating under control when it comes to this job is that keeping my food boundaries has taught me how to manage my fear and anxiety. Because for as excited as I am to do this job (and I am very excited), my brain goes on a little merry-go-round ride of thoughts and feelings, and a good portion of them are fears. Fears that I will fail, that I am not as good as I think. That I am not good enough in general.


It doesn’t matter that these thoughts are irrational. Anyone with irrational thoughts will tell you that knowing you are being irrational does not change the experience of it. It’s why self-knowledge was never enough to lose weight when I (and seemingly everyone else) cared so much about my weight. (I’m sure the world still cares about my weight because it cares about weight in general. I just don’t care that it cares anymore.)


But in getting my eating under control, I learned how to stop thoughts. I learned how to change my mind. I learned how to change my thinking. I learned how to harness control over my thoughts as a tool.


Eating compulsively always had me too high on sugar to manage anything, especially my thoughts. It had me foggy, and careless, and numb. These are not ideal circumstances to take control of one’s own brain. The point of getting high was always to stop thinking and feeling entirely, not to control myself.


I am very excited about getting a new opportunity. And if you read last week, I do believe that this job came straight out of a miracle door. So I am going to keep meditating on miracles and the doors they emerge from. And I am going to keep my eating boundaries. And I am going to do an amazing job! Probably. And if not, I expect there will be another miracle coming through another door. But for right now I’ll do the work in front of me.

Opening My Own Miracle Door

If you have been reading my blog for any amount of time, you know that so much of keeping boundaries around my eating is a spiritual practice. It’s as much about honoring my word, my soul, my heart and my relationships as it is about not eating sugar. The food came first, but the spiritual stuff keeps me from turning back to the food. They feed each other. I do the spiritual work, I don’t need to eat over being a jerk. I don’t eat, I can delve deeper into the spiritual work.

So months ago, I was talking to a friend who does what I do with food. And she was so angry because she had an addict friend/work partner and he would get sober for a few days and miracles would fall in his lap. People offering not just help, but opportunities! Big, gorgeous, sexy opportunities around work and art and life. And she was pissed! My friend has been sober for decades and she wanted miracles!

So, as my husband likes to (only half) joke, I got into my Lucy booth and gave her some really quality advice, if I do say so myself. I told her that she is a person who meticulously turns over rocks. That she is the epitome of leaving no stone unturned. But that she certainly has a “miracle door” just like her friend. And that she should go look for it and start opening it instead of metaphorically crawling around on her hands and knees flipping rocks.

Well a year later, my friend is having all of her dreams come true. She is making more money, working less. The pandemic changed the way she works and she has used it to her very great benefit. She has been performing her music in new ways. Is working on multiple new music projects. And she just got engaged *and* bought her vacation home in a Southern town she loved and lived in as a girl. 

And wouldn’t you know it, I got jealous! In my head I kept thinking “How come *she* is getting all of these miracles?!?!” 

I love the irony of this story. I love how proud I was of my brilliant advice. And how it never occurred to me to take it for myself. And how in the end I ended up in the same position as my friend. 

I have started looking at pictures of doors. Mystical woodland door art and photos of old colorful European doors and Arabesque doors with arches and key-hole shapes and round Hobbit hole doors from blockbuster movies and anything I can picture opening to let myself into a miracle, or to let a miracle out.

I am no stranger to miracles. Getting my eating under control felt like a miracle in a way that very few people can understand. When I was growing up fat, it felt like being fat was the worst thing I could be. I was shamed and humiliated, and I was put on diets, and I was told how simple it was to just stop eating. But it was not simple. In fact, it felt impossible. There was diet food. And I ate diet food until I had lost enough weight to go back to eating the foods I wanted to eat. Which would make me gain all of the weight back, plus more. And I knew that I could not live on diet food forever. And I knew I could not eat the foods I wanted in moderation. It was going to take a miracle for me to stop eating compulsively.

But I got that miracle. I have gotten to keep that miracle for 15 years. And it still feels like a miracle. It is still as wondrous and magical and awe inspiring to me as it has ever been. It has lost none of its shine. In fact, I am more grateful and honored to have found a solution now than I was 15 or 12 or even 5 years ago. My eating boundaries have carried me through so many difficulties and so much worry and sadness.

So I am looking for my miracle doors today. And I am grateful to have a way of life that reminds me that all I have to do on any given day is keep my eating boundaries. And that if I do that, I have a chance at something else. A relationship, or an opportunity, or a blessing. That I got one big miracle and it gave me the chance to find all of the other miracles.

Fat Kate, Skinny Kate, Kate who climbs on rocks

My mom is decluttering and cleaning out her house, and she called me the other day and told me to come get my crap. (I have not lived in her home for over 20 years but a bunch of my stuff sure did.) So I did. And what I found of any interest, was a bunch of photographs.


Now most of them were photos I had taken in High School. I went through a photography phase. And it was fun to see pictures of old friends. And it was particularly fun to realize that, while at 16 I was eternally unsatisfied with the quality of the photos I was taking, in retrospect, I was excellent at portraiture.


But there were also a lot of pictures of me from that time. And for the first time in my life, I looked at those pictures without disdain for the fat body I had when I was younger.


I think that I destroyed a lot of photos of myself from when I was fat, while I was fat. And I certainly hated having my picture taken or seeing myself in pictures. Because for me it was one thing to know that I was fat, which I did every moment of every day for most of my life, but another thing entirely to see it. To have it displayed. The only thing I did do with them was keep a handful of pictures that I would use as before and after weight loss photos. A practice I have been doing less and less of over the years. I used to think it was the perfect illustration of the change in me. Now I just see it as promoting fat phobia, rather than expressing the relief of having my sugar addiction under control.

Those pictures were me showing how I defeated my fat self! It was like I was showing you how I killed off the unworthy me. But 16-year-old Kate needed to like and love herself, not be killed over and over in photographs to show that I knew that everyone had always been right about my worthlessness.


While I was fat, I hated being fat. I hated fatness. I had internalized so much of society’s fat phobia that I hated myself. I was embarrassed and ashamed. I thought my fatness had been a moral failing. And even after I got my eating under control, and my body got smaller because of my eating boundaries, it took over a decade for me to stop looking at my fat younger self as someone else, not me.


I had somehow convinced myself that skinny Kate (back when I was actually skinny) was the “real” Kate and that I had finally ditched that loser, fat Kate, and left her in the past.


But 15+ years of having my eating under control, my head clear, and my moral compass pointing in the right direction, I can separate my addictive eating from my body, and from the rampant fat phobia in Western society and culture.


I am not sorry I put boundaries around my eating. Whatever my weight, I don’t want to eat simple sugar or carbohydrates anymore. I am done and I am happy to have given them up. I am happy to have my addiction arrested a day at a time. I love my eating boundaries for the freedom and clarity they give me. And I still love to eat!


But now, when I see those pictures of myself from almost 30 years ago, I see how beautiful I was. I was gorgeous! And also fat. For most of my life, I wholeheartedly believed those things were mutually exclusive. That being fat made me ugly and unworthy, disgusting and shameful. That fat cancelled out any redeeming qualities about me.


What I figured out pretty quickly when I got my eating under control is that very few people from my past noticed any difference in me other than my body size. While I shifted my inner life, my confidence, my conscience, my consciousness, to such an extent that I felt like an entirely different person, people like my husband, who was a childhood friend, or High School friends whom I had not seen in many years, said that I seemed pretty much the same to them. Aside from maybe my parents, nobody really noticed that much of a difference in my personality. Even though my new and improved level of self-love and self-acceptance led to an unprecedented sense of inner peace and contentment, most people still saw the same old Kate.


The sad truth is the world cares about fatness. And not in a good way. And it took a long time and years of inner spiritual work for me to see the distinction between my addiction that was causing me to ruin my own life, and fat phobia, which was allowing others (and myself) to ruin my life.


Fat phobia allowed people to say cruel and hurtful things to me, to comment on my body, to comment on what they assumed about my life and my lifestyle, to make me the butt of jokes without consequences. Because my fatness necessarily meant that I was lazy, stupid, gluttonous, greedy and shameful. The idea being that I brought it on myself. That if I weren’t those things I wouldn’t have been fat, and nobody would be able to make those jokes about me. That it was my own damn fault. And if I didn’t want people remarking on my body I should just push away from the table, have some self control.


I am grateful that I got to see and keep those pictures of myself. I am happy to have the clarity to see the truth about my teenage self. That I was sad because I was sick. That I was beautiful. That I was worth knowing. That I am still basically the same person, fat or not. And that I don’t keep my eating boundaries to be skinny (which is a good thing since I am not skinny) but to keep my head and my conscience clear, and to have the confidence to make bold life choices.

Boundaries are a Love Language

I am planning a fun little trip to LA in September. I will fly in on a Thursday, and out on a Monday. I am specifically going to see a friend, and my husband doesn’t want to take the time off of work because we are planning a big Florida trip in October. So I will be going go by myself. And in making my plans I got in touch with my friend about dates and times and whatnot. And she very generously, and very kindly, told me that she would only have a certain amount of time to give me in the days I will be there. And can I just say, I freaking loved it!

One thing I understand now after 15 years of having boundaries around my eating is that as a person with boundaries, I love it when other people have boundaries too.

The truth is that I was not expecting my friend to give me all of that time in LA. I’m a loner, by nature. I can and do amuse myself alone. All the time. I am good at it. I enjoy my own company. But knowing, in no uncertain terms, what I can expect, what I can ask for, what is on offer, and what I will be responsible for makes my life easier.

Boundaries are a life tool. They are how I manage my priorities and my time for myself. They are how I organize and create my day and my experiences. But when offered up to someone else, they are a kind of love language. This is how you can care for me. This is how you can honor me. This is how you can respect me.

Before I got my eating under control, I did not have any boundaries. And I hated other people’s boundaries. I wanted to please people so they would like me. But that is not how people pleasing works. People pleasing makes people like what you can do for them. They stop seeing the person, and only what can be gained from the person. I didn’t have any way to say no, so I would give more than I could and then behave badly when I couldn’t take any more. I was “an exploding doormat.” I let you walk all over me until I blew up.

In setting boundaries, in taking care of my own needs first, I don’t need to blow up. I can walk away. I can disengage with love. I have told you how I will be treated. And I *will* be treated with the respect that I dictate. Or I will walk away. 

My relationships are very different now than they were when I was eating compulsively. I like myself better. I like the people in my life better. Not because they are different, but because I am different. Because I have set the tone of respect and honor. Because I offer honor and expect it in return. And the people from my past who could not or would not learn to honor me and allow me to honor them, have all fallen away. 

Because there is another little tidbit to this. To set a clear boundary is to preempt drama. To speak your truth, and ask for what you want, and make clear what you have the capacity to give, is to give shape to expectations.

My first boundaries were around my food. But those boundaries I set for myself forced me to set them for others. If I wasn’t going to eat sugar and carbohydrates, I had to say no when my beloved grandma wanted me to eat her spaghetti and meatballs. Or when someone brought a cake especially for my birthday, or when someone wanted a taste of my meal that I had weighed out and committed and could not share. 

I am eternally grateful for the gift of having my eating under control for many reasons. But learning to have and keep boundaries is one of the most useful and freeing aspects of that gift.

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