onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the month “May, 2022”

In my circle sitting in it

As a person who has lived with a kind of constant, low level anxiety for basically all of her life, you might think I am not feeling much different in the face of some of the more terrifying things that have been happening here in the US over the past several days, months, years. But you would be very, very wrong.

It’s a funny thing to know that things are bad, but that also, there is really nothing to do about it except carry on. I read a really interesting article a couple of years ago with this quote. “Collapse is just a series of ordinary days in between extraordinary bullshit, most of it happening to someone else.” 

So here I am, more and more afraid every day, but someone has to go to the grocery store and do the laundry and make dinner. And I can. I have money and time. Everything terrible and horrific that I am afraid of has happened to someone else. For now.

I have to constantly remind myself that there is nothing to do but what is right in front of me. There is no difference I can make except in the place I am at any moment. That I cannot fix any part of the world I can’t reach.

It helps me to think about my life in concentric circles. I am alone in my first circle, and that is where I have the most control. I keep my eating boundaries. I exercise. I drink my water. In the next circle is my husband and our marriage and all of the ways I can make a difference in our partnership. And so on.

Another thing that helps to “sit in it.” I hate that part. The sitting in my fear and discomfort. The being alone with my powerlessness. The letting Life be what it is. I absolutely abhor it, but it is necessary for me and my sanity.

I could eat a cake. That would certainly numb me for a while. But a while is not that long. And then I would just need more cake, and nothing would change. Except that I might not be able to do the mundane stuff anymore like grocery shopping or laundry. Because I am a low bottom, non-functioning food addict. 

So I am going to keep my eating boundaries and navigate the fear and just put one foot in front of the other. I don’t think that will make a difference in the world, but I know that it will make a difference in my very small part of the world. Even if that means only that very small circle around just myself.

Phew, am I gonna be one skilled sailor!

If you read last week’s post, you know that I am in the middle of a huge artistic crochet undertaking and I had really started to hate it. It’s an original design, a character doll, and I have been working on it for many weeks. Well, one particular part, the hair, was something I had been working on for almost as long as all of the rest of the doll. It’s a common thing. The hair is always the single most time consuming part of one of my dolls. And I realized that part of my problem was that I had done hours and hours (and HOURS) of work on it, and it is not going to work for what I want to do. In other words, I hated it because I knew that it didn’t serve me or my project and yet I could not let it go.

I am absolutely terrible at letting things go. In general. But in particular, this example was extra hard. It was not my first attempt at the hair for this doll. I had already had to rip back hours of work I had done for my first try. And this second try I got so much farther. So many more hours. It feels like so much time wasted.

I weigh most (if not all) of my food every meal, every day. (There are rules in place for when I don’t have to weigh it. Like I can eat 1 apple, no matter the weight. Or two eggs. Or other similar circumstances. But there are always boundaries.) And it has happened before that something has gone wrong. My scale shut off before I was done. Or I realized that I put the wrong measurement in with some other part of my meal and it was something wet or sticky and I could not just remove it and keep going. And when something like this happens now, I just throw the whole thing away and move on. Because I have over 16 years of experience believing wholeheartedly that my boundaries and my honesty and integrity around food are the most important things in my life. But in the beginning I struggled. What about the cost of the food? What about the time I spent? What about the hard to find ingredients I used in it?

I don’t want my work to be for nothing. I don’t want my time to be wasted. I don’t want to be wrong. I don’t want to have to try and fail. I just want to get it right. I just want smooth sailing and to be exceptional and gifted. I want things to be easy for me the way everything seemed easy to me as a precocious child. 

But what’s the saying? “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.”

For as much as I want to be right, gifted, a genius, a natural, a great proficient, I want more to be skilled. And I got that desire for skill over “natural talent” by being willing to abandon what doesn’t work. By being willing to throw away the things that don’t align with my goals.

Look, I totally get high on being precocious, even now at almost 45. And I am, actually, a natural at yarn craft. But I am making new things, hatched from my own mind, not a replica of something hatched from someone else’s. And it’s called trial and error, not trial and automatic success. Even so, setbacks can still make me feel frustrated like a child. 

Which is why I am grateful for the lessons of my eating boundaries. If it doesn’t work, scrap it. The time and the money and the effort are all part of a process. And the goal is to meet a goal, in whatever time and way that happens, not to always only be right.

Art and my noisy brain

I have been working on a crochet project for a few weeks, and I am in an uncomfortable but predictable place with it. I am a good portion of the way done and I have not been working on it almost at all for weeks, because I have begun to wonder if I actually hate it and have made a terrible mistake in trying to make it.

This is predictable because it happens every time I make a project that is an original idea and not based on a pattern. Every. Single. Time.

I know that this is the way of art. That there is nothing to do about it but keep going. And I even know somewhere in the back of my mind that it will probably be amazing, even if it is not perfect. And I know that I can alway frog it back (the common term for pulling out rows of stitches, because you rip it, rip it) and try again if I am so inclined. But knowing all of this does not particularly help me move in one direction or another.

My mind can be a bit of an echo chamber. Thoughts and ideas can bounce around in there for long periods of time, and grow or change shape in all kinds of unpredictable ways.

When I got my eating under control, an important early lesson was how I am “only as sick as my secrets.” That the things that I was afraid or ashamed of were amplified by my reluctance to talk openly about them. And once I found people on whom I could rely to be lovingly honest and nonjudgmental, I started telling my “secrets.” It turns out that the ghosts that can haunt me in my own mind are just shadows and dust bunnies when I shine a light on them. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

But art (and yes, I do consider myself an artist, and the kind of crafting I do art) is not merely an idea or a concept. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, as they say. (I know, they don’t say that. But they should.) And art is not about ideas, but execution. So even if I were to wax poetic about my current project, which I occasionally do, it still doesn’t change the fact that it is not really anything until it is finished. It is not the idea that is haunting me, but my ability to make the idea tangible, and the reality of whether I can, in fact, manage to do that.

What I have learned about making in the 16+ years since I put boundaries around my eating is to trust the process. To fully embrace this place where I am stuck. To make friends with the rattling jumble of noise in my head. To honor the uncertainty and fear, and then, eventually, push through. To recognize that the idea and the object that is born from it are never the same. That art and craft are different, and that my art will only ever be as good as my skill in the craft. That there will always be more craft to learn, so make the art now anyway. 

Like I said before, I have this experience every time I create something from my own mind. And everything I have ever hated half way through, I have come to love upon completion. So I will probably make a few smaller projects or try some new techniques, and give myself a little distance from this major creative undertaking, and then I will come back to it and power through. And we shall see what I end up with.

Driving my meat car with the low fuel light always on

I was talking to a friend yesterday who forgot to eat for a long time and didn’t understand what was wrong. And it reminded me that there are a lot of us who don’t have bodies that function like other bodies.

My friend was raised with intuitive eating. (Not that it was specifically called that, but she was taught to only ever eat when she was hungry.) And that worked for her sisters and her parents. But my friend was feeling stressed out last week, and she did not feel hungry, so it never occurred to her to eat. So she didn’t. And it made her sick. Obviously.

And it reminded me that some of us don’t have the bodies with properly functioning “indicator lights.” My “hungry light” never goes off. My “full light” never goes on. For my friend, her “hungry light” never goes on. She usually takes her cues to eat from people around her, so when she is not around people, she can forget.

Before I got my eating under control, I thought hunger lived in my stomach. But since I have put boundaries around my eating, I have learned that my feelings live in my stomach. So any feeling used to feel like hunger. Unhappiness occurred as hunger. Anxiety occurred as hunger. Excitement occurred as hunger. And joy, and fear, and worry and dread. 

It turns out that actual hunger doesn’t really *feel* like anything to me. I’m more irritable, and my thinking less cogent. I am more likely to be scattered and not know what to do next. And I might, under extreme circumstances, feel wobbly or lightheaded. But none of those things *feel* the way I always thought hunger felt. They don’t feel like much of anything.

So I am grateful that I found a solution to my eating problem that doesn’t have anything to do with “listening to my body.” And I am grateful to have a point of reference for *not* listening to the feelings I have when it comes to food. 

I am not opposed to intuitive eating. I think that when all of your indicator lights function properly, it’s a smart way to nourish yourself. But here is to all of us driving around in our meat cars with the “low fuel” light always on (or off.) May we all find the best way to keep ourselves on the road.

Having a travel plan

My husband and I flew home for the weekend. I hate flying. I know that it doesn’t make sense to drive 12 hours both ways for a weekend, so of course we flew. But I have hated flying for as long as I have had my eating under control. 

I always travel with meals. At least a day’s worth. Sometimes 2 days or more. Because when it comes to food and keeping my eating boundaries, I make sure I am prepared. And TSA makes me anxious and stresses me out.

I have lots of little tricks I do to fly now. I have learned that certain food items, like glycerin-based flavorings, will automatically get flagged, so I don’t travel with food that has them. I don’t use foil to package things, and try to use transparent plastic bags and containers . I keep plastic and non-metal utensils to travel. I keep all food, along with my scales and batteries for my scales in separate carry-on that fits in my bigger carry-on, so when I get to the conveyor, I pull the smaller bag out of the bigger bag and put them on the belt separately.

Most of the time, I am traveling with more than I need. That is, as long as everything goes according to plan. But I will not leave my food and my eating boundaries to the chance that nothing will go wrong. Obviously, I am always pleased and grateful when nothing goes wrong! But when it does, I am even more grateful to have had the foresight to make a plan and prepare ahead of time.

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