onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the category “Inspiration”

I don’t know much, but I know I need a boundary

I did a thing I am half proud, half ashamed of. And it has affected me for the past several days. Or maybe I am neither proud nor ashamed. But I know what I did was both unprofessional, and also in keeping with my own integrity.

I, if you don’t know, work with my husband and together we are a management team for a construction company. And for the past several months, I have been managing the start of a very big, expensive project. And it was overwhelming. And I felt unsupported. So I went to someone high up in the company and told her. And she told me to reach out to the two men in charge of this project. 

So the other day I had a question for one of those two higher ups on this very expensive project. And he told me that if I did not have the information, it was not his fault. It was my project manager’s fault. In other words, if I didn’t know an answer, it was because my husband was the problem.

And this is not the first time he has said something to this effect. That if something goes/went wrong on this multimillion dollar, multi-year project, it was my and my husband’s doing, and that it was our problem. That it had nothing to do with him. And he even said it in the office so that other people could hear him. I know because one of them brought it up to me afterwards, saying “I can’t believe he said that about your husband to your face!”

Well, let me tell you that it is not exaggerating to say that this time, I totally lost my shit on this man. A man. And a higher-up in the company. And I did not care. And I do not care. I am still furious.

I also want to note that the kinds of things I do on this job are serious and legally binding. I do things like sign off on the fitness of a worker to be in the vicinity of Customs and Border Patrol. I represent my company legally, and my integrity and ethics are of the utmost importance. I am ok with that. I am a person of integrity.

So let me tell you the thing that made me even more furious. That instead of coming to me about my behavior, the other man in charge of this project, the even-higher-up one, who was told about my outburst by the first man, went to my husband. And had a conversation with *him* about *my* behavior. 

In other words, I am important enough to put my own life and freedom and honor at stake for this company. But I am apparently not important enough to be addressed directly when they have a problem with me.

There is the part of me that wonders if this higher-up would have gone to someone else if I were a man. Or if my husband and I did not work together for him, if he still would have gone to another man instead of me. But either way, he did not address the “problem of Kate” with Kate.

When I was eating compulsively, this would have been the best of all possible outcomes according to the addict I was. I would almost certainly have been afraid of censure and conflict. And I would have been happy to avoid it at all costs and pretend that it never happened.

And I would also not have been so clear about the propriety or impropriety of my actions. I would have second guessed myself and quickly taken all of the shame upon myself. Because I hated myself. And because my integrity was nearly nonexistent, and I would not have had enough of the confidence I get from my integrity to see how I was slighted.

But now, with my food addiction under control, and my head and my conscience clear, I don’t want to avoid conflict in order to stuff down uncomfortable feelings. I don’t want to avoid difficult conversations. I want to get to the bottom of what is going on. I want to feel seen and heard and acknowledged. And I want to take responsibility for what is mine. But only mine. I want to be treated like a grown up, even if that means being punished for acting like a brat. Which I absolutely did.

So I am at a crossroads. I really do not know what, exactly, I am going to do about it right now. But there is one thing that having my eating under control and my drug foods down makes obvious to me, and that is that I cannot sign off on being treated this way. That I need to have a boundary around this as much as I do around what and when and how I eat.

I do not have as many hours as Beyoncé. So I have priorities.

I have occasionally written about my bare minimums here. It is the way I manage my time, and therefore, my life. And another way to say that I have priorities. 

One of the lessons from getting my eating under control that took a little longer than many of the others was that I could not get everything done. Not just that I couldn’t get all of the things done today. That I could not get done all of the things I wanted to, period. It was never going to work. 

It was a bit of a hard pill to swallow, frankly. I had my sugar addiction arrested. I was sleeping enough, eating nourishing food, keeping track of my commitments, paying my bills. On time! These were huge, empowering, life-altering shifts to my day-to-day operating. But I still could not get everything done that I wanted to. 

There is a coffee mug that says “You have the same hours in the day as Beyoncé.”(Look, you don’t. Neither do I. Certainly not if you have to drive yourself 45 minutes to and from work. And grocery shop. And blow out your own hair and do your own makeup. And cook dinner for yourself and your family. But I digress.) I hate that saying for more reasons than the fact that it is a lie. I hate it because it implies that there is something grand and specific that you and I should be doing with our time. And that if we are not, we are wasting it.

That mug is implying that there are priorities that you should have and they are in line with the priorities of a multi-millionaire superstar.

Right now, my priorities are basically food boundaries, relationship with husband, bare minimum self-care (exercise, water, meditation), work, and making sure there are clean dishes to cook and eat my meals. That is it. That is the sum total of what I have the energy for. My house is a mess and I don’t care. I am not knitting or crocheting. I am not cooking interesting meals. I am not doing my regular grooming rituals like doing my nails or deep-conditioning my hair. 

One of the best things about priorities is that you have to be really honest about what you want and the amount of time you have. Before I used the tool of prioritizing, I didn’t have to look at the truth about what I could get done because I was living in the lie that I could get it all done. Because, at least in theory, I had the same 24 hours as Beyoncé. But in having the clear head that was the result of giving up my drug foods and having my eating under control, I could see that the math didn’t work out. That it was never going to work out. And I had to make choices.

One of my priorities is, and truly always has been, rest. I need a lot of down time. A lot. I need to daydream. I need silence and space and solitude. 

For much of my life, that seemed like a terrible thing. It was seen as laziness and vanity. It felt wasteful and shameful. And perhaps it was when I had no priorities. 

But now I have priorities. And I honor them. I manage my time and my life. Once I really looked at my life and got specific about what was most important to me, my priorities were obvious. Food first. Husband second. And once those were settled, everything else just clicked right into place. Simple. 

But for me, food first is the priority of all priorities. Without the clarity and peace that having my addictive eating under control brings, I have one priority: sugar. And that “one” priority comes with its own set of other priorities. How to get it, how to eat it without anyone judging me, how to get it out of myself without it showing on my body, how to stop once I started. And with that many priorities, how can anything else stand a chance?

If I can’t do anything else, I can still be present

I am a person who cries. A lot. And I always have been. But I don’t cry when people expect me to cry. I cry out of frustration, and anger. I cry over not being seen or heard. I cry over being misunderstood or misrepresented. But I don’t cry much over death, real or fictional.  I cry about life and relationships (also real or fictional.) 

Over 10 years ago now, my dad’s mom, who was my first love and the other love of my life besides my husband, died. But I barely cried at her funeral. Because while she was in the hospital from April 2010 to July when she finally went to sleep and didn’t wake up again, I cried. I cried a lot. And I didn’t do almost anything else. I went to work, and I came home, I choked down my meals and I laid out on my roof and I thought about all of the regrets I had; the things I took for granted, the ways I was selfish and self-centered, the times I failed to show up for her even though she showed up for me without fail. 

But I will tell you the other thing that I was doing while I was crying and devastated for 4 months. I was mourning. In real time. So that by the time she was truly gone, all of the shame and the regrets and the sadness of losing her had been dealt with. I came out on the other side of her death having internalized it, dealt with it, and I was complete. 

Look, it helps that we truly liked and loved one another. It was an easy relationship. It was filled with fun and joy and mutual love and respect. We didn’t have a lot of issues to work through. We didn’t have unfinished business. 

But also, my eating had been under control for over 4 years at that point. And I was clear headed and present. I was able to look at myself honestly. I was able to see the world clearly. 

Right now, the US is in a precarious position. For many reasons and due to many factors. And I am so grateful to not be eating compulsively. Because I am dealing with the fear and the uncertainty, the anxiety and the horror, every day, moment-to-moment, in real time.

I don’t have a lot of energy lately. I don’t want to do the things I love. I don’t want to be in touch with people. I don’t have it in me to get things done and take care of the things that need taking care of. I don’t want to clean my house, or paint my nails, or deep condition my hair or any of the things that I do to take care of myself emotionally or physically. 

But I keep my eating and my food under control. I do that without exception no matter what. And thank God. 

I know that a lot of people are eating compulsively right now. And I am not judging. Let me assure you that eating compulsively saved me in my early life. When I didn’t have an understanding of, or a way to deal with, those huge emotions that lived in my little kid body. Eating sugar and using it as a drug *saved* me!!!

But over the past 15 years, after giving up drug foods, or really *because* I gave up my drug foods, I acquired some important tools for managing my stress, for living in the present moment, for listening to my own truth and honoring my head and my heart both.

And I believe that, like I was able to get through the end of my beloved grandmother’s life present and in the moment, I will be able to go through these national and global situations and circumstances in real time, and come out on the other side of this political turmoil having internalized it and dealt with it. I know that I am already dealing with the world, the country, and my place in it. Because I have the tools to manage it. Because having my sugar addiction and compulsive eating arrested means that I can fully digest the events of my life and the world. Even if I can’t do anything else. 

So I fully believe that as long as I keep my eating under control, I can take each moment as it comes and trust that when the dust settles, I will already be complete.

Moving forward clear-headed and confident

What do I have to say today? Good lord. Who even knows. 

My food has not changed. My addiction didn’t magically disappear because of political turmoil or personal fear and anxiety. So my solution remains the same.

I am afraid. About the future. For myself, and my country. But the events of the past week have offered an excellent reminder. I see things clearly. I understand what I am seeing. I don’t need to second guess myself. I don’t need to doubt myself. And I don’t have to wonder if I am making the wrong choices.

Over the past several months, I have sometimes wondered if I was overreacting in regards to certain relationships, relationships I needed to step back from. I wondered if I should put differences aside. But whenever I really thought about it, thought about letting go of certain personal moral standards, I would cry. Not just cry. Sob. To the point where my husband would get upset. (He is already really bad at dealing with my crying in general – I cry a lot –  and this was serious toddler-level ugly crying.) 

But now I am clear that those tears were helping me. Those were emotions that were reminding me how to honor myself; they were saving me, protecting me, taking care of me. And I could really see and experience and understand them because my food is under control, my addiction is arrested, and my head is clear. 

I don’t know how to move forward from here. But I guess the point is that that is fine. I have done right by myself until now. I will continue to do right by myself as we go along. Because I have my addiction under control, my head is clear, and my commitment to myself, my honor, and my integrity are in tact because I keep my sugar addiction on a tight leash.

I don’t think any of us really knows how to go on right now. The dust hasn’t even settled yet. But when it does, I want to be clear headed and confident. And I do that by keeping my food boundaries and staying well away from my drug foods.

15 years. Still grateful. Still angry.

Yesterday was the 15 year anniversary of having boundaries around my eating. Every day. No cheat days. No extra bites. No special exemptions for birthdays or holidays. 

To this day I am grateful for the solution I found to my eating problem. 

When I started this blog, it was about my weight. And I still really love living in a smaller body. I posted some pictures on social media yesterday. 3 from when I was a teenager, and 3 from this year. And it is strange to look at that body that I lived in for so long. It is easy to forget now what a prison that body was for me.

It was hard to move in that body. Hard to be mobile. Hard to get to where I needed to go. It was a cumbersome, uncomfortable vehicle. 

But more than that, it was a humiliating vehicle. And that is something that is still hard for me. Because I am still angry at the ways I was treated. I am still angry at the things people said to me. Family and friends. Strangers and acquaintances. And that was not about me and my food issues. That was about society and the issues of our culture.

I am so happy and grateful and filled with peace, because I got my eating and my sugar addiction under control. I have no interest in or intention of changing my food. I am happy to never have another bite of cake again. I mean that. Really and truly happy about it. 

But I don’t do it for anyone but myself. And I am still sad and angry that society told people, and me, that for the first 28 years of my life I was unlikable, detestable, shameful, pathetic, contemptible, unqualified for respect and unworthy of love.

I understand if you are impressed by my having lost weight. I can see how it can look impressive. But I will tell you what is really impressive. That I was able to honor myself and my body, even when people were telling me that that body meant I was grotesque and disgusting. That I was able to love myself enough to honor myself when the general consensus seemed to be that I was broken and wrong.

If you love a fat person, maybe just love them. Exactly as they are. Even if they can’t or won’t do whatever things you think they should do to be healthy or happy or whatever it is you think they should be. 

So on this 15th anniversary of me doing this crazy thing that resulted in long-term weight loss, I am going to tell you that the weight is not the actually answer. It never was. The answer is in honoring myself. Bodily, emotionally, and spiritually. The answer is that food was killing me and now it’s not. The answer is that if it’s your body, it’s *your* answer to find. And if it is not your body, the answer is to love the person in front of you. Not who you have decided they should be.

Problems vs Situations

It is the last post of 2020! And thank heaven! 

On January 1st this year, my husband made our favorite meal, carnitas! And as he took it out of the oven, we heard a weird creaking, and the Pyrex dish that we had been cooking our carnitas in for years, kind of imploded and covered our delicious nuggets of melty, crispy, perfectly seasoned pork with glass. And I had a thought. “I hope this is not an omen for the whole year.”

My friends, it was.

I have been very lucky this year. I have not suffered financially, or been personally sick, or lost a loved one to sickness. I have not personally minded being stuck at home. I like home. Even more than most people. It’s where I wear jammies and read books and comics. And I’m kind of antisocial.

But it has still been a hard year for me. Emotionally. I am an anxious person. I am an emotional person. I am a peri-menopausal person. And it has also been a year of clarity. Of me seeing some things clearly for the first time and having to come to terms with them. Or failing to come to terms with them. All of those things have meant that I have been on a rollercoaster ride of feelings for the majority of this year.

But I did not eat compulsively and I ate all of my strictly portion-controlled meals. Even when I didn’t want to. Because food and eating for me cannot be about my weight or my body. And I cannot safely decide to not eat any more than I can safely decide to eat compulsively.  And that very clear set of boundaries and rules to eat by has made this year bearable. 

There is a saying I like. “Food is my problem. Everything else is just a situation.” 

I can deal with anything as long as I have my eating under control. And I can know that I don’t have to “deal with” everything. Or I can deal with it on my own terms and in my own time. I can get through the day and the week and the month and the year without hating myself. 

I don’t know what will happen in 2021. Let’s face it. The coming year could be worse than this one. There is no guarantee that things will get better. And there is nothing magical about January 1st. Calendars are a man-made construct, obviously. The “new year” used to begin in March for the planting season.

But one whole trip around the sun is still noteworthy. And as this last trip has been a bumpy ride, I’m willing to hope for a better year ahead.

But of course, my point is that no matter what this new year brings, the most important thing for me is to keep my eating boundaries. That way even if Elon Musk hires Carol Baskin to train an army of murder hornets to drive cars, that will still just be a situation to deal with. And not an actual problem.

The Eternal Holiday Without the Fun

Since I gave up sugar, I have started to care less and less about holidays. 

When I was growing up, I looked forward to holidays. I mean really looked forward to them. There would be parties with special foods, and lots of people. My cousins would all be there to run and play and make an ungodly noise with. Both sides of my family were boisterous. There was always a lot of laughter and funny stories. But child Kate often forgot that those times were also, inevitably, too much. That I would become overstimulated, overwhelmed, overemotional, and overindulged.

As a grownup with her eating under control, I love the ideas of holidays more than I love the days themselves. A holiday is a way to acknowledge certain universal experiences we have because we are humans in bodies living on Earth. Christmas is the celebration of the return of the sun. If, as centuries and cultures, and empires have risen and fallen, it has taken on some other aspects, for example, the return of “a son,” well that is all well and good too. It is still about getting through the long darkness and trusting in the promise of the return of the light and the warmth. The promise that we won’t *all* starve to death. 

And a holiday is a day to forget our personal troubles and celebrate the enormity of life. It is a time to raise our consciousness above the idea of self and embrace humanity.

Addiction is a lot like trying to live in an eternal holiday. You’re trying to ride the same wave as Christmas, but every day, while nobody else is celebrating, and you don’t get the time off of work and school. It is like trying to forget your mundane self, and only live in the ecstasy of universality. But that is just too much for an individual to maintain. Trust me. I did the research for you.

When I gave up simple sugars and carbohydrates, I had to come to appreciate the simplicity of the day-to-day. I had to come to appreciate when nothing special was going on. I had to get comfortable in the calm. And I came to discover that I loved the calm. Once I had exorcised my demons, anyway. 

I realized that I had hated the peace of daily life because I didn’t have any peace. If I were calm for a moment, I would think about the wrongs that I had done. I would be haunted by the things I was ashamed of. And the ways I had hurt others and disappointed myself. But I had done a lot of those things *because* of my addiction. It was a vicious cycle and I didn’t know where it began or ended. And I could not seem to unravel it.

It turned out that giving up my drug foods was the answer. Or, at least the first step. There would be many other things to do about it. Acknowledge my wrongdoings, make amends for them, change my actions, shift my thinking. But all of those things started with getting my eating under control.

So now my eating is under control. And I love my day-to-day living. I am happy with my integrity, and my willingness, and my life. And I don’t need to live like every day is a holiday. In fact, I don’t even need to live like holidays are holidays. 

I will miss my nieces and nephews this year. I will miss tickling babies and reading books to the bigger ones. I will miss exclaiming over dollar gifts from the elementary school‘s Santa’s workshop. But I will still be perfectly happy laying around in my adult-sized onesie and drinking coffee and doing nothing this year. There will be more Christmases to come. And as for this year, I don’t have any shames or fears or worries that I need to numb.

Still a pillar, just a little wobbly

The other day I went into my boss’s office and I said (cried in frustration, actually – thank God she’s a woman, because, let’s face it, a man would not have been able to deal with that) that I was overwhelmed. I said that I felt like I was the only person who knew what was going on for one of the 3 jobs I was working on, that I was already in over my head and that I felt like I was set up to fail. I told her I could not do everything that was expected of me well or gracefully.

And the first thing she said was. “Nobody expects you to do this gracefully. We expect you to fuck up.” (It’s construction. People swear a lot.) “And there is nothing you can mess up that could be worse than people have messed up before you. You were given this job because we have faith that you can do it well.”

And then she told me that one of the other ladies in the office will familiarize herself with the job I was so worried about, so that at least 2 of us know what is going on.  And she took one of my jobs away and told me to work on the other 2 and stop worrying about the 3rd.

When I was in the food, I was a terrible employee, like I was a terrible student. There is a saying I appreciate. “How you do anything is how you do everything.”  And when I was in active addiction, how I did everything was how I did food. Lots of sneaking, lying, cheating, manipulating, and blame passing. So the idea that I could be vulnerable, go to my boss, tell her my fears honestly, tell her I felt overwhelmed, tell her that I didn’t know what to do but that I knew I needed support, was the opposite of that. It was exposing myself, letting her and the company know that I was not the unshakable pillar of excellence I often feel like I am, and that I regularly offer.

So to be told that I was not expected to be great or graceful was a blessing. 

The truth is, I am a pillar of excellence. Much of the time. And I pride myself on it. And the fact that I am overwhelmed or unhappy or feeling under qualified does not negate that. 

When I was in active addiction, I was obsessed with what things meant. Especially what things meant about me. Because like I believed that my fatness meant I had a broken body, I believed that how easily I became paralyzed by fear and overwhelm meant my character was also broken.

But in getting my sugar addiction under control, I started to recognize how much of my life didn’t *mean* anything at all. Things were simply the consequences of specific actions (or inactions) I had taken. And I started to see how many of my choices and actions were fueled by these beliefs I had created about myself because of the ways I fed, and floundered in, my addiction.

Being free of the food let me know that I not only could be, but was, say, both a pillar of excellence and an overwhelmed worker in over her head. That those things are not mutually exclusive. That those things are both valid at the same time. 

And the other thing I learned from giving up sugar is that being a pillar of any kind is not particularly useful if I don’t know how to keep myself standing. And the trick to that is *I* can’t keep myself standing. At least not alone. I need help. And that is why the best tool I have to keep my addiction under control is a community. And that is true for work as well. When I need support, I reach out for support. That way I stay upright, like the pillar of excellence that I am.

For those in the “giving things up” stage, hang in there!

It’s a hard thing to give up foods. When I first realized I was an addict, which is a sort of weird, fluid time between 2005 and 2007 (a little before and after I gave up most sugars grains and starches in January 2006) I was constantly shocked and saddened by the things I couldn’t eat anymore. Not just cake and cookies and bread and potatoes. But also nuts and nut butters, and extracts with alcohol in them, or  random things like imitation crab meat. And seemingly healthy foods like sweet potatoes and corn. 

It felt in that time that everything was being taken from me. That all of my joy in eating was coming to an end. That I would be one of those people who “didn’t live to eat, but ate to live.” And I was so sad for myself. Because I was sad for those people who didn’t have joy in eating. Eating was one of my favorite experiences, and I thought I was going to have to mourn that part of myself.

Spoiler alert! I still live to eat. Even more than before. Because now my eating is guilt-free. And joyful. Not just on holidays or at celebrations. Now I love my food all the time. I take the time and do the work so that every meal, every bite, every taste is decadent and delicious. Summer tomatoes with mayonnaise! Half sour deli pickles! Homemade Italian sausage with giardiniera, homemade sugar-free ice cream, filet Mignon, and caramelized onions! 

The beginning of the giving up and letting go is the hardest part. I had to mourn. Yes, even though the foods I was mourning were drugs and poison to me, and were ruining my life. I had to be sad and sorry. That was normal and natural. But once I got past the mourning, everything was better. Every aspect of my life shifted to something sweeter and happier, peaceful and content.

If you are in the “giving things up” stage, and you are mad and sad and frustrated and suffering, that is normal and natural. And it will pass. But here is the thing, if you look at the things you *can* have, it’s not so bleak. Don’t forget to look at the baked apples with cinnamon, and the pork carnitas with fresh salsa, or the eggs fried in butter, and strawberry and peach smoothies. And don’t think you have to be one of those people who subsists on dry chicken breasts and steamed broccoli. That may be one path, but it is not a path I, personally, would have been able to walk for any amount of time.

Pandemic Thanksgiving is the best Thanksgiving

If you have been reading my blog for a long time, you know that I hate Thanksgiving. I know, I know. Thanksgiving is supposed to be about family, togetherness, and our gratitude for our loved ones. And that is beautiful, theoretically. But in practice, Thanksgiving is when everybody lets themselves eat like compulsive eaters eat every day. It’s the day when the amateurs eat like the professionals, and the professionals eat like themselves, but openly. 

I don’t miss anything about eating compulsively. And I am grateful that I have a lifestyle that doesn’t have concepts like “cheat” or “break” or “special occasion.” I eat like a Queen every day. Not because it’s my birthday, or Christmas, or Thanksgiving. But because it’s Thursday and eating delicious meals is how I feel content when I am strictly eating within my food boundaries. I don’t eat like other people. I didn’t when I was fat, because I was binge eating, and stress eating, and emotional eating. And I don’t now that I weigh my food, and eat three times a day, and abstain from most sugars, grains and starches. I have never been a normal eater, and never will be. 

I am a sugar addict. If I put sugar in my body, my body has a reaction that makes it crave more. If I chose to eat without abandon on Thanksgiving, or my birthday, or whatever day seems like a good day to other people, to stuff themselves, I would not just be able to get back on the wagon. That is the luxury of normal eaters. I would be fighting the cravings for months. In fact, it took a year and a half for me to make it through the withdrawal when I gave up drug foods in 2006. A year and a half! Thanksgiving comes every year. You can see the math doesn’t work out in my favor.

So Pandemic Thanksgiving was absolutely amazing for me. I had a paid holiday. I did not have to cook anything special, I got to sit around in my pajamas all day with no one to see and nothing to do, and because it’s a pandemic, nobody thought that was weird, and nobody felt sorry for me as if I had lost something by not overeating on Thanksgiving, instead of gaining everything by not overeating every day.

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