onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the category “Personal Growth”

I do what I want and have the privilege of knowing it.

I feel like my life is finally opening up again. Tomorrow I get my second COVID vaccine shot. My husband and I have a new job lined up for the not-so-distant future. And I am doing some planning and plotting for some fiction writing. (Plot is hard, for those of you who don’t know.)


I have been very happy to stay home and not deal with people for the past year. I am absolutely a home body who can contentedly consume and\or create art and media with little to no human interaction. (Besides my husband. I’m certainly grateful to have shared our space together for this long stretch. I would definitely not have felt so comfortable being alone without him, home body or not.) But the truth is that I am excited to see our friends again. I am looking forward to hugging people. I even want people to come to our house. And I almost never want that!

But lets go back to fiction writing. When I was eating compulsively, I had a warped relationship to time. I didn’t have a clear idea of how long things took. I didn’t have any skill with planning my day. I was late for everything. I didn’t know what could be done and what could not. I lived as if wanting to do something should necessarily create the time in which to do it. And I was frustrated and angry at life when it did not.

Getting my eating under control didn’t change my relationship to time over night. It changed because it became wrapped up in the idea of commitment. First with the food. I had a commitment to eat three meals a day. To have the first meal between 6am and noon, the second between noon and 4pm, and dinner before midnight. And sometimes that meant stopping what I was doing in order to eat. It meant looking at the time I had and making sure I could fit meals in. Eventually my commitments grew and I needed to fit time in for those as well.

And that made me prioritize. Meals have been first priority for the whole time I have had my boundaries. But then other things became second and third priorities too. Sleep. Exercise. Rest. Creating. Being places on time. Working to make enough money to pay my bills. (Believe it or not, this was not a priority before I got my eating under control. How did I live? With a lot of stress.)

When I started working for my company a few years ago, I had not been working regularly and I had been writing fiction. (My husband was working.) But when I took on my job, I gave up writing. I stopped consciously. It didn’t peter out or fall by the wayside. I made a calculated decision that reading, knitting and crochet, sleeping, and quality time with my husband were all more important than writing when the majority of my time was going to a good job making good money, on top of all of my other commitments. And in working full time I had the added time suck of having to prep meals for the week since I would no longer be home to make them on the spot. 

It was a gift to make the choice. I didn’t have to feel resentful of the things I was doing over the things I was missing. I could honor the path I chose. And in choosing it I was free to change my mind and choose something else. I could have, but I didn’t. Until now? 

Lately I have been thinking about writing again. I have a new novel bouncing around in my head. And the prospect of writing it is both exciting and daunting. And I don’t know what I want to do about it. Or if I am going to be willing to make time to write when I am back to my 40-hour-a-week job. But I know how to use priorities as a tool. And I first learned that by making my eating boundaries a priority. 

I found that once I understood how to choose my priorities and use them for living, I was free to find peace around the choices I made, and to love my life the way it is. Because I *knew* that I chose it.

The honest to god truth is that we are all choosing our priorities every day. But some of us don’t know it yet. It seems easier to blame situation and circumstance. But once I chose my commitments, I had power over my life. So I am going to make writing fiction a priority. For now. And if I don’t like it, I can change my mind. It’s my life and my time. I do what I want. And I have the privilege of knowing it.

I still love food. I just don’t feel bad about it anymore.

I love to eat. It is my favorite thing to do. That did not change when I put boundaries around my eating. In fact, it got so much better.

For almost all of the first 28 years of my life, I had a very complicated relationship with food. I loved food, and I loved to eat. It was my friend and my solace. But I was fat. And I was judged and harassed and tormented for it. And that made eating humiliating. Because when you are fat, everybody treats you like what you eat is their business.

And I also did not have control over my eating. I could not stop when I wanted to. I could not have one and walk away. I could not “just push away from the table.” 

People often talk about chasing that first high, but I have been addicted to sugar for longer than I can remember. I don’t have any recollection of that first high. I just knew that I wanted to have a thin body, and that I hated my fat body, and that I still could not manage my eating.

So food was my best friend in secret and my worst enemy out in the world. To be a fat person who openly loves to eat is to be a target. It opens you up to the judgment of family, friends and strangers alike. You are accused of promoting ill health, and of propagating such deadly sins as gluttony and sloth. 

But when I eat within my boundaries, boundaries that don’t include my addictive drug foods, I eat guilt-free. And when I keep that promise to myself, to eat within my strict parameters, I don’t have to even acknowledge judgments about it. My food and my body ceased to be anyone else’s business in my own mind. Because my food and my body were never anyone else’s business. But I didn’t know because I was all wrapped up in the simultaneous shame and euphoria of eating to get high.

If the only way to get my eating under control was to stop caring about food, I never would have been able to do that. I needed to be able to work with what I had. And I already had a deep love of eating. So now I use the food as a defense against the food. I eat the most delicious meals I can 3 times a day. And they don’t include foods I am addicted to. And that means that I still love to eat. But I don’t have any of that guilt or shame. I don’t feel like I need to hide it. And it doesn’t control me anymore with cravings.

I don’t dance when the gorilla is around.

I got my first vaccine shot this week. And for the past 2 days I have been positively ravenous! 

When I googled “Is hunger a side effect,” one of the auto fill options was “of the COVID vaccine” so I am perhaps not the only one. Though I can’t find any articles or papers that say it *is* a side effect of the vaccine.

But the important part of this for me is that I didn’t eat in between meals. I didn’t eat outside of my food boundaries. What I did do was eat heavy.

The best thing about my eating boundaries is that they have a lot of room for circumstance. It’s like a padded wall. It’s soft. But it’s still a wall. 

I eat mostly the same few things daily and weekly. I know what I like. I don’t get tired of it. I look forward to my meals. They are my moment of pause and pleasure in the day, three times a day. And I am almost never hungry.

But really, what I can appreciate about the past few days is that I am not ruled by hunger. And I was ruled by it for years. Though I don’t think that it was true hunger. I ate out of boredom. I ate to numb my uncomfortable feelings. I ate because I felt compelled to eat. All the time. I craved. I craved constantly.

I can imagine how crazy it might sound to normal eaters to say that I was ravenous and I did not eat in between meals. Or eat more than usual. I can imagine that the idea that I would “suffer” through hunger seems a little extreme.

It is extreme. Because my food addiction is also extreme. And I can tell you very clearly, that two days of feeling hungry and not eating more to satisfy my pangs is not nearly the level of suffering that having no control over my eating was. It is not nearly as terrifying as knowing you have no say over what goes in your mouth or your body. And when I am eating compulsively, I have no control, and no say. 

They say addicts picking up their drug is like agreeing to dance with a gorilla. You may choose when to start, but it’s the gorilla who decides when you stop.

Yes, I was hungry for a few hours between meals, for consecutive days. It was not the most comfortable feeling. But it was nothing compared to the possibility of dancing with the gorilla.

But I will say that I cooked my broccoli in even more butter and olive oil than I usually do. And I ate pork rinds twice in the same day, which I don’t do often. And that helped.

Basically, I have rules, but they are letter of the law rules. And the spirit of the law *is* letter of the law. I am not on a diet. I have a diet. If I have a 1 pound apple, that is just as much “1” apple as a 6 oz apple. 

People who do what I do don’t hide these things from each other. It’s not shameful to want the biggest and the best. It is encouraged. We shout it from the rooftops. In fact, when I lived in NYC, people would text each other things like “Citarella on the UWS has 1 pound honeycrisps.” Or “I got a cantaloupe bigger than my head at the farmers market.” It was a right of passage to take someone to the (sadly now closed) restaurant where they provided scales and cups for weighing and measuring, and to order the newcomer the deep fried tofu that dripped with hot grease and was crispy on the outside with the light pillowy center. (Also, if you know where in the Chicagoland area I can get some deep fried tofu, hit a girl up!)

I was fine not eating when I was hungry. But not out of some twisted form of vanity. I don’t put boundaries around my eating to be, or get, or stay skinny. I do it to stay off the dance floor while the gorilla is around. And the gorilla is always around.

Contentment: It’s not about where I am but where I’m going.

I have been off of work this week while I wait to get assigned to a new job. I have been cleaning my house and listening to audiobooks. Working out in the afternoon instead of first thing in the morning. I have been enjoying the freedom to get things done in my own time and on my own schedule. And I am feeling ridiculously content. 

Contentment is absolutely a direct result of having my eating under control. I don’t think I ever experienced it until I was literally years into having boundaries around my eating. Perhaps when I was a very small child I was content. But definitely not once I was school-age. For nearly all of my memorable life, I was anxious, worried, fearful, unhappy, and/or overwhelmed. Life was hard for me. Not because I got a bad one. In fact, on paper I got a great one. But that didn’t really matter. It didn’t mean I was happy. It didn’t mean I was grateful. I was not. 

I think a thing that happens to a lot of people is that we can see how good we have it, and it makes us think we *should* be happy. We can see who has it worse. We can see the disparities and it makes us feel like jerks. And society tells us we are jerks. There are children starving. There are kids with nothing. We have it so much better than the ones who came before us.

And all of those things might be true. But what getting my eating under control has taught me is that it is ridiculous to compare my life to anyone else’s. For the good or the bad. It is not a competition. It is not a race. It is not a zero sum game. There is no winning or losing. There is only my experience and my journey. There is only my path, and the places my path intersects with other paths. 

There is a saying that people who do what I do with food say: Keep your eyes on your own plate. This is practical advice. That person may be eating cake, but I don’t need to look at the cake. I don’t need to judge the cake eater. I don’t need to be jealous of the cake eating. And I don’t need to romance thoughts about the cake. I don’t need to focus on who has what I don’t. Especially when I have a full plate right in front of me. (Especially especially when my plate has bacon and homemade chocolate ice cream and melt-in-your-mouth carnitas.)

There is always a thing I think I want, because someone else has it. Sometimes I read a book that is so good, or beautiful,or creative that I am insanely jealous that the writer both had it in them, and could get it out so perfectly. Sometimes I see a dress that is so stunning I ache for it, but it is prohibitively expensive or made for a different body type than mine, and I have to mourn that I cannot have it. Sometimes I see someone do something I have no talent for, like drawing, or ballet, and I get frustrated that I cannot simply have it just because I want it. 

This used to seem so unfair. I was filled with envy and cruelty and shame. 

In these past 15+ years of keeping my eating boundaries, I have learned to treat the acquisition of skills as a practice rather than a gift. If I want to learn ballet, I can learn. I may not have a natural talent, or be naturally shaped the way most ballet dancers are, but I could study it if I wanted to. I could practice. I could try. I could put in the hours and the sweat. I don’t know what the results would be. But that really wouldn’t matter. I could write a book if I wanted. I could read up on the craft, and plan and plot, and sit in front of the blank page and see what uniquely me thing came out. I could give up on the expectation of genius or grace or perfection. I could be willing to make bad art.

One of the best lessons I have learned in my life is that in order to make great art, you have to be willing to make bad art. This is not just about art. I have learned to be willing to make bad life too.

The contentment that comes from having my eating under control is about accepting what is so, deciding what I want, and taking actions to create the life I want to have. It is about eliminating expectations and being willing to do something, anything, without knowing that it will turn out the way I want it to. It is about doing for the sake of doing. And not for the outcome. 

When I was eating compulsively, food was control, even if my eating was out of my control. Food helped me control feeling my feelings, which felt entirely out of my control most of my life. If those feelings were too much for me to handle, food made me numb, so I didn’t have to handle them. Getting my eating under control helped me control the experience of those feelings without feeling like I had to control the results. I could let them wash over me, use them as sign posts and guidelines, and then make choices with my higher self: my head, my heart, and my conscience.

I am still an anxious person. I am still an addict. I am still occasionally jealous and regularly ache for something that seems out of reach. But more than any of those things, I am content. I learned to choose what I already have first, and to strive for something better second. I learned to put in the time and the effort and let the chips fall where they may. I learned to define myself by how willing I am to move forward, rather than where I stand at any given moment.

The intersection of never and always

On Tuesday this past week, I celebrated my 5th wedding anniversary. And by celebrated I mean that I forgot. And my husband forgot. And then at about 10 in the morning, just as I was texting him “Oh my god! It’s our anniversary,” he called me, to tell me it was our anniversary.

For most of my life, and especially when I was an active sugar addict and compulsive eater, I was always waiting for “the good stuff.” I wanted to get through the mundane and on to the fun and exciting. I wanted the celebration, and the special occasion, and holiday. Life was suffering the boring on my way to the exceptional. I only cared about the exceptional.

I used food for that growing up. Frankly, I used food for everything growing up. But one way was to feel something that might masquerade as monumental when the reality was only humdrum. I used it to quell what was essentially continuous anxious boredom. 

In order to get my eating under control, I had to learn to be content in the ordinary. Because there was nothing to imitate that feeling of extraordinary once the food was not an option. 

Look, we all have some experience eating out of boredom. In the US, there are 34 varieties of Pringles. And that is only one brand and one product. That wouldn’t be true if we, as a culture, ate to live rather than lived to eat. (I am not promoting eating to live! If that is how you roll, many blessings to you! But that is certainly not how I roll, even after over 15 years of boundaries around my eating.) But I lived my life trying to continually fly high, so I got high. All the time. 

When I put my boundaries around my eating I had to sit in the mundane. And after a lot of time, and a lot of inner spiritual and emotional work, and a lot of acclimating myself to the general discomfort of life, because life is not comfortable, even for the luckiest of us, I came to truly enjoy the boring, moment-to-moment.

Back to my anniversary. See, I enjoy my marriage every day. I like my husband all the time. (OK…maybe not *all* the time. And I am ten thousand percent positive he’d say the same about me. But like…98.667% of the time.) I don’t need my anniversary to remind me that I am grateful to have him. I don’t need presents to celebrate. (Though I did get a beautiful bouquet when he came home that night.) 

Having my eating under control and the lifestyle I lead because of it has taught me 3 things about my relationship with my husband:

1) Keep my side of the street clean with him. Or clean it up. If I am wrong, I have to admit I am wrong, and make amends. Not just apologize, but make it right.

2) My marriage is not anniversaries. It is all of the moments of every day. It is emptying the dishwasher and watching TV on the couch, and laughing at our inside jokes, and figuring out who needs the washing machine, and who will make dinner tonight.

3) Don’t hold onto resentments. If something in my relationship is making me feel angry or hurt or unappreciated, I have to deal with it. I have to have the difficult conversation. Because it is resentments, insidious and easy to overlook, that eat up intimacy. (Resentments are also the gateway to me eating a chocolate cake. And I will tell you, that would be hell on my marriage.)

There is a quote (often attributed to Einstein, but I can’t find any proof of that) saying that either everything is a miracle or nothing is. And for me, the beauty is that they mean basically the same thing. When I stopped caring so much about what made me feel special, and let none of it feel special, it all felt special. And the most exciting thing about my anniversary was how we both forgot, and we both remembered, and neither of us cared, because we always care.

Happy to be wherever here is

I am not a person who likes change. Or surprises. Or being unprepared. So this week was not my favorite.

My husband and I were set to head to a job in Connecticut. So we did all the things we do when we head out to a job. We found an apartment, and set up utilities. We went into the garage and packed up our second “traveling” home with another set of dishes and small appliances, and sheets and towels, and all of the things that make our home ours when we are working on the road. We even have a traveling Alexa device and a traveling meat grinder. We are not messing around.

My husband had to be there a few days before me, and it was going to take 2 days to drive,  so we picked up his truck and he left on Tuesday. He drove all day Tuesday and then woke up on Wednesday and got half way through the day’s drive, just a few hours away from the apartment we would be renting, when he got a call. The job was canceled. Turn around and go home. 

That is correct. Canceled. Not postponed. Not delayed. Just plain canceled. 

I was kind of devastated. I have friends in that area. Some in Connecticut. Many in New York City. I was looking forward to being driving distance from them. And with the vaccines getting distributed, I was looking forward to getting hugs and in-person laughs. At least at some point in the year. 

And we had made lots of plans for the money we’d make there. Fix up the outside of our house. Have new concrete porches poured in both the front and the back, have the driveway redone, and have the siding on our house replaced. We counted our chickens before they were hatched.

I was also really stressed about money. We had already signed a lease on an apartment. I did not know what that would mean for us financially.

But the apartment complex terminated the lease and it only cost us the security deposit, which was the best case scenario. So all that I really had to do was mourn the lost expectations of living back on the east coast near my friends and the money I had already spent in my dreams. And I did have to mourn those things. So I did.

But a lot of really good things came out of this as well. For example, in a row, we had some little things go wrong right before we left. Our plumbing was wonky because roots sometimes grow in our pipes, so we had some plumbers come over and snake our outside drain. My husband would normally do this himself. But we were busy packing and getting ready to move, so we hired someone and in terms of both time and money, it was the best thing to do. It cost less than it would have for my husband to rent the machine and do it himself. And we are kind of procrastinators, so if we had not been on our way out, we might have left it longer. And then our furnace stopped working so we had someone come out to look at it. Thankfully it was an easy fix. Both of these turned out to be easy fixes and we took care of them quickly, and now they are done.

And then, since he was on his way back to our house, my husband looked to see if he could get a PlayStation 5 and they had one at the store just a few blocks from our house. So because he had to come back, he got the thing he has been wanting most for the past 6 months. Not the worst consolation prize.

But maybe most importantly, my husband and I were both working on a project that was causing us a lot of stress and frustration and we are now in the process of getting out of that job. Today we are writing a letter together to say that we cannot go back to that job. That in leaving it, we realized how it had been affecting us detrimentally, both individually and as a unit, over the past several months.

I will tell you that one reason I know I cannot go back to that job is because I know what it feels like to give up poison, and to know that I cannot go back to feeling like that. I did it with sugar.

I know that some people think I am crazy for keeping my eating boundaries. They think it’s extreme. They think I must be suffering because they believe they would suffer to give up cake. I need to express to you that I could not do what I do every day for over 15 years if I did not get one hell of a payoff. That payoff is not feeling toxic or poisoned or trapped. I felt all of those things when I was eating compulsively. Now I feel free and light and able to take life as it comes. Like when a job I was really looking forward to falls through at the very last minute.

Leaving this job feels a lot like giving up sugar. I feel sort of disoriented. I am afraid of what I just gave up and what I will lose because of it. Money security in this case. And potentially the good will of certain people in the company we work for. But also, when I even think of letting it back into my life, everything in me screams that I do not want to go back there ever again. I do not want to feel that way ever again.

And in general, I do not want to go backwards. I want to move forward all the time. I want to keep getting better, and to keep getting a better life because of it. That is also a gift of having my eating boundaries. Growth.

We don’t know what is in store for us moving forward. We don’t know what our next job will be or where it will be, at home or on the road. But we did learn some things about ourselves. 1) That we miss the road. 2) That we can’t do that awful job that we may have ended up stuck in for years if this canceled job had not come up. 3) That we are resilient. 4) That we are excellent at packing quickly at a moment’s notice. (Actually, we already knew that but this was a nice reminder.)

I will tell you what this feels like. It feels like a fresh start. It feels like someone hit the reset button. It feels like exactly what I need and where I want to be, even if I am not sure where, exactly, I am.

Anxiety All Along

On this coming Tuesday, my husband packs up his truck heads out to Connecticut. I will pack up my own car and follow on Thursday.

And I’m anxious. I’m not anxious about the move itself. I have already secured the apartment, set up the utilities, scheduled the internet tech, all of the little annoying parts of moving. When I first started this lifestyle, the moving did make me anxious. I was not used to things like credit checks and calling utility companies. But in the past 8 years since my husband and I have been living mostly on the road, the world has changed in ways that make all of these things easier. It moved from scanning and emailing and printing PDF copies of documents and leases, to all electronic interactions, including digital signatures and internet portals, paperless billing and autopay.

But the job I will be doing this time is not the job I have been doing. Or at least not most of it. I am not running this job. I am not tracking cost on this job. I am not responsible for every little thing on this job. You would think that would make me less anxious. You would be wrong.

I have a lot of anxiety. Or you know what? Maybe I don’t. Perhaps I have about the same anxiety as everybody else. Or perhaps I even have less. But it affects me in big ways. It gives me nagging thoughts and prickly fears. And in retrospect, after 15 years of having my eating under control, I know that it is a big part of why I ate sugar and ate compulsively. 

They say that if you want to know why you eat compulsively (or smoke, or drink alcohol, or gamble, or whatever your poison is) stop. You’ll figure it out real quick. When eating was an option for me, I never had to notice the anxiety. As soon as I got even the slightest whiff of it, I could put something in my mouth. At that point, it was all happening in my subconscious. I never had to let it see the light of day.

But when I stopped eating compulsively, and started to eat within my boundaries, when there was nothing to numb me or get me high, I started to really experience my own anxiety. 

The deal is that once I started to really sit in it and with it, my anxiety started to affect me less. Do I have less of it? I don’t know. But it doesn’t hurt the way it used to. I am not itchy in my skin the way I once was. Now it’s background noise. 

But here I am going to a new place with new work colleagues doing a new job I haven’t done before. And I am worried. 

WHAT IF I AM NOT EXCELLENT AT IT?!?!??

When I put it like that, it sounds ridiculous, even to me. I may not be excellent. But of course, I may. The point is, that people do all levels of work, from down right bad, to spectacular. And I will do the best I can and even in a worst case scenario, that will probably still be pretty good. And if it is not, well, then I will see what I can do to make it better.

For someone who has changed cities, and jobs, and lifestyles as often as I have, you would think I would be much calmer about it. But maybe the point is that I don’t have to be calm about it to do it. I don’t have to like the way it feels to get things done. And every time I get things done, even when I don’t want to, and every time I do it without eating a chocolate cake, I realize that it can be done. And without eating a chocolate cake! That I can do it. And that the way I feel about it doesn’t really matter.

To be filed under: This too shall pass.

Remember a few weeks ago when I lost my shit on a work superior? (Oh, me too…) Well, this week I was told that my husband and I are leaving that job and going on to another. And I could not be happier.

We are going back on the road. This time we head to Connecticut. (Amazon distribution centers aren’t going to build themselves.) And I am so excited for a lot of reasons!

First, people! I will be an hour away from one very close friend, and 2-3 hours away from my friends in NYC. Now, I don’t know what socializing will look like. I have been taking COVID very seriously for the past year. And that means that I have done precious little socializing since March, and none at all since about September. But at least some of my friends have gotten their vaccinations, and my husband and I are eligible for them because of the work we do. (Though currently we have not been able to get an appointment.) So I have high hopes for safe hugs with friends while we are there.

But also, I didn’t want to be on a job for over 2 years working under someone whom I don’t respect and who clearly does not respect me. One of the blessings/curses of having my eating under control is that I see things so clearly. I cannot fail to see them clearly, even if I want to. And my emotions are also front and center, and they are also clear sign posts. That job was either frustrating me with the bureaucracy, angering me with the lack of accountability and leadership, or filling me with dread over the general expectation that we (my husband and I) would turn a bad job good. 

Look, my husband is pretty damn magical at what he does, and he can take something good and make it great. I have seen him do it over and over. But it’s a lot to ask, and an entirely different thing, to take something bad and make it good. And now we don’t have to attempt that anymore. 

A few years ago, I stopped meditating. It was too hard to sit quietly because I was constantly afraid for the future. It was too hard to trust that Life, or the universe, or God, or whatever you want to call it, really was looking out for me. I was terrified all the time. And that made me angry at Life/God.

For a whole decade before that, I had built a life of peace and joy around trusting that Life/God had my back and was giving me only the best. Even if the lesson was painful, I trusted it. I wasn’t afraid of pain anymore. I knew how to sit in it and work through it. But over the past several years, I didn’t trust the pain, or the lessons, or that Life/God was right. I managed my fear, but that was all I could do. 

In probably April of last year, I made a commitment to start meditating again. And it was hard. And I had a hard time being still and trusting. But I did it. Because meditation is meant to be a practice, not a solution. 

The past few months have been a slow release of pressure for me. Not because of meditation. But because of circumstances. And slowly but surely I feel like I am easing back into peace. And easing back into trust. After all, I learned a lot about myself in these past few years, and a lot about who I want to be. And I learned what I wanted to change about myself for myself. This time was a crucible. And I have come out on the other side with much of my past thinking burned away. In other words, Life/God was right. And was giving me the best all along.

And now, being taken off of this particular job is one more piece of the peace puzzle. But the truth is I should have known that peace would return. At least eventually. Because all things pass. And it would do me good to remember that that includes this new found peace. At least for a time.

I’m giving away social currency.

Over the past 9 years, this blog has been an excellent catalyst for my growth. It is a whole thing to not just have thoughts, but to also send them out into the world. When they rattle around in my head, they are a lot more like blunt objects. Imprecise. Doing a lot more harm than good.

The other day, I was writing a post for this blog about social currency. It was, if I do say so myself, an interesting topic. It’s one I think about a lot. I am a conventionally attractive, still young-ish (43) white woman in a socially acceptable sized body. That is a lot of social currency. 

The thing that made me put it down was that I was having a hard time saying that I want to devalue thinness. 

I am not skinny. I say this all the time in this blog. I am about a size 14 (US.) A L/XL. But I also need to point out that I have been a size 28 (US) and that is objectively fat. 

So at 33, when I was skinny and young and white and just plain gorgeous, I was socially rich in a way I had never experienced before. (Maybe when I was 4. I was a really beautiful little kid.) And now I am the equivalent to upper middle class social currency wise. Still beautiful and white and kind of young. But not skinny anymore. But also not fat.

So I guess what I want to call myself out on today is that so much of what is going on in my head is about my social currency. And how I want to keep what I have. And also how I do not want to be that girl. Because there is another girl, who is also me, who would have had an easier, better, more peaceful life if thinness were not of so much value. And I don’t want to throw 12 and 16 and 18 and 23-year-old Kate to the wolves so that 43-year-old Kate feels like she can keep some societal leverage before she is too old to be “attractive” anymore. And it’s not just young me that I want to protect. I don’t want to throw all of the current fats to the wolves either.

The last several years, but especially this past year has taught me a lot about who I want to be. It has made me ask if I want things at the expense of others. Or if, on the contrary, I am willing to have less than I currently have so that others can have a share. 

I don’t want wonderful things at the expense of others. That, in fact, if it comes at the expense of another person, it is not wonderful. Of the very many things I have learned from having my eating under control, one of the most important is that I have my journey, and everyone else has theirs. That not everything is for me. That life is not a zero sum game. That I don’t need to look at others as competitors. That there is plenty to go around. And that just because some will grasp and claw to get the biggest piece, doesn’t mean I will. Or that I want to. Or that the biggest piece will make me happy. The biggest piece will not, in and of itself, make me happy. That I am very clear on.

When I am thinking rationally, and not out of fear of deprivation, I remember that I *do* want to devalue thinness. Because humans are worthy and lovely and lovable by virtue of existing. Not based on what they eat or if they exercise. I can love a person who is unhealthy (though I am *not* saying that being fat is unhealthy) just for being alive and near and available to be loved. I don’t need people to earn my love with thinness or the desire to achieve thinness, or perceived health. (Though not being an asshole helps a lot!) And I don’t want to live in a world where that makes me weird. So that means I have to devalue thinness myself. For myself. About myself and everyone else.

I also want to reiterate that I love my eating boundaries. That I do not want to give them up. This is not me angling to get some cake. I am happy to live without cake. I just want the fat people who *do* want cake to be able to have it and eat it too.

Also also, this has made me want to go back and revise my post about thinness as social currency. So maybe you’ll see that in the next few weeks?

I already have romance and I don’t eat chocolate.

It’s Valentine’s Day. I used to really really hate Valentine’s Day. And now I don’t. I don’t particularly care about it. I bought my husband some chocolate that I know he likes, because I passed it at the grocery store. But that is it. And even that was on a whim.

Valentine’s Day is caught up in a whole lot of muddy cultural mess. It comes with high expectations of Romance and Passion. It comes with a kind of female competition; who can get the most romantic gift, or the most expensive. It comes with an underlying theme of grand gestures and commitment!

I am currently in the only committed romantic relationship of my life. About a month from now my husband and I will have been together for 8 years, and married for 5. And I am 43. Let me do the math for you. I was single until I was 35 (almost 36.)

There are a lot of reasons I was single for so long, both internal and external. And I can see in retrospect that I had created certain barriers to me finding someone, based on a kind of negative, self-loathing chatter that went through my brain constantly. 

But another big factor is that I was fat. And being fat meant that I was not desirable by societal standards. It doesn’t help that I am a straight woman. Straight men made it very clear to me throughout my life that they were not interested based on the fact that I was fat. Even the ones who were attracted were not interested.

I hated Valentine’s Day because society told me every day, all year long that I was not worthy of love. In fat jokes in movies and on TV. In the things people said to me on the street. In the way boys and sometimes even grown men would whisper to each other and laugh. And then once a year it had a huge, in-your-face celebration in pink and red for at least two full weeks that was clearly not for me.

We tell women all the time in our culture how they deserve to be loved, and why. Or if they deserve it al all. And a lot of us get told that we don’t deserve. And for a lot of us it is about our bodies. Always if we are fat. But sometimes if we are other things. Skinny. Black (or just not white.) Or sexually aggressive (not “pure.”) Or not feminine enough, whether that is “too butch” or “too buff.”

I used to hate Valentine’s Day because it was a reminder of all of the ways that I was considered less-than and unworthy. But I don’t need to hate it anymore. I mean, I don’t like it. And I don’t celebrate. But I don’t need to prove that I deserve the kind of love that it promises. I don’t think I even want that kind of love. 

I have a husband who honors and accommodates me in my very complicated and time consuming food life, and who knows how to fight to fix the relationship, and not to win the argument. And who has the same ideas about money and time and togetherness that I do. And who is a partner in all things. (We even work together!) 

I don’t need to be a pampered princess because I am the woman. And I don’t need material gifts to feel wanted and appreciated. I don’t even eat chocolate, obviously! And I don’t need a day on the calendar to tell me it’s time to celebrate my romance. I do that over and over, year round. Just maybe not in ways someone else would recognize as romantic.

Post Navigation