onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “addiction”

Life is fast and I am slow

I feel like I need to write about the fact that I am still not writing, aside from my weekly blog post here. But I am definitely not writing fiction. I feel like I have to mention it because it is exactly the kind of thing that easily fades away from my own mind if I don’t keep talking about it, if I don’t keep it fresh. It has happened before and I have let my writing fall through the cracks. My world has changed significantly in the past month, and I am getting my bearings and finding my footing.

It’s interesting to me how I forget all the time that this is the way life works. Yes, I have a particularly mutable lifestyle. I am very happy with it. But change is the only constant in life for everyone. It has always been this way. I just didn’t recognize it until I got my eating under control.

And I probably didn’t recognize it because I was holding on to things too long and too tightly. Sometimes long after they ceased to be.

I sometimes think about the ways my physical self and my emotional self mirror one another. I literally have a hard time remembering to physically put things down. I will hold on to objects, even when they are getting in my way. For example, sometimes at the grocery store, I will have my wallet in my hand while I am trying to load an entire cart full of groceries onto the conveyor belt. Obviously this is a task that would be better done two-handed. All I would have to do is put my wallet in my pocket or my purse. But it does not occur to me. The wallet is already in my hand.

This is also how I find myself acting in life. A few months ago, I already had a routine. And instead of rearranging my life, I have been trying to fit 40 hours of work into the routine I already had. Needless to say, it’s not working out as well as I had expected. (No, I have no idea why I would expect that to go well.)

I have a quick mind and wit, but emotionally, I am slow. Slow to recognize. Slow to get comfortable. Slow to decide. Slow to change.

When I got my eating under control, I started to understand what it meant to “go with the flow.” I learned about “life on Life’s terms.” I learned to accept things the way that they were, and most importantly, that when I accepted them fully, exactly as they were in the moment, it was only then that I had a chance to change them.

I read something the other day about sayings that people hate. (I read a lot of random stuff on the internet.) And one person hates the phrase, “it is what it is.” I, personally, love that phrase. It may be obvious, particularly linguistically, but to a past version of me, it was frustrating if the way it was didn’t match the way I thought it should be.

Right now, I am not writing fiction. And that is what it is. But I want to. And I am slow to change. So I am going to keep talking about it, and writing about it, and meditating about it. And I don’t doubt that something will shift. That I will notice that I am trying to load a cart of groceries with my wallet in my hand and finally manage to put it down. Because life is full of changes anyway. And did I mention I’m slow?

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Grateful I didn’t have to eat myself sick

Another non-Thanksgiving is under my belt. My husband joined some friends for a pot luck dinner at his local bar, and I showed up for about 45 minutes and had a diet soda. But I didn’t cook, which I don’t do anyway. Cook Thanksgiving dinner, that is. Of course, I cook all the time. Mostly every day. Just not the stuff Thanksgiving is made of.

Obviously I don’t eat the traditional sides. No potatoes. No sweet potatoes. No glazed carrots. (Nothing glazed, as a matter of fact. Though I do enjoy roasted or steamed carrots.) No stuffing. No casserole. No fruit except at breakfast, so no cranberry sauce. (I do sometimes make apple cranberry or orange cranberry compote this time of year for breakfast, by the way, though not lately.) No dinner rolls. No cornbread. And I don’t like turkey.

I could make a sugar-free version of pumpkin pie, or cheesecake. But I don’t love pumpkin pie. And I already make my sugar-free cheesecake when I crave it, so I don’t need it specifically for Thanksgiving.

Basically, Thanksgiving is a food holiday and it is not for me. Am I grateful? Of course I am. I have a beautiful, happy life. But this particular holiday is not filled with non-edible traditions. We don’t exchange gifts, wear ugly sweaters, put up lights. Who has ever heard of a Thanksgiving Carol? We don’t wear costumes, go dancing, put on pageants, exchange cards, or give flowers. There is football, but I care about football only slightly more than I care about food I don’t eat.

So I did not participate in Thanksgiving, but I did not miss it at all. And I certainly hope yours was lovely. I hope it was cozy and sweet and filled with love. And I hope all of you “normal eaters” enjoyed gorging yourselves that one day a year you let yourself go crazy with food.

I, personally, am grateful that I didn’t have to.

Irrational thoughts about value

So work. It’s a thing for me again. I started working for my husband’s company (again) this week. 
First, there is the whole food thing for me. I have to make lunches in advance so I can grab them in the morning and go. But, of course, that is something that I have been doing to travel a lot lately, so this has been, in some ways, on a smaller scale. I haven’t had to prep every single meal for days. I have just had to make lunches. And I have worked before. I was single for 35 years, after all. So I know how this goes.

But the first few days of work have been bumpy. Mostly, it’s just that there is some sort of problem with my work computer that the company sent to me. And instead of sending me a new one, they are trying to fix it remotely. For days. Several days.

But all of my work is to be done on this computer. In other words, there is nothing for me to do without it. So they are just not having me come in. So my first week of work has barely included any work. And I still have no idea when the computer, or at least computer, will be available for me. And nobody is telling me anything.

Needless to say, I’m frustrated. 

But there is something else. I am having a hard time not feeling like should be doing something about it. Or it is my fault, or my responsibility.

Rationally, I know that this is stupid. I didn’t build the computer. And I didn’t break it. I have done everything I could to help the IT people fix it. I have offered information. I have stayed on the phone and helped with lost internet connections. And I have stayed home and not worked when I was asked to. 

But there is this nagging feeling like I could do more. That I should be doing more. 

And I need to squash this feeling. Because it is false, and blaming myself for things beyond my control is not only silly, it’s destructive to a person like me.

Work is an area in my life where you could say I still have a lot of fear. It’s not that I haven’t been a good employee. I certainly have. I am smart and capable. And I am willing to take direction, and I love to learn new things anyway. 

But I have issues. Value issues. Worth issues. I have had them all my life. And I am sure that in some ways they are tied to the fact that I am an addict.

My inability to control my eating for so long made me feel worthless and ashamed. How could I expect to succeed in anything when I couldn’t even take care of my own body? How could I fix or help others when I couldn’t even fix or help myself? What does a person like that, a person like me, even deserve? Money? Money for services rendered? 

Of course, the answer to that is yes. If I do the job, I deserve to get paid for it. But even as I write yes, there is a part of me that says “just for doing the job? Don’t you have to really prove your worth?”

I am talking about the irrational here. If I do the job, I am worth the money. Obviously. But that is not always obvious to the shamed, embarrassed, sorry compulsive eater that lives in me. 

I am sure this will change. Slowly, but surely. Already it is changing. It’s changing because I am writing about it right here. And saying the scary things out loud, and shining a light on them is the surest way I know to start a shift.

My built-in forgetter

I had gained some weight a few weeks ago. Not too much, but I had noticed it. And I knew what it was. It was soy nuts.

Soy is a protein that is within my food boundaries. And I almost never eat it for a few reasons. It gives me indigestion. It makes me groggy. And it makes me gain weight. But when I do eat it, I have a hard time stopping.

The truth is that I have had this problem with soy products (specifically soy nuts, soy nut butter, and soy flour) ever since I started putting boundaries around my eating. And yet, every few years, I buy these soy products, eat them, they make me sick, stupid and unhappy, and I quit. But not before I fight it. I never want to quit. But somehow I always manage to, and then, after some time passes, in my head, I’ll start to negotiate with myself about if, when, and under what circumstances I can have soy again. It will go something like, “soy nut butter is a problem, but soy nuts are ok. If I just have them once in a while it will be fine. An ounce once or twice a week wouldn’t make any difference.”

But I am not good at having a little bit of soy once in a while. I will mean to have one ounce, but then while I am making dinner, I will rationalize that it would be okay to have two, as long as I don’t have any later in the week. But of course, later in the week I will rationalize myself into another two ounces. In other words, I will end up having at least twice the amount of soy I wanted to have. And here’s the thing that I know and I don’t like to admit: soy nuts get me high!

That’s what the grogginess is. It’s me being high. That’s why I can’t stop eating them. That’s why I continue to rationalize why it will be okay to eat just a little every once in a while, even though I always end up eating more than I mean to. I don’t eat more than I am allowed within my eating boundaries, but I eat an amount that I know will make me gain weight, all the while lying to myself that the amount I am eating will not make me gain weight. I rationalize and renegotiate with myself so I can get my fix. I am telling you that I behave like an addict when I eat that stuff.

Some people say that addicts have a “built-in forgetter.” Why else would someone who has experienced the very worst of addiction firsthand, and managed to quit, ever use again? But we do. Staying sober is easier than getting sober, and yet all the time, people get sucked back in to something they know is disastrous for them.

Non-addicts have a lot of judgment about this. They think that knowing oneself should be enough. They think that being rational should be the answer. But addiction is not rational.

I will assure you that my soy nut addiction is in no way as bad as my sugar addiction. Yes, there are levels of addiction and there are things in my life that maybe aren’t the best choices for me, but I am willing to live with them. (I’m looking at you artificial sweetener.) If I “fall off the wagon” and eat soy nuts in a couple of months or years, it will not kill me. It will not ruin my life, the way sugar would. It will not send me into a spiraling depression, like sugar would. But it would still be a burden of sorts.

I want to note a few things. I am not saying that soy nuts are bad. I am saying that they are bad for me. And I am not really judging myself for eating them. They are within my boundaries, and I never have to feel guilty for anything I eat that is within my boundaries. I am simply saying that I am an addict through to the core of my being, and I need to be conscious of the ways that I act out addictive behaviors.

I threw away the soy nuts this last time. Probably almost two pounds of them. Whatever they cost, they were not worth nearly as much as my peace of mind around my weight. And I am still trying to lose the weight I gained from them. Because I don’t know if you have ever noticed, but a human body can gain in two days what will inevitably take a month to lose.

But there is something else I am besides an addict. I am recovering. And in some ways, that makes me a spiritual powerhouse. Because I know how to look at myself honestly, make choices about how I want to live, and make commitments that keep me in line with those choices. And even if I manage to forget everything I know today, and pick up those soy nuts one more time, I have the tools it takes to put them back down. Again. And again.

 

From instant gratification to the long slow dance of application.

There are things about life that my addict self is bad at. Like process. Like anything slow that takes effort. Like anything that doesn’t come naturally to me.I’m good at stuff. I’m smart. And I have always had a knack for understanding the way things fit together. Literally and figuratively. 

But being good at stuff made me impatient. When “easy” is the norm, anything remotely difficult becomes frustrating. And I never dealt well with frustration. I learned to numb it early. I used sugar. I got through life that way. I didn’t shine. But I did get by. 

But it made people call me lazy. I suppose that is one way of looking at it. But in the past few years I have chosen to have some compassion for the person I was then. I was overwhelmed. I was terrified. And I was in the throes of an addiction I didn’t even understand.

When I put boundaries around my eating, I wasn’t expecting anything except to deal with my weight. But it ended up shifting the way I saw the world. It made me less afraid of failure, and more willing to take risks. And it freed up a lot of time. And time opened me up to the possibility of process.

For one thing, I didn’t have the option of zoning out on sugar, so when I came to the point where I got frustrated with something, I couldn’t get so high I just forgot about it. And also, getting high on sugar went from being the most important thing to me, to being the thing to be avoided like the plague. All of a sudden, I needed other things to fill my time. 

A little over 2 years ago, I first tried to learn to knit. I tried on and off for over a year and a half. Did you get that? Over a year and a half. From March 2014 to November 2015, I tried and failed to knit. 

In November, something clicked for me and I finished my first project, a simple basket weave baby blanket. And suddenly, I could knit.

There are different ways to knit that have to do with where you hold your working yarn in relation to the needles. (I happen to be a continental knitter, in case you were wondering.) But there are also ways that people knit that are about the way one thinks about knitting. In other words, are you a project knitter, or a process knitter?

A project knitter sees a scarf, a sweater, a pair of socks, or a bag and thinks “I want to make that for myself or a loved one.” A process knitter sees a stitch, a pattern, or a technique and thinks “I want to be able to do that!”

I, personally, think of it as a continuum, more like you fall somewhere on the spectrum of “project” to “process,” than being strictly one or the other. But I am pretty we’ll situated on the process side. 

I like acquiring skills. I like learning things. I like the challenge and the reward.

What an amazing thing that was to learn about myself! What a miracle to discover that inside that “lazy” girl who insisted on instant gratification, was a woman who loved the long, slow dance of attention and application. 

I am not saying I don’t get frustrated when something takes me longer to learn than I think it should. I occasionally groan and curse and put it away for the time being. But in the end I am always called back to learning. I guess it’s just the way I am. And I never would have known if I hadn’t put boundaries around my eating.

Vulnerable, unpredictable, and intense – just as it should be

When I was in New York last weekend, I was with a group of people who make it their lives’ work to be present and honest. And it’s intense.

Now, it is also my life’s work to be present and honest, so quite frankly, I loved being there. But it was still really intense.

When I strip away the pretense of day-to-day living – like wanting to be liked, wanting to look cool, wanting to be acknowledged for being “good” or “right,” or any of the things that I do out of fear so that I don’t have to acknowledge my truth or be present for my life – what I am left with is unguarded love. To love and to be loved in return.

Here’s a secret. Love is scary. It’s vulnerable and unpredictable. It’s intense. Sometimes it can feel like it’s too intense.

I wouldn’t understand until years after I got my eating under control and got sober from sugar, but food was my main defense against being present and honest. And it was my first fortress against love. It did not matter how much love was sent my way. I had a wall up, and that wall allowed me to filter how much of it got in. I could take my love in easy-to-swallow, palatable doses. A lot of the love meant for me went to waste.

Being with this group of people was also interesting because I met them before I got sober from food. One of them was the one who sent me to get sober. Because of having known them for so long, I have memories, in my body, of how uncomfortable I was when I was eating compulsively. I could feel very clearly how free and peaceful I have become in the last 9+ years. I remembered how much I thought I had to hide then. I could feel so clearly, in contrast, how open I am now.

Another dear friend of mine talks about how getting sober from sugar and compulsive eating lets her discover who she really is, as opposed to who she was trying to be. And how she really likes the person she is discovering. That is my experience too. That in being who I am, I really like and love me. That I am happier being my flawed self than I was trying to be a perfect someone else.

So I am posing a question to you. (Yes, you. Who else?) Who would you be if you were totally yourself? What would it look like if you could let that true self be loved without filtering how much of the love you let in?

Wanting and not wanting

One thing that I notice is that if I talk to people about food, most people equate managing one’s food with weight.

I have had a huge weight loss, so I’m sure my own personal story feeds that idea for a lot of people. But for me, keeping my eating under control is only about weight in a round about way. For me, weight was a symptom of my real problem. My problem is eating.

There are a lot of people who have a problem with eating and they do not have a weight problem. I am grateful that being fat was part of my eating disorder story. If it weren’t, I don’t know if I would have found relief. I may not have even noticed how miserable I was.

One thing that happened when I got my eating under control was that I stopped hating myself. But I didn’t even know that I did hate myself until it stopped.

I am bringing this up because something happened the other day. It doesn’t happen very often, so it’s worth noting.

I didn’t want to eat my dinner.

It was later than I usually eat. I was tired. I just wasn’t feeling it.

Now, sometimes I don’t want to eat, but then I get two bites in and it’s so good that I forget that I didn’t want to eat it two minutes ago. That doesn’t count. This time was a time that I didn’t want to eat it, and all the while I ate it, I never wanted it. Even though it was a super yummy meal, including frozen yogurt and a cookie (all homemade, sugar-free, and within my food boundaries, of course.)

I ate it. Every last bite. When I was done, I was grateful it was over. But I did it. I keep my food boundaries under control by eliminating “wanting” and “not wanting” from the reasons I eat. If my food boundaries were about weight, then I could just not eat a meal that I didn’t want. Easy. But conversely. there are many (many many) days where I would happily eat another whole meal after I finish one. So let’s say I didn’t eat dinner that day. The next day, when I wanted two dinners, could I do that? What about the day after that? Could I skip breakfast and lunch and just binge eat all night? Because when I am eating compulsively, I start to think like that. I get irrational and obsessive.

What I gained when I eliminated “wanting” and “not wanting” from my food life was peace from my obsession with food. Wanting and not wanting mean making infinite decisions around food. Because food decisions are infinite for me. I don’t think straight when it comes to eating. I feel crazy. I feel ashamed. I get all messed up and mixed up. It is so much easier to know that I will eat three meals a day. That they will consist of protein, vegetables, or fruit, and fat. That I will eat all of them and nothing more. It’s so simple. It’s a no-brainer. Because I can’t brain when it comes to my own food.

When my dad’s mother was dying five years ago, I didn’t want to eat either. I cried almost constantly. I was never hungry. But just like the other day, I ate my meals. And I will say that it was a huge blessing for me. I felt like my whole world was falling apart at that time. The person who loved me best in the world was going to leave me. I was not prepared. But there was something constant in my life. Three meals a day with protein, fruit, or vegetables, and fat. No matter what. Even if I cried through the whole thing. I had been doing it that way for four and a half years by then. It was three little respites in my day. I may not have enjoyed the food, but each meal was a little sanctuary of normality.

If I had not eaten my meal the other day, I would have invited all of my crazy in. I would have lost the peace of mind that I have had for over nine years now. That’s a pretty high price to pay for the sake of wanting and not wanting.

It’s all just experiences

As I have mentioned, I live with a steady stream of low-level anxiety. It buzzes in my background like a radio station on the edge of a signal. (Does that even mean anything to anybody younger than 20? Anyway…) You know that thing where they say before you get upset you should ask yourself “Will this matter in 5 years?” Well, for me, even a minor struggle can be played out to me being homeless on the street in 5 years. I know it’s irrational. Knowing that it’s irrational doesn’t make the worry any less real. Since I gave up sugar, this kind of irrational anxiety is easier to keep in check, but it takes work on my part.

I have a similar anxiety about being stuck. About some difficult situation or another never, ever changing. I know this is irrational too. Same rules apply.

Since I have been working, I have not been writing fiction. I was doing a lot of writing before I had this job, but now I’m tired. If not all the time, close to it. And it makes me worry that I won’t write again.

There is a part of me that says I should start a new regimen of waking up at 4 every morning to start my day writing for 2 hours before anything else. But the tired part of me tells the writer part of me to shut the hell up, thank you.

What I have to remember is that everything changes. This part of my life where I am tired from my job and I don’t have time to write will change. Somehow. I am not saying that I will definitely start writing again any time soon. What I am saying is that when I look back on the past 10 years, I have lead so many different lives. I have encountered countless situations that I feared would never change, and they changed. Not to mention countless I wished would never change. They changed as well.

When I was younger, I used to believe I was supposed to make my mark on the world. I thought I was supposed to create a legacy that was big and bright and undeniable. I thought that was where meaning lay. I thought that was why I had been given such a big presence and prominent personality.

In getting sober from sugar, I came to realize that I am making a mark on the world. And it is bright, and undeniable. Right now it’s not big. It may never get any bigger than it is now. I am positively great with that. It doesn’t make it any less important.

Big personality celebrities and self-help gurus will tell you that you need to go after your dreams. That the only one stopping you is you. And I believe that. They say “don’t regret the things you never did.” But I’d like to take it a step further. Even if I don’t do them, I don’t have to regret the things I never did. I don’t have to have regrets of any kind. Life is not a race. It’s not a test. I don’t need to do anything to justify myself. I don’t need to “earn my spot.” I already have a spot. I already have a purpose. To exist as myself.

A friend of mine once shared an epiphany with me. She said “It’s all just experiences.”

I love that. I was freed by it. That is the meaning of life for me. To experience it. In the body I was given, and the circumstances I was born into, and the choices that I make every day. The meaning of life to be Kate. And that includes everything I missed out on because I was too afraid, and everything I ruined by being an addict, and everything I marred by being a liar and a manipulator. It includes all of it, because it’s all just experiences.

I want to write fiction because I love it. Because I’m good at it. Because I have characters and ideas in my head that entrance me, and I would love to share them with others. And because I make myself laugh and cry and think. And because I love to slip into another world and another life. Because I want more experiences than just the ones I am given. I want to feel all the feelings. I want to know all the corners of what it means to be human.

But if I never finish writing the stories in my head, there would still be nothing to regret. They provided me with hours of my own personal amusement. They were all experiences in their own right.

I don’t know why being sober from food made me content, but it did. Slowly but surely I stopped needing to prove myself in ways other than existing day to day. I keep my boundaries around food and I do my best. And suddenly that’s enough. And that takes a lot of pressure off of the anxiety-ridden girl who thinks that homeless on the street in five years is a perfectly reasonable possibility for the future. A day at a time, life seems pretty rosy. I’m madly in love. I have a job. I have a home. And I don’t have to do anything monumental to have any of it. I don’t need to prove myself in any way to occupy the space I’m in. It’s my space. In my lifetime, it has always been mine. It will be mine until I die.

I prefer flow to puches, but I’ll go or roll, as the situation dictates.

There’s a saying among people who keep the same food boundaries I do. (If you haven’t noticed, there are a lot of sayings among the people who keep the same food boundaries that I do.) A day when everything goes my way and I keep my food boundaries is a great day. A day when nothing goes my way and I keep my food boundaries is a miracle.

I have a lot of miracles. It’s a nice feeling. That is not to say that things aren’t going well for me. They are. But so few days are without some sort of hiccup.

One of the things I had to learn early when I stopped eating sugar and eating compulsively was to go with the flow. Or, on a particularly bad day, roll with the punches.

There were things that I didn’t understand before I got sober from sugar. I didn’t know that I was making life harder by fighting what was, instead of accepting it and adjusting myself. I refused to go with the flow, or roll with the punches. I spent almost all of my time either drowning, or getting the crap beaten out of me.

In self-help books and top-whatever-number-habits-of-whatever-kind-of-people essays, there is a lot of talk about planning. Have a goal. Have a plan. I wholeheartedly agree. Having a plan is great. But having a plan is the easy part. There is something else that is often talked about, but harder to do. Having the ability to be flexible when some part (or all) of your plan falls through.

When I was eating compulsively, I felt like “fairness” equaled Life going according to the plan I made. And when it didn’t go that way, I was angry at Life. Because I had zero skills for adapting and adjusting.

And I believed that people who were happy, well adjusted and peaceful were people whose plans always went smoothly. I was fighting the way things were because I thought the way things were “supposed to be” was the way I had planned them.

What I would eventually come to understand was that happy people were people who understood that the way things were was really the way they were “supposed to be.” Happy people didn’t fight what was, in order to get reality to coincide with their plan, but adjusted (or scrapped) their plan to coincide with the reality.

A few weeks ago, I wrote that I was going to start eating more raw vegetables because it helps me keep a tighter hold on my body-dysmorphia. And I did just that. It was great. I felt great. And then I started working, and the days that I have to eat a meal at work, I only have 15 minutes. I can’t eat a one-pound salad in fifteen minutes. It’s just not physically possible for me. So I have to make smaller, denser meals when I have to eat during a shift.

Now I could fight the reality if I wanted to. I could become resentful of my job because I only get a 15-minute break. I could get resentful of my food boundaries because they are inconvenient, and wonder why I can’t just skip it on the days I work.

Or I could choose the softer option. I can adjust to the situation as it is. I can be grateful that I have boundaries around my food, and that I have a job, and that I can take care of my meals in 15 minutes on workdays by making them smaller and denser. I can go with the flow. And I am grateful to have the clarity to see that eating smaller meals is definitely an example of “going with the flow.” I reserve rolling with the punches for the big life-and-death stuff.

You are what you eat. Or are you what’s eating you?

I have been thinking about self-identification. What makes up our identities. How we choose to see ourselves, and how it feeds our choices and behaviors.

I think there must be something in the air. Friends of mine have been mentioning to me their own struggles and triumphs with identity. And over the past two weeks, I have been confronted by some decisions I made about myself that I would like to reconsider. And I have been working to get them disentangled from my identity.

I have a lot of experience with this.

Being fat was a major part of my identity when I was growing up. It was given to me by my family long before I was aware of it. It was given to me so young, that by the time I came to the age where I could make decisions about who I wanted to be, “fat” was not an “option,” it was an “incontrovertible truth.”

This idea of not only me being fat, but of fat being me, led to a lot of the lifestyle choices I made. Not just around food. But also around grooming and clothing and general self-care.

I didn’t care/I was above being a slave to fashion. That was the stance I took on my appearance. At least that was the image I wished to project. I wore all of my clothes too big. I often dressed like a boy. I wore pants all the time. If I did wear a dress, I wore jeans under it. I grew my hair out and never got it cut. I stayed indoors as much as possible and hated the sun. (I know! I hated the sun?!?! What was up with that?)

But I did care. I wore big clothes to hide my body. I wore heavy makeup because I was afraid I was ugly. Not getting my hair cut became part of my non-conformist identity. And I avoided at all costs any scenario where shorts or bathing suits were involved. It was not the sun I hated, but the idea of showing my flesh.

I had this idea that I could never be anything but fat. So even the handful of times I lost some weight, I didn’t have any confidence in keeping it off. That would be the opposite of who I was. Having “fat” as an identity also led me to make all sorts of excuses about why I couldn’t do what needed to be done to lose weight. It’s genetic. I’m just a person who was born not liking vegetables. Diets don’t work for me. I’m not the kind of person who does things like count calories. I can’t eat rabbit food. I’m just hungry all the time.

When I got my eating under control, I was so focused on the very clear and specific boundaries I set around my eating, that I didn’t have to confront these garrisoned identity outposts until they had been substantially weakened. All I had to do was eat my three meals a day within my set of clearly defined rules.

That has become my new identity. Eating three meals a day within my boundaries. Being a woman who has her eating disorders under control. It is an identity that I am proud to have. It works for me.

There is another result of this way of life, and that is the ability to recognize and let go of identities that don’t work for me anymore. In other words, part of this identity, is to be less caught up in my identities. For example: being a smoker, being a morning-to-night coffee drinker, being a girl who wears makeup, being too cold/protected to fall in love. All of these were major parts of my identity that I was willing to give up because they didn’t work anymore.

There are two identities that I find myself shifting lately.

The first is about being sexy. Or more specifically, what kind of sexy I am.

I’m a sexy woman. I know that. (Even 30 lbs heavier than I prefer.) And I like having “sexy” as part of my identity. But recently I have been thinking about what kind of sexy woman I am. And if I’d like to be a different kind of sexy.

Lately, I have been finding myself drawn to more classic styles. Fitted cuts and cleaner lines. A linen dress. A crisp white button down. A pencil skirt. A fit and flare. A boyfriend cardigan. These are things I shied away from in the past. Somehow, I decided that they didn’t fit some decision I made about myself. Now I think that idea is outdated. For me. And I want to give it up.

I’m not saying I will be giving up my strapless mini-dresses this summer. Or My leggings and knee-high boots this fall. But my heels are already getting shorter and I am interested in making room for something new. In my identity and my closet.

And the other thing that I am making room for is writing as my calling and career. And this one goes a little deeper. It took some action and some healing to be able to change this self-imposed identity.

In the early 2000s, I was a writer. The funny thing is that I didn’t know it. I not only wrote two versions of a play that went to the stage in New York and San Diego, but I was writing freelance for an online newsletter, and doing side writing jobs for a handful of individuals. But I did not think of myself as a writer.

There was something I had as part of my identity. It was something like “unworthy.” Or “unreliable.” Or some other version of “not good enough.” I had this idea about myself from the beginning (possibly, the beginning of time). Couple that with being in the throes of my food addiction, and that was exactly how I behaved: unworthy, unreliable and not good enough. I proved myself to be what I had always feared I was, and took that on as a personal truth. I spent the next ten plus years with the identity that I did not have what it takes to make it as a writer.

This past few weeks I have been applying for writing jobs. I was communicating with a potential employer, and in an email, I mentioned that I used to write freelance health articles. But I realized that wasn’t on my resume. And when I asked myself why, it was because I ended that job like a jerk. I was given a writing assignment much like a slew of previous assignments. I was supposed to set up an interview with an expert on some health and wellness subject, and then write an article. I don’t remember who the expert was, or the topic I was supposed to write about. Either way, I never did it. And I was so deep in my food addiction, and its accompanying shame, fear and paralysis, that I never contacted the editor, never apologized, never made it right. I just disappeared, and let my freelance writing job go with it. And in doing that, I made a decision about my identity that I didn’t even recognize until today. I am not dedicated or reliable enough to be a writer. I can’t be counted on to follow through as a writer.

Even though that was who I was in 2003, that is not who I am today. After over nine years of food sobriety, I am most certainly reliable, worthy, and good enough. I can absolutely be counted on. I have made my integrity a priority in my life.

This afternoon I searched on Facebook and I found the woman who had been my editor. I sent her a private message asking for her forgiveness, and what, if anything, I can do to make right what I did in disappearing on her. I certainly hope that she gets back to me. But no matter what, in pinpointing the decision I had made about my identity, and the behavior that created it, and in offering an amends for my wrongdoing, I was able to shake something loose and get myself a little more free.

I believe that amends are the kind of thing that can shift your whole life. This one, whether or not it is accepted, has already let me get complete with myself, and remove an identity that has been holding me back for over a decade.

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