onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “being a burden”

Humble Pie for Thanksgiving

Wow I sure did not want to write this blog this week.

When I started oneafatgirl, I made a promise to write the truth. And to be authentic. Even when it was scary and hard. And humiliating. And I am definitely humiliated today.

I went on a mini-vacation with my boyfriend for Thanksgiving. And it didn’t go so well. And I was the reason it didn’t go so well. My food boundaries and me.

That’s hard for me to write. Especially because I know how I talk about my food boundaries. I perhaps make it seem effortless. It usually feels effortless to me. I’m good at it after over 7 ½ years. Good at parts of it, anyway. And I am afraid that a post like this will scare somebody away from making the tough decision to change their own eating.

But the truth is that it is not my job to convince people who are suffering to choose relief. I put boundaries around my eating by my own choice. I was desperate. I took desperate measures. I still do. No person made me do it, or even could make me do it. And no person is going to stop me. So I’m not going to worry about this post. And who it stops. And who uses it as an excuse to continue to suffer. And for all I know, it will help someone who is suffering find some relief.

Anyway, back to my vacation. And food. The first thing I should point out is that my boyfriend doesn’t think about food. He doesn’t look forward to eating. And he doesn’t plan it. He doesn’t have to. He will literally forget about food until he is starving, look around himself at that exact moment, walk into the closest place, and eat whatever they have to offer.

I on the other hand, love to eat. I look forward to each of my meals, and savor every bite. I have said before that I didn’t stop loving food when I put boundaries around my eating. In fact, I started to love it more, because it was guilt-free. But the boundaries themselves are the most important part. Most of the time my meals are insanely delicious, but as long as each meal is within my eating boundaries, it doesn’t matter if it is delicious or not. If lunch is not so good, dinner is not so far away.

So to go on this mini-vaykay, I packed a whole bunch of food. But not great food. Not #10 meals. Just enough easy, portable food to make sure that if I needed to eat every meal in our hotel, I could always be within my boundaries.

And then it seemed like I was going to have to eat every meal in our hotel room. And I was upset.

Here’s the thing, though. I wasn’t asking for what I wanted. And I wasn’t just taking care of it myself. I was worrying about asking for too much. I was worrying about being a “Good Girl.”

I spent my life alone. And for the last several years, I was poor but independent. I didn’t have much. But if I had something, it was because I earned it.

But now I am in a relationship and I am not independent. And I can have a hard time distinguishing what I deserve. What I contribute. And what that earns me.

In other words, do I deserve to ask to be taken out to a restaurant when my boyfriend isn’t hungry and I have a cooler full of food up in my hotel room? Even if it’s not the food I want?

I did eventually go out to lunch. I got a nice meal. But it wasn’t until I stopped worrying if my boyfriend was having a good time. (And even writing that makes me feel selfish and unworthy…)

And the other thing I need to take responsibility for, is that I have scared my boyfriend into thinking that I can never eat out easily, happily, or comfortably. Because the truth is that I have a lot of anxiety. About everything. I live with a steady stream of low-level anxiety. I don’t think it will ever go away. And the food thing is such a big issue for me that it always makes me a little anxious. But I don’t want him to think we can never go on vacation. Or that we can never go out to eat.

Look. I’m not good at it. I get nervous eating out. Especially now that I live outside of New York City. But I could get better with practice. And I would like to.

My food boundaries are not a burden for me. They are sometimes inconvenient, but they are ultimately only a relief. I am free from the obsession over food and my weight, and the fat body I lived in, and the compulsive eating and exercising and purging and laxative abusing. But I don’t want my food boundaries to be a burden for my boyfriend either. And I don’t know what the next thing to do about that would be. So I guess I’ll just let it be what it is for now, and trust the right answer to come in time…

Unburdened

I happen to be the product of a wildly unsuccessful marriage. Sometimes I look at each of my parents and wonder who the hell thought that union was a good idea. Of course, I didn’t know them through their youth and courtship. (They had known each other in highschool, and married in their early twenties.) But in my lifetime they have been as different as can be. My father is a Harvard Ph.D. and atheist who wears bow ties and thinks intellectual discourse and art are fun. My mom is a Catholic with a dirty sense of humor who thinks Disney World and midnight showings of blockbuster movies are fun. They were divorced, oh…about 15 minutes after I was born.

When I was 27, I had a conversation with each of them (separately) about why their marriage didn’t work out. My mother’s explanation was that my father didn’t want a family. (This is not an insight into my father, by the way. He has always been in my life. Always as a father.) This is an illustration of the context of my childhood. My father didn’t want a family meant my father didn’t want me. Of course, my mother never said this to me growing up. I certainly don’t think she ever considered his leaving my fault. Both of my parents are good people who love me. But my mother believed that he left because he didn’t want a family, and technically, I was that family. A context like that is insidious. It does not have to be distinguished to be lived. It does not have to be named and expressed to be understood. That my father didn’t want me is the water I have been swimming in my whole life. To the child in me, I chased the man away with my very existence.

34-year-old, intelligent, rational Kate knows that her parents’ marriage is between them. That their choices to communicate or stay silent, fight or make peace, stay or leave, had nothing to do with her. But baby Kate got the burden of being a burden. And she’s been carrying it dutifully her whole life.

I have never been available for love. I shut my heart down early. But the thing about a heart is that it will love if you let it. So I didn’t let it. I anesthetized it with food. I ate every feeling constantly for the majority of my life. I built myself a fortress of fat and I lived inside it.

So fast forward. I got control of the food. I got hot. I got some integrity. But I kept the fortress around my heart. And then I started dating. I mean a *lot*. I internet dated. I went out with my cab driver. With my waiter. Bankers, lawyers, architects, construction workers. Even a chef. I met men on the subway. In airports. On the street. In the park. Starbucks. (Starbucks, single ladies! You just have to go there and smile.) But it didn’t matter how many men I met or how many dates I went on. I was all surface. I was all face and body. I never let anyone into my fortress to get a glimpse of my heart.

What I am starting to see now is that cowardice begets cowardice. That grace is a muscle. I let mine atrophy for 28 years. Perhaps if I had faced my fear and shame, I would have found that it was a paper tiger. But there is no perhaps. My story is that I fed my shame with cake and I hid away from life.

About two years ago, I was seeing this guy. (Starbucks. I’m telling you!) And wow, did I like him. I had had my food under control for a few years by then. I looked great and I was at a place in my life where I genuinely respected myself. So I got up all the courage I could muster, I found a little chink in the wall of my fortress and I told him that I liked him. (Like. Not love. I have never been in love.) He didn’t feel the same.

Now most girls can figure out how to deal with this kind of rejection by the time they are 14. But I was in my fortress at 14, cowering in the corner and stuffing my face. I did not know how to deal with it. I didn’t have that muscle. So I went back into my fortress and lamented my lot as the unwanted one. This guy is not a jerk. He was not cruel to me. He and I are still in touch occasionally. We exist somewhere between friends and acquaintances. He thinks I’m “really special”. (Ugh! I hate “really special”!) He says I’m his biggest cheerleader. He loves my honesty and seeks my opinion. And of course, he would still sleep with me if I were available for that. (Which I am not.) But what I have just come to realize, is that for the past two years, I have been feeling sorry for him. Sorry for having burdened him. Sorry for wanting what I don’t deserve. Sorry for making him look at my heart.

But now it’s been a couple of years. The food is still under control. And the longer it is, the more alert my heart gets. It wants out of the fortress. It woke up, looked around, and wanted to know who left the fat girl in charge!?!? It wants me to stop locking it up every time the fat girl and the baby and the burden in me get scared. It wants to get to work on building my grace muscle.

I hope that the next time I tell a man I like him, I will remember that whenever a person shows their heart to another person, it’s a gift. Even if that person is me.

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