onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “blogiversary”

Happy other birthday to me

It is that time of year again. The New Year. And January 2nd is a special day for me. It is my double anniversary. My favorite day besides my biological birthday. My other birthday.

Nine years ago on January 1st, I was hopeless and desperate. And I had been in the death grip of my eating disorders. They were relatively new at the time. I had beed morbidly obese for most of my life at that point, but around 2004/2005, I had started a series of diets and workout regimes. I was going to get control of my body! I was going to lose weight! So I got coaches and trainers and started taking classes and counting calories. And I lost so much weight. But there was something wrong. Seriously wrong. The thinner I got, the crazier I got. I was irrational. I was reckless. And most importantly, I was terrified. And I couldn’t even identify that I was terrified.

Maintaining that new, thinner body was exhausting. And I didn’t understand it at the time, but what had me terrified was the unconscious understanding that I was never going to maintain that body. Because sugar ruled my life.

I have sometimes explained it like this: When I was fat, I was high on sugar. When I was dieting and exercising, I was high on losing weight. But being a certain size for any period of time is not exciting. You cannot get high on staying thin. And I wanted my drug back.

Check that. I wanted my drug back, but I wanted it in this new body. I wanted my drug back without consequences. I wanted to have done the work once so that the work would be done. Once and for all. I wanted to defy the laws of nature.

And I started eating again. Binge eating. Eating constantly. Mostly sugar and grains and starchy things. And I starting exercising in excess. Classes and running. Every day. Twice a day. I went all raw. No fat. Only green juice. And I started taking laxatives. Drinking castor oil. Administering enemas. And I started sticking toothbrushes down my throat.

And I was still gaining weight. And I was insane. Just trying to hold off a little bit longer before I gained back all of the weight and I was 300 lbs again. Before everyone would see it written all over me that I was a shameful, unworthy, unlovable blob. Before the clock struck midnight and I turned back into a pumpkin.

And then around November of 2005, I told the truth. About all of it. And somebody said that I had to start treating myself like an addict.

So I ate myself through the end of the year. No holds barred. It was a sad time for me. A time of self-disgust and resignation. Years later some friends would remind me that they saw me in that time and that I had said point blank, “I can’t stop eating.”

But on January 2, 2006, I met for the first time with a group of people who identified as sugar addicts and compulsive eaters. They had given up sugar, grains and starches, and put boundaries around their eating. And I started to do what they did.

I didn’t really believe it was going to work for me. I didn’t believe anything could work for me. I was utterly hopeless.

But maybe the best thing was for me to be so hopeless. Maybe my desperation was the reason it did work. Because it did. Since that day, I have not eaten sugar. I have kept boundaries around my eating. I have slowly changed the way I think about myself and life.

I am addicted to sugar. And when I was eating sugar, I could not stop. For years now, I have not had sugar in my body. So my body doesn’t crave it. But I could only get to this place with help. I think that’s important. It wasn’t willpower that brought me here. It wasn’t stick–to–itiveness. I don’t have those things around food. What I have is support. And willingness to take suggestions from people who have gone before me. And the opportunity to support others in their journey around food recovery.

A lot of life happens in 9 years. That doesn’t change because you get sober. But for me, no matter what happened – births, deaths, fights, reunions, vacations, vacation debacles, parties and partings – January 2nd is a day of celebration. I get to celebrate 9 years of freedom. That is 9 years of discovering who I really am, and sharing her with the world.

And January 2, 2015 was also the 3 year anniversary of this blog. Another big deal in my life.

Every week, I write a post here about being a woman living with eating disorders. I do it even when I think I have nothing interesting to say. I do it because I said I would. And this blog has been a chance for me to change my life.

I get to put ideas out in the world. I get to bounce them off of reality. I get to raise them up the flag pole and see who salutes. I get to see what gets bigger and more robust. And I get to see what floats away like dust. I believe this blog has sped up the natural pace of change in my life. I could not have made these changes if I were not sober from sugar and compulsive eating. But the writing, and the candid revealing, and the truth telling that have gone on here have made for a dynamic trajectory of growth and maturation in my life that sobriety alone could not have given me.

Anniversaries are about commitment. Nine years ago I made a commitment to myself about my eating. Three years ago I made a commitment to myself about sharing my experiences through writing. Commitments change the direction of one’s life. It is the natural order of things. And I believe that just the act of committing makes me a better person.

So I love January 2nd. It is a day that I celebrate myself. Because years ago, it was the day that I chose to honor myself. Twice. And because I continue to cultivate that honor.

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My head is midnight in a dangerous neighborhood

Well, there’s another year gone. And I don’t mean 2013. Though, that too, obviously.

January 2nd is my double anniversary. 8 years ago I stopped eating sugar, grains and starches and put boundaries around my eating. And 2 years ago I started writing this blog. So there are 2 things I want to talk about. But the theme is getting out of my head.

First, writing. And this blog. And how my life has seemed to change at warp speed since I started writing it.

I love the saying “I’m only as sick as my secrets.” Secrets are burdens. They are shame. They have this magic power. But it’s black magic. Dark magic. Secrets take my worries and doubts and fears, and amplify them. Secrets limit my options and play every story through to the worst possible conclusion. Secrets make the worst possible conclusion the only possible conclusion. Secrets make the thoughts that live in my head as real and inescapable as the chair I’m sitting on to write this. Secrets cause me to manifest the very things I am most terrified of. I know this. I have known this for a long time.

But then 2 years ago I started this blog. And I started to realize that there have been things that have lived in my head, and festered and swelled, that I didn’t even think of as secrets. That I didn’t know had grown toxic. Septic. I thought they were simply things I would rather not say out loud.

But it is, of course, the saying out loud that shifts everything. That gives me proper perspective and makes everything right-sized again. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

I was an actor for a while. And a singer. I could get up on stage in front of a packed theater and not think twice about being nervous. But my knees often shake if I go up to sing karaoke in a neighborhood bar. In other words, I am better in front of a big crowd.

This blog has been about performing in front of a big crowd. I’m not telling my family or my friends something (though they are reading it too), I am telling nameless, faceless strangers.

Two years ago I made a decision. That I would tell a bunch of nameless, faceless strangers a bunch of things I would rather not say out loud. And the course of my life has shifted more drastically than I could ever have imagined. I have changed the way I thought about myself, my love, and my worth. And I have continually taken risks that I never would have taken on December 31, 2011. And the rewards have been beyond my wildest dreams. Love, adventure, travel, freedom, security. That is what has happened just from getting the ideas out of my head and on a page.

But then there’s 8 years of dealing with the food. And the importance of the actual boundaries. And what they mean in practical terms.

See there’s this thing that I have heard that upsets me deeply. That it is “normal” for people with eating disorders to have relapses. (I’m looking at you, “Psychology Today.”) And I have even heard that it is inevitable. And it upsets me for 2 reasons. The first is for myself. It fills me with a sense of fear and dread. What don’t I know that will send me into a tail-spin? What is my future going to be like if I relapse? Will I lose everything? My self-respect? My relationship? Not to mention the body…

But then I also fear that hearing that will give people who are suffering from eating disorders a serious case of the f***-its. I don’t want to spread the message that it’s normal or inevitable to relapse into bingeing or purging. I want to spread the message that there are ways to keep your eating under control. That while I don’t believe there is a cure for eating disorders, there is hope. That there are ways to keep them on a short leash.

And now, I’m not dead yet, so I don’t know what will happen in the future, but for 8 consecutive years, I have maintained control over my eating. And I am very much interested in continuing this streak. I do not want to go into relapse. And I work every day, in small but significant ways, to remember that I have eating disorders, and to renew my commitment to keep them under control.

When I hear that relapse is normal, and I start to feel anxious and frightened about the unforeseeable future and what will happen to me “when” I have a relapse, I remember that I have boundaries around my eating. That one meal at a time, I can maintain those boundaries. That people have maintained boundaries around their eating for multiple decades. That I don’t have to believe everything I read about eating disorders. Even if it comes from a respected, major journal.

My boundaries are not wishy-washy concepts and ideas about “moderation” and “satisfaction.” I’m talking about clearly defined rules. I’m talking about definitions. I’m talking about quantifiable, measurable, and specific. I am either within my boundaries or I am not. There are very few times when I have to “use my judgment” to figure out if something is within my boundaries. There are times, but they are rare. And I have a friend I get to ask if I feel uncomfortable about making the decision myself.

If you are wondering why I would possibly feel uncomfortable about making a decision about food for myself, let me explain (or remind you) that I weighed 300 lbs at 19 years old. My judgment about food and eating is…well, just plain bad. This is why I have rules and boundaries.

I also want to clarify that I am certainly not implying that there is shame in relapse. Everybody has their own story. Their own life. Their own journey. I am sick when it comes to food too. I am not immune to relapse. If I were, this idea of it being normal would not scare the bajeezus out of me, like it does. I just don’t think it’s fair to those of us who are suffering from eating disorders to hear that we are hopeless. That hurting and punishing ourselves with food is “normal.” Because that is what we do when we act out with food. We hurt ourselves.

Now in this past 8 years, there have been things that have happened in my head that might be considered “relapse.” For example, I have had spells of overwhelming body-dismorphia. Where I look at myself in the mirror and I see a hugely fat woman. And my rational brain cannot comprehend the truth. That I am in a healthy, smaller than average body. Or I have become “afraid” of certain foods that are well within my eating boundaries. And I have stopped eating them because the thought of them made me nauseous. Or sometimes literally made my cry.

But that was in my head. It had nothing to do with how or when or how much I ate. The food has been under control the whole time. And I know that it has. I’m clear that it has. Because all I have to do is ask myself if I have broken my rules or stepped out of my boundaries. And the answer is no. No I have not.

For me, relapse is about the food. Because the food is the one thing that I can control. My actions. When, where, and how my hand goes to my mouth. I cannot make my eating disorders disappear. I cannot just eat like a “normal” person. I have made the decision to accept that I am not now, and never will be normal around food. But I don’t have to binge. Or starve. Or restrict. Or vomit. Or use laxatives. Because I have a definition for “binge.” And one for “starve.” And “restrict.” Because these things are not gray areas for me. These are not merely ideas. I make sure they have strict grounding in reality.

In other words, I make sure these things don’t just live in my head. That like my secrets and the things I would rather not say out loud, that what goes on with my food sees the light of day. My head can be midnight in a dangerous neighborhood. I make sure not to wander off alone.

A pretty unbelievable, amazing, fantastic, miraculous thing

It turns out January 2nd is an auspicious day for me.

Today is the 7th anniversary of getting control of my food. That’s right, seven years without eating sugar or eating compulsively. (Wow! For a 300 lb girl, that’s a pretty unbelievable, amazing, fantastic, miraculous thing!)

And it is the one year anniversary of this blog. (You know, my blogiversary.) One year ago today I wrote something and posted it on Facebook. I didn’t know it would end up as a blog. I didn’t know it would have this awesome title. (I mean, seriously. Onceafatgirl? Am I a genius or what!?!?) I was just writing because I wanted to express that my insides and outsides didn’t match. I wanted to tell the truth about me. The things you would never know unless I told you. I wanted to be witnessed.

And I have been. Thank you for witnessing.

I am looking forward to my second year of blogging. And wondering if this particular January 2nd will offer anything unexpectedly, and deliciously life-altering…I’ll keep you posted! Wishing you many blessings in 2013!

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