onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “boundaries”

It Sucked, But Then It Passed: A Life Story

This past week was challenging. In particular, because so many things happened all at once. One of the wheels on one of our sliding glass shower doors broke, so we couldn’t touch that door at all, or the door would fall off the track into the tub and inevitably shatter. But then, our pipes got clogged and we had to call a plumber to snake out the tree roots that grow in our pipes sometimes. (It’s an old house with old pipes in a neighborhood with a lot of trees.) So we needed to make sure everyone knew not to touch the door while neither of us could be there personally. And of course that was also the day the mechanic called to say that my car, which had been damaged in a small accident a month ago, was finally ready to be picked up. And we had been paying a lot of money for a rental car. All while I’m working 12-13 hour days with an hour commute each way, and my husband is doing the same, only also on Saturday and he works the night shift. 

Thankfully, I know how to ask for help. My mom and step-dad really came through for me. Coming to my house to deal with the plumber, *and* picking up my car from the body shop. 

I also know how to take care of things myself. I drove my rental back to the airport, and took a ride share back home on my own so my husband and my mom didn’t have to deal with that as well after doing so much. 

And my husband ordered parts for the shower door and managed to fix it himself. Though the parts didn’t come until after the plumber came. 

In other words, it all went to hell in a day or two, and within another day or two, all of it was resolved. 

This too shall pass. 

I don’t want to say that it was easy. And it would be a lie to say that my husband and I didn’t fight over logistics, and who needed to be responsible for what. Because we did. Because we are both tired and overworked and having emergencies come up in our personal lives, while we are already putting out work fires left and right, is a lot, and sometimes felt like it was more than we could handle. Or at least more than *I* could handle. But in the end, it was manageable. And together, and with help, we managed.

When I was eating compulsively, I could never see a way out of any difficult situation. It always felt like every problem would persist eternally. And that terrified and troubled me. And it often made me make stupid, reckless decisions. Or paralyzed me so I couldn’t do anything at all, a kind of stupid, reckless decision in itself.

The truth is, I can’t usually see a way out of difficult situations now, either. The difference is, I know now that all things pass. I know that situations change and work themselves out. I know that resistance usually makes things worse, not better. I know that if you ride the ups and downs, they all smooth out in the end.

That surrender, that willingness to trust that this or that rough patch will get worked out, either by me, or someone else, or perhaps just by life, is something I got only by putting boundaries around my eating. The addict in me has no use for patience or peace or trust. Chaos was a great chance to retreat from the world and eat a cake. Both because I wanted to forget the chaos, and because I got so high on the cake.

When I was in the food and eating compulsively, my life was mostly trouble and chaos with very few moments of peace and clam, or at the very least it felt that way. Since getting my eating under control, my life is mostly peace and calm, with a few moments of trouble and chaos. Part of that is my perception. But part of that is also my ability to take action with a clear head in the face of fear. The fear has always been there. It just gets less of a say in my life now.

Boundaries are a Love Language

I am planning a fun little trip to LA in September. I will fly in on a Thursday, and out on a Monday. I am specifically going to see a friend, and my husband doesn’t want to take the time off of work because we are planning a big Florida trip in October. So I will be going go by myself. And in making my plans I got in touch with my friend about dates and times and whatnot. And she very generously, and very kindly, told me that she would only have a certain amount of time to give me in the days I will be there. And can I just say, I freaking loved it!

One thing I understand now after 15 years of having boundaries around my eating is that as a person with boundaries, I love it when other people have boundaries too.

The truth is that I was not expecting my friend to give me all of that time in LA. I’m a loner, by nature. I can and do amuse myself alone. All the time. I am good at it. I enjoy my own company. But knowing, in no uncertain terms, what I can expect, what I can ask for, what is on offer, and what I will be responsible for makes my life easier.

Boundaries are a life tool. They are how I manage my priorities and my time for myself. They are how I organize and create my day and my experiences. But when offered up to someone else, they are a kind of love language. This is how you can care for me. This is how you can honor me. This is how you can respect me.

Before I got my eating under control, I did not have any boundaries. And I hated other people’s boundaries. I wanted to please people so they would like me. But that is not how people pleasing works. People pleasing makes people like what you can do for them. They stop seeing the person, and only what can be gained from the person. I didn’t have any way to say no, so I would give more than I could and then behave badly when I couldn’t take any more. I was “an exploding doormat.” I let you walk all over me until I blew up.

In setting boundaries, in taking care of my own needs first, I don’t need to blow up. I can walk away. I can disengage with love. I have told you how I will be treated. And I *will* be treated with the respect that I dictate. Or I will walk away. 

My relationships are very different now than they were when I was eating compulsively. I like myself better. I like the people in my life better. Not because they are different, but because I am different. Because I have set the tone of respect and honor. Because I offer honor and expect it in return. And the people from my past who could not or would not learn to honor me and allow me to honor them, have all fallen away. 

Because there is another little tidbit to this. To set a clear boundary is to preempt drama. To speak your truth, and ask for what you want, and make clear what you have the capacity to give, is to give shape to expectations.

My first boundaries were around my food. But those boundaries I set for myself forced me to set them for others. If I wasn’t going to eat sugar and carbohydrates, I had to say no when my beloved grandma wanted me to eat her spaghetti and meatballs. Or when someone brought a cake especially for my birthday, or when someone wanted a taste of my meal that I had weighed out and committed and could not share. 

I am eternally grateful for the gift of having my eating under control for many reasons. But learning to have and keep boundaries is one of the most useful and freeing aspects of that gift.

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

15 years. Still grateful. Still angry.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Problems vs Situations

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

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

My friends, it was.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How is an addict like the Post Office?

One amazing thing about giving up sugar and simple carbohydrates is I don’t want the stuff anymore. It’s one way I know it was a drug for me. Once it was completely out of my system, which took about a year and half, I stopped needing it, or wanting it. Or really even seeing it. It’s like I have permanent blinders on. My eyes just sort of glide over things I don’t eat, unless there is a specific reason I am looking for it. And even then, it has no power over me.

If I am buying sugar for someone else, as a gift or as a treat, I can buy it with complete neutrality. I can look at it, and not see something I desire.

Yesterday, we had bags and bags of candy in the house. Trick or Treaters made short work of it, which I have no feelings about either way. Because over the years we have had bags and bags of Halloween candy and no kids to come by to take it from us, and in those years I still did not eat the candy. I wasn’t tempted by the candy. 

The candy is not mine. It’s not for me. It’s poison to me. I ate my fair share of candy for the first 28 years of my life. More than my fair share. Certainly more than enough.

When a person is fat, their doctors inevitably send them to nutritionists. And generally, those nutritionists tell their patients about moderation. They tell them to eat *one* cookie. They tell them to eat *one* piece of chocolate. They tell them to eat *one* *small* handful of chips. 

I cannot eat one. I am incapable of stopping once I have started. When sugar and simple carbohydrates are in my body, my body craves more. My brain tells me I will positively drop dead if I don’t have more. And that first year and half after I quit that it took to get the stuff out of me was filled with brain fog, and itchy skin, and emotional outbursts, and crying, and depression, and physical and emotional exhaustion. In other words, withdrawal. Like any drug.

For me it is literally all or nothing. I can either eat none of the stuff, or I will be haunted until I have eaten it all. All of what is in the house, and once that is gone, I will take a trip back out for more. When it comes to sugar, I am like the post office. Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night will keep me from getting my fix.

If moderation works for you, I am very happy for you. If I could eat cake with impunity, I surely would. But I can’t. And if you find that when you eat a piece of candy or a cookie, you can’t stop thinking about it until you eat more, you may want to consider cutting it out entirely. Because if you do that, there will come a time when you won’t need it, or want it. It will stop having power over you. Just like it stopped having power over me.

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