onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “eating boundaries”

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I don’t dance when the gorilla is around.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The intersection of never and always

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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?

Maybe all along the real treasure was the boundaries I put around my food!

Today I want to just briefly touch on vanity and how getting my eating under control shifted that for me.

When I was eating compulsively and fat, I hated myself for being fat. I thought about my body constantly. It took up a corner of my brain every waking moment starting from the time I was maybe 9 or 10. And at the time, the 80s and 90s, through to the mid 2000s there was a lesser, but still huge diet industry. There were Jane Fonda workout tapes and home exercise equipment setups. There were shakes, and pills, and meal supplements in the form of chocolate chews. 

And I was fat, and hated my body, and thought that there was something so incredibly wrong with me that it was inalterable. I believed that I had a willpower problem. I believed that I had a morality problem. I believed that I had a broken body and a broken soul. I knew in my heart that I was being punished by God.

When I was 28, I put boundaries around my eating. I did it to prove that it would not work. I did it to show that even if I did everything I was told to do, it still would not work. 

I also want to note that I had done everything I had been told to do before. And it had not worked. I went to doctors and nutritionists, like I was expected to. And there I was told to moderate. I was told that I should eat a cookie. But only one. And I had never ever been able to eat only one. More proof of my moral failings.

I did occasionally have something like success in my early and mid 20s. Certainly the diet industry would say I did. I could manage my eating and workout. I could get down to a socially acceptable weight for a limited amount of time. But I was always miserable. I was obsessed with eating and also with not gaining weight. I was obsessed with putting the food in and also getting it out, before it showed up on my belly or thighs. I was a laxative abuser, an exercise bulimic and eventually had a short stint as a regular, old fashioned bulimic.

But at 28, I agreed to some guidelines. To weigh my food. To only eat 3 times a day. To give up most sugars, grains, and starches. And I felt a pathetic combination of smug and sad, because I had tried everything else and I could not imagine this would work. Because I could not imagine anything would work. I was irrevocably broken! Couldn’t everyone understand that and leave me alone?

But, of course, I was wrong. And it worked! I limited my food and I was able to do it continuously, even though I had never been able to before! The answer was sugar. That when I ate sugar, I could not stop eating sugar. When I gave up sugar, I ceased to crave it. It turned out that I was (am) addicted to sugar. It is a drug for me. So when I gave it up and it stopped having a hold on me, the weight dropped off and I was skinny and now considered really beautiful by the world’s standards. And I loved it!

And I learned then that different kinds of stress affected my weight. I found out the guy I was seeing was not as interested in me as I was in him, and I gained weight. And then my beloved grandmother got sick and was sick for many months before she died and in that time I lost weight. 

After that I quit smoking. And that made me gain the most weight yet. And then after 3 years, that weight just fell away, and I got back to being quite skinny. And then the political climate in the US shifted. And I got stressed out in a whole new way. And I gained weight again. 

The whole time, I was maintaining my eating boundaries. I was not eating more. I was eating the same. And sometimes even less! And my weight still fluctuated.

When I was eating compulsively and eating sugar but in a body smaller than the one I currently inhabit, I was still miserable. I still felt ugly. I still felt broken. I still felt fat! But in getting my eating under control, I stopped feeling fat. I stopped hating myself. I stopped feeling broken and pathetic and hideous. It was the eating, and not the body, that was making me feel the way I did. 

With my eating under control, I don’t hate my body. Whatever body I happen to be in. When I am chubby, but have my eating under control, I still think I am beautiful. I still think my body is beautiful. I still like myself. And I can see that people find me attractive. It does not matter what my body actually looks like. And I can tell you that was unexpected.

Today, when I look at a picture of a model or see an actress on my TV, I am not comparing myself to her. I am not thinking about the ways that I can wrangle my body into “behaving.” I am not thinking about my body at all. And that is a miracle and a gift I have no interest in giving up.

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.

I do not have as many hours as Beyoncé. So I have priorities.

I have occasionally written about my bare minimums here. It is the way I manage my time, and therefore, my life. And another way to say that I have priorities. 

One of the lessons from getting my eating under control that took a little longer than many of the others was that I could not get everything done. Not just that I couldn’t get all of the things done today. That I could not get done all of the things I wanted to, period. It was never going to work. 

It was a bit of a hard pill to swallow, frankly. I had my sugar addiction arrested. I was sleeping enough, eating nourishing food, keeping track of my commitments, paying my bills. On time! These were huge, empowering, life-altering shifts to my day-to-day operating. But I still could not get everything done that I wanted to. 

There is a coffee mug that says “You have the same hours in the day as Beyoncé.”(Look, you don’t. Neither do I. Certainly not if you have to drive yourself 45 minutes to and from work. And grocery shop. And blow out your own hair and do your own makeup. And cook dinner for yourself and your family. But I digress.) I hate that saying for more reasons than the fact that it is a lie. I hate it because it implies that there is something grand and specific that you and I should be doing with our time. And that if we are not, we are wasting it.

That mug is implying that there are priorities that you should have and they are in line with the priorities of a multi-millionaire superstar.

Right now, my priorities are basically food boundaries, relationship with husband, bare minimum self-care (exercise, water, meditation), work, and making sure there are clean dishes to cook and eat my meals. That is it. That is the sum total of what I have the energy for. My house is a mess and I don’t care. I am not knitting or crocheting. I am not cooking interesting meals. I am not doing my regular grooming rituals like doing my nails or deep-conditioning my hair. 

One of the best things about priorities is that you have to be really honest about what you want and the amount of time you have. Before I used the tool of prioritizing, I didn’t have to look at the truth about what I could get done because I was living in the lie that I could get it all done. Because, at least in theory, I had the same 24 hours as Beyoncé. But in having the clear head that was the result of giving up my drug foods and having my eating under control, I could see that the math didn’t work out. That it was never going to work out. And I had to make choices.

One of my priorities is, and truly always has been, rest. I need a lot of down time. A lot. I need to daydream. I need silence and space and solitude. 

For much of my life, that seemed like a terrible thing. It was seen as laziness and vanity. It felt wasteful and shameful. And perhaps it was when I had no priorities. 

But now I have priorities. And I honor them. I manage my time and my life. Once I really looked at my life and got specific about what was most important to me, my priorities were obvious. Food first. Husband second. And once those were settled, everything else just clicked right into place. Simple. 

But for me, food first is the priority of all priorities. Without the clarity and peace that having my addictive eating under control brings, I have one priority: sugar. And that “one” priority comes with its own set of other priorities. How to get it, how to eat it without anyone judging me, how to get it out of myself without it showing on my body, how to stop once I started. And with that many priorities, how can anything else stand a chance?

If I can’t do anything else, I can still be present

I am a person who cries. A lot. And I always have been. But I don’t cry when people expect me to cry. I cry out of frustration, and anger. I cry over not being seen or heard. I cry over being misunderstood or misrepresented. But I don’t cry much over death, real or fictional.  I cry about life and relationships (also real or fictional.) 

Over 10 years ago now, my dad’s mom, who was my first love and the other love of my life besides my husband, died. But I barely cried at her funeral. Because while she was in the hospital from April 2010 to July when she finally went to sleep and didn’t wake up again, I cried. I cried a lot. And I didn’t do almost anything else. I went to work, and I came home, I choked down my meals and I laid out on my roof and I thought about all of the regrets I had; the things I took for granted, the ways I was selfish and self-centered, the times I failed to show up for her even though she showed up for me without fail. 

But I will tell you the other thing that I was doing while I was crying and devastated for 4 months. I was mourning. In real time. So that by the time she was truly gone, all of the shame and the regrets and the sadness of losing her had been dealt with. I came out on the other side of her death having internalized it, dealt with it, and I was complete. 

Look, it helps that we truly liked and loved one another. It was an easy relationship. It was filled with fun and joy and mutual love and respect. We didn’t have a lot of issues to work through. We didn’t have unfinished business. 

But also, my eating had been under control for over 4 years at that point. And I was clear headed and present. I was able to look at myself honestly. I was able to see the world clearly. 

Right now, the US is in a precarious position. For many reasons and due to many factors. And I am so grateful to not be eating compulsively. Because I am dealing with the fear and the uncertainty, the anxiety and the horror, every day, moment-to-moment, in real time.

I don’t have a lot of energy lately. I don’t want to do the things I love. I don’t want to be in touch with people. I don’t have it in me to get things done and take care of the things that need taking care of. I don’t want to clean my house, or paint my nails, or deep condition my hair or any of the things that I do to take care of myself emotionally or physically. 

But I keep my eating and my food under control. I do that without exception no matter what. And thank God. 

I know that a lot of people are eating compulsively right now. And I am not judging. Let me assure you that eating compulsively saved me in my early life. When I didn’t have an understanding of, or a way to deal with, those huge emotions that lived in my little kid body. Eating sugar and using it as a drug *saved* me!!!

But over the past 15 years, after giving up drug foods, or really *because* I gave up my drug foods, I acquired some important tools for managing my stress, for living in the present moment, for listening to my own truth and honoring my head and my heart both.

And I believe that, like I was able to get through the end of my beloved grandmother’s life present and in the moment, I will be able to go through these national and global situations and circumstances in real time, and come out on the other side of this political turmoil having internalized it and dealt with it. I know that I am already dealing with the world, the country, and my place in it. Because I have the tools to manage it. Because having my sugar addiction and compulsive eating arrested means that I can fully digest the events of my life and the world. Even if I can’t do anything else. 

So I fully believe that as long as I keep my eating under control, I can take each moment as it comes and trust that when the dust settles, I will already be complete.

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