onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “feelings”

In my circle sitting in it

As a person who has lived with a kind of constant, low level anxiety for basically all of her life, you might think I am not feeling much different in the face of some of the more terrifying things that have been happening here in the US over the past several days, months, years. But you would be very, very wrong.

It’s a funny thing to know that things are bad, but that also, there is really nothing to do about it except carry on. I read a really interesting article a couple of years ago with this quote. “Collapse is just a series of ordinary days in between extraordinary bullshit, most of it happening to someone else.” 

So here I am, more and more afraid every day, but someone has to go to the grocery store and do the laundry and make dinner. And I can. I have money and time. Everything terrible and horrific that I am afraid of has happened to someone else. For now.

I have to constantly remind myself that there is nothing to do but what is right in front of me. There is no difference I can make except in the place I am at any moment. That I cannot fix any part of the world I can’t reach.

It helps me to think about my life in concentric circles. I am alone in my first circle, and that is where I have the most control. I keep my eating boundaries. I exercise. I drink my water. In the next circle is my husband and our marriage and all of the ways I can make a difference in our partnership. And so on.

Another thing that helps to “sit in it.” I hate that part. The sitting in my fear and discomfort. The being alone with my powerlessness. The letting Life be what it is. I absolutely abhor it, but it is necessary for me and my sanity.

I could eat a cake. That would certainly numb me for a while. But a while is not that long. And then I would just need more cake, and nothing would change. Except that I might not be able to do the mundane stuff anymore like grocery shopping or laundry. Because I am a low bottom, non-functioning food addict. 

So I am going to keep my eating boundaries and navigate the fear and just put one foot in front of the other. I don’t think that will make a difference in the world, but I know that it will make a difference in my very small part of the world. Even if that means only that very small circle around just myself.

Driving my meat car with the low fuel light always on

I was talking to a friend yesterday who forgot to eat for a long time and didn’t understand what was wrong. And it reminded me that there are a lot of us who don’t have bodies that function like other bodies.

My friend was raised with intuitive eating. (Not that it was specifically called that, but she was taught to only ever eat when she was hungry.) And that worked for her sisters and her parents. But my friend was feeling stressed out last week, and she did not feel hungry, so it never occurred to her to eat. So she didn’t. And it made her sick. Obviously.

And it reminded me that some of us don’t have the bodies with properly functioning “indicator lights.” My “hungry light” never goes off. My “full light” never goes on. For my friend, her “hungry light” never goes on. She usually takes her cues to eat from people around her, so when she is not around people, she can forget.

Before I got my eating under control, I thought hunger lived in my stomach. But since I have put boundaries around my eating, I have learned that my feelings live in my stomach. So any feeling used to feel like hunger. Unhappiness occurred as hunger. Anxiety occurred as hunger. Excitement occurred as hunger. And joy, and fear, and worry and dread. 

It turns out that actual hunger doesn’t really *feel* like anything to me. I’m more irritable, and my thinking less cogent. I am more likely to be scattered and not know what to do next. And I might, under extreme circumstances, feel wobbly or lightheaded. But none of those things *feel* the way I always thought hunger felt. They don’t feel like much of anything.

So I am grateful that I found a solution to my eating problem that doesn’t have anything to do with “listening to my body.” And I am grateful to have a point of reference for *not* listening to the feelings I have when it comes to food. 

I am not opposed to intuitive eating. I think that when all of your indicator lights function properly, it’s a smart way to nourish yourself. But here is to all of us driving around in our meat cars with the “low fuel” light always on (or off.) May we all find the best way to keep ourselves on the road.

Panic! At the Grocery

On Monday last week I dropped my phone in the grocery store (I do basically everything on my phone including keeping my shopping list) and it broke. The screen did not work at all. 

It was very upsetting for me. Number one, how was I going to remember what I had on my grocery list? (And yes, I did, indeed, end up missing a couple of important items that day in my panic. Yes I managed anyway.) But also, as I mentioned above, I do everything on my phone. So I was totally out of sorts. 

There was a store from my service carrier in the same parking lot as the grocery store, though. So I went in there to discuss my options. And friends, they were anything but helpful. Two of the three employees in particular were rude, gave me condescending looks and side eyes, and made it clear to me that I was interrupting their conversations. They basically told me that I needed to take it up with Apple. Even though I had insurance through them. 

But I had not eaten lunch. Which would have to be my first priority because keeping my eating boundaries is alway my first priority. And I had promised my husband that I would do laundry that day because he was running out of work clothes. And I had just made a promise to my career coach that I would get him my first draft of my cover letter and a revised resume by the end of the week. And now, on top of that I needed to find an Apple repair place and everything would be more difficult until I did.

I was pacing around my apartment, on the brink of hyperventilating, too distracted to do one thing at a time. Making part of my lunch, but then walking away to sort laundry. And then looking at the time and realizing I still hadn’t eaten any lunch. Too worried about getting everything done to get anything done with any grace. Too muddled to finish a task. 

This is a default setting of mine. When things seem too complicated and unthinkable to process, I just don’t process them. I shut down.  

And then I made a decision. I was not going to deal with my phone that day. I just made the choice and let it go. I made lunch and then sat down and ate it while watching Bridgerton. Again. (Don’t ask how many times. You really don’t want to know. Or at least I don’t want to admit it to you.)

In making the choice, I was able to stop my mind. I decided that when my husband got home, I would use his phone. I would call and make an appointment at an Apple repair place for the next day. And I would manage for the following 24 hours. 

And moving forward, everything went smoothly. I used my husband’s phone to make an appointment. The next morning I ate breakfast and packed myself a lunch. I got there on time. They took my phone and told me to come back in an hour. And I had Apple Care so they fixed my phone for free. I got back home with a working phone in time for lunch.

The ability to pause, to actively make a choice, to *accept* that it is always life on Life’s terms, is a gift of having my eating under control. My default may be to pace and mutter and flit from unfinished task to unfinished task, but I now have the option to *choose* something else. 

Does that take something? Some effort? It does. I had to learn how to do it. I have to continue to practice it. All the time. And even after 16 years of having boundaries around my eating, that panic still pops up first. But in having priorities, especially when my first priority is that of self-care, I can change the way I think and act in any moment.

Every Feeling In Its Place

It has been a few days of what some people like to call “broken shoelaces.” These are not life or death problems I’m having. They are manageable troubles that happen to everyone. They are just life. But gah! They sure do suck!

My car battery died. And the store only had the really expensive replacement battery in stock. My internet won’t work. And I can’t get my provider to send a technician. I just end up on the merry-go-round of their automated system. But also, if we change providers, we don’t know it will be any better, and they may have to drill holes in our cinderblock walls. Sigh. 

I am frustrated. I am annoyed. I feel like none of this will ever be resolved. But of course it will. Because I am not drugging myself with food. I am not making myself numb enough not to care.

I don’t like these feelings. I am not comfortable being frustrated, feeling powerless, feeling invisible. I don’t enjoy not being able to get what I want even through my own actions.

But I know how to manage those feelings. I know how to be with them. I know how to sit in the discomfort until it passes, either from me fixing it, or sometimes, life fixing it. Everything passes. And sometimes it passes because I made it. And sometimes because things change. But however it happens, in the mean time, I know how to be calm, or more likely how to calm myself. I know how to accept my situation and take stock of my opinions. And I know how to be patient. To not need everything right now. 

And I learned that through practice. And the first thing I had to practice was not eating compulsively even when my thoughts and my feelings were screaming for cake.

Having my eating under control gives me a kind of control over my thoughts and actions that I never had in the food. And it puts my feelings in their proper place. They are signposts and guides. They are warnings and signals. But they are not the truths I used to take them for. 

I am still annoyed. I am not an angel or a saint. But I am in control of my life in a way I was not when my sugar addiction was active. I am in control of my actions, and my thoughts, and how I present them to others. And that makes all of these broken shoelaces feel like what they are, inconveniences, rather than the overwhelming problems that I used to be afraid everything was.

Vanity, Pride and wanting to be skinny enough to be loved

I was talking to some friends who do what I do with food the other day. And I was reminded that the difference between me as a kid eating compulsively and me as an adult with boundaries around my food is much bigger inside than outside. I did lose a lot of weight. And that is one thing. But most people I still have in my life didn’t care about my weight when I was fat. And they really think that I am basically the same as I ever was. Only not fat. And they don’t care about that.

This is interesting to me because I feel like an entirely different person. On the inside. And not just because I don’t think about my weight or my body anymore, which is HUGE, because when I was eating compulsively I thought about my body and my weight all the time. I worried about what other people thought about my body. But more importantly I worried about who was going to humiliate me because of my size and shape. Because people loved to humiliate me. People love to humiliate fat people in general.

But aside from not having that constant nagging fear and shame, I feel entirely different than I did when I was in the food. And it is about having my addiction under control. I have a clear head. I have a clear conscience because I have done my best to clean up my past messes and to “clean as I go” in my relationships now. I have a peace around not only my actions and words, but also my circumstances. I have a new relationship to what happens to me and how I react to it. One where I assess what is the reality of the situation, accept it, and act (or abstain from acting) according to who I want to be in my life.

Here is the deal. I believe whole heartedly that the people in my life would still love me if I were fat. I believe my husband would still love me. I believe my friends and family would still love me. That they would not see me as all that different.

And if what I do with food were only about being thin, and I knew that people would still love me fat, I would have quit. A long time ago. If it were about my body, and my weight, and I knew that my husband did not really care about my weight, I would have said screw it. I would have gone back to cake. Because when I got my eating under control, it really was to be skinny enough to be loved.

But now I do what I do because when I do it, I love myself. And I do not love myself because I’m skinny. I am not skinny. I love myself because I do what I say I am going to do. I be where I say I am going to be. I tell the truth and I honor myself. These were not things I could do before. Because how could I have been honest about anything when I could never be honest about food? I have sometimes heard “how you do anything is how you do everything.” And I was a liar about food. How could I not be a liar in any other aspect of my life?

As time goes by and I get more clearheaded, I know that weight is less and less important to me. That I don’t keep my eating boundaries for physical vanity. Though I’ll admit it is a kind of vanity. I like looking like I’ve got my shit together. But also, I like that I actually have my shit together. So maybe that’s more pride than vanity. (Do I sound like Mary Bennet now?!?) Either way, I am grateful that my happiness is not all tangled up with my weight anymore. Even if it is still tangled up with my food.

Listen to your h…ives?

When I eating compulsively I was willfully disconnected from my body. I hated my body. I blamed it for not being good enough. Mostly not pretty enough. But I didn’t really have an alternate way to relate to my body. Everyone made it clear that bodies were made to be beautiful, and that if mine was not, it was worthless.


That is a thing that happens in a fat-phobic society. We learn to internalize hatred for any body that is considered bad, mostly as a defense mechanism. To love your fat body is considered shameful. To be ashamed of your fat body shows that you are properly embarrassed by your shameful body. That you are on the “right side” of what is good and right and honorable.


I have spent the past few years actively shifting my view of fatness. It has nothing to do with my eating. At least, I am working consistently at disentangling my love of my body from its shape and size. I am an addict. I keep my addiction under control through the way I eat. I think of my eating as a way to honor my whole self, emotional, physical and spiritual, not just how pretty I am by societal standards.

So I have reconnected with my body over the years. I have learned to love it for all of the things that it has done for me, all of the ways it serves me. All of the things it wants to teach me. And it has taken a long time to get to understand it as well as I do. And I know that there is much more to learn.

One thing that I have come to understand over the past 15+ years, since I put boundaries around my eating, is that my body shows me how well I’m doing through my skin. I can feel “fine.” I can look on the outside like I am doing “fine.” I can seem to be managing everything just “fine.” But my skin can tell a whole different story. This is coming up this week because I am officially hive-free, for the first time in 4 months, since I started the very stressful job that I left this week.

In late July, I started a new job. And less than a week after I took it over, it got crazy, and I started to break out in hives. They were on my chest, in my armpits, and in my bellybutton. 

And as I changed the job, personally developing and implementing structures and procedures that streamlined the process while still capturing all the necessary information and creating the needed output, some of those hives went away. First my chest cleared up. And then, eventually, after many weeks, my armpits cleared up. But my bellybutton has been hanging on to those hives the whole time.

But I left my job on Monday. And yesterday, for the first time in months, my skin, all of my skin, is clear. There are no more hives anywhere. And it makes me a little weepy to realize how unhappy I was, and how I was holding it together with pure willpower.

I can remember having had stress-related skin conditions as far back as high school, though I didn’t know it at the time.  I could barely walk at graduation because of a terrible outbreak of dyshidrotic eczema on the bottom of my feet, that at the time was misdiagnosed as athletes foot. 

But when I was eating compulsively I thought about my body as little as possible. I just sort of suffered through. And I had lots of practice, since I avoided thinking about my fatness because it hurt my heart to be fat.

I want to acknowledge my body today, for always trying to look out for me, even when I treated it like the enemy. I want to be grateful for everything it has done for me, even when I was actively hating it, and sometimes trying to hurt it, with exercise bulimia, and good ol’ fashioned stick-things-down-my-throat-bulimia, and abusing laxatives, and drinking castor oil, and binging and starving. I want to be grateful that I have learned to listen to it, with love.
I am grateful to be in a place in my life where I can see that those hives were a defense mechanism against me harming myself. That my body was telling me that I was in the wrong place. That there was something wrong. And I am especially glad that instead of blaming my body for the hives, instead of treating them like one more way my body was broken and wrong, I could see them as a loving warning that something was wrong outside of myself, but within my control. And it took me a while, but I managed to listen and do something about it.

No such thing as comfortable misery (anymore.)

When I was growing up, I was often told, both implicitly and explicitly, that I didn’t understand how the world worked. That the things that I wanted were silly, impractical, simplistic or impossible. That the plans I wanted to make were ridiculous and juvenile. And especially if/when I was trying to act from a place of growth or transformation. (I read a lot of self-help books and went to self-help seminars.) I knew that I was not happy where I was in life, and I wanted something better. And people scoffed. 

I am sure they wanted me to “not get hurt.” But I was already hurting. And I am sure that a lot of my wishes didn’t come with particularly good plans to accomplish what I wanted to accomplish. But the message I continually got, at least the message I continually *heard* was “stay in your lane. Accept this existence. This is the life you got and there is no way to change it.”

I certainly got shot down a lot for a long time. And I certainly succumbed to that fatalism for a very long time. But there has always been a nonconformist in me who refused to fully accept the finality of my situation, whatever situation that might be. There has always been a searcher and a seeker and a believer in me. 

That part of me never really got going in any useful or practical way until I got my eating under control. But also, it is that part of me that let me get my eating under control in the first place.

I have talked before about how it makes people uncomfortable that I have a particular food plan. No, I’m not *on* a diet. But I *have* a diet. And that really messes with people’s heads. They want me to eat cake at least sometimes. It would make them feel better. They want me to not be so rigid. They want me to not be so disciplined. 

But I have never needed to fit in in that way. I have never needed to be like everyone else, and I have never particularly cared about making other people comfortable when it comes to my life and my choices. Is that selfish? Perhaps. But if so, I am so selfish that I don’t really care if it’s selfish. So I am rigid, and disciplined, and I have, indeed, transformed my life. Not just my eating, but the way I work, and the way I love, the way I take care of myself and the way I take care of others. Who I am in the world for myself and in my relationships is completely different than it was before I put boundaries around my eating. All for the better. All leading to me becoming a person I like and love and respect.

Now that I am coming to a place in my life where I want to transform (again) my work life, I can feel all of the “practical” advice I have been given all of my life bubbling up. I can feel all of the people who don’t want me to go blindly into a new chapter in my life. They want me to play it safe. To stay in “comfortable misery.” But the problem is that in having my eating under control, there is no such thing as comfortable misery anymore. There is only miserable misery and my own spiritual need to get out of it.

People in my life definitely didn’t want me to be fat anymore when I was fat. But oddly enough, they also did not want me to change in any way that would be uncomfortable for them. They wanted to have their cake and for me to eat it too. They wanted me to have a great life, as long as it didn’t push up against their beliefs about the world.

I have to keep reminding myself lately that in choosing to leave a job that no longer serves me, I am telling Life that I am ready to accept something better. I learned that by blindly giving up sugar 15+ years ago. By willingly doing this crazy, rigid, extreme thing with my food all in the hopes, but with no guarantee, that I would get something better. And I did.

I will close by saying this. I know that a lot of people say it’s unwise to leave a job without already having another one. And I have to acknowledge that I have the privilege of being in a two income household, which makes a huge difference in terms of money and survival. But the truth is, I have never done that. I have always left a difficult situation first, even when I was poor. Has it always been wise? Absolutely not. But I also have to ask, while I am at this job that is making me so unhappy, how do I create a space in my life for something different? How do I get a better job that suits me better, when I am living in the energy of this job with this culture. How do I “vibrate on a different level” when I am still here in this place. How do I not just make a lateral move to an equally unhappy job if I am living in the unhappiness of this one? I don’t know that I can. And I don’t think I want to try.

Halloween connections >>>Halloween candy

It has been a while since I *really* did Halloween. I have cobbled together a handful of last minute costumes over the years, but nothing like I used to do when I was young and/or single.

But this year I decided I am going to do it up, as the kids used to say when I was a kid. (I don’t know what the kids say now because I am old and out of touch.) This year I am dressing up as a Fae Princess, which is very on brand for me since I am obsessed with YA Fantasy novels about Faerie courts. My costume this year is complete with wings and a flower crown and pointed ears, and lots of glitter. And doesn’t “trick or treat” sound like faerie bargain in the making? 

When I was eating compulsively I loved everything about Halloween. I loved the costumes and the atmosphere charged with endless possibilities, some fun and some dangerous (I grew up in the 80s and 90s. We were given way more opportunities to do stupid crap unsupervised.) And I loved candy and I loved that on that day, I could eat candy with abandon the way I wanted to. And the other kids could and were too. I didn’t have to feel so shameful about it on that day. I was just one of many on Halloween, unlike most other days for the rest of the year.

When I gave up sugar and my drug foods, Halloween didn’t lose any of its appeal for me. Even though I thought it might. I thought I would be hard to watch people eat candy and get drunk when I could not. (I got my eating under control at 28, years past legal drinking age.) Instead, it became more about the costumes, the dancing, the pretending. And I got to enjoy it without all of the self-consciousness, and the out of control feelings, and the obsession with food. I got to have more “moments” with friends and strangers. It became about my and other people’s creativity. It became about connections. 

One of the best things I’ve gotten from getting my eating under control is my ability to connect with people. When I was in the food, everything was about food. Everywhere I went and everything I did was colored by either the food there or the lack of food. Every celebration was a celebration of food and food alone. When I put boundaries around my eating, celebrations became about relationships, and experiences.

I love that I still love Halloween. I love that I don’t need candy to love it. I love that I don’t need alcohol to love it. I love that food is not why I love my life, and yet, in between the moments of experience and relationship, I still get to love my food.

37 years of stories about my work ethic

I put in notice at my job this past week. I won’t go into details, but starting two weeks ago, I was crying basically non-stop until I did. I hated my job. I hated my life with the job. And for as much as I have loved the work itself and how good I am at it, I have known for a long time that I was not a good fit for the culture of the company. I told them they could have me until January, and that I would do a great job until then, but then I was done.



Having my eating under control means that I cannot ignore my feelings. I cannot eat my feelings. And I cannot live a life that makes me miserable. I cannot cry over something for days and not see that there is a problem that I need to take action to remedy.



I want to say that I am low key terrified about having to find another job. I have some long-held, deeply difficult stories about myself and my work ethic. They go all the way back to the kind of student I was. Not just in High School, but in 2nd grade and 5th grade and 7th grade. I have stories about being lazy and not living up to my potential that reach back to me at 7 years old. Can you imagine that? I’m 44 and I still have to deal with 7-year-old Kate not doing her homework. And in retrospect I can see that 10 and 12-year-old Kate probably lived with that too, and how do you shift your thinking about yourself when you are still so close to having been the 7-year-old only 3 or 5 years before?


The thing about transforming every aspect of your internal life is that it doesn’t happen overnight. And it is usually the oldest wounds that you get to last. And this definitely feels like a wound.


But there are lots of things about me that are completely different from who I used to be. And not only that I have a very right-sized work ethic. (I am definitely not a workaholic. I want to do a spectacular job for fair compensation for 35-50 hours a week and be done.) And one of those things is that I know how to take action in the face of terror. I know how to sit with the feelings of uncertainty and anxiety. I know how to keep moving forward.


I was paralyzed when I was eating compulsively. I was always avoiding and deflecting. I got scared, panicked, and then ate drug foods until I couldn’t feel the worry anymore. And then stayed in a food coma until the consequences caught up with me. And they always did. And someone (99% of the time, my mom) would bail me out of whatever conceptual prison I had landed myself in.


I don’t know what happens now. And really, nothing yet. I still have a 60+ hour a week job to take care of for the next 2 months. But I keep reminding myself of 2 things:
1) At least half of the jobs I have ever had came to me without my seeking them out. My professional acting job, my start as a newborn nanny, and even the job I have right now, were acquired by someone coming to me out of the blue and asking if I wanted the job. Which, in retrospect is kind of crazy. Who gets that kind of care from Life?
And 2) Every time I say “no” to something that doesn’t serve me, Life gives me better than I had before and usually even better than I thought I wanted.

Can I Borrow a Feeling (iykyk)

I am obsessed with feelings. I have always been obsessed with feelings. But in the past 5-10 years, I have come to understand a lot about the reality of that.


What I mean is, when I was eating compulsively I wanted feelings. But I only wanted the feelings I wanted. Comfortable feelings. And when I say comfortable, I don’t mean pleasant, I mean any feelings I wanted to feel. Feelings with a payoff.

When I was a kid, I watched the same movies over and over again. I know that this is not unusual for kids. For the most part all kids do this. But I also did it well into my twenties. And not just with movies. When learned to read and I got into books, I read the same books over and over again. For many years I read all of Jane Austen’s novels at least once a year. And sometimes more often than that. And I had other books that I would keep going back to. I think it was easier for me to pick up an old familiar book or movie than to delve into a new one. Especially if the familiar one gave me the kinds of feelings I wanted. The feelings I already knew I loved. Revelatory relief, vindication and victory after deep humiliation, love against all odds, and selfless sacrifice, to name a few.

There were also in-real-life feelings that I cultivated over others. I still loved vindication, but also hilarity and pride. I was good at despair, resignation and righteous indignation too. I was comfortable with these. I knew what I would get from these emotions.

But when I got my eating under control, this particular skill set, the ability to curate my emotions, especially through media, was a solution to a problem. I have mentioned before that when I first put boundaries around my eating, I watched the same anime series over and over again. (It’s called Fushigi Yuugi, in case you are curious. People have asked in the past.) I would play the 3 dvds in order from the first episode to the last, and then just put the first episode right back on. By the end of that first two years, I wasn’t even having the feelings anymore. The sad parts didn’t make me cry. The romantic parts didn’t make me flutter. The funny parts didn’t make me laugh. But I still got the echo of those familiar, comfortable, desirable feelings.

I’ll tell you what that did for me, though. It quelled the cravings for sugar. It got me high without getting high. It helped me manage my feelings until my feelings were more manageable.

Now I only occasionally go back to reread books, or rewatch movies or shows. (With a Goodreads goal of 100 books a year, there is no time for slacking!) Though when I do, it is always because they offer the kinds of feelings I want to cultivate. 

But I am no longer afraid of new feelings. I have learned that what I feel doesn’t have to mean anything to anyone but me. I don’t have to act out in my rage or my fear or my sadness. I can feel what I feel, and still act according to my values. And if I want to manage my difficult feelings, I have tools for that too. 

I got the opportunity to understand all of this because I am not eating compulsively. Eating did things to my feelings; changed them, muted them, buried them, warped them, but never let me move past them. In having my eating under control, I can feel my naked, real feelings. And then I can let them go. Unless they are worth keeping, and then I can hold them dear.

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