Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “fortress of indifference”

In Defense of Giving A S*** (Please note, I use the “s” word freely in this post)

A friend of mine recently posted pictures from her trip to Burning Man this year. In one, she has a button that says “Give A Shit.”

I used to have a skill that I cultivated. It was the ability to not flinch. It was part of my “cool” persona. I was very good at it. When people did things to try to get a start out of me, I would barely react.

Not just friends playing pranks. Even when I was mugged and punched in the face when I was about 24 years old, I can still remember the look in the eyes of the guy who punched me. It clearly freaked him out that I didn’t scream or cry, or even cower. In fact, I remember looking at him with a disgusted look. I made him flinch. (Of course, I would later realize that I was a bloody mess because he punched my teeth right through my lip. I suppose that would be scary if you punched a seemingly weak girl in the face and all she did was look angry at you…)

From the time I was a very small child, I was very good at building fortresses. My fat body was a kind of fortress against intimacy. So was smoking. So was that unflinching bitch attitude. And being high on sugar.

Sugar may, in fact, have been the most useful tool I had against giving a shit. Because it made everything foggy. And surreal. And it made life-moments incidental. My real life lay in food and eating and getting high. Everything else was simply something to be endured until I could get my next fix.

But then I got my eating under control and I quit sugar all together. And then slowly, (very, very slowly…one at a time, after years of being sober from food) I dismantled my fortresses.

Because you can’t have love without pain. Because you don’t get to pick and choose what you let in. A fortress doesn’t keep the bad things out. It keeps EVERYTHING out. All of it. Not just the sadness of rejection and the pain of being wounded, but also the love and the joy and the trust and the intimacy.

I made a choice when I decided that I wanted to let myself fall in love and be loved. I made the choice to give a shit. I knew that it meant getting hurt. I was a grown woman in my 30’s. I didn’t have fairytale delusions about how love made everything easy. I was quite clear that the life I had chosen until then, behind my very secure, safe walls, was the easy way. Not giving a shit is, by far, the easier way. Love is not safe. Intimacy is not easy. It is complicated and messy.

Admitting you are wrong is scary. Making amends is scary. Restoring a broken relationship is scary. Being vulnerable is just plain terrifying.

I could make all of it go away by just not giving a shit. Still can.

But that would make the love go away too. And the joy that comes from loving. And the warmth that comes from being loved. Because ultimately, love is giving a shit.

I choose love, so I choose to give a shit. And I wish the same for you.


For my next trick, I am going to *not* juggle…

So it happened. I gained more weight. 3 more lbs. I weigh 160.4 now. Over 160. I’m kind of devastated. It makes me wonder if it’s ever going to stop, let alone reverse. It also makes me feel crazy. Because my clothes are getting looser.

And I wanted to not write about it. I wanted to not mention it this week. I have never been happy to tell you my weight in numbers since I quit smoking and started gaining. But 160. Holy shit! It feels epic. It feels shameful. I imagine you sitting at home thinking Wow (or ewww) (or so pathetic) 160 is really fat. So I wanted to skip talking about how I gained weight this month. Not because I have better things to write about (though I do have better things to write about…) but because I wanted to keep it a secret.

I can’t keep secrets. It’s not that I’m not capable. I am much too good at it for my own good. But secrets eat away at me. And feed my ugly thoughts. And skew my view of the world and reality.

I have made a point to tell you my weight through this whole experience. Not just that I gained weight. But how much. And the number. This may not make any sense to you, but if I kept the number a secret, it would make me question if I was actually keeping my food boundaries.

Secrets live in me like a form of lying. And they trigger that same lack of clarity, muddled thinking, and hatred, or at least distrust, of others that lying perpetuated. That I can tell you the number, no matter how embarrassing, is a reminder to myself that I am not lying cheating or hiding my food. That my integrity is intact. That even if I am ashamed of the number, I don’t have to be ashamed of myself. And it’s a reminder that I’m ashamed of the number because I’m sick in the head around my body image. Because I don’t know what I look like. Not because the number or my body are shameful.

And it’s the same as it has been while I have been gaining weight. Not only am I not fat, I’m gorgeous. I’m sexy. Men dig it. Why do I have to feel so ugly? And crazy? Why can’t I just be with it? Why can’t I just trust that like every other person who has ever quit smoking, my body will readjust?

A friend told me to forgive myself for being unhappy. And scared. Irrationally afraid. Because these issues are at the core of my personality. To give myself a break. That I am doing a great job. Keeping my food boundaries. Being in touch with my feelings. Being present. And then she said, “Get on your knees and pray.”

Now let me tell ya, I pray. A lot. But I don’t get on my knees for much.

But I got down on my knees.

At first I just did a lot of whiny-baby-poor-me complaining. And a little how-could-you-do-this-to-me accusing. But finally I asked God, what’s the solution?

And God said “Sweetie, you are going to have to drop your fortress.”

I know that quitting smoking really did slow my metabolism. And I know that there are things about food and weight that are basic math. Calories in, calories out. But I also believe that thoughts, ideas and beliefs can affect me physically. And when I heard this, on my knees, asking for a solution, I understood.

I collect fortresses. So I can juggle them. A fortress of fat. A fortress of bitch. A fortress of indifference. I spent my life building them with food and cigarettes and drugs and drama and taking my toys and going home. When I would drop one, another would go up in its place. Something had to keep men out of my heart. Or there was going to be love. And love inevitably leads to getting hurt. Even when it’s beautiful. And reciprocated. And lasts.

But who am I kidding. I built them because I “knew” the beautiful, reciprocal and lasting weren’t meant for me.

The truth is, I really do have better things to write about this week than gaining 3 lbs. I have had some really intense epiphanies about love. And a personal paradigm shift. I have to reevaluate the impact I had as a girl growing up, even though I was fat. And the assumptions I made about myself. Then and now. And how I painted the girl I was into a corner. And how she painted herself into a corner. And how I projected my beliefs about my own insignificance on others. And possibly (probably) provoked it, fed it, created it.

But if I did that work, if I got down to the business of healing, I would have to dismantle my fortress(es). And that would leave me unprotected.

See, I think that maybe I don’t want to lose this weight. Because this weight let’s me feel bad about myself. Irrationally. Ridiculously. It let’s me say that no one will ever love me so fat (while men go bug-eyed when they check me out on the street…) And it gives me something to make a big dramatic stink about. And I even wonder if I manifested it so that I could have a nice upset to distract myself. Because my clothes are getting loose. And clothes don’t lie. But a “significant” weight gain when I thought my metabolism had started up again sure did give me a break from all of my progress toward love and intimacy and partnership. Because it was starting to look like a possibility. And a reality. And close. Like it could be just around the corner. And I could be ready for it when it showed up.

Good thing I had a weight/body image crisis! Phew! Dodged that bullet.

I don’t want to be hard on myself. I know that I am doing the best I can. And that it’s pretty fantastic. Especially for a girl who spent the first 30 years of her life expecting to be eternally alone. I am just telling on myself. Because I would like to move on from here. Soon. I want to get back to the task at hand. To take down my fortress. And not put up another in its place. To be available to be loved. In whatever body I happen to be in at any given moment.

If you take your toys and go home, there is nobody to play with

In my last post I went on and on about how I have all of this self-confidence and self-assurance. So obviously this week life slapped me in the face and reminded me that I’m an insecure fat girl. You saw that coming, right? (I didn’t. Could you give a girl a heads up next time? ‘Preciate ya…)

I have mentioned before that for most of my life, I shut my heart down. Even with my food under control, I didn’t let anyone into my fortress. When I lost my fortress of fat, I still maintained a fortress of bitch. Over the years, I have mostly given that up. (Mostly.) It makes me feel bad to treat others badly. Protecting myself at the expense of someone else’s feelings makes me want to eat a chocolate cake. So I try to be gentle. To have room for other people’s humanity. To remember that they are just people in the world doing the best they can. Same as me.

But I also have another fortress.  This one is hard to let go of. Because it works so well. It keeps me so safe. It is a fortress of indifference. Of untouchability. It is an amazing ability I have to stop caring. Really. If I feel like you are going to hurt me, I can stop caring about you in an instant. I can turn it off and shut it down and put you away like an old shirt I don’t wear anymore. I call it “taking my toys and going home”. And I have a promise with God that I won’t do it anymore. Especially with men.

There’s this man that I like. We’re not seeing each other. You know, it’s complicated. It’s totally impractical. So technically, we’re friends. (I think.) But I have been thinking that maybe eventually we might be more than friends. Because as impractical as it is, I think he may be worth navigating the complications and the trouble. And I thought he was interested in me too. Which is hard for me to admit to you right now because I have Carrie’s mom doing that kaleidoscope thing in my head. The one right before Carrie goes all telekinetic. They’re all gonna laugh at you. They’re all gonna laugh at you. Especially because of the next part of the story.

I was on Facebook the other day. And there was a conversation between him and a friend of his. Was it any of my business? No. But it was out in the open on a social networking site. And I read it. And it made me feel awful. At first I didn’t register why. All I knew was that I wanted to go smoke a cigarette. More than that, for the first time in almost a month, I actually considered smoking a cigarette. But I don’t do that anymore. (Stupid promise with God…) So I had to look at the awful feeling. And I realized that it hurt because it sounded like the way he saw it, there was no room for me in his life. It made me feel invisible. Unseen. Like he didn’t even know that I existed. So I wanted to shut off my heart. I wanted to stop caring. I wanted to take my toys and go home. But I don’t do that anymore either. (More stupid promises with stupid God…) So I had to ask him about it. And in asking, I had to admit that I thought that he was interested in me. That I had entertained the notion that I might be good enough for another human being. One that I think has a lot to offer. And that was hard to do. That was frankly terrifying. But I did it. (Stupid God.)

The truth is, I still don’t know where I stand with him. And I don’t love that, but I can be with it. That’s between him and me. (And it is, by the way, between him and me. The purpose of this post is not to solicit love and/or dating advice. Especially from “the internet”. I have friends for that.) And what I decide to do about my relationship with him, for myself and my own life, is between God and me. The purpose of this post is to talk about the part that’s between me and me.

I was not wrong about my self-assurance in my last post. I was not exaggerating about my confidence level. When it comes to my integrity, I’m confident. When I ask myself if I’m the kind of person I want to be, the answer is definitely yes. If I ask myself if I like and respect myself, there is not a doubt in my mind that I do. I even think that I would make somebody a good companion and partner.

The insecurity that this brought up is about the belief that I have that I am fundamentally unlovable. Fundamentally. Like I’m broken. Damaged. Faulty.  And not that something happened to make me unlovable. But that I was made that way. Born that way. That never being loved is my inescapable destiny. I have held this belief for as long as I can remember.  It is not rational, of course. But is not meant to be. It does not even masquerade as rational. It lives in me like survival instinct.

To dare to like someone is shameful. To expect, or really even to hope, that someone would be interested in me feels unforgivable. But to have someone find out that I was so presumptuous as to believe that they would think I was worthy of being loved sets off warning signals in my brain. Danger! Retreat!

But here’s what else I know. Until recently, I never let any relationship with a man come to its natural conclusion. Until recently I never just went along and let myself feel about someone the way I felt about them. Or let someone feel about me the way they felt about me. I never just let myself be hurt if I was going to be hurt. I never risked the humiliation. At the first sign of trouble, I always took my toys and went home. I never stopped to face the danger.

When I was the one who walked away, I took the power away from any other person to hurt me. But I took the power away from them to love me too. So I didn’t get love. And I didn’t get companionship. And I didn’t stop being lonely. Instead of getting hurt by someone else, I suffered at my own hand. I fed that thought that says I’m broken. I fed that belief that says that I will be alone. Forever. That it is my destiny. (Yes. It’s totally in The Emperor’s voice, in case you were thinking that.)

See, I have all of these promises with God. No sugar. No cigarettes. No drama. No lying. No taking my toys and going home. No trying to escape life. No trying to escape being present. No trying to escape personal relationships. I have all of these promises with God that I will actually be in my life. But God has made me a promise too. A promise that’s scary to admit to you. Because what if I’m wrong. And what if I really am broken. But He promises that if I show up for love, that he’ll send me love. So here I am. And here are my toys. And I’m ready to play.


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