onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “love”

Vulnerable, unpredictable, and intense – just as it should be

When I was in New York last weekend, I was with a group of people who make it their lives’ work to be present and honest. And it’s intense.

Now, it is also my life’s work to be present and honest, so quite frankly, I loved being there. But it was still really intense.

When I strip away the pretense of day-to-day living – like wanting to be liked, wanting to look cool, wanting to be acknowledged for being “good” or “right,” or any of the things that I do out of fear so that I don’t have to acknowledge my truth or be present for my life – what I am left with is unguarded love. To love and to be loved in return.

Here’s a secret. Love is scary. It’s vulnerable and unpredictable. It’s intense. Sometimes it can feel like it’s too intense.

I wouldn’t understand until years after I got my eating under control and got sober from sugar, but food was my main defense against being present and honest. And it was my first fortress against love. It did not matter how much love was sent my way. I had a wall up, and that wall allowed me to filter how much of it got in. I could take my love in easy-to-swallow, palatable doses. A lot of the love meant for me went to waste.

Being with this group of people was also interesting because I met them before I got sober from food. One of them was the one who sent me to get sober. Because of having known them for so long, I have memories, in my body, of how uncomfortable I was when I was eating compulsively. I could feel very clearly how free and peaceful I have become in the last 9+ years. I remembered how much I thought I had to hide then. I could feel so clearly, in contrast, how open I am now.

Another dear friend of mine talks about how getting sober from sugar and compulsive eating lets her discover who she really is, as opposed to who she was trying to be. And how she really likes the person she is discovering. That is my experience too. That in being who I am, I really like and love me. That I am happier being my flawed self than I was trying to be a perfect someone else.

So I am posing a question to you. (Yes, you. Who else?) Who would you be if you were totally yourself? What would it look like if you could let that true self be loved without filtering how much of the love you let in?

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Otherwise how would I learn?

I’m on the road again today. To Kentucky for a bit. Maybe not more than a week. But I’m happy to be going.

My boyfriend and I were apart for 2 weeks. The longest since I moved in with him. And I didn’t like it.

It’s funny that when I lived in New York I used to fear/hate leaving home. Because food is easy at home. And now, I would rather be on the road with a cooler as long as I can be with him. My definition of home has changed. My definition of comfort too.

We will stay in an extended stay hotel so I can have a kitchenette. And there is a grocery store within walking distance. So it’s not as if I am flying by the seat of my pants with my food. And so far I haven’t had to. But I really think I could if it came to that. For a short stay in a small town.

But the other thing I get to do is not worry about that right now. That’s not what is going on right now. I only have to deal with now. I don’t have to figure out how to deal with vague possibilities in the distant and uncertain future.

When I was eating compulsively I would often give up before I started something. The fear of having to deal with hardships and discomforts that may or may not pop up was an excellent excuse to quit. And quitting gave me more time to get high on sugar.

But for today, right now, I am incredibly happy to have my eating under control, my food taken care of, and to be available for adventure. Or at least life in the form I chose it. Which happens to be rather adventurous.

I was not the kind of person who would have chosen a life of regular travel. I chose love, of course. And it happened to come in the form of wandering. But I have learned that life likes to give me things I don’t think I want. Otherwise how would I learn that I love them?

When the worst thing VD stands for is actually venereal disease and not that February 14th holiday…

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day. And it was my first ever Valentine’s Day where I had a valentine. Ever. And I am 36 years old.

I didn’t need this Valentine’s Day to be a special day. And it really wasn’t. My boyfriend and I both worked a full 10 hour day plus commute. We came home and had dinner. We watched an episode of Heroes on Netflix. It was no big deal. But Valentine’s Day being no big deal was a VERY BIG DEAL for me.

I have very much hated the day for as long as I can remember. I didn’t even want the chocolate, though I was a sugar addicted compulsive eater. Because it came in a heart-shaped box which I was sure was only going to make the contents taste bitter. Like my heart.

Because I was sure that not only was I not going to get any romantic gifts that year, but I was never going to get any romantic gifts any year ever. I was going to be alone for my whole life. I was positive that I was fundamentally unlovable. And VD (as I used to call it) was a day when everything seemed to revolve around being single or not being single. Being loved or not being loved. Being somebody’s chosen, or being alone and neglected. It was about measuring up. And I not only didn’t measure up this time, I was never going to measure up.

For the first time, because I am in a relationship, I can look at the day with some clarity. Because it was too loaded for me to ever see it properly before. And I have to say, it is an unkind holiday to the single. I can see that there is first a kind of shaming of people who don’t have “a valentine.” There is an expectation that you should at least have something. A date. An admirer. A booty call. There is this underlying idea that to be alone on the day is pathetic.

And then there is a shaming of single people who hate it because they are being shamed. There is a clearly stated reprimand if you don’t like it, and especially if you say so. You are ruining it for everybody with your bitterness.

Seriously? Bitter single people are ruining your Valentine’s Day? Are you joking? It was so hard to choke down your chocolate? It made your filet mignon with the person you love taste bad? You had to throw away your bouquet of roses because you couldn’t stand to look at it while Bob and Mary were hating February 14th?

I have compassion for those who suffer on that day. I’m serious. Not pity. Compassion. Because I suffered too. I hated the holiday. And I felt ashamed of myself for hating it. And for being bitter. And I am so grateful that I have a new context, and can see it from a new perspective.

No, I did not shun this Valentine’s Day. I have to admit that it felt amazing to have someone to give a gift to because I love him so much. My boyfriend did indeed get heart-shaped chocolate from me. And I am graciously (and very happily) accepting my gift of being whisked away to Florida for a long weekend at the end of the month. But it didn’t feel amazing because I “finally” got chosen. It felt amazing because it’s him. Because I have a relationship that has continued to exceed all of my expectations. Because it took 35 years, but I ended up with love that is better than a fairytale. Because it’s not “happily ever after.” It’s a day at a time of honor, and respect, and laughter, and music, and Netflix, and dinner together, and grocery shopping, and laundry, and cleaning the oven, and making the bed, and mundane life.

Getting my eating under control gave me a ridiculous amount of clarity in my life. Not being high on sugar, not being obsessed with eating, not being obsessed with my body and my weight opened up so much room in my head for understanding, and critical thinking, and hearing my intuition. But for the 7 years that I had clarity but no romance, I could not have been this clear about Valentine’s Day.

This has been a powerful reminder for me. That there are still things that exist in my blind spot. That there are still things I can’t see, for all of my heightened perception and lucidity. That my life will continue to change as long as I continue to grow. And it is my intention to grow. It is what I want and what I work for. So I’m looking forward to the next time I get taken out of my own context and watch the world shift.

Don’t make me double dog dare you, 2014

I know that I am outspoken about not loving the holiday season, but there is something I do love about this time of year. I love the New Year. And I don’t just mean the parties. (Though there are aspects of New Year’s parties that contribute to it being one of my favorite holidays. Getting dressed up and dancing, traditional staples for New Year’s festivities, are two of my favorite things ever in the whole world ever.)

But what I really love is the opportunity to look back. To remember and reflect. And I love the opportunity to look forward. To anticipate and plan.

And I love when we choose to do this. That we do it around winter solstice. (Historically, the New Year has been celebrated either around the vernal equinox, the first day of spring, or around winter solstice, the first day of winter.) There is something beautiful to me about having the year end just after the darkest days are done. To make a new beginning just as the days begin to get longer again. We begin as it’s getting better. Waxing.

I have been thinking a lot lately about how different this time of reflection is for me since I got my eating under control. I was trying to remember which were the great years for me before 2006. And I thought about the fact that I don’t remember looking back on any year before then with fondness.

Not because they were all bad, I realize. But because I was a whiney, whiney complainer. Because I was always unhappy. Because I hated myself. And I hated life. And I was sure that God was out to get me. When I look back at my life, the things that I accomplished and the opportunities I was given, I can see that some of those years were pretty great. Exciting things happened for me. But I didn’t have any gratitude for them.

And then I started to think about the past 8 years and how wonderful they have been. But then I realized that they were not necessarily wonderful. They were certainly not all light, easy and fun. I realized that I had occasionally had some crazy, or terrible or painful things happen to me. But that my attitude about any particular year was never that it was all bad.

In 2007, I lost my Grandfather. He was the first grandparent I lost. I was also evicted from my apartment. I couch surfed for months before I got back on my feet. I had some incredibly generous and amazing friends come through for me in ways I couldn’t have imagined. It was scary and difficult and stressful. But I also loved that year. I got a whole new appreciation for my own capabilities. And I went through that whole period keeping boundaries around my eating. I never said screw it. I honored my commitment even though I’m sure nobody would have “blamed me” if I had numbed my fear and anxiety with food. It was also the year I came out of my sugar-withdrawal fog. For the previous year and a half, I had been walking around in a daze. I had been high on sugar so consistently and for so long that being sober made me feel high. I was scared, but I was so grateful to feel empowered and in control. And loved.

2010 was particularly hard. I lost my grandmother and my aunt that year, two women who were incredibly important to me. I spent a lot of time crying. And I was not sorry to move on to 2011. But I didn’t write the whole year off as awful. I wasn’t miserable. I was sad. That’s all. Just sad. And not only sad. When I look back on it, I can remember that 2010 was a year when I gained a whole new level of confidence in my beauty and my worth. It was a year I went on a whole bunch of dates. And I went on those dates looking for a man who would deserve me, not for one who would “take me” or “put up with me.” I still had a lot of things to work through on that front. I wouldn’t even start this blog until January of 2012. But I liked myself in 2010. And I loved life. And I didn’t take the hard stuff personally. I had gratitude for all of the good stuff. That the women I lost had loved me and I loved them. That I was growing as a woman. That I had hope.

And in 2012 I fell into a depression after quitting smoking. Because it made me stop producing important brain chemicals. And because it affected my metabolism and I gained a bunch of weight. Which is hard on a woman with eating and body image disorders. But it was not a bad year. I also started writing this blog that year. And I took some risks in terms of love and relationships. And I took some new actions in terms of work and money. And depressed or not, I had quit smoking. I did a lot of growing that year. I changed a lot. For the better. And I was grateful for it.

That is one of the many things that getting my eating under control has afforded me. Gratitude. For life. It has taught me to be grateful for the gifts and the miracles. And to remember that the bummers and the upsets are not God pushing me down. They are not personal. They are life. Not just mine, either. Everybody’s life. And that they are also opportunities to be better if I want to use them.

So when I look back on this past year, and I see that it has been gift after gift, it brings tears to my eyes. I came out of that depression from quitting smoking this year. I found a love beyond my wildest dreams this year. I jumped with both feet into a new life and a new lifestyle of travel and excitement. Even though I was nervous and anxious. And I found that I love it. And just yesterday, I started a new job.

I could have found plenty to be grateful for this year. Even without love and adventure. Because I am so grateful to be in a body I love, free from my obsession with food, with my integrity intact. But 2013 has been the best year I can ever remember having. Ever. In my whole life. And while I don’t expect that every year will necessarily be so filled with so many extraordinary life altering joyous events, or so devoid of losses and pains and hardships, I can’t imagine that I’ve hit my peak yet. I fully expect for life to continue to get better.

How could life get better than this? I don’t know. But 2014, feel free to consider this a dare.

The best life in the whole world

I have spent this week in Indianapolis. My boyfriend was on a short job. 6 days. Tomorrow we leave early in the morning and take a 12 hour drive south to a long-term job. Roughly 9 months. Or that’s the plan anyway.

We were supposed to be at that job already. We thought we would be there mid-September. And then early October. We already have an apartment there. We moved in, and then packed up a handful of things and left it again for a few weeks. Because the work was elsewhere.

My boyfriend keeps telling me, “Nothing is certain in construction.” Apparently….

But I’m getting better at this whole moving around thing.

Today I have already packed up for the drive tomorrow. My 3 meals are ready to go. As well as a bit of extra food for the next day so we don’t have to go to the grocery store tomorrow night after the long drive. I did the laundry and all of my clothes are packed except the ones I’m wearing and the ones that I will wear on the drive tomorrow. I have opened up the drawers and cabinets to make sure we won’t leave anything behind.

And I’m also getting better at this whole uncertainty thing.

My boyfriend said that he was surprised at how well I took it when he told me would be coming to Indiana before we went back to our new apartment.

Yeah. Historically, I haven’t been the best at dealing with change. Especially sudden change.

When I got control of my eating, it became (and still is) the most important thing in my life. There is a quote by Thomas Jefferson. “Eternal vigilance is the price we pay for liberty.” I understand that this is a universal truth. Jefferson was certainly speaking of the liberty of the nation. But it is just as true regarding my liberty from food addiction. I have been a slave to food. I have been oppressed by my eating disorders. I am free now. But in order to stay free, I must never take that freedom for granted. Keeping boundaries around my food and keeping my eating disorders under control does, indeed, require constant, eternal vigilance.

I’m not complaining. It has never not been worth it.

But because of this desire to protect my freedom, I have often been very bad at “going with the flow.” For years after I quit sugar and put boundaries around my eating, I kept my life in a strict routine. I did not step out of my comfort zone. I ate my meals at home, or at restaurants I knew well. I avoided trying new things with food. And making plans to go out for a meal, or even around a meal time, would often fill me with anxiety. I could never be comfortable until I had eaten my meal and that was out of the way.

Because of this, the thought of travelling was terrifying. The only place I ever went was my hometown to visit my family.

Vacation? Vacations are about relaxing and enjoying. Not anxiety. How could leaving my own kitchen be a vacation?

But here’s the interesting part. All of that vigilance opened up my life. Made me available for new things and new experiences. Made me available to fall in love. Gave me the clarity to realize that what I was supposed to do was leave my life in New York City and travel the country in a pickup truck with the man I fell in love with.

It’s funny. All of that habit and familiarity and routine directly lead me to give up all of that habit and familiarity and routine.

Of course, I am still vigilant. I want to keep my freedom. So I protect it.

But it turns out that there are so many more ways to take care of my food boundaries than I ever thought before. It turns out I can do it and still move around the country.

But also, I am with a man who is not just supportive, but who goes out of his way to take care of me so that I can take care of myself. He makes sure I can get to the grocery store. He booked us a hotel with a kitchenette this week, so I could cook for myself. When we went out to eat with his family, I picked the restaurant so that I could be sure of getting what I needed. And I did.

Plus, I have all of this experience now that shows me that when I am committed to keeping my food under control, I can. And I do.

So, yes. I am getting better at this. The roving and the roaming. And the unknown.

I’m with the person I want to be with most. I am experiencing new places and things. And I am more comfortable trusting that everything will work out than I ever thought I could be.

The truth is…so far, I love this life.

I’ll end with a little story. We’re in an extended stay hotel, so many of the guests are regular travelers. I met a woman today in the elevator. We got to chatting a little. I told her my boyfriend was in construction, and that we travel. I said, “The truth is, it’s a pretty sweet life.”

She got a little teary-eyed. She said, “I just recently lost my husband. But he was in construction. And we travelled around too. And yes, I had the best life in the whole world.”

Exit closed due to relationship

Remember how I said last week that I didn’t need to wish for drama because life has a way of making plenty? Well, yeah. Got some.

And real drama. Not petty bullshit about how I don’t like the way you looked at me. Or some other such fabricated nonsense. But important stuff. Life and loss and pain. Real drama. Frankly, trauma.

Thankfully, I am separated from the trauma. It only affects me indirectly. And it only partially affects my boyfriend. But it does affect him. And that affects me. And for a time I didn’t know how severely it would affect him. And that, the not knowing and the waiting and the uncertainty, did a number on me.

When I got my eating under control 7½ years ago, I started a process of eliminating people and situations from my life that made me crazy or anxious or unhappy. A lot of them were people I loved. Most of them, really.

Jobs, bosses, friends, family, groups, activities. If something or someone took up room in my head with worry or anger or resentment or fear, I walked away. There was always an EXIT sign.

Even when it came to real life, trauma not drama, if it wasn’t mine, I stayed detached. I learned to keep my eyes on my own plate. And my own life.

I was single. Independent. I was the only person I had any responsibility to.

And now, I am not single and independent. I don’t stand alone in the world. And that is scary. Really, much scarier than standing alone.

Because I have made a decision to weave my life in with another person’s life. And there are people and situations I can’t walk away from anymore. They are not mine. Whether they are drama or trauma, I’m bound to them because I am bound to him.

And I learned something this week. Worrying about someone else, this man who I am so in love with, had me more in danger of eating sugar and carbohydrates than anything else ever has in 7½ years.

More than being homeless and sleeping on people’s couches. More than being jobless. More than being sick and not having insurance or being able to go to the doctor. More than being afraid that my neighbor was going to be a stalker. Even more than knowing that my Gram was dying.

When I didn’t know how my boyfriend was going to be affected by this traumatic situation, I realized that this kind of worry was a brand new experience for me. And that I could very seriously be in food danger. I sat down and asked myself what I would do when the worrying about him got so bad that eating sugar seemed like a viable option and a good idea. I knew that I had to have a plan and be prepared. So that I could stay within my food boundaries. And stay sober from sugar.

Because no matter how bad things can get, losing my food sobriety would only make everything worse.

Thankfully, none of my fears came to pass. My boyfriend is well. And I am well. And though all is not well for everybody, it is well enough for him and me to move on and live life.

I am starting to see, as I write this, that I fear not being in control of situations in my life. Not being able to keep my relationships and experiences on a short leash.

But I should remember that every time I have released another inch of control, and surrendered to Life and God, and every time I have let go and begun to trust, I have been given a life that is richer, happier, sweeter and more beautiful than anything I could have imagined for myself.

So I guess the next step is to learn to find peace where I am. Wherever I am and whoever is there with me. Because I know that I always have choices. But standing by the man I love is a choice I made. And want to continue to make. And that’s going to mean a lot more people and situations I can’t walk away from.

Now that I have everything I ever wanted, I guess it’s “back to the ol’ drawing board”

This past Thursday, I turned 36. It was fantastic. Best birthday ever. Didn’t do much out of the ordinary. Got a few hours of sun. Did some laundry and grocery shopping. Ate like a queen. (But I always eat like a queen.) Got a fancy diamond necklace. (Ok, that was a super-exciting-out-of-the-ordinary-big-deal.) And watched some Walking Dead.

But my birthday brought something to my attention, as I am one who likes to take inventory at times of ending/beginning. I do it at the New Year, too.

I started this blog in a new year. Jan 2, 2012. Because I was tired of being alone. And lonely. And because I had spent my life as a sugar-addicted-binge-eater hiding. Unwilling to take risks with my heart. Terrified of rejection.

That day, a year and a half ago, I knew that I was beautiful. And likable. Smart and funny. And that I was a good person. Honest and honorable. Kind and loving. And working to be more every day. I knew intellectually. But I lived in an old conception of myself.

I was absolutely, positively sure that I was destined to be alone. That I had been fat because I was broken. And that being broken made me unloveable. Or I was unloveable because I was broken. Either way, I more than “knew” that nobody would ever love me. I existed in the reality of it.

And somehow, in January of 2012, I knew that I wanted out of that reality.

So I started writing this blog. To get the demons out. And get the crazy out of my head. And try some new thoughts. And some new actions. And to stop living like I was still the girl I had been. Not just fat. But miserable. And crazy. A liar and a cheater. And incapable of stopping eating.

Because I had stopped eating! And stopped lying! And stopped cheating! I had learned how to live with integrity. How to honor my word. I had learned how to be a person I liked. And loved and respected.

So I started writing this blog to give myself a chance to fall in love. Because I was pretty darn sure that falling in love, (and being in love, and staying in love) was the most important thing to me. That it was what I wanted more than anything else in the whole world. And I thought that saying out loud, all of the thoughts that lived in my head, that I was afraid were true, would prove that they were not monsters under the bed. Just dust bunnies. I thought that this blog could be the flashlight. If I would just have the courage to look.

And it worked. Holy sh*t! It actually worked!

I am madly in love. With a man who is madly in love with me. And I was right. Loving this man, and being loved by him, is the most important thing that I have ever done in my life. It is actually bigger and easier and more special than my fat, food-addicted, miserable past-self could ever have known to wish for.

But this blog is still not over. It’s not done. And I’m not done with it.

I don’t know what comes next. What the next goal is. The next wish. The next dream. But there must be one. Because it never occurred to me to be done. It merely occurred to me that I got exactly what I asked for. Only better. And more quickly than I could have imagined.

So I’ll keep thinking about what I want next. And in the mean time, I will keep writing to you every week. And keep you posted on what it’s like for me to be a woman who lives with eating disorders.

I’m like a super hero. I’m so fast, my own body has to catch up to me.

So it’s weigh day. And for the second month in a row I lost weight. (Yay!) I’m down another 1.4 lbs. I’m at 158.8. It’s good. I’m grateful for it. I’m trying not to wish for it to go faster.

I have done a pretty good job of not focusing on my body. (Except for my tan, anyway. I have spent a lot of time focusing on that.) I haven’t been eating “lighter”. I have not been choosing “diet” foods. I have been eating plenty of bacon and cheese. Always, of course, within my boundaries. But I have not been trying to help the weight loss along. Or hurry it up. I’ve got enough to process without also trying to manage my weight.

Eat within my boundaries. That’s all I have to do. It’s enough.

Also, I have been very emotional lately. Very emotional.

Yes, I am happy. Still. More happy every day, really.

But I forget that the kind of life change I just made, accompanied by a physical move half way across the country, is traumatic. That it would be for anyone in the world. And that love doesn’t make it not traumatic. It just makes me forget that it’s traumatic. But even if I forget or fail to notice that I just jumped into a new life with no preparation and almost no time to adjust, my body has noticed. My heart and soul are overjoyed. I know that I am in the right place. With the right person. But my body is letting me know that it has to deal with the upheaval.

There are two things that are happening that have me understand that my body is in shock. I have a stress-related form of eczema. I have had it most of my memorable life. And I am having a particularly severe outbreak right now. And on a few occasions now, I have found myself crying over silly things. Irrational crying. In other words, I am having feelings that I can’t explain and I don’t know how to manage.

And I don’t get to eat them.

These kinds of feelings and experiences are why I ate sugar. Why I was a binge eater and sugar addict. Because sugar got me crazy high. Anesthetized. So I didn’t have to deal with feelings. And I didn’t have to deal with discomfort. And the not dealing occurred like managing.

But that was not the reality. I was not managing. The thing about not dealing with feelings is that they don’t go away. They just become dormant. Until they’re not anymore. Until they come back with a vengeance. From out of nowhere. When I least expect them.

So I’m not eating over my irrational emotions. And I’m not trying to hide or stifle or contain them. I’m crying when I feel the need to cry. And honoring what is going on in my body. And letting it be what it is. Because it is what it is. And carbs and sugar and binge eating won’t change that.

And then I’m trusting. That everything is going exactly the way it should be going. And that life is giving me the right things at the right time. And that as long as I keep my food under control I can come from a place of love. And that when I come from love, I can’t do it wrong or mess it up or fail. Because I know I’m where I want to be. And where I’m supposed to be. And with the person I’m supposed to be with.

I have heard it said that the only way around is through. So I’m going straight through. Right through the center. Because when this adjustment is done, I want it to be really done. And when I have moved on, I want to really be moved on.

I like to live clean. Honest, with integrity, and in the present moment. And I can say at this particular present moment, as I hit the “publish” button to post this, that I am well and happy. And that there is nowhere else I’d rather be.

I love you more than bacon. Just please don’t make me prove it.

So I’m unpacked and settled and happy at home. My new home. South. Hot and slow. And surprisingly enjoyable. I’m writing from the pool. And I’m wearing my bikini. In public.

I love it by the way. Wearing my bikini in public. I’m still a little insecure. Of course. I have a lifetime of thinking “nobody wants to see that.” But it’s my sun. And my summer. And my body. Just the way it is. And I am in love. And someone really amazing is in love with me back. Which makes my insecurities a little less. Seem a little silly. Who am I trying to impress? Plus it’s not New York City. It’s the south. Where people love their barbecue. And don’t care so much about body size.

I love the sun. And how it makes me look and feel. I’m allowed to just love it. It’s the first thing I am loving about leaving New York City.

And other things have changed already, as well.

When I stopped eating compulsively 7 ½ years ago, I went from eating constantly, to eating three times a day. But I still cherish eating. Or maybe “still” is the wrong word. I used to live to eat. Now I love to eat. Because I do it without guilt or shame. So I really wanted to relish those 3 times a day. I never wanted to share my meal times before. I always wanted to eat alone. I used to hole myself up in my room to eat. I didn’t want to talk. I didn’t want to think. I wanted to be entirely wrapped up in my delicious, glorious, guilt-free meal.

Another thing that happened when I put boundaries around my eating, is that I would go through long phases of eating the same things. I refer to periods of my life by foods I ate. There was the summer of turnip “french fries” and coffee shakes. There was the winter of baked custard. There was over a year when I ate deep-fried onions three times a week. I just recently ate carrot cake and pickles every night for dinner. All specially made by me, without sugar or flour, of course. All within my boundaries.

But I just moved. And some interesting things about my eating rituals have changed. Like there’s somebody to eat with. Not that my boyfriend eats the way I do. And I certainly don’t expect him to. Or wish he would. But it’s nice to sit across from him. Not somebody. Him. This man whom I moved half way across the country to be with. I’m not wishing somebody were there to eat lunch with during the week when he’s at work. But when we are together, sharing my meal times with him feels sacred. Like family. Like home.

And the things I have been eating since I got here keep changing. I have had so many different things and I haven’t even been home for a week. Plus there are new things I want to make. To try. I am looking forward to experimenting.

So here’s the epiphany I just had. Before I fell in love, food was my biggest source of joy. And experimentation was a risk. I was risking how much joy I would experience on any given day. So I didn’t. I wouldn’t take the risk. But now my joy comes from love. So I have more room to risk not loving my food.

Don’t get me wrong. I still really love my meals. And loving them is still really important to me. But I love my boyfriend more. (And that’s sayin’ something!)

The first thing I miss about New York

So I have left New York City. I don’t have a home there anymore. I’m officially living with my boyfriend now. But before we go home, we had to make a stop this weekend to go to a special first birthday party.

I love being with my boyfriend’s family and friends. He’s an amazing guy all the time, especially with me, but I love seeing his warmth and generosity with them. It’s a fantastic reminder that I have impeccable taste.

But let’s get to the big birthday party, with lots of food. I already know that most catered events are not for people like me, who don’t eat any sugar, grains, or starch. Ever. (No, not just this once.) Plus thinking that something might be ok for me to eat, (like it’s a green vegetable) but then still having to ask how it’s prepared isn’t the most agreeable part of my food boundaries. Especially when people don’t understand. (Of course, I don’t expect them to.) And they can’t imagine that it could be that big of a deal. “I’m not really sure how it’s prepared. But I’m sure it’s fine,” doesn’t actually mean it’s fine for me. And taking care of myself and my food needs is my own responsibility. The way I eat is high-maintenance. And I know that. So I can never expect someone else to take care of it for me. I wasn’t going to show up unprepared and hope for the best…

So I packed my lunch before the party. And I’m really glad I did, because about an hour or so in, I got really hungry. So I sat down with my boyfriend and pulled out my food.

All of a sudden I looked over, and a woman at the next table clearly said to the rest of her table, (with a malicious sneer, I might add. And lot’s of appalled emphasis.) “Look over there. That girl brought her own food.” And the rest of the table, about 6 people, proceeded to stare at me.

I really wanted to ignore them. But I couldn’t. And then I really wanted to show that it was incredibly rude. So I gave a pretty good what are you looking at? look to one of the people staring at me. (Who obviously got it, and proceeded to pretend to be watching the hockey game on TV behind me.) And I really wanted to be impervious to their judgment.

But here’s the problem, I can’t not give a f*ck. As much as I want to be indifferent and untouchable, I am not. It hurts me. It bothers me.

But even at that point, I was uncomfortable, but still ok. Until the person who was going around taking pictures of all the guests came by and wanted to take a picture of me and my boyfriend. And I had my tupperware out. And I could see it now. It would be immortalized in pictures. And I would eternally be that girl who brought a tupperware of her own food to this little girl’s catered first birthday party.

So when she asked if she could take our picture, I had a mouthful of lunch. And I looked at my boyfriend. And I started to cry.

He was great. He said, “Let’s just let her eat and we’ll take a picture later.” And we did.

Obviously, I’m going to eat the way that I eat. And it has been that way for years. I once brought my own food to one of my best friend’s big New York City wedding. But I have just thrown over the life I had for over 14 years. And I have been running around, saying goodbye, packing, sorting, throwing away, and generally moving nonstop for about 2 weeks to prepare for probably the biggest step I have ever taken.

I’m exhausted. And I feel like I’m under a lot of pressure. And I’m emotional. And I’m not home yet. And some woman who doesn’t know jack sh*t about my life decided it was ok to shame and humiliate me at a party I was also a guest at. So the first thing I miss about New York is that there, nobody gives a f*ck about how I eat, or what I do with my food. Or what I do in general. (As long as I don’t steal their cab or stop at the top of the subway stairs to look around before I get the hell out of the way.)

I looked fantastic yesterday. Because I keep boundaries around my eating. And I got to enjoy the company of my boyfriend and his family because I wasn’t obsessed with food and cake. But I’m glad it’s over now.

Nobody gets a say in how I eat. And I will never ever ever cross my food boundaries to please or accommodate someone else. Because I’m not normal around food. And I like me when my eating is under control. And I hate me when it’s not. And I have to live with me all the time.

I’m telling you this because I’m telling myself. And I am reminding myself that I can’t not care. That not caring never got me anywhere. That to not care is to shut down my heart. And I just finally got it open. And getting it open is the best thing that has ever happened to me. Even better than getting my eating under control. (Of course, opening my heart was only possible because my eating is under control. But you probably already knew that.) So I have to remember that being sensitive is part of being open and available and madly in love. And I don’t want to give that up for anything. Ever.

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