onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “marriage”

Would you [date] me? I’d [date] me.

I really like my husband. A lot. I am a fan. I have a very happy marriage.

I feel like this should be an obvious thing. Of course I would like the person I married. Of course I am a fan of my partner. Isn’t that why we chose each other? Isn’t that why anyone chooses a partner?

It turns out that this is not an obvious truth for a lot of people.

This week my husband came home from work and said one of his crew members was being a jerk on the phone to his wife in front of everyone. Making faces to show his disdain for her to the other guys, while being rude and patronizing to her. 

Somehow it came up that he asked my husband if he liked his wife. (Me!) And he said “I adore my wife.” (Well, that is what he told me, anyway. Swoon.) He said “We like and respect each other.” (Give me a sec. I’m going to have to swoon again.)

The reason I am bringing this up is being a recovering addict is the primary reason I have a happy marriage. I got the tools to be who I want to be in a relationship by getting my eating under control and then living in a way that I could keep my eating under control, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

I grew up fat and sugar addicted. And in that time my relationship to love and romance was twisted and sad. I thought for all of that time that being fat made me unlovable. And I am not going to go into it today, but being fat really is a huge obstacle to dating in US culture. And it is not about attraction. Because I certainly had plenty of that kind of attention. It’s about what it says about you (especially as a man) when you date a fat person. The implication being that you must be somehow lacking, because if you were better, you could have a thin person. If you were better, you could do better than fat.

So needless to say, when I got my eating under control, and I lost a lot of weight, and was a total knockout by societal standards, I expected to find the man of my dreams right away. I thought the problem had been my fatness, and now that I was not fat anymore, it was inevitable that “The One” would be right there. 

But “The One” didn’t show up! In fact he wouldn’t for over 6 years!

But in that time I got some advice from a woman who does what I do with food. She had been single for many years like myself and she had just recently found her wife. And she said to me, “Stop looking, and take this time to make *yourself* into the person you want to date.”

And I’ll be damned if that didn’t work!!! I don’t think I had really ever thought before about what someone would get by being with me. I was too wrapped up in what I would get from them.

But then I got “The One” and I had zero experience in being in a romantic relationship. And boy, was that a learning curve.

One of the most important things I learned in addiction recovery is that I am responsible for cleaning my side of the street. I am the one who has to right the wrongs I have done. I have to make amends for the ways I have done harm. I have to acknowledge my part and fix what I broke. 

So much of my relationships for all of my pre-boundary-life was shifting blame. It was to never admit to anything bad. It was to manipulate all situations so that I looked like either the hero or the victim. Especially when I was actually the perpetrator.

Some things I learned through my recovery about being in a relationship include that my husband is a grown-ass man and he must be allowed to make his own choices without my nagging or unsolicited advice. That I don’t get a say in how he does things, and that if I think it’s important for a thing to get done a certain way, I better do it myself. That I must not take his emotions personally, and he is allowed to have feelings that I find difficult. That Ruth Bader Ginsburg was onto something when she said “Sometimes it helps to be a little deaf.” That not everything needs to be a conversation. Sometimes I need to work things out for myself, and often, something that irks or annoys me is really my own problem and has nothing to do with him. (Look, sometimes we have to have a conversation about something that has upset me. Obviously. But I don’t go in assuming it is all his fault.) But maybe most importantly, that I must give him the benefit of the doubt. My husband is a good man who loves to provide material things, but also, a happy home. So I spend a lot of my marriage energy making sure he feels comfortable and peaceful in the space we are creating together. It’s about the way I respond to a question with a generous spirit, or give him my attention when he asks for it, or anything else I can do to let him know that our marriage is the most important relationship in my life.

And in return I get the same. I get a man who likes and respects me as much as he loves me. I get days filled with laughter and affection. I get honest communication from a position of resolution rather than “winning.” I get appreciation and honor. I get a happy home and a happy home life. 

I don’t think I would ever have been able to be the wife I am if I had not put boundaries around my eating. I don’t know if I would have been able to get out from under my own selfishness or victimization. I don’t know if I would have been able to see my own bad behaviors or cruel actions in the food fog and downward spiral of my sugar addiction. And I don’t know that I ever would have been in the vicinity of someone with the life changing advice that I should make myself into the person I wanted to date. But even if I had, I can’t imagine I would have been able to take it.

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.

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