onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “peace”

Here’s to many more

Today is the 16th anniversary of my giving up simple carbohydrates and man made sugars and putting boundaries around my eating.

There are things about that time of my life (mid to late 2005) that I don’t think about too often anymore. But at the time I was 28, and I felt crazy. I had lost a significant amount of weight through dangerous restriction of calories, over exercise, and laxative abuse. And none of those things was sustainable. And it was becoming very clear to me that any of the weight that I lost was on its way right back. And that was terrifying.

At the time, agreeing to eating boundaries was about my weight. And that was a blessing in its way. If you had told me “if you give up sugar you’ll have peace around food.” I would probably not have even understood what you were offering. And I definitely would have kept eating cake. But there is saying among people who have the same eating boundaries that I do. “Come for the vanity. Stay for the sanity.” And I did not know then that the sanity would be the best part, but here we are.

I have a different relationship to my weight now. I am not skinny. I don’t worry about being skinny. But one thing I will say about the difference in my weight, I am incredibly grateful to have a body that flies below the radar. People don’t really notice it. But they sure did when I was fat. And that anticipation of cruelty and judgment from others made me think about my body all the time. I almost never think about my body now. And that is a huge relief.

For well over a decade, I have not had to think about my body. I don’t hate my self for either my body or my inability to control my eating. I don’t think about what I look like or if people are judging me. I am free from my obsessions! Ok, I’m still pretty obsessed with fantasy novels. And yarn craft. And…oh, you get the point! What I am not obsessed with is getting high on food and then making sure nobody can tell by my body that I am obsessed with getting high on food.

So happy anniversary to me! And (fingers crossed) many more.

I’m no mathematician, but one day at a time sure adds up

Christmas is done, and my eating boundaries are still in tact. This is my 15th Christmas with eating under control. It’s funny to think about it that way. It’s kind of hard to fathom, even having lived it. No matter what, it’s still a day at a time.

I didn’t just “end up with” 15 Christmases with my food issues handled. I quit eating sugar and put boundaries around my eating on January 2, 2006. And since then I have had to make choices every day. And some of those days, and some of those choices, were *hard.* There were days when something went wrong with my food 3 or 4 or even FIVE times with just one meal, and I had to throw some part, or all of it, away and prepare the meal again (and again.) There were times when I could not get what I needed at some restaurant or another and I had to leave a get-together early to get home and eat my dinner by midnight. There were times I had a food problem in the middle of an event or at my lunch break on a work day, and I had to make a call to have someone help me figure out what to do. And every time, every single time, I had to make a choice about my eating boundaries. I had to choose what was important in the moment. Because a commitment like the one I have is about the moment I am in.

One of the things that freaks people out about what I do is the thought that if they took it on for themselves, they would *never* have (insert favorite comfort food) again! NEVER! It’s all they can hear. It’s all they can imagine. No cake for the rest of eternity! The horror!

And I am, admittedly, a bit of a weirdo in that I am perfectly fine with the “never.” I don’t miss cake. I don’t miss foods I don’t eat. And I am very comfortable with “never again.”

But most people are not. Which is really normal. And one helpful thing to remember is that for most people, it’s enough to say “not today.” Or even “not at this moment.”

That is what we tell new people. *Don’t* think about the infinite future. Just make the decision about right now. Will you keep your commitment today, this meal, this moment? It’s a day at a time, or a meal at a time, or a minute at a time, or a second at a time. You can feel free to break up the time in as small or large increments as you see fit to get yourself through a rough spot.

But for me personally, in making each of those individual choices to honor my commitment to control my eating , I have racked myself up 15 Christmases. And a week from today, if I keep my eating boundaries (which I have every intention of doing, but I know not to get ahead of myself) I will have kept my addiction at bay for a full 16 years.

In all that time, I have never been sorry I didn’t eat cake. And I have never been sorry I took the time to make that meal that 6th time. And I have never been sorry to end a holiday with my eating boundaries well in place. Not even once in 15 years, 11 months and 3 weeks.

My body just is.

Ah…It’s officially holiday season. And it is not my favorite. Not because I crave or miss the foods I don’t eat anymore, but because for just about everyone else in the world, holidays are about food. And also how upset or resigned or worried they are about their holiday weight gain. And also what diet they are trying in the new year. And how unhappy with their bodies they are currently, or are afraid they will be shortly. But it’s the holidays, so…pie anyway apparently.


I don’t care about food anymore. No. That is not true. I don’t care about foods I don’t personally eat anymore. I don’t miss pie, or cake, or seasonal cookies. I don’t miss any of the things I thought I would miss when I first got my eating under control.

I do, however, still care very much about food. Which I guess is probably the single most important thing that I have that keeps my eating under control. I am not on a diet.

Again! I am not on a diet.

I have a physical reaction to sugars, grains and starches that first gets me high, and then leaves me with intense, overwhelming cravings, and finally, makes me hate myself. I am an addict. So I am not on a diet. I *have* a diet that does not include drug foods.

So how do I not eat outside of my food boundaries? I make absolutely positive that I love my food. I fight the food with the food. I make sure my meals are all always delicious and satisfying. I don’t eat things I don’t like. And I don’t eat things because I want them to change the size and shape of my body. And I don’t *not* eat things because I am *afraid* they will change the size and shape of my body. If they are allowed on my food plan, and I like them, I eat them. I don’t worry about gaining or losing weight. I don’t think about my body in terms of weight at all. I have food issues. That is separate from my weight.

It took years of having my eating under control to come to this point. My life for over 35 years was all about how “broken and ugly” I thought my body was because I was fat. Or how proud I was for having wrangled into a socially acceptable size and shape; how I had “accomplished” that.

But now I love my body as it is. And it is just me, not an accomplishment or a failure or a measure of anything about me. It just is. And it just is me.

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.

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.

It Sucked, But Then It Passed: A Life Story

This past week was challenging. In particular, because so many things happened all at once. One of the wheels on one of our sliding glass shower doors broke, so we couldn’t touch that door at all, or the door would fall off the track into the tub and inevitably shatter. But then, our pipes got clogged and we had to call a plumber to snake out the tree roots that grow in our pipes sometimes. (It’s an old house with old pipes in a neighborhood with a lot of trees.) So we needed to make sure everyone knew not to touch the door while neither of us could be there personally. And of course that was also the day the mechanic called to say that my car, which had been damaged in a small accident a month ago, was finally ready to be picked up. And we had been paying a lot of money for a rental car. All while I’m working 12-13 hour days with an hour commute each way, and my husband is doing the same, only also on Saturday and he works the night shift. 

Thankfully, I know how to ask for help. My mom and step-dad really came through for me. Coming to my house to deal with the plumber, *and* picking up my car from the body shop. 

I also know how to take care of things myself. I drove my rental back to the airport, and took a ride share back home on my own so my husband and my mom didn’t have to deal with that as well after doing so much. 

And my husband ordered parts for the shower door and managed to fix it himself. Though the parts didn’t come until after the plumber came. 

In other words, it all went to hell in a day or two, and within another day or two, all of it was resolved. 

This too shall pass. 

I don’t want to say that it was easy. And it would be a lie to say that my husband and I didn’t fight over logistics, and who needed to be responsible for what. Because we did. Because we are both tired and overworked and having emergencies come up in our personal lives, while we are already putting out work fires left and right, is a lot, and sometimes felt like it was more than we could handle. Or at least more than *I* could handle. But in the end, it was manageable. And together, and with help, we managed.

When I was eating compulsively, I could never see a way out of any difficult situation. It always felt like every problem would persist eternally. And that terrified and troubled me. And it often made me make stupid, reckless decisions. Or paralyzed me so I couldn’t do anything at all, a kind of stupid, reckless decision in itself.

The truth is, I can’t usually see a way out of difficult situations now, either. The difference is, I know now that all things pass. I know that situations change and work themselves out. I know that resistance usually makes things worse, not better. I know that if you ride the ups and downs, they all smooth out in the end.

That surrender, that willingness to trust that this or that rough patch will get worked out, either by me, or someone else, or perhaps just by life, is something I got only by putting boundaries around my eating. The addict in me has no use for patience or peace or trust. Chaos was a great chance to retreat from the world and eat a cake. Both because I wanted to forget the chaos, and because I got so high on the cake.

When I was in the food and eating compulsively, my life was mostly trouble and chaos with very few moments of peace and clam, or at the very least it felt that way. Since getting my eating under control, my life is mostly peace and calm, with a few moments of trouble and chaos. Part of that is my perception. But part of that is also my ability to take action with a clear head in the face of fear. The fear has always been there. It just gets less of a say in my life now.

“How do I flip this PDF?”and other terrifying questions.

I have been having a hard time thinking about what to write today. Because all I do right now is work. But I suppose there is something to say about work in my food addiction blog. It’s about what I sometimes call my “primordial brain,” and how much of my thinking stems from a deep seated expectation that I am always in trouble. 

Regularly in my job, my boss will call me into his office. And every time he does, my immediate thoughts are that I am in trouble. That I have royally screwed something up. That I have single handedly, through some colossal data entry error, cost my company *billions* of dollars. And every time he calls me in, it is over some form of IT trouble he is having. Why won’t this print 11×17? How do I flip this PDF over? How do I get rid of/add this line to a Word doc?

For over a month I have been having a mild panic attack every time he calls out to come to his office. Even though I have never been in trouble. Because being in trouble is so old and historic that it lives in my body like a truth.

So here is why having eating boundaries saves my life. When my eating is under control, I can feel the primordial panic, tuck it away into a far corner of my brain, and walk into the office. Once it is clear that I have not cost the company billions and brought ruin upon my home and family for all of eternity, the little nugget of panic can fall away. 

But if I were eating my drug foods, that panic would eat at me. I would hear that call and immediately begin cataloguing all of the things I did wrong. Or potentially did wrong. Or could be perceived as wrong by someone in charge of my job. I would be coming up with excuses to make and people to blame for problems that didn’t even exist. I would be figuring out how to avoid going into that office. The point is that even if I didn’t do anything wrong, I would do “wrong,” or desperate, or disingenuous things to avoid getting in trouble. I would be *making* trouble for myself to get out of my fear of being in trouble. It wouldn’t matter that I had not done anything wrong in the first place. 

When my eating is under control, I see things clearly. I see myself clearly. And I don’t have to project my greatest, and unfounded fears onto the future. I can stand up, walk into the office and face whatever there is to face. Like a frustrated boss asking, “why can’t I open this attachment?”

A life beyond your wildest dreams will spoil you for anything less

Oh guys. This one is going to be short because I am tired. 

I worked 56 hours this week. Fifty-six. And that doesn’t count my hour commute each way. (Thank heaven for audiobooks! They make the commute a pleasure rather than a chore.) If you know me, you know this is not how I roll. I like a lot of free time. I like my time even more than I like money.

Since I took this job (19 days ago. Not even 3 full weeks.) the workload for me alone has increased fourfold. And my husband, who was not even on this job, has agreed to run the night shift. An actual night shift. Until December. So we will barely see one another for the rest of the year. 

Here’s the thing. I am not entirely unhappy. I do really like the job just because I am that good at it. In many ways, this job was custom made for me. I was trained for exactly this kind of detailed tracking. And the company I work for just gave me a *huge* raise. I mean, I asked for it, but they gave it to me. 

But I am tired. And I hate the idea that I won’t get to spend time with my husband. I married him because I genuinely love his company. We have talked about the times we can spend together. 4 am, my wake up and before his bedtime. The time we may be at work at the same time when he has a break. And I am trying to work out the best way to get the job done and still take care of myself. How to fit in my run and my meditation and my full night’s sleep and cooking my meals for the week.

Because, as I have said in this blog before, self care is not all bubble baths and spa days. Self care kind of sucks. I don’t want to wake up at 4 to run. But I do. I don’t want to spend hours of my precious weekend cooking for the week. But I do. I don’t want to stop and meditate and have to be still for 3 minutes when I am busy and already feel like I don’t have enough hours in the day. But I do. (OK, mostly I do. I sometimes forget. But I am committed to 3 minutes daily.) I don’t want to put down whatever I am doing to go to bed….Actually, nope. That last one was a lie. I like the shit out of going to bed.

Having my eating under control gives me the possibility of enjoying living the life I have instead of lamenting the life I think I should have. It lets me be flexible. It lets me prioritize. And it keeps me clear about the reality of my situation. If I come to be miserable, if it starts to hurt my marriage, if I make myself sick, I know that I can ask for help, or back off my hours, or even just quit. Having my eating under control lets me see myself clearly, my options clearly, and the reality of my situation clearly. 

Putting boundaries around my eating offered me a life beyond my wildest dreams. I am not going to settle for less than that anymore. So for now, I am going to do the best job I can. And if it ever no longer serves me, I know that I can move on. I will trust that life is giving me what I need, and that it will continue to do so.

Boundaries are a Love Language

I am planning a fun little trip to LA in September. I will fly in on a Thursday, and out on a Monday. I am specifically going to see a friend, and my husband doesn’t want to take the time off of work because we are planning a big Florida trip in October. So I will be going go by myself. And in making my plans I got in touch with my friend about dates and times and whatnot. And she very generously, and very kindly, told me that she would only have a certain amount of time to give me in the days I will be there. And can I just say, I freaking loved it!

One thing I understand now after 15 years of having boundaries around my eating is that as a person with boundaries, I love it when other people have boundaries too.

The truth is that I was not expecting my friend to give me all of that time in LA. I’m a loner, by nature. I can and do amuse myself alone. All the time. I am good at it. I enjoy my own company. But knowing, in no uncertain terms, what I can expect, what I can ask for, what is on offer, and what I will be responsible for makes my life easier.

Boundaries are a life tool. They are how I manage my priorities and my time for myself. They are how I organize and create my day and my experiences. But when offered up to someone else, they are a kind of love language. This is how you can care for me. This is how you can honor me. This is how you can respect me.

Before I got my eating under control, I did not have any boundaries. And I hated other people’s boundaries. I wanted to please people so they would like me. But that is not how people pleasing works. People pleasing makes people like what you can do for them. They stop seeing the person, and only what can be gained from the person. I didn’t have any way to say no, so I would give more than I could and then behave badly when I couldn’t take any more. I was “an exploding doormat.” I let you walk all over me until I blew up.

In setting boundaries, in taking care of my own needs first, I don’t need to blow up. I can walk away. I can disengage with love. I have told you how I will be treated. And I *will* be treated with the respect that I dictate. Or I will walk away. 

My relationships are very different now than they were when I was eating compulsively. I like myself better. I like the people in my life better. Not because they are different, but because I am different. Because I have set the tone of respect and honor. Because I offer honor and expect it in return. And the people from my past who could not or would not learn to honor me and allow me to honor them, have all fallen away. 

Because there is another little tidbit to this. To set a clear boundary is to preempt drama. To speak your truth, and ask for what you want, and make clear what you have the capacity to give, is to give shape to expectations.

My first boundaries were around my food. But those boundaries I set for myself forced me to set them for others. If I wasn’t going to eat sugar and carbohydrates, I had to say no when my beloved grandma wanted me to eat her spaghetti and meatballs. Or when someone brought a cake especially for my birthday, or when someone wanted a taste of my meal that I had weighed out and committed and could not share. 

I am eternally grateful for the gift of having my eating under control for many reasons. But learning to have and keep boundaries is one of the most useful and freeing aspects of that gift.

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.

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