onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “relationships”

Where the love is

On Friday I celebrated my 2nd Wedding anniversary. I don’t really think about it on a day-to-day basis, but it’s a miracle. Certainly to my child self it’s a miracle. I felt shameful and unlovable for nearly all of my early life. I had resigned myself to being alone forever at a very early age. And to my early-teen self, it’s something more than just any miracle. Because I married the guy I had a huge crush on from about 12 to 14, until we lost touch. If you told 13-year-old Kate that she would marry him, she would have told you that you were crazy.

Of course, it took more than 20 years of separation, and a whole lot of personal change, physical, emotional, and spiritual, but it sure did happen.

And that is all thanks to keeping my eating boundaries. All of it. Period. Sometimes my husband says very sweet, romantic things about how he would still love me if I gained weight. And I believe him. Because I don’t think he understands what would actually come along with weight gain. I think he is thinking in terms of physical beauty. And I think he believes that I am just beautiful no matter what. Which I love! And I am grateful for.

But when I am eating compulsively, I am not beautiful for a few reasons that have nothing to do with size. I don’t like myself when I am eating compulsively. I get depressive and ashamed. I second guess myself. Also, I don’t have a whole lot of integrity when I am in the food. I lie, cheat, and steal. I hide truths and manipulate people. I am just generally difficult, angry, and unhappy. And I don’t think about anyone but myself. Everything is all about me.

When I started writing this blog over 6 years ago, it was to open myself to love. It was to stop thinking all of those thoughts I had about not being worthy. And there was something to do about it. I took an honest, searching look at myself, took stock of what about myself I wanted to change, and started working toward being the kind of person I wanted to be in a relationship with. There is a saying: Self-esteem comes from doing estimable acts.

But I could only do those estimable acts because I put sugar and carbs down. When I am eating sugar and carbs, I am only thinking about that. If something I want would impede my eating, I would let that thing, that wish, go. Because eating sugar is the most important thing in the world when I am eating sugar. When I am not eating sugar, my life and my relationships are the most important things.

So at this time of the anniversary of my marriage, I am so grateful for that 28-year-old Kate who decided that a life that revolved around sugar was not enough. That there was something better to be, and something better to be had. And that she was willing to go through the dark, scary world of withdrawal and uncertainty, to get to the other side. That’s where the love is.

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Three gifts for hard times

Yesterday was a typical lazy Saturday with my husband until we got a call that a family member is dying. Someone my husband is very close with, whom I also love very much. It’s funny how the whole world can shift at a time like this. It’s the kind of thing that gives one a whole different perspective on one’s day-to-day life. The things that we worried about become insignificant. Work, or our apartment, or our cars, or money don’t seem to mean anything at a time like this. Suddenly everything is about connection, love, being there, saying I Love You.

I had worried so much about paying for this out-of-town apartment that we rent while our jobs were up in the air. But in this moment, paying this rent is not an issue. Paying to fly home is not an issue. (My husband is already on the road.) All of my anxiety about material things just flew out the window.

Having my eating under control meant that I could not go with my husband. I had to cook and prep and pack food for traveling. Because I keep my food boundaries no matter what. Even loved ones being sick and dying. Not taking care of myself is not proof of love. It’s not going to make anyone better if I say that my food, which is how I take care of my addiction, is not important. And even after this family member is gone I will have to go on living. So it makes sense to take care of my food, even if it means being separated from my husband for a few days, and taking longer to get home. That’s fine. It let my husband get on the road as soon as he could while I close up the apartment in case we are away for a long stretch. I’m sorry to be apart from him, but maybe he needs a little time to himself anyway.

There are 3 things that having my eating under control gives me that I am particularly grateful for in a moment like this.

1) I am able to be unselfish. Because when I am in the food, everything is about me, my life, how things will affect me. But today is not about me. I can be calm and clear headed. And that lets me be of service to my husband. Am I sad? Of course. But my sadness is not important right now. It’s my job to strong and useful.

2) I am aware of what is really important. And that is relationships. It’s the people that we love that make our lives what they are. And this is coming from an introvert and borderline misanthrope. At some point, all of us will die, but when you can see it coming, that’s an amazing opportunity to get completion and closure. It’s a chance to say “I love you.” “You were important in my life.” “You made an impact.”

3) I am able to go with the flow. This situation is the kind of thing that comes out of the blue. There was no preparing for it. So the only thing there is to do is go with the flow. Fighting and resisting are not going to help. They won’t change the situation. I learned that when I got control of my eating. I spent my time as a compulsive eater trying to control everyone and everything. And not doing a very good job of it. Today I can let life be what it is. That doesn’t mean I don’t care. It just means I don’t waste my energy trying to will the world to be that way I think it should be. I can use that energy to love, to help, to make others comfortable.

So for now I have a lot to do. And I am grateful for the personal power and clarity that my eating boundaries have given me at such a difficult time. And I am most grateful to be present for the person I love most when he needs me to be available for him.

Resistance is futile. And drama is a lame a** drug.

I don’t have particularly high hopes of being coherent in this post. I am having a hard time unraveling my thoughts and feelings. A lot has been going on this week. In my life and in my head. But I’ll do my best for you.
Last week I distinguished that even eating within my boundaries, I had some foods that I was using to “make it ok” that I am lonely. And realized this because I limited the amount I eat of those foods, as per the recommendation of a friend who helps me set my food boundaries. But I was fighting it. Resisting. Being a brat. I don’t mean that I hadn’t been staying within my new boundaries once they were set. I am talking about my attitude.
This week I decided to stop resisting. I decided to stop fighting this change of my food boundaries.  I decided to surrender to less food. And specifically less of my comfort foods.
Resisting, and the drama that comes with resisting, is another way I “make things ok”. I get to be a victim so it’s not my fault. And I get to be angry at life and the world. And I get to forget that my life is my responsibility. Or at least pretend that it’s not. But more importantly, I get to wrap myself up in a big spectacle so I don’t have to feel my actual feelings. Or investigate the truth of them.
So when I gave up my comfort food and the drama of resisting, when I surrendered, I was left with some enormous, scary feelings. Overwhelming feelings about my worth. And my wholeness. Feelings from before I had words for them.
These feelings are the reason I want to make it ok that I am lonely.  After all, who would want to be ok with that kind of pain? Unless the alternative were worse.
Here’s where it starts to get mishmashed and confusing in my head and heart. I am positive that no one will ever love me. Nor will anyone ever want my love. This is the context of my life. My primary conviction. (That is not me being dramatic. It really is how I see myself.) But I am terrified to actually test this out. Try to prove it wrong. Because I am afraid that it is true. And that I will just end up proving it right. I am afraid of finding out beyond a doubt that my love is worthless and that I lack the capacity to inspire love. And somehow it’s like if I never push too hard or too far, if I never seek or ask or request, if I can just live with being lonely, then I will never have to know if I am unlovable. I am 35 years old and I have never had a boyfriend. I’m beautiful. And smart. And funny. And I am not shy. At all. So why? Why have I been alone my whole life? Is it because I believe that I am unlovable? Or is it because I actually am unlovable?  And if I do decide to risk my heart, how do I learn to accept rejection without believing that it ultimately reiterates the point that I cannot be loved. That I’m broken.
Yes. I can understand why the girl I was ate herself to 300 lbs. It was easier to eat those feelings than to feel them. It was easier to smoke them. It was easier to eat a vat of deep-fried onions once a week than to have to ask myself if I’m willing to put my sensitive heart on the line. And maybe find out that there is something fundamentally wrong with me. Yes, I can see why I have been willing to do anything and everything to make it ok that I am lonely.
But there have been other things in my life that I thought were undeniable truths too. And I was wrong about them. I thought my body was broken. I thought I was fat and could never be thin. I thought I could never stop eating compulsively. And I was afraid to give up sugar. I was afraid to put boundaries around my eating. But I did it. And it didn’t matter that I had held those beliefs about my body and my self-control for twenty-something years. The fact hat I was willing to do something different, even though it was terrifying, and excruciating and left me feeling vulnerable, changed the way those beliefs manifested in my life. Yes, I had to work through those issues. And I had to feel a lot of pain, instead of numbing it. And no, that thinking will never fully go away. After all, it’s why I write this blog. But they are not truths anymore. Now they are irksome thought processes. I can distinguish them. And they don’t get a vote when it comes to my eating and my body. I never, in a million years, thought I would be able to control my eating. But today I don’t have to eat compulsively. So I guess anything is possible.
I took some actions this week. In spite of my fear. I just thought you should know.
You can always share my blog. I’m on twitter @onceafatgirl5

Love, hold the onions

I wrote my first entry for what would become this blog on January 2nd of this year. I didn’t know at the time that it would become “Onceafatgirl.” (Or maybe I did somewhere in my heart.) But it was the 6th Anniversary of having my eating under control. And I was still thinking and living as if I were walking around in a 300 lb body. Growing up with food issues can mess with your head. Once a fat girl, always a fat girl. No matter what you look like on the outside. And I knew that it was time to let go of thoughts, feelings, and beliefs that had become obsolete.

And so far, this has been a year of healing and spiritual growth. Writing this blog has been a gift to me. What I wanted most was to be willing to take risks with my heart. I had always kept my life small. Been highly risk averse. Unwilling to risk rejection. Or humiliation. Especially in romance. And that kept me lonely. So here I am. For 10 months I have been telling you my dark secrets and painful truths. I keep my self-censorship to a minimum. I keep it honest. I make it intimate.

And when it comes to men and romance, I did, indeed, take a few risks. I am proud of myself. But instead of getting bolder and more sure of myself, instead of letting each risk be a reference to the fact that I survived it, I started out bold and got more and more timid. I started to get scared. I started to doubt.

And then BOOM! All of a sudden I find myself back where I was in January. Feeling small. Feeling my life constrict around me. Feeling lonely and ashamed. Unlovable. Unworthy. Burdensome. Broken.

And this has come up again now because I had to give up some food. And some serious fat girl issues got unearthed. Yes, even though I have maintained strict boundaries around food and my eating for over six and a half years.

See, what occurs to me is maybe a giant plate of deep-fried onions once or twice a week made it ok that I was lonely. And when that got taken away suddenly I was still lonely but I didn’t have the onions anymore to make it ok. So of course I just wanted my onions back. But maybe if I think about it, I don’t want them back. Maybe I should stop wanting things that make it ok that I’m lonely. And maybe I should stop finding ways to be ok with being lonely. Maybe I don’t want onions. Maybe I want love.

What I’m saying might not make sense to you. Maybe you have spent your life knowing that you deserve love. And maybe you have never put something between you and your fellow human beings. But food was my best friend and my lover for the first 28 years of my life. And then even in the past 6+ years, with strict boundaries around my food, I allowed it to be my comfort. And as soon as my comfort food was taken away, I felt vulnerable. Shamed. Punished. Growing up, food was how I convinced myself that I could survive without love. But it was also the reason I felt like I would never be loved.

There is something I am noted for in my work life. “Quality information.” I can be counted on to give it, and I am always grateful to receive it. But that is not true of me with men. With romance I always want to avoid information. Or at least keep the information I seek irrelevant. I never want to look at the truth. It’s too scary! Because I am absolutely positive that no man will ever be interested in me. That has been something I have “known” for as long as I can remember. So I don’t seek quality information. I don’t ask the relevant questions. I just answer the questions myself. Always with the answer that I am most afraid of. Always telling myself that no man is interested in me. You would think I would just ask them! When I answer for them, I never stand a chance.

It’s almost like when I was fat and I would make a fat joke about myself before someone else would do it. I’m rejecting myself on every man’s behalf first. I won’t give them the satisfaction.

Which just goes to show how warped I am. I’m not interested in jerks. I don’t like arrogant or obnoxious human beings at all. And certainly not to date. If I like a man, it’s safe to say that rejecting me would not bring him satisfaction.

I know that fear of humiliation is part of being human. It doesn’t make me different or special. And when I am paralysed with fear of rejection, it’s because I’m thinking that I have something to lose. Maybe I do. But I need to stop aching. And crying. So let’s try this again. I want to take risks with my heart. This time without giant plates of deep-fried onions.

I call a do-over. Starting…now.

Let’s walla walla down by the mango tree (or not…)

There is an interesting thing that I have noticed in my life. I noticed it before I got control of my food. But since then, it has become more obvious. The more I grow and change in my life, the more the cast of characters in my life changes. People come in. People fall away. And who comes and who goes is hard to predict.

When I was in college, I had a best friend. She was one of my four best friends at the time. But after I left school, she was the only one I stuck with. She and I were incredibly close. Even when we both left Chicago, (her for St. Louis and eventually Charleston, me for New York City), we still kept in close touch. Sometimes she would go off on a long adventure to The Balkans or Africa and we would not be in communication. But when she got back to the US, we always got back in touch. We talked on the phone at least once a week. We did a writing project together. We visited at least once a year. I was the maid of honor in her wedding. I thought we would be together forever. But when I got control of the food, she disappeared. After a long separation, I found her on Facebook and she accepted my friend request. But when I wrote her personal messages, she ignored them. I didn’t understand why. But the longer I have my food under control, the more clear it becomes.

We humans are mirrors for each other. When we look at each other, we see ourselves. The good and the bad. The ugly and the beautiful. If we cannot handle what we see, we have to stop looking. I don’t know what my friend saw that made her look at me differently.  But I had just made a huge commitment to change my life. And clearly something about my new life didn’t work in hers.

There is another friend that I love. She has a beautiful soul and a heart that is filled with incredible love. But I had to stop being in touch with her. When I looked at her I saw her letting people be cruel to her and abuse her. I saw her letting people take advantage of her loving heart and bright, beautiful soul. I had to separate myself from her, because it was too close to the kind of abuse I subjected myself to for years. I had finally started to honor my own life first. And watching her let herself be hurt because she loved people made me angry and uncomfortable. I still love her. But I could not look into that mirror anymore.

This is not about morality. It’s not about being better than or worse than. It’s about what I want in my life and how I want to see the world and myself. It’s about the lessons I have learned and the ones I have yet to learn. Sometimes I have to let go of people. And sometimes people have to let go of me. I’m on my journey. They’re on theirs. It’s not about loving or not loving. It’s not about judgment. It’s about honoring ourselves. It’s about relationships that work, and are workable. Or don’t and aren’t.

I used to think that people came into my life and “raised the bar”. That these people showed up and taught me to be the person I wanted to be. But what I eventually came to understand was that I raised the bar. I made decisions and choices about what worked in my life. Or what didn’t. And people fit into that new vision of my life. Or they didn’t. I am the most important person in my life. And I like it that way. I am the one person in my life I can’t walk away from. No matter where I go, there I am, if you will.

I used to have a lot of judgment around people falling away. I was offended if they left my life. Or I would create some offense in my mind to justify why I had to let someone go. Because how could a person walk away from someone they loved? Wasn’t that wicked and wrong? Wasn’t that a moral issue? But now I can see that it’s not a moral issue. It’s about what works. Or what doesn’t. If your car doesn’t have wheels, it’s not going to work. But that doesn’t make the car evil.

Since my food has been under control, I can see more and more clearly what works for my life. And what doesn’t. But I can also see more and more clearly that we are all just people in the world doing the best we can. My wish for everyone is that they live the best life they can. That they figure out what works for them. And if I don’t fit into that plan, even if I love them, I want to honor that. And I hope that my decisions about what works in my life can be honored. Even if it’s sad. Even if it hurts. Even if it just plain sucks.

So in the immortal words of Bill Murray (or rather, the words of Bruce Ley and Len Blum, as immortalized by Bill Murray)
I love you, and you love me
But you love you, and I love me
So let’s walla walla down by the mango tree.
…Or maybe let’s not.

The Rolling Stones were right

A very important person in my life, a mentor and a good friend to me, is thinking about changing her life. She has not made this decision yet, as far as I know. But if she does choose to change her life, my life will also change. She will stop being my mentor. And our relationship will change. I will have to find a new mentor. I will have to bring a new energy into my daily life. And let go of our energy (hers and mine). If. It’s only if. But two days ago, there was no if. And today, change is on the table.

My first reaction when she told me was no reaction. But then the thought of it woke me up it the middle of the night that night. Repeatedly. Worry. Fear. Half formed memories of vague nightmares. Change. Loss. What kind of turn my life could take. Not knowing. Not feeling safe.

There are people that I like. A lot. People that, when we are together, create an experience I treasure. All relationships create something bigger than the sum of their participants. But sometimes that something is so beautiful and so powerful that it changes who you are in a way that makes you love your life. That makes you grateful for loving that person.

Potentially, I could have a beautiful relationship with any human being on the planet. But practically, I am cautious, and a loner, and I have this kind of relationship with very few people. I am available for it with very few people.

This friend, mentor, peaceful woman is someone I have this kind of relationship with. I love her. Exactly as she is. And I have no responsibility for her life decisions. I have no right to judge or make them. Even if they affect me directly. There are things that are none of my business. Everybody else’s choices are on that list.

But I want. I want to keep my mentor. I want things to stay the way they are. I want her to do for me what she has been doing for me. And what I have come to expect. I want. I want. I want. I grip and grasp. Can I will what I want into existence? Can I manipulate what I want into existence? How can I get what I WANT?

But this woman was brought into my life by God. And she taught me my greatest lessons and gave me my greatest gifts so far. And they are now mine. They live inside me. They will continue to live inside me, whatever our relationship may be from this moment. Because they were true lessons and real gifts.

Who my mentor has been for me is Peace. She has taught me how to be peaceful. Day to day, moment to moment. She has taught me so many valuable things: Life on life’s terms. More will be revealed. Take my time. Everything in its own time. Changes happen when we’re ready for them. All I have to do is show up. Remember what I have to be grateful for. Be grateful. That I am a miracle. And I am.

But here’s the most important thing my mentor taught me. Go with the flow. Life is always right. Trust life. Let go of wanting it my way. Let go of wanting. Let go.

I will continue on my journey, no matter what. There certainly are things that are my business and my responsibility. I have my own choices and commitments to attend to. I will find a new mentor, if it comes to that. I will be grateful if it doesn’t. I will figure out what to be grateful for if it does. My mentor taught me that too.

I am willing to trust life today. I am willing to trust that if my mentor does choose change for herself, and can no longer mentor me, that it will benefit me. And that if she continues as my mentor, that will benefit me as well. That God will send the lessons and the gifts exactly when and how I’m supposed to receive them. That life is always right. And I believe that life is always right. That when I stop resisting because I “want”, what ever it is that I’ve got, is just exactly what I need. My mentor taught me that.

No t(p)ag backs

There is a game that I used to be truly exceptional at. It is the passive-aggressive game – t(p)ag. No seriously. I could have been a contender. I was that good.

The most important rule of the passive-aggressive game is that nothing should ever be said outright. As soon as you say something outright, you bind yourself to the statement. Then, if the need came up, you could no longer feign prior ignorance. You might have to admit to the weakness of changing your mind. You might lose an opportunity to manipulate some person or relationship to your advantage.

Although, of course, it’s t(p)ag. There’s always a way to manipulate a situation to your advantage. even if you did lose a point for giving information to your t(p)ag opponent. The best strategy for winning is to lie and cheat. If you’re willing to do that, you’re sure to rack up plenty of points.

There is also a great advantage to obsessive and organized thought. Like chess, it takes a specific kind of mind to be exceptional at t(p)ag. (Though I suck at chess.) A certain kind of cataloging, ranking, and recalling of your opponents faults, weaknesses and triggers is of infinite use in play. A kind of cleverness in knowing how a situation can be used. And that certain something of creativity in directing how information is to be framed.

It is also important to have a good amount of muddled thinking and self doubt. Of course, these are the products of lying, and cheating so they come naturally if you play long enough. Being numb on sugar also helps keep the waters muddy. But however you do it, you should never be sure if your actions are above board. That eliminates most of the drama.

If this sounds like fun to you, then you must never have played. The whole game revolves around dishonesty, inauthenticity, and secrets. It’s a brutal, full-contact sport. Every player gets battered and bruised. Of course, every player is beating the crap out of themselves. Sometimes slapping, sometimes punching, sometimes gutting their own integrity. The opponent is simply there to encourage and bear witness. Perhaps create a little drama for fuel.

I have been playing t(p)ag my whole life. Like I said. I was a champ at it. I have had many opponents. We have chosen each other. You can’t play unless you choose the game. And you can’t play alone. Sometimes an opponent is an enemy. But usually they are friends, family, co-workers or employers. You have to be in a relationship to play t(p)ag with someone. You really have to know them.

But something happened when I got control of my eating six years ago. A kind of sports injury if you will. I broke my dishonesty. And a broken dishonesty leads to a distracting level of clarity and self-assurance. My heyday was over. My career was ruined. I’ve been playing with a handicap ever since.

My commitment to control my eating ruined some of my best t(p)ag maneuvers. Lying and cheating make me hungry now. Hungry for cake. When I was eating sugar compulsively, not all of the shame I ate came from outside of myself. Most of it came from my own abhorrent behavior. The ways that I was dishonest, spiteful, and cruel. The ways I manipulated. The ways that I used and abused myself and my t(p)ag opponents (and sometimes innocent bystanders). So the longer I have a handle on my food, the worse my game gets. I’m out of practice. I’m past my prime. I’m a total has-been.

Now I’m trying to get out of the game entirely. There are a few problems with getting out. First, you have to stop playing. That takes rational thinking and honesty. It takes a willingness to look at a situation without drama. It takes patience and responsibility. And it takes all of those things on the field, even while your opponent is in play. My opponents are still in the game. And they’re looking to me to attack myself with my own lies and manipulations. And they are waiting breathlessly for me to pour a bit of gasoline on their drama and righteous indignation fires.

But truly, I don’t want to play anymore.  I’m attempting to leave the field in the middle of the game. So I have started upping my un-training. And damn is it rigorous. There are regular workouts of my integrity. There is active listening. And lots of inward trekking.

I don’t expect myself to be un-trained over night. And if I ever lost control of the food, I’m sure I’d get back into the majors. But for now, one situation at a time, I’m calling no t(p)ag backs.

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