Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “responsibility”

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.


Another kind of privilege

I love living in a society where the individual is important. As a non-conformist, and a loner, it is a great relief, and a joy, to be able to make choices for myself. And in many ways it made getting my eating under control much easier. I didn’t have to get over worrying about what others thought of the way I was eating. I couldn’t care less, quite frankly. But there was also a little push-back from that proud, independent individual inside me. Who says I can’t eat sugar? Who says I have to put boundaries around my eating?

Of course, the answer is nobody but me. Not my doctor. Not my government. Not my husband, or my best friend, or my life coach, or my personal trainer. Nobody is making me eat or not eat anything but me, myself and I. And yet, my mind is a tricky thing. It likes to look for scapegoats and blamable third parties. Anyone or anything to get me, personally, off the hook. You can’t tell me what to do. You’re not the boss of me. I am a grown-ass woman and I can do whatever I want.

Yes, yes. All yeses. Sometimes, the hard part is understanding what I want. The hard part is marrying the actions with their consequences in my own head so that I am fully aware of the fact that they go together.

I may “want” cake, on some level. But cake comes with food obsession, muddled thinking, the inability to stop eating, weight gain, morbid obesity, feeling crazy, and probably some form of bulimia or other self-harm. I cannot have cake without these other things. (I understand that other people can. I wish them well.) I may want to feel myself falling, but that doesn’t mean I can jump out of a window without taking into consideration that I will most certainly hit the ground. The two are inextricably linked.

Before I got control of my eating 11 years ago, I had a particularly unrealistic view of cause and effect, actions and consequences. My gauge of “fairness” was whether or not I got what I wanted. If I could have what I wanted, it was fair. If I couldn’t, it was unfair. Whatever it was. In my defense, it looked like it worked like that for other people.

I often think about what my life looks like from the outside. I have peace around my body and my life in general. I have a dream husband, and we are sickly sweet, lovey-dove birds. I get to live on the road with him and work on my writing. I live the sweet life, no doubt.

But what you might not see is the work I do every day. First and foremost is taking care of my food. You can certainly see my “weight loss transformation,” but you probably don’t see the hours I spend shopping, and prepping, and cooking my meals so that I can eat well while keeping my food boundaries. You don’t see the work I have to do in my relationship so that I can be a good and loving wife to my amazing husband. I have to take action toward being kind, generous, thoughtful and solution-oriented. That is not my default setting. My default is to look around for the nearest person, place or thing to point the finger at. You don’t see the work that I do every day to grow as a person. The meditation, and the prayer. The ways that I am looking for my own culpability in any and all situations, so that I can keep my side of the street clean. You are not seeing the, sometimes difficult, often painful, and pretty much always a little scary stuff I do to spiritually and personally evolve.

In other words, it may look to you like I simply get what I want by wanting it. I promise, that is not my reality.

When it comes to my food, I am accountable to other people besides myself. Not because I have to be, but because I choose to be. I choose it because it is the support of other people who maintain food boundaries, and the experience of being part of a community, that empowers me. But this idea that it is my choice is one of the ways my thinking used to get muddy. In my head, because I choose to be accountable to someone else, it occurs to me that I can just choose to quit being accountable to them. And in my head, I can justify to myself that I don’t owe them anything.

And the reality of this is that it is true on a certain level. I can do anything I want at any time. I am living the only life I have and I am free to make whatever choices I make. But the other reality is that making a promise or not is my choice. And if I make a commitment to another, I do owe someone something. And the person I harm most when I break a promise or commitment, especially in a selfish, dishonest, or just childish way, is myself.

I think it is ultimately human to feel “forced” into doing something unpleasant to get what we want. Isn’t it the same old song to grudgingly go on a diet or head to the gym, because one wants to lose weight. People get mad about it. I used to get mad about it! I was so angry that I couldn’t eat the way I wanted to and not get fat. I was furious! As if other people were eating the way I ate and not gaining weight. (Spoiler alert: They weren’t.) And if I felt “forced,” then when I quit, I could feel justified. I just can’t eat rabbit food. I tried, but I can’t. But I was never forced to “eat rabbit food.” I only convinced myself that I was, so I wouldn’t have to face my personal responsibility.

But there is freedom in responsibility. In fact, that is the only place that there really is freedom. So I choose to embrace the choice. I choose to remember that I make the commitments, and that I owe the follow through. It is my privilege to eat within my boundaries, to be kind to my husband and the people in my life, to grow and evolve as a human. When I remember it’s my privilege, I am grateful.

What goes into and comes out of my mouth

When I was eating compulsively I spent a lot of my time plotting revenge. I am not saying I necessarily carried it out, but I thought about how best to hurt the person I was angry with. I had a lot of conversations in my head where I used my razor sharp wit to cut someone down or shut them up. I thought about ways to bother and upset people who bothered and upset me. It was exciting. It gave me a self-righteous rush!

When I got sober from sugar, I had to give that up. The desire for vengeance is a byproduct of resentment. I cannot afford resentment. It is as poisonous to me as sugar itself. Resentment is one of the ways my addiction uses to convince me that I “deserve” a fix.

The truth is that there are ways that I am being treated right now that I don’t like. I consider them abusive and controlling. And there is nothing for me to do about it. I didn’t do anything wrong. But if I seek revenge, even just in my head, even if I am just cultivating disdain, I will have done something wrong. And when I have done something to wrong someone, whether or not they abused me first, I will feel the guilt of my own actions. And that will make me particularly hungry. 

But eating my feelings, especially stuffing them down with sugar, is no longer an option. So if I did retaliate against a fellow human, I would have to apologize and make amends for my actions, even if those humans have hurt me, but won’t make amends to me. It is all about me. It is only about me. Not what I want or deserve, but how I have impacted the world and the humans in it.

The good and bad news of personal responsibility is that I am accountable for all of my actions, in all ways, on every level, regardless of outside circumstances. In other words, I am responsible for what both goes into and comes out of my mouth. 

Do you want to be right, or do you not want to get scalded by boiling oil?

Welp, There’s another year.

All in all, one of the best I have ever had. As of yesterday, I am 37. Happy. Content. Not complacent, content. And isn’t that basically the Holy Grail? It is for me, anyway. Peace. Loving my life without it having to be perfect. Accepting it exactly the way it is.

I have been thinking about responsibility lately. What it actually means. What it actually looks like. And I can recognize that my peace is a byproduct of my responsibility.

I used to do a lot of what you might call self-help-y kinds of things. I read books and went to seminars and courses of varying sorts. In general, I didn’t get staggering breakthroughs those years that I was reading and taking seminars. I would eventually learn very many of the things I had been taught. I even mean that I learned them from those very courses and books. But years later, after I got control of my eating. Many of those teachings swam around in my head for all those years in the interim. Occasionally peeking out and popping up. Until I was ready and clear enough to learn them. And then they were just there. Obvious.

I was in a seminar once, I don’t remember what the theme was. Maybe creativity. Maybe designing your life. It doesn’t matter. The woman leading the seminar was talking about responsibility. She said something like If you are standing on the sidewalk, and you look up and notice that somebody on the 8th floor directly above you (I lived in New York City at the time) is pouring a pot of boiling oil down on where you stand, it is your responsibility to at least TRY to jump out of the way. If you are scalded and grievously injured, you can blame the person who poured the oil. You can even sue them. And I’m not saying that you would not be entitled to compensation for that. But in the end, you will be one who has to live in that burned body. You will be the one who has to suffer the pain. So do you want to shake your fist at this person on the 8th floor, and be righteously angry, and yell at them for doing something so dangerous, while the oil comes down on your head? Or do you want to jump out of the way and try to save yourself?

Now perhaps this is obvious to you. But for me at 23 or whatever age I was, this was a little epiphany. I had spent my life up until then incredibly certain about the way things “should be.” And deeply interested in complaining about the things that “shouldn’t have” happened to me, that did. And instead of dealing with them the way they were, I wanted to be righteously indignant about the general unfairness of life. And continue to expect life to be the way it “should be” in the future. But even after this little epiphany, I still had a hard time applying this idea of responsibility to the specific situations in my life. Probably because I didn’t have any personal frame of reference.

The first real responsibility I ever took in my life was getting my eating under control at 28. It was actual responsibility. No, it wasn’t fair that I couldn’t eat sugar like a “normal” person, but there it was. It didn’t matter if I thought it “shouldn’t be” that way. That was the way it was. The boiling oil was falling out of the 8th story window directly over my head. So I made a commitment to jump out of the way. I chose to follow some specific rules about food.

I didn’t only do it when it was easy and convenient. I didn’t only do it when people approved and were supportive. I didn’t only do it when grocers and wait staff and family members did everything the way it “should be” done according to my new food boundaries. I did it all the time. No matter what.

If somebody made it more difficult to do what I needed to do, I did the more difficult thing to meet my own needs. If waiters gave me food prepared or served in a way I could not eat it, I sent it back. If food companies changed their recipes so that a food I loved was no longer within my food boundaries, I gave it up. If people insisted on either my eating something they offered, or their taking great offense, I let them be offended.

And since then, slowly over the years, I have learned to apply that same lesson to other aspects of my life. I have learned to look at decisions I’m making and actions I am taking. And to decide if I want to change those decisions and actions, or find peace with their outcomes.

See, now that my addiction is under control, I have big girl problems. Problems that don’t have obvious fixes or black and white solutions. Life is full of unfair circumstances and hard choices. It always has been. For everybody. You might even say that as a middle class woman in 2014 in the United States, I’m living cushier and easier than most people anywhere ever before. So who am I to curse the oil coming down if I am not even willing to jump aside?

Humble Pie for Thanksgiving

Wow I sure did not want to write this blog this week.

When I started oneafatgirl, I made a promise to write the truth. And to be authentic. Even when it was scary and hard. And humiliating. And I am definitely humiliated today.

I went on a mini-vacation with my boyfriend for Thanksgiving. And it didn’t go so well. And I was the reason it didn’t go so well. My food boundaries and me.

That’s hard for me to write. Especially because I know how I talk about my food boundaries. I perhaps make it seem effortless. It usually feels effortless to me. I’m good at it after over 7 ½ years. Good at parts of it, anyway. And I am afraid that a post like this will scare somebody away from making the tough decision to change their own eating.

But the truth is that it is not my job to convince people who are suffering to choose relief. I put boundaries around my eating by my own choice. I was desperate. I took desperate measures. I still do. No person made me do it, or even could make me do it. And no person is going to stop me. So I’m not going to worry about this post. And who it stops. And who uses it as an excuse to continue to suffer. And for all I know, it will help someone who is suffering find some relief.

Anyway, back to my vacation. And food. The first thing I should point out is that my boyfriend doesn’t think about food. He doesn’t look forward to eating. And he doesn’t plan it. He doesn’t have to. He will literally forget about food until he is starving, look around himself at that exact moment, walk into the closest place, and eat whatever they have to offer.

I on the other hand, love to eat. I look forward to each of my meals, and savor every bite. I have said before that I didn’t stop loving food when I put boundaries around my eating. In fact, I started to love it more, because it was guilt-free. But the boundaries themselves are the most important part. Most of the time my meals are insanely delicious, but as long as each meal is within my eating boundaries, it doesn’t matter if it is delicious or not. If lunch is not so good, dinner is not so far away.

So to go on this mini-vaykay, I packed a whole bunch of food. But not great food. Not #10 meals. Just enough easy, portable food to make sure that if I needed to eat every meal in our hotel, I could always be within my boundaries.

And then it seemed like I was going to have to eat every meal in our hotel room. And I was upset.

Here’s the thing, though. I wasn’t asking for what I wanted. And I wasn’t just taking care of it myself. I was worrying about asking for too much. I was worrying about being a “Good Girl.”

I spent my life alone. And for the last several years, I was poor but independent. I didn’t have much. But if I had something, it was because I earned it.

But now I am in a relationship and I am not independent. And I can have a hard time distinguishing what I deserve. What I contribute. And what that earns me.

In other words, do I deserve to ask to be taken out to a restaurant when my boyfriend isn’t hungry and I have a cooler full of food up in my hotel room? Even if it’s not the food I want?

I did eventually go out to lunch. I got a nice meal. But it wasn’t until I stopped worrying if my boyfriend was having a good time. (And even writing that makes me feel selfish and unworthy…)

And the other thing I need to take responsibility for, is that I have scared my boyfriend into thinking that I can never eat out easily, happily, or comfortably. Because the truth is that I have a lot of anxiety. About everything. I live with a steady stream of low-level anxiety. I don’t think it will ever go away. And the food thing is such a big issue for me that it always makes me a little anxious. But I don’t want him to think we can never go on vacation. Or that we can never go out to eat.

Look. I’m not good at it. I get nervous eating out. Especially now that I live outside of New York City. But I could get better with practice. And I would like to.

My food boundaries are not a burden for me. They are sometimes inconvenient, but they are ultimately only a relief. I am free from the obsession over food and my weight, and the fat body I lived in, and the compulsive eating and exercising and purging and laxative abusing. But I don’t want my food boundaries to be a burden for my boyfriend either. And I don’t know what the next thing to do about that would be. So I guess I’ll just let it be what it is for now, and trust the right answer to come in time…

And they all lived a pretty darn good life with some ups and downs ever after

Oy. Kinda didn’t want to post today. I’m a little sad. Or maybe the word is bummed. Whatever. I’m not feeling so great.

One of the best things about getting my food under control, is that I have all of this clarity. It’s also one of the worst things. I have to feel my feelings. I really have to. There is no way around it. And that is difficult for me.

But it’s also difficult for other people.

And there is a “good girl” who lives inside me and wants everybody to like her. And wants everybody to be impressed by her. And wants to make everybody happy and comfortable. Even if it is at her own expense.

I have talked about this before. The “good girl” is that willingness to sacrifice myself for everybody else. It was a replacement for self-esteem. It’s something like it, but it is not, in fact, self-esteem. It never felt good to get my value from the level of neglect I could inflict on myself for the comfort of others. But it was the most valuable I thought I could be at the time, so I was a “good girl”.

And I was filled with resentment. I hated people. How dare they treat me like a doormat just because I laid down in front of them! And I dealt with that resentment with food. Sugar. Enough sugar to get me high enough to forget that I hated people and myself and my life.

But after years of that, it started taking a lot more sugar. A 300lb body worth of sugar.

So now I have to feel my feelings. I have to feel all of them. I cry when I need to cry. I have to. I don’t have any other options.

Of course, that is not entirely true. I could eat. I could eat a chocolate cake. But the problem is that I know that chocolate cake doesn’t last. Except in my fat cells.

But it wouldn’t make me feel better for long. And it wouldn’t make me feel good about myself. And I wouldn’t be able to stop.

Like I said, though. This level of clarity is one of the best parts of getting control of my eating. I know not to stifle my feelings. Even if they make other people uncomfortable. I know feelings will pass if I let them out. I know that being unhappy is part of life. And I know that I am actually living a happy life with some normal, natural bouts of unhappiness.

I am ok. I’m fine. I’m actually even better than that. I’m whole and complete. I’m in touch with my head, my heart, my soul and my body.

I don’t like writing about being emotional. Somewhere my “good girl” is cringing and asking how I expect to be an inspiration, or even just helpful, if I talk about being unhappy even though I have my eating under control.

But life is life. And I believe that honesty is inspirational. And helpful. And getting control of my food is still the greatest thing I have ever done for myself. Even if it doesn’t lead to “happily ever after”. Which I believed in for a long time, even though I was sure I knew that it was just a fairy tale. It turns out I just believed it was for other people, and not me.

Now I can see that I have spent the last 7+ years moving ever closer to as near to “happily ever after” as it is possible to be. Honesty, honor, integrity, and love. With myself and others.

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.

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.

The easy way out…I don’t think it means what you think it means

So here’s the thing about not eating compulsively. You feel everything. Absolutely, positively everything. There is nowhere to hide. And for a person like me, well…that can suck. As I have mentioned before, I am insanely sensitive. Any feeling is a lot for me to handle. I’m so incredibly in love, and I am so grateful for it. And so happy! But it’s intense. I’m saying that even my joy is a little overwhelming.

But when the feelings are fear, anxiety and shame, the kind of feelings I have around money, I want to turn off, shut down, and forget all about everything.

When I was eating compulsively, when things got scary or overwhelming, (which was all the time, frankly) I would eat a lot of sugar. And that would wrap me in a cocoon of carelessness. That would shut everything off, and I could drift away to oblivion. If I was worried about how I was going to pay my electric bill, I would eat a cake, and suddenly, it didn’t matter how I was going to pay my electric bill. In fact I didn’t pay my electric bill. I just got super, crazy high on sugar, and hoped it would somehow go away. What often went away was my electricity.

When I stopped eating compulsively and got sober from sugar, I started paying my bills. I had to. When I wasn’t high as a kite, it was too scary to not deal with things like that.

When I don’t eat sugar or eat compulsively no matter what is going on in my life, it means I can’t get numbed out when I don’t want to deal with things. I can’t check out. I have to sit there in awful feelings that make me crazy and scared and sick. But it turns out I can’t. I can’t just sit there. I can’t handle crazy, scared and sick for too long. I have to do something. And not just something. Something productive.

So it’s tax time, and I had a scary experience. I was trying to do my taxes myself, and things were not computing. Thousands of dollars not computing. And I was in a panic.

I knew that this didn’t make sense. But I didn’t know how to fix it. And panic makes it so that the fact that I don’t know what the solution is means there must not be a solution. And money, especially money and the government, are loaded for me. It’s one area of my life that I still have a hard time dealing with head on. I’m working on it. But it’s a tender issue, thinking about what I’m “worth”. It brings up a lot of insecurity.

But I couldn’t just sit there. Because there was no cake. And no numb. I had to do something not food related. So on the advice of my boyfriend, I called an accountant. And she told me I was missing a document.


So I called my employer. And she said that she didn’t think she had that document, but she’d check her records.

And she did. She had the document. The whole time and didn’t realize.

In other words, it was all fine. And I spent my time panicking. And worrying myself sick. Because it’s taxes. And money. And that stuff is scary to me.

But I didn’t eat!

See, if I ate a chocolate cake, I wouldn’t have made it to the point that I understood that it was all fine. I would have passed out in a food coma. And not done my taxes. Then I would have had to justify and rationalize why I wasn’t going to do my taxes. I would have actually caused a situation that was “fine” to become “not fine”. I would have let it get to the point where it became a mess to clean up, rather than a situation to deal with.

There is a woman who tells me, “Food is the problem. Everything else is just a situation.”

This was a situation. It’s not anymore. It has been dealt with. I got through without eating over it. And really, I got through it because I didn’t eat over it.

I’m a big, emotional chicken. But when I don’t eat, I take brave actions. Even if I don’t feel so brave. Because when I’m awake and aware, when I’m alive in my life, being brave is the easy way out…

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.
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