onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “self-care”

I do what I want and have the privilege of knowing it.

I feel like my life is finally opening up again. Tomorrow I get my second COVID vaccine shot. My husband and I have a new job lined up for the not-so-distant future. And I am doing some planning and plotting for some fiction writing. (Plot is hard, for those of you who don’t know.)


I have been very happy to stay home and not deal with people for the past year. I am absolutely a home body who can contentedly consume and\or create art and media with little to no human interaction. (Besides my husband. I’m certainly grateful to have shared our space together for this long stretch. I would definitely not have felt so comfortable being alone without him, home body or not.) But the truth is that I am excited to see our friends again. I am looking forward to hugging people. I even want people to come to our house. And I almost never want that!

But lets go back to fiction writing. When I was eating compulsively, I had a warped relationship to time. I didn’t have a clear idea of how long things took. I didn’t have any skill with planning my day. I was late for everything. I didn’t know what could be done and what could not. I lived as if wanting to do something should necessarily create the time in which to do it. And I was frustrated and angry at life when it did not.

Getting my eating under control didn’t change my relationship to time over night. It changed because it became wrapped up in the idea of commitment. First with the food. I had a commitment to eat three meals a day. To have the first meal between 6am and noon, the second between noon and 4pm, and dinner before midnight. And sometimes that meant stopping what I was doing in order to eat. It meant looking at the time I had and making sure I could fit meals in. Eventually my commitments grew and I needed to fit time in for those as well.

And that made me prioritize. Meals have been first priority for the whole time I have had my boundaries. But then other things became second and third priorities too. Sleep. Exercise. Rest. Creating. Being places on time. Working to make enough money to pay my bills. (Believe it or not, this was not a priority before I got my eating under control. How did I live? With a lot of stress.)

When I started working for my company a few years ago, I had not been working regularly and I had been writing fiction. (My husband was working.) But when I took on my job, I gave up writing. I stopped consciously. It didn’t peter out or fall by the wayside. I made a calculated decision that reading, knitting and crochet, sleeping, and quality time with my husband were all more important than writing when the majority of my time was going to a good job making good money, on top of all of my other commitments. And in working full time I had the added time suck of having to prep meals for the week since I would no longer be home to make them on the spot. 

It was a gift to make the choice. I didn’t have to feel resentful of the things I was doing over the things I was missing. I could honor the path I chose. And in choosing it I was free to change my mind and choose something else. I could have, but I didn’t. Until now? 

Lately I have been thinking about writing again. I have a new novel bouncing around in my head. And the prospect of writing it is both exciting and daunting. And I don’t know what I want to do about it. Or if I am going to be willing to make time to write when I am back to my 40-hour-a-week job. But I know how to use priorities as a tool. And I first learned that by making my eating boundaries a priority. 

I found that once I understood how to choose my priorities and use them for living, I was free to find peace around the choices I made, and to love my life the way it is. Because I *knew* that I chose it.

The honest to god truth is that we are all choosing our priorities every day. But some of us don’t know it yet. It seems easier to blame situation and circumstance. But once I chose my commitments, I had power over my life. So I am going to make writing fiction a priority. For now. And if I don’t like it, I can change my mind. It’s my life and my time. I do what I want. And I have the privilege of knowing it.

I don’t dance when the gorilla is around.

I got my first vaccine shot this week. And for the past 2 days I have been positively ravenous! 

When I googled “Is hunger a side effect,” one of the auto fill options was “of the COVID vaccine” so I am perhaps not the only one. Though I can’t find any articles or papers that say it *is* a side effect of the vaccine.

But the important part of this for me is that I didn’t eat in between meals. I didn’t eat outside of my food boundaries. What I did do was eat heavy.

The best thing about my eating boundaries is that they have a lot of room for circumstance. It’s like a padded wall. It’s soft. But it’s still a wall. 

I eat mostly the same few things daily and weekly. I know what I like. I don’t get tired of it. I look forward to my meals. They are my moment of pause and pleasure in the day, three times a day. And I am almost never hungry.

But really, what I can appreciate about the past few days is that I am not ruled by hunger. And I was ruled by it for years. Though I don’t think that it was true hunger. I ate out of boredom. I ate to numb my uncomfortable feelings. I ate because I felt compelled to eat. All the time. I craved. I craved constantly.

I can imagine how crazy it might sound to normal eaters to say that I was ravenous and I did not eat in between meals. Or eat more than usual. I can imagine that the idea that I would “suffer” through hunger seems a little extreme.

It is extreme. Because my food addiction is also extreme. And I can tell you very clearly, that two days of feeling hungry and not eating more to satisfy my pangs is not nearly the level of suffering that having no control over my eating was. It is not nearly as terrifying as knowing you have no say over what goes in your mouth or your body. And when I am eating compulsively, I have no control, and no say. 

They say addicts picking up their drug is like agreeing to dance with a gorilla. You may choose when to start, but it’s the gorilla who decides when you stop.

Yes, I was hungry for a few hours between meals, for consecutive days. It was not the most comfortable feeling. But it was nothing compared to the possibility of dancing with the gorilla.

But I will say that I cooked my broccoli in even more butter and olive oil than I usually do. And I ate pork rinds twice in the same day, which I don’t do often. And that helped.

Basically, I have rules, but they are letter of the law rules. And the spirit of the law *is* letter of the law. I am not on a diet. I have a diet. If I have a 1 pound apple, that is just as much “1” apple as a 6 oz apple. 

People who do what I do don’t hide these things from each other. It’s not shameful to want the biggest and the best. It is encouraged. We shout it from the rooftops. In fact, when I lived in NYC, people would text each other things like “Citarella on the UWS has 1 pound honeycrisps.” Or “I got a cantaloupe bigger than my head at the farmers market.” It was a right of passage to take someone to the (sadly now closed) restaurant where they provided scales and cups for weighing and measuring, and to order the newcomer the deep fried tofu that dripped with hot grease and was crispy on the outside with the light pillowy center. (Also, if you know where in the Chicagoland area I can get some deep fried tofu, hit a girl up!)

I was fine not eating when I was hungry. But not out of some twisted form of vanity. I don’t put boundaries around my eating to be, or get, or stay skinny. I do it to stay off the dance floor while the gorilla is around. And the gorilla is always around.

Contentment: It’s not about where I am but where I’m going.

I have been off of work this week while I wait to get assigned to a new job. I have been cleaning my house and listening to audiobooks. Working out in the afternoon instead of first thing in the morning. I have been enjoying the freedom to get things done in my own time and on my own schedule. And I am feeling ridiculously content. 

Contentment is absolutely a direct result of having my eating under control. I don’t think I ever experienced it until I was literally years into having boundaries around my eating. Perhaps when I was a very small child I was content. But definitely not once I was school-age. For nearly all of my memorable life, I was anxious, worried, fearful, unhappy, and/or overwhelmed. Life was hard for me. Not because I got a bad one. In fact, on paper I got a great one. But that didn’t really matter. It didn’t mean I was happy. It didn’t mean I was grateful. I was not. 

I think a thing that happens to a lot of people is that we can see how good we have it, and it makes us think we *should* be happy. We can see who has it worse. We can see the disparities and it makes us feel like jerks. And society tells us we are jerks. There are children starving. There are kids with nothing. We have it so much better than the ones who came before us.

And all of those things might be true. But what getting my eating under control has taught me is that it is ridiculous to compare my life to anyone else’s. For the good or the bad. It is not a competition. It is not a race. It is not a zero sum game. There is no winning or losing. There is only my experience and my journey. There is only my path, and the places my path intersects with other paths. 

There is a saying that people who do what I do with food say: Keep your eyes on your own plate. This is practical advice. That person may be eating cake, but I don’t need to look at the cake. I don’t need to judge the cake eater. I don’t need to be jealous of the cake eating. And I don’t need to romance thoughts about the cake. I don’t need to focus on who has what I don’t. Especially when I have a full plate right in front of me. (Especially especially when my plate has bacon and homemade chocolate ice cream and melt-in-your-mouth carnitas.)

There is always a thing I think I want, because someone else has it. Sometimes I read a book that is so good, or beautiful,or creative that I am insanely jealous that the writer both had it in them, and could get it out so perfectly. Sometimes I see a dress that is so stunning I ache for it, but it is prohibitively expensive or made for a different body type than mine, and I have to mourn that I cannot have it. Sometimes I see someone do something I have no talent for, like drawing, or ballet, and I get frustrated that I cannot simply have it just because I want it. 

This used to seem so unfair. I was filled with envy and cruelty and shame. 

In these past 15+ years of keeping my eating boundaries, I have learned to treat the acquisition of skills as a practice rather than a gift. If I want to learn ballet, I can learn. I may not have a natural talent, or be naturally shaped the way most ballet dancers are, but I could study it if I wanted to. I could practice. I could try. I could put in the hours and the sweat. I don’t know what the results would be. But that really wouldn’t matter. I could write a book if I wanted. I could read up on the craft, and plan and plot, and sit in front of the blank page and see what uniquely me thing came out. I could give up on the expectation of genius or grace or perfection. I could be willing to make bad art.

One of the best lessons I have learned in my life is that in order to make great art, you have to be willing to make bad art. This is not just about art. I have learned to be willing to make bad life too.

The contentment that comes from having my eating under control is about accepting what is so, deciding what I want, and taking actions to create the life I want to have. It is about eliminating expectations and being willing to do something, anything, without knowing that it will turn out the way I want it to. It is about doing for the sake of doing. And not for the outcome. 

When I was eating compulsively, food was control, even if my eating was out of my control. Food helped me control feeling my feelings, which felt entirely out of my control most of my life. If those feelings were too much for me to handle, food made me numb, so I didn’t have to handle them. Getting my eating under control helped me control the experience of those feelings without feeling like I had to control the results. I could let them wash over me, use them as sign posts and guidelines, and then make choices with my higher self: my head, my heart, and my conscience.

I am still an anxious person. I am still an addict. I am still occasionally jealous and regularly ache for something that seems out of reach. But more than any of those things, I am content. I learned to choose what I already have first, and to strive for something better second. I learned to put in the time and the effort and let the chips fall where they may. I learned to define myself by how willing I am to move forward, rather than where I stand at any given moment.

Happy to be wherever here is

I am not a person who likes change. Or surprises. Or being unprepared. So this week was not my favorite.

My husband and I were set to head to a job in Connecticut. So we did all the things we do when we head out to a job. We found an apartment, and set up utilities. We went into the garage and packed up our second “traveling” home with another set of dishes and small appliances, and sheets and towels, and all of the things that make our home ours when we are working on the road. We even have a traveling Alexa device and a traveling meat grinder. We are not messing around.

My husband had to be there a few days before me, and it was going to take 2 days to drive,  so we picked up his truck and he left on Tuesday. He drove all day Tuesday and then woke up on Wednesday and got half way through the day’s drive, just a few hours away from the apartment we would be renting, when he got a call. The job was canceled. Turn around and go home. 

That is correct. Canceled. Not postponed. Not delayed. Just plain canceled. 

I was kind of devastated. I have friends in that area. Some in Connecticut. Many in New York City. I was looking forward to being driving distance from them. And with the vaccines getting distributed, I was looking forward to getting hugs and in-person laughs. At least at some point in the year. 

And we had made lots of plans for the money we’d make there. Fix up the outside of our house. Have new concrete porches poured in both the front and the back, have the driveway redone, and have the siding on our house replaced. We counted our chickens before they were hatched.

I was also really stressed about money. We had already signed a lease on an apartment. I did not know what that would mean for us financially.

But the apartment complex terminated the lease and it only cost us the security deposit, which was the best case scenario. So all that I really had to do was mourn the lost expectations of living back on the east coast near my friends and the money I had already spent in my dreams. And I did have to mourn those things. So I did.

But a lot of really good things came out of this as well. For example, in a row, we had some little things go wrong right before we left. Our plumbing was wonky because roots sometimes grow in our pipes, so we had some plumbers come over and snake our outside drain. My husband would normally do this himself. But we were busy packing and getting ready to move, so we hired someone and in terms of both time and money, it was the best thing to do. It cost less than it would have for my husband to rent the machine and do it himself. And we are kind of procrastinators, so if we had not been on our way out, we might have left it longer. And then our furnace stopped working so we had someone come out to look at it. Thankfully it was an easy fix. Both of these turned out to be easy fixes and we took care of them quickly, and now they are done.

And then, since he was on his way back to our house, my husband looked to see if he could get a PlayStation 5 and they had one at the store just a few blocks from our house. So because he had to come back, he got the thing he has been wanting most for the past 6 months. Not the worst consolation prize.

But maybe most importantly, my husband and I were both working on a project that was causing us a lot of stress and frustration and we are now in the process of getting out of that job. Today we are writing a letter together to say that we cannot go back to that job. That in leaving it, we realized how it had been affecting us detrimentally, both individually and as a unit, over the past several months.

I will tell you that one reason I know I cannot go back to that job is because I know what it feels like to give up poison, and to know that I cannot go back to feeling like that. I did it with sugar.

I know that some people think I am crazy for keeping my eating boundaries. They think it’s extreme. They think I must be suffering because they believe they would suffer to give up cake. I need to express to you that I could not do what I do every day for over 15 years if I did not get one hell of a payoff. That payoff is not feeling toxic or poisoned or trapped. I felt all of those things when I was eating compulsively. Now I feel free and light and able to take life as it comes. Like when a job I was really looking forward to falls through at the very last minute.

Leaving this job feels a lot like giving up sugar. I feel sort of disoriented. I am afraid of what I just gave up and what I will lose because of it. Money security in this case. And potentially the good will of certain people in the company we work for. But also, when I even think of letting it back into my life, everything in me screams that I do not want to go back there ever again. I do not want to feel that way ever again.

And in general, I do not want to go backwards. I want to move forward all the time. I want to keep getting better, and to keep getting a better life because of it. That is also a gift of having my eating boundaries. Growth.

We don’t know what is in store for us moving forward. We don’t know what our next job will be or where it will be, at home or on the road. But we did learn some things about ourselves. 1) That we miss the road. 2) That we can’t do that awful job that we may have ended up stuck in for years if this canceled job had not come up. 3) That we are resilient. 4) That we are excellent at packing quickly at a moment’s notice. (Actually, we already knew that but this was a nice reminder.)

I will tell you what this feels like. It feels like a fresh start. It feels like someone hit the reset button. It feels like exactly what I need and where I want to be, even if I am not sure where, exactly, I am.

To be filed under: This too shall pass.

Remember a few weeks ago when I lost my shit on a work superior? (Oh, me too…) Well, this week I was told that my husband and I are leaving that job and going on to another. And I could not be happier.

We are going back on the road. This time we head to Connecticut. (Amazon distribution centers aren’t going to build themselves.) And I am so excited for a lot of reasons!

First, people! I will be an hour away from one very close friend, and 2-3 hours away from my friends in NYC. Now, I don’t know what socializing will look like. I have been taking COVID very seriously for the past year. And that means that I have done precious little socializing since March, and none at all since about September. But at least some of my friends have gotten their vaccinations, and my husband and I are eligible for them because of the work we do. (Though currently we have not been able to get an appointment.) So I have high hopes for safe hugs with friends while we are there.

But also, I didn’t want to be on a job for over 2 years working under someone whom I don’t respect and who clearly does not respect me. One of the blessings/curses of having my eating under control is that I see things so clearly. I cannot fail to see them clearly, even if I want to. And my emotions are also front and center, and they are also clear sign posts. That job was either frustrating me with the bureaucracy, angering me with the lack of accountability and leadership, or filling me with dread over the general expectation that we (my husband and I) would turn a bad job good. 

Look, my husband is pretty damn magical at what he does, and he can take something good and make it great. I have seen him do it over and over. But it’s a lot to ask, and an entirely different thing, to take something bad and make it good. And now we don’t have to attempt that anymore. 

A few years ago, I stopped meditating. It was too hard to sit quietly because I was constantly afraid for the future. It was too hard to trust that Life, or the universe, or God, or whatever you want to call it, really was looking out for me. I was terrified all the time. And that made me angry at Life/God.

For a whole decade before that, I had built a life of peace and joy around trusting that Life/God had my back and was giving me only the best. Even if the lesson was painful, I trusted it. I wasn’t afraid of pain anymore. I knew how to sit in it and work through it. But over the past several years, I didn’t trust the pain, or the lessons, or that Life/God was right. I managed my fear, but that was all I could do. 

In probably April of last year, I made a commitment to start meditating again. And it was hard. And I had a hard time being still and trusting. But I did it. Because meditation is meant to be a practice, not a solution. 

The past few months have been a slow release of pressure for me. Not because of meditation. But because of circumstances. And slowly but surely I feel like I am easing back into peace. And easing back into trust. After all, I learned a lot about myself in these past few years, and a lot about who I want to be. And I learned what I wanted to change about myself for myself. This time was a crucible. And I have come out on the other side with much of my past thinking burned away. In other words, Life/God was right. And was giving me the best all along.

And now, being taken off of this particular job is one more piece of the peace puzzle. But the truth is I should have known that peace would return. At least eventually. Because all things pass. And it would do me good to remember that that includes this new found peace. At least for a time.

I’m giving away social currency.

Over the past 9 years, this blog has been an excellent catalyst for my growth. It is a whole thing to not just have thoughts, but to also send them out into the world. When they rattle around in my head, they are a lot more like blunt objects. Imprecise. Doing a lot more harm than good.

The other day, I was writing a post for this blog about social currency. It was, if I do say so myself, an interesting topic. It’s one I think about a lot. I am a conventionally attractive, still young-ish (43) white woman in a socially acceptable sized body. That is a lot of social currency. 

The thing that made me put it down was that I was having a hard time saying that I want to devalue thinness. 

I am not skinny. I say this all the time in this blog. I am about a size 14 (US.) A L/XL. But I also need to point out that I have been a size 28 (US) and that is objectively fat. 

So at 33, when I was skinny and young and white and just plain gorgeous, I was socially rich in a way I had never experienced before. (Maybe when I was 4. I was a really beautiful little kid.) And now I am the equivalent to upper middle class social currency wise. Still beautiful and white and kind of young. But not skinny anymore. But also not fat.

So I guess what I want to call myself out on today is that so much of what is going on in my head is about my social currency. And how I want to keep what I have. And also how I do not want to be that girl. Because there is another girl, who is also me, who would have had an easier, better, more peaceful life if thinness were not of so much value. And I don’t want to throw 12 and 16 and 18 and 23-year-old Kate to the wolves so that 43-year-old Kate feels like she can keep some societal leverage before she is too old to be “attractive” anymore. And it’s not just young me that I want to protect. I don’t want to throw all of the current fats to the wolves either.

The last several years, but especially this past year has taught me a lot about who I want to be. It has made me ask if I want things at the expense of others. Or if, on the contrary, I am willing to have less than I currently have so that others can have a share. 

I don’t want wonderful things at the expense of others. That, in fact, if it comes at the expense of another person, it is not wonderful. Of the very many things I have learned from having my eating under control, one of the most important is that I have my journey, and everyone else has theirs. That not everything is for me. That life is not a zero sum game. That I don’t need to look at others as competitors. That there is plenty to go around. And that just because some will grasp and claw to get the biggest piece, doesn’t mean I will. Or that I want to. Or that the biggest piece will make me happy. The biggest piece will not, in and of itself, make me happy. That I am very clear on.

When I am thinking rationally, and not out of fear of deprivation, I remember that I *do* want to devalue thinness. Because humans are worthy and lovely and lovable by virtue of existing. Not based on what they eat or if they exercise. I can love a person who is unhealthy (though I am *not* saying that being fat is unhealthy) just for being alive and near and available to be loved. I don’t need people to earn my love with thinness or the desire to achieve thinness, or perceived health. (Though not being an asshole helps a lot!) And I don’t want to live in a world where that makes me weird. So that means I have to devalue thinness myself. For myself. About myself and everyone else.

I also want to reiterate that I love my eating boundaries. That I do not want to give them up. This is not me angling to get some cake. I am happy to live without cake. I just want the fat people who *do* want cake to be able to have it and eat it too.

Also also, this has made me want to go back and revise my post about thinness as social currency. So maybe you’ll see that in the next few weeks?

15 years. Still grateful. Still angry.

Yesterday was the 15 year anniversary of having boundaries around my eating. Every day. No cheat days. No extra bites. No special exemptions for birthdays or holidays. 

To this day I am grateful for the solution I found to my eating problem. 

When I started this blog, it was about my weight. And I still really love living in a smaller body. I posted some pictures on social media yesterday. 3 from when I was a teenager, and 3 from this year. And it is strange to look at that body that I lived in for so long. It is easy to forget now what a prison that body was for me.

It was hard to move in that body. Hard to be mobile. Hard to get to where I needed to go. It was a cumbersome, uncomfortable vehicle. 

But more than that, it was a humiliating vehicle. And that is something that is still hard for me. Because I am still angry at the ways I was treated. I am still angry at the things people said to me. Family and friends. Strangers and acquaintances. And that was not about me and my food issues. That was about society and the issues of our culture.

I am so happy and grateful and filled with peace, because I got my eating and my sugar addiction under control. I have no interest in or intention of changing my food. I am happy to never have another bite of cake again. I mean that. Really and truly happy about it. 

But I don’t do it for anyone but myself. And I am still sad and angry that society told people, and me, that for the first 28 years of my life I was unlikable, detestable, shameful, pathetic, contemptible, unqualified for respect and unworthy of love.

I understand if you are impressed by my having lost weight. I can see how it can look impressive. But I will tell you what is really impressive. That I was able to honor myself and my body, even when people were telling me that that body meant I was grotesque and disgusting. That I was able to love myself enough to honor myself when the general consensus seemed to be that I was broken and wrong.

If you love a fat person, maybe just love them. Exactly as they are. Even if they can’t or won’t do whatever things you think they should do to be healthy or happy or whatever it is you think they should be. 

So on this 15th anniversary of me doing this crazy thing that resulted in long-term weight loss, I am going to tell you that the weight is not the actually answer. It never was. The answer is in honoring myself. Bodily, emotionally, and spiritually. The answer is that food was killing me and now it’s not. The answer is that if it’s your body, it’s *your* answer to find. And if it is not your body, the answer is to love the person in front of you. Not who you have decided they should be.

For those in the “giving things up” stage, hang in there!

It’s a hard thing to give up foods. When I first realized I was an addict, which is a sort of weird, fluid time between 2005 and 2007 (a little before and after I gave up most sugars grains and starches in January 2006) I was constantly shocked and saddened by the things I couldn’t eat anymore. Not just cake and cookies and bread and potatoes. But also nuts and nut butters, and extracts with alcohol in them, or  random things like imitation crab meat. And seemingly healthy foods like sweet potatoes and corn. 

It felt in that time that everything was being taken from me. That all of my joy in eating was coming to an end. That I would be one of those people who “didn’t live to eat, but ate to live.” And I was so sad for myself. Because I was sad for those people who didn’t have joy in eating. Eating was one of my favorite experiences, and I thought I was going to have to mourn that part of myself.

Spoiler alert! I still live to eat. Even more than before. Because now my eating is guilt-free. And joyful. Not just on holidays or at celebrations. Now I love my food all the time. I take the time and do the work so that every meal, every bite, every taste is decadent and delicious. Summer tomatoes with mayonnaise! Half sour deli pickles! Homemade Italian sausage with giardiniera, homemade sugar-free ice cream, filet Mignon, and caramelized onions! 

The beginning of the giving up and letting go is the hardest part. I had to mourn. Yes, even though the foods I was mourning were drugs and poison to me, and were ruining my life. I had to be sad and sorry. That was normal and natural. But once I got past the mourning, everything was better. Every aspect of my life shifted to something sweeter and happier, peaceful and content.

If you are in the “giving things up” stage, and you are mad and sad and frustrated and suffering, that is normal and natural. And it will pass. But here is the thing, if you look at the things you *can* have, it’s not so bleak. Don’t forget to look at the baked apples with cinnamon, and the pork carnitas with fresh salsa, or the eggs fried in butter, and strawberry and peach smoothies. And don’t think you have to be one of those people who subsists on dry chicken breasts and steamed broccoli. That may be one path, but it is not a path I, personally, would have been able to walk for any amount of time.

The tough reminder that today is not that day

I have had a terrible week. I have had a mostly terrible month. I have felt a lot of anger and frustration. I have felt undervalued. I have felt taken for granted. And I have been scared.

Here is the hard but important lesson I learned years ago when I first started putting boundaries around my food: very few things worth achieving happen quickly or easily. And the ones that do are really just an offer to do the work.

When I wanted to be a professional actor, a theatre director literally walked into my restaurant job and asked me if I wanted to audition for him. And I got that job. But acting is not that. It is not being offered acting jobs and taking them. It is going to audition after audition and taking classes and networking. I believe I got that job because life was telling me that if I wanted, I could do that work and make a life of that. That it was in me if I wanted it.

When I wanted to see if I could make a living as a freelance writer, I sent out my first article to one place and my article was accepted and published. Now this was an online publication that did not pay for 1 article, but would pay once you had a following within their publication. And freelance writing, much like acting, is not writing articles and getting them published. You send article after article, and log where you have sent them to, and log who has published you, and badger them for the money they owe you. Basically, life was telling me that if I wanted to live that life, it was there if I was willing to do that work. That it was in me if I wanted it.

When it came to the food, I wanted it to be easy right away. But it wasn’t. I wanted to be free from the compulsion and the itch in my skin and the feelings of fear and pain that I had been eating all my life to deal with. But I wasn’t. It was hard for a year and a half. And still not easy for me for another 4. And every single day, for about 5 years, I had to manage it. Do the work. Make calls, prepare meals and weigh my food, sit in difficult and sometimes devastating feelings. But it was in me if I wanted it.

I didn’t do the work to become an actor or a freelance writer. But I *did* do the work to get my eating under control. And I have no regrets about any of the above. 

But there are things that I do want right now. I want to break through the misogyny of the construction industry. I want to be acknowledged for the amazing work I do. I want to be respected and honored for not only knowing what I am doing, but doing it so well that the higher ups don’t even have to think about it. 

But instead, I sit in rooms with a bunch of men who stroke each other’s egos and tell each other that they are doing an excellent job, when the whole point of the meeting is that they are not, in fact, doing an excellent job and they need to get it together and get it done. I have been in these rooms where these men simper at me and pooh-pooh me for bringing up valid concerns. As if to say, “Don’t you worry your pretty little head about it, little lady.” I refer to it as “Being Little Lady’d.” But perhaps it would be more accurate to call it being glass-ceilinged.

But just like I was at the beginning of my eating journey in 2006, I am at the beginning of my work journey now. I used to be happy to be the backup, the assistant. I was new to the job and it felt good to do good work and be useful. But recently I have willingly taken up a huge amount of responsibility, leapt entirely out of my comfort zone, and even though there have been a few missteps, I have done a spectacular job. In only a few months I have stretched and grown professionally beyond my own imaginings, and done great work to further my job and my company in the field. And I have to remember that just like I did not become an actor or a freelance writer with one acting job or one article, I will not be busting through any ceilings today. 

And that is hard for me. I feel like these people know me. That they *should* see me for what I am, a great worker, smart, organized, on top of trouble and diverting problems. But they see a woman. An office woman. And as long as the workers get paid, they don’t really want to have to think about me. 

Like I said. This is going to be a long haul. I am going to have to take it, as the 12 steppers so fondly remind one another, one day at a time. Things get done in steps, not all at once. I should recognize that that is as true in the offices of the construction industry, as it is in the factories and airports and distribution centers we build.

Gratitude for my very normal, very human body

I used to be angry at my body all the time. It was my enemy, and I treated it accordingly. Mostly, I hated it because it was not the size or shape other girls’ and women’s bodies were. It did not look the way magazines and television told me it should look, and indeed *could* look if I worked hard enough.

I was smart and interesting and funny. I had a wonderful mind. So I felt like a brilliant human stuck in a broken vessel. Broken is a great way to express what I thought of my body. Broken like a machine. Bad parts. A lemon.

When I got my eating under control I started to think about my body in a different way. First, giving up man made sugars, and most grains and starches, made my body smaller. And while I could not really change the shape of my body without surgery, I started to think about all of the ways that it served me, even when I was abusing it. 

And I didn’t just abuse it with drug foods. I abused it with over exercising to the point of injury, and still exercising more because I wanted it to be thin, but I couldn’t stop eating. I abused it with laxatives. I drank castor oil. Eventually, I started to stick toothbrushes down my throat to make myself throw up the food that I could not stop eating. 

But when I got my eating under control, I necessarily had to have a different relationship with my body. I had to ask not what my body could do for me, but ask what I could do for my body. Not to whip it into shape. Not to make it lovable and attractive to anyone who happened to be in its vicinity, but to make sure it was taken care of. For me, because it *was* me. Make sure it was nourished and hydrated and strong and healthy. 

And that changed how I dealt with all of the unappealing parts of having a body. I am 43. My hormones are crazy right now. And I should probably expect that to continue for maybe another 10 years. That is a whole *decade*!!! But also, that is normal. It is completely expected for my woman’s body to experience this.

And this past week was hard. I was exhausted all week. I needed to lay on the couch and do nothing, not even knit or crochet! I had several outbreaks of cystic acne which are painful as well as ugly. I was cranky and sad and did lots of crying. And at least half of it was *not* over imaginary characters in novels, comics and TV shows. And of course, I still had to do all of the things that I have to do. I had to prep food and clean the kitchen (I totally half assed a lot of that, and my husband did some as well) and do the shopping and go to work.

But because I have a level of clarity about my life and my body from having my food taken care of, I am not angry at my body. I do not blame it for doing what bodies do. I feel like it is a very modern concept to think of one’s body as getting in the way of one’s life. We have created so many workarounds to get out of dealing with our physical humanity, that we don’t necessarily see what is natural and good. We spend so much time powering through, that we think our bodies are the problem, and not the lifestyle we have created that doesn’t have any room for the basic needs of actually *being* a carbon-based machine.

My eating boundaries have given me a sense of reality about my body. Not only about what it can and should look like in the real world (not according to the latest Photoshopped ad for designer jeans, or the ad promoting some supplement guaranteed to make you lose 10 pounds in 10 days), but also how I can expect to feel and what I can expect to be able to do. Realistically. Because I have a normal body doing normal things.

I like my full life. I like my job and my commitments. I like the people I work with and the friends that I have. I am not campaigning for less modern conveniences. I love my gadgets and my technology. I just don’t want to forget that my body is not some separate gadget. It doesn’t need an upgrade. It isn’t in the way of my life. It is my life. It is me. And I show myself how much I love me, by loving my body and honoring it exactly as it is. Flawed and sometimes uncomfortable, and gloriously, normally human.

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