Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “surrender”

My other body is a Porsche

The few weeks before this week were filled with all sorts of insights and revelations. They were exciting and moving. But, as happens in life, the new and exciting makes way for the practical. Don’t get me wrong. Things really have changed. And I have used my new information to make some changes. But life goes on. It’s like that Zen saying. Before Enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After Enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.

I have been making a point to be in my body. To feel every feeling and experience every sensation. The way my clothes feel. The way my stomach feels after my meals. What it feels like when I wake up and I’m hungry. The way an emotion registers physically. How I feel in my skin.

I have also been looking at it in the mirror. Not to scrutinize. Not to look at it to make declarations about what “needs work”. I have even chosen not to suck in my stomach. Not to distort or imagine my body in some other form than the one in which it exists.

I have decided to celebrate it. To admire it. To love it. To enjoy it. To enjoy the physical experiences of being alive. Not just the intellectual. To think it’s beautiful. Now. Right this moment. And I do. It’s beautiful. I love it. Most of the time. Which is a pretty good start.

I also changed my Facebook profile picture to one of me in the body I’m in now. (I might change it again. To a different picture of me right now. A friend said it’s cute and pretty, but not very sexy. And, you know…That’s a big part of how I identify myself.)

I hadn’t wanted to change my picture. I hadn’t wanted to exhibit my weight gain. I was thinking I would wait until I at least started to lose weight again. But to intentionally not post a picture of myself the way I look now felt like hiding and manipulating. It felt yucky. I can go many months without changing my picture and not think twice about it. But this time I wanted to specifically not do it. On purpose. So I pulled a Jedi mind trick on myself and changed it anyway.

And it worked. Putting up the new picture eliminated a lot of my worry and anxiety. The truth was out. There was nothing left to struggle against.

I even took some pictures of myself in my sexy underwear. (No! Not for Facebook! I don’t need to be that sexy! Good Lord! Get your mind out of the gutter! They are just for me.) And I’m hot. Seriously. And taking them made me feel hot.

All of these little actions have helped me stop thinking negative thoughts. When I notice myself having a negative thought about my body, I stop having that thought. I cut it off. Like I cut off thoughts about cake. Instead, I have a thought about how beautiful and sexy my body is. I create the new thought.

It’s something I understand now. That if I do something, take an action, that is different from what I have been doing (and usually different from what I want to do), it opens up an opportunity to change my thinking. When I change my thinking, it opens up an opportunity to act differently.

It’s scary to me how I pass judgment my body. And I wonder in some ways who I am judging it for. Who is telling me it’s not good enough. And why am I agreeing? Because I have been seeing it as beautiful. And basically, because I have been choosing to.

But first, actually, I had to stop running away from it. I had to make a choice to let myself be me in this body.

Of course, there wasn’t any other option. It is my body. I am me in it. But I have been spending many months disconnecting in my head. And this is reminiscent of how I thought about myself when I was fat and eating compulsively. I was not my body. I was my ideas. My personality. I was so much better than my broken, gross body. It was just this unfortunate card I was dealt.

I once heard a woman say that when she was fat, she carried around a picture of herself when she was thin, and would show it to people and say, “This is what I really look like.”

Since I gained this 27.4 lbs when I quit smoking, I have been doing something like that.

My real body is in the shop and this is just the loaner they gave me. I mean, it’s ugly, but it gets me around.

Um…Ewww. That’s repulsive of me. It’s so disrespectful of my body. And my journey. It’s such an eff you to God and Life. Not to mention a blatant denial of reality.

Plus, being disconnected from reality has been making me miserable. Just like it did when I was fat. And when I stop fighting what is so and surrender to life, everything always feels better. My experience is always better.

I don’t know how I will feel next week. But for now it feels right not to identify as my mind, my thoughts, my personality. To remember that I am my body. And my body is me. And that there is nothing wrong.

How I gave up chasing unattainable tail

At the beginning of fall, I bought two new pairs of jeans. I packed away the jeans that I wore every day last winter, and stuck them under my bed. I knew there was nothing to do about gaining weight. I knew I was going to have to wear clothes that fit me this winter. And that last year’s jeans weren’t them.

When I noticed that my metabolism was starting to kick back in and my body seemed to stop getting bigger and start moving in the other direction, I decided I wanted to see how far away I was from my last year’s body. Or more accurately, how far I had to go to get back into last year’s body. I went under my bed, pulled out the jeans and tried them on.

I didn’t think I had any expectations, but it became very clear very quickly that I had indeed. I pulled the jeans up. And that was it. That was as far as it got. There was nothing else to do, except take them back off again. I gained 24.4 lbs from June to January. And apparently, 23.4 of it settled between my waist and my knees.

Thank God I didn’t do this a month ago. I don’t know what I would have done. To myself. I really don’t think I would have been able to handle it. It is a blessing that I waited until I started producing dopamine again. (Thanks God! Good looking out!)

Very quickly and without tears (yet), I realized that I might never get back into those jeans. Or that body. (Since then I have cried about it a few times. I’m crying about it now. But it’s not despair. It’s mourning.)

If I have a lament, it’s that I didn’t know that I was skinny when I was skinny. I knew I loved that body. That I was comfortable in it. But I was skinny. And I didn’t know because I’m a fat girl. And skinny is something I can never be. It is incompatible with my existence. My mind has never been able to wrap itself around the idea. Which is a shame, because I would have liked to have enjoyed the experience.

And then I had an epiphany of sorts. And I took a bold action. Yesterday, I got rid of last year’s pants. I put them in a donation box. I made a decision. A really freaking empowering decision. I will not chase that body. It was a good body. It was beautiful. But it’s in the past.

There are things that I like better about this body compared to that one. I’m more hourglass than I was a year ago. Last year’s body was more pear-shaped. My hips have always been kind of square, and now they are round. I really like the curve from my waist to my hips right now. It’s beautiful. And I have a butt, which has not always been the case.

Oh, right! And I was poisoning that body. It’s not a moral issue for me. I am not lashing myself over having been a smoker. But it is probably safe to say that in the long run, the body I’m not poisoning with cigarettes will end up more beautiful than the body I was.

I like that I have given up the idea that there is a specific mould I’m supposed to fit into to (literally). It gives me a certain amount of freedom to let me be in the body I’m in now. And to let it go where it’s going to go from here. And to let me see the beauty of my body as it unfolds. Instead of stubbornly insisting that my beauty can only exist in a form that doesn’t exist anymore.

And it turns out that stores are still carrying jeans. If I do lose a lot of weight (I’m still keeping my fingers crossed for that, of course…) and need to buy some new ones next fall (I don’t wear pants in the summer), chances are good that there will be a pair or two that fit next year’s body.

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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I won’t stop being a brat and you can’t make me

So my weight gain has continued. And this time I gained a whopping 10 lbs in one month. I have now gained 22 lbs since I quit smoking. And I can’t stop crying. I really can’t stop. I’m crying right now. I cry during my morning meditation. I cry on the subway. I cry at work when nobody is looking. I cry sitting home reading. I cried while I was out having coffee with a friend. I have been puffy and red and totally dehydrated for days.
First, I hate my body. Hate it. The sight of it in the mirror makes me break down immediately. And I am deeply resentful that I have gained all of this weight without eating compulsively. I have not eaten sugar. I have not broken my food boundaries. I have not done anything “wrong.” And here I am 22 lbs heavier.
And then something even more devastating happened to me. My food quantities changed. Got smaller. Because I have gained so much weight. And I feel punished. And deprived. I feel unloved. Unacknowledged. Unappreciated. And totally powerless.
Let me note that I don’t “have to” accept these changes in my food. I buy my own food. I cook my own food. It is my responsibility to deal with my food. But there is a woman in my life that helps me make decisions about my food. I requested this help. And I have agreed to take her suggestions. I took her suggestion when she told me to eat more food because I was dropping weight quickly. And her suggestion now that I am continuing to gain weight, is for me to eat less of certain vegetables. And to eat less food in general.
This is rational. It makes sense. Obviously, if I have gained 22 lbs since I quit smoking, my metabolism has slowed way down. And since this is the case, my body doesn’t need as much food anymore.
But, of course, the vegetables I get less of are my favorites. Winter squash. Carrots. And onions! Losing my giant plates of deep fried onions is a huge blow. The idea of a portion a fraction of the size I have been eating for years makes me nauseous. (Literally. That is not an exaggeration.) It makes the thought of them repugnant to me. It ruins all of my joy in anticipating them. As of right now, I am sure I will never eat them again.
And this attitude is embarrassing to admit. Because what an obnoxious brat I’m being! If I can’t have it the way I want, I won’t have it at all! As if anyone cares if I don’t eat my favorite food anymore. As if it’s a punishment to anyone else. But I’m so hurt that I really don’t want my favorite foods. I am actually not enjoying my meals. Which is saying something, since I’m a compulsive eater and food addict.
I have never had this happen to me before. Hating my food. Being resentful of my food. Since I stopped eating compulsively, I have always been grateful. I have been mostly grateful that my eating has been under control and not running or ruining my life. But also, my food has always been delicious. And felt abundant. But then, it has always been abundant. In fact, in 6+ years, the only way my food boundaries ever changed was that I was given more. I have been used to eating huge quantities of food just to maintain a small body. I was unprepared for my food to be reduced. I haven’t been this emotional about food since I first gave up sugar and put boundaries around my eating years ago.
Maybe my food is still abundant and I’m just blinded by the fact that it is now less. I can’t tell.
And I am sorry I never realized I was skinny until I stopped being skinny. It is apparently true that you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone. I wish I had noticed that at 131- 133 lbs. I was a little thing. But once a fat girl, always a fat girl. At least in my own mind.
Now I weigh 154.4. I’m writing it for you because I don’t want to. I’m admitting it because it’s humiliating to admit it. And I don’t want to run from the truth.
And also, this crying and overwhelming sadness was triggered by having my food reduced, but it’s not about food. This sadness, whatever it is, is old. It’s big and deep. The tears are fat and hot. The crying makes me convulse. It hurts to breathe. The pain in me is bigger than me. Like an undetectable extension charm in Harry Potter or a bag of holding in Dungeons & Dragons. (Oh yeah. I’m a total nerd.) This pain is the same pain I had when I was 4 years old and I lay crying in my bed, and I said to God, “If this doesn’t get any easier, I’m not going to be able to do it.”
And that’s how I feel. I can’t do this, God. If you don’t make it stop I’m going to…
What, Kate? What are you going to do?
I’m like a defiant 8-year-old. I’m full of empty threats. I’ll run away. I’ll stop loving you! Or worse yet, real threats. I’ll hurt myself!
But there is a message I keep getting. Over and over. That this is my transition. Into womanhood. This might seem silly to you since I am 35. But I have been fighting growing up at every turn for my whole life. And since I got my food under control, I have been living the life of the girl I never got to be when I was actually a girl.
But I quit smoking because I wanted to grow up. And it has not escaped my notice that the weight that I have gained from this particular act of growing up has gone to my breasts, hips, thighs and belly. That it has made me curvy more than anything. Womanly. That’s the word people keep using. Womanly.
Maybe these are my last moments as a child. This bratty refusal to accept changes in my life, my body and my food with grace. And trust that God, Life and the Universe are preparing something beautiful for me. Or maybe this is limbo where that desperately terrified 4-year-old girl is in the process of passing that overwhelming pain to that grown woman who is brave and strong. The grown woman who can feel the pain without being destroyed by it. Because she has peace and love. Because she is a woman.
Because when I realize that I have no ultimatum, no leverage against God and Life, I know that I can, indeed, handle the pain. And the uncertainty. And it’s even ok if I am not willing to be graceful yet. If I insist on being a brat. I know me. I’ll give it up eventually. I’ll chose peace in the end. It’s just the kind of girl I am. And maybe it’s the kind of woman I am. And I just haven’t realized it yet…

Should I be worried? Meh…

I’m feeling sort of out-of-body lately. So if this post seems weird…well, you’ve been warned. I have had a surreal week. But really good. The one word I can think of to explain it is “surrendered”.

I have been very calm. Inside. I am pretty sure I occur as a bitch to the outside world. But inside there is no malice. I definitely do want to be left alone. But I don’t have the energy for many words of explanation. To let you know that I’m touched that you want to help me/talk to me/be neighborly, but that I don’t want to talk or be neighborly. That I am declining your help. So I don’t use a lot of words. Or give you a simper and put my hand over my heart and praise you for your generosity of time and spirit. I just say no. And I feel like it keeps coming out wrong. At least not how I mean it. I don’t mean it to sound harsh. But it keeps sounding that way. And I keep not caring. And I keep not explaining myself. I have zero desire to smooth everything over. And make you feel good about me and yourself and our interaction. I could not give any fewer shits, frankly. And I’m wondering who this woman is. She’s not Kate the “good girl”. And I really like her. She’s easy for me to be with. She’s easy to be.

I have noticed several other things too.

I have been harder to ruffle. The other morning, I was on the train to work, when it stopped at a station. There was an announcement that the particular train that I was on had a technical problem. Everybody was told to get off and wait for the next train. This is normally the kind of thing that shifts my stress levels to high. Uncertainty about how long I will have to wait for the next train, the potential to be late for work, the knowledge that the next train will already be filled with its own passengers, and may not have room for all of us from my broken train.  That I might have to wait for more than one train. And even if it does have room, it will certainly be uncomfortable. And yet, none of this phased me. I got off the train. I waited. I got on the next train. I went to work. I cannot tell you how long I waited. I do not recall how crowded the next train was. It all escaped me. It did not matter.

I’ve been sleeping a little more. Nothing crazy. I’m used to sleeping 7 or 8 hours a night. And because I regularly sleep enough, my body will often wake me after 7 hours. Sometimes 6. Tell me it’s rested. And for the most part, for the last year at least, setting an alarm has been a precaution. (Because, as I already touched on above, I think being late is possibly the most stressful thing in the world.) But on the days I have set an alarm, I have been waking up to it, not before.  And the days I haven’t, I have been sleeping 8.5 – 9 hours. I don’t mind. I think my body is healing. That my brain is processing new things. That my soul is catching up. But I think it’s worth noting. So I am.

I have been remembering dreams. Now the way I understand it, everybody dreams, and some people don’t remember their dreams. And I am one of those people who almost never remembers her dreams. But recently, I’ve found myself going through my day, and all of a sudden I will have a feeling, and that feeling will remind me that I had a dream. And some odd snippet of the dream will come back to me. Sometimes a dream I had days or weeks ago. For me, dreams are visual, but the most important thing about them is how I feel in them. The most vivid part of any dream (that I happen to remember) is the emotional landscape. What I did or said or saw in a dream is secondary to that.

And I have been doing so much nothing this week. Just being. I’m not even talking about thinking. I have even been thinking less than usual. I have been spending less time on the internet. I have not been reading. I have just been sitting quietly. And I have not been bored at all.

I feel like the primary excuse I have had (in my own head, for my own benefit) for all of the things I have ever done/used/abused, was a fear of “being bored”. That life would be unbearably dull without sugar, caffeine, alcohol, pot, drugs in general, cigarettes, TV, staying out all night, staying up all night, etc. And instead, I have been…I don’t even know what the word is. Content? Unhurried? Uncluttered? Not bored!

Also, I am wary to use the word peaceful. For me, peace has a connotation of happiness. Of quiet joy. The corners of my mouth turned up and every exhale a little celebration. Peace has a kind of energy of its own. A sense that all is right with the world. But this week has not been that. It’s not that all is right with the world. It’s that it doesn’t matter if the world is right or not. That it is what it is. And that I am fully surrendered to what is so. Don’t get me wrong. I am not complaining. It is not apathy. Or resignation. It is just easy. Calm. Unencumbered. It has been great. Just not peaceful.

I don’t know what is going on with me. And that’s ok. I don’t expect it to last. Like everything else, good and bad, this too shall pass. But I have a feeling that my life has officially changed. In ways that are not yet clear to me. And I hope that this is an indication of the direction I’m headed and the path I have set myself on. Because I do not expect life to be easy. But I would like to spend more time taking it easy. To have more surrender in my daily life. To spend more time being and less time…well everything. Doing, worrying, fixing, explaining, whatever. And for now I am enjoying this interesting little pocket of surrender. Because life has a way of happening.

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Commitment, surrender, and God’s totally effed up sense of humor

There were two things that I had to figure out before I could make a lasting change for my life around food: commitment and surrender.

Commitment was where I had to agree, between me and God, that  circumstances and situations had no bearing on whether or not I would stay within my food boundaries. I had to recognize that there would always always be some reason to cross them. That even the most paltry excuse could be rationalized. That even the most valid reason would still lead me straight back to bulimia, 300 lbs, misery, and insanity.

And I have kept my food boundaries through some crazy things. 2 years ago my grandmother, who was the love of my life, got sick. She passed away about 4 months later. About a week after that, my favorite aunt, who was also my godmother, and way too young to die, was diagnosed with cancer, and again, was gone within about 4 months. That was a hard year for me. From April to November I did a lot of crying. But I stayed within my food boundaries. While they were in hospitals, nursing homes, hospice care. During regular updates from my parents about their rapid deteriorations. At their funerals. Throughout the traveling back and forth to my hometown. It didn’t matter that I was sad. It didn’t matter that life sucked. The only thing that mattered when it came to my food was that I had boundaries and a commitment to stay within them.

Would you have blamed me if I had eaten a chocolate cake? Probably not, right? But I had made an agreement with God. That circumstances and situations have nothing to do with my food. That my feelings have nothing to do with my food. That my life has nothing to do with my food.

The other part was surrender. Surrender was when I stopped asking why. Why me? Why do I have to give up sugar to be happy? Why do I have to have boundaries? Why can’t I just eat like a normal person? I stopped complaining. It’s not fair. It’s hard. It’s too much. It’s too rigid. Nobody else has to do this. People are going to think I’m weird. I stopped looking for it to be easy. I stopped wishing for it to be convenient. I accepted that I had been given a solution, and stopped trying to renegotiate the terms. I surrendered to it exactly the way it was. And surrender brought me peace. Is there something better or easier or more convenient out there? The truth is I don’t know. And I don’t care. I have no desire to give up my solution for even a moment in order to find out. That’s what I mean by surrender.

So let’s get to God, and His totally effed up sense of humor.

If you don’t know, I quit smoking 11 days ago. I made a commitment to myself and God. And I surrendered to the fact that smoking is just not something I do anymore. I think having a point of reference with food probably made it easier to do it with cigarettes. But commitments get tested. That’s actually the definition of a commitment if you think about it. If it didn’t take something, some strength or honor, to make and keep it, it would be called something else.

Ok, backtrack two weeks. I was still smoking at the time. One night, I was physically threatened, by a man I was becoming friends with. He told me he had no reservations about punching me in the face. (Over this blog, actually. Which I still don’t understand…) Needless to say, I walked away. It was obvious that we weren’t going to be friends, and I didn’t think too much about it after that.

A few days later, on my 35th birthday, I quit smoking, as was the plan. The smoking itself wasn’t so hard to give up. I didn’t miss it. I had already changed my thinking about it. I had committed and surrendered. But the feelings were pretty awful. Just regular life feelings. But they were hard to deal with. It became clear to me that I had been smoking those feelings. And now I didn’t have cigarettes to numb them anymore.

And then a week after I quit, I got a text message from the guy who threatened me. He wanted to know if we could reconcile. I was gracious. But I told him no. And I went to bed.

I woke up to a series of progressively more upsetting texts from him. Amorous texts. Too forward. Too intimate to come from someone I had never touched or kissed or even been on a date with. Or whose last words to me had been violent. The texts scared me. So much that I went to the police station after work. (After dinner actually. Because food first. Always.) I filed a harassment report.

But I could practically hear God. “It’s only been a week. So I’m wondering. How committed are you, Kate? How about if I make you scared for your safety? Those are some pretty intense feelings, huh? You still not gonna smoke?”

Yes, God. I’m still not gonna smoke. But you do realize that you are totally twisted, right?

“Oh, yeah. I know. But I’m proud of you, Kate. I honor your commitment and surrender. You’re doing good work.”

Part of me wants to tell God to go to hell, of course. But there is another part of me that is grateful. Because this experience has actually been an opportunity. Because by honoring my commitment not to smoke in the face of real fear, I get a look at how powerful I am. I get a boost to my self-esteem. And I get to recognize that I can make the choice that no circumstance, situation, and maybe more importantly, no person, gets a say in how I live my life.

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