onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “taking risks”

A stitch in time

I sometimes have mentioned that I have gotten many benefits from getting my eating under control. More than being in a smaller, healthier, more comfortable body. More than no longer being obsessed with food.

There’s a long list, frankly. Self-confidence, integrity, peace, happiness and love are just a few. But this week I am really struck by one of those gifts. A specific kind of patience that I have acquired. Patience to learn and improve. Growth patience.

When I was a small child, my grandmother taught me how to crochet. She taught me one stitch, and how to make rows of that one stitch. But I don’t remember ever finishing anything as a kid. Not a scarf or a blanket. Not a pot holder. Perhaps I did. But for most of my life, I thought of myself as someone who never finished anything she started. And I would say that I thought of myself that way because it was true.

In my early 20s I took up crocheting again. But I did it feverishly. And with no concern for the quality of my work. Or the quality of materials I used. I half-assed a few hats and scarves because they were quick and easy. I would get impatient to be done and would start making my stitches bigger to hurry up and get it over with. I even started using the wrong size tools so that I could make bigger stitches in smaller yarn. I had zero patience.

I’m not sure why I even wanted to crochet back then. I don’t remember enjoying the process at all.

But in the past 10 months, I have completed and given 7 homemade gifts, made 2 blankets, a hat and a scarf for myself, and have 2 small complete throws sitting in my closet that don’t have recipients. And I am in the process of 2 new projects at the moment. Some have been quite large and time consuming. Some have been smaller and quicker. But they are complete.

And they have been good. I take my time. I care about both the quality of my work and the quality of my materials. I am proud of what I make.

Mostly because I have been patient about learning. And practice. I have been willing to make the best thing I can with my current skill level. And then to take the time to learn something new. And to make a project with my new knowledge. And then to practice some more. And to be content to be where I am without needing to be the best right away.

Don’t get me wrong. I got a little ahead of myself in the beginning. Wanted to go from making a scarf to making a dress in an instant. Tried to make a dress. And failed.

But I decided that was ok. I didn’t quit crocheting. Instead I decided to quit having ridiculous expectations of myself. I decided to take a step (or ten) back, and get better at what I already knew. And then I decided to learn a little something new. And get comfortable with that.

Because one thing I learned from getting my eating under control, is that pretty much everything worth anything takes time.

Losing weight takes time. Changing the way you think takes time. Getting the life you want takes time. Becoming the person you want to be takes time. That slow and steady wins the race.

And it’s always only a journey. That there is no destination.

My life eating was all about destination. And accomplishment. One destination to the next kept me from ever being satisfied. My worth was based on getting everything right and/or perfect. And that still didn’t propel me to doing things right or perfect. It more just kept me from ever getting anything done. Out of fear and shame.

Getting my eating under control has taught me patience. I have to be patient for my next meal. And in between meals is time to do something. Anything. Have an experience. Read something. Walk somewhere. Learn something new. Make something.

For the most part, I am still making blankets. I’m not quite ready to move on to sweaters or dresses yet. But it has been less than a year since I started crocheting again. And perhaps I never will move on to sweaters. Perhaps I will only ever make scarves and hats and blankets. I don’t have to decide today. I just have to get better at what I know. And decide what I want to learn next.

I learned that from putting boundaries around my food.

I’m posting some pictures of a few of the things I have made since last November when I started crocheting again.

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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.

I’m like a super hero. I’m so fast, my own body has to catch up to me.

So it’s weigh day. And for the second month in a row I lost weight. (Yay!) I’m down another 1.4 lbs. I’m at 158.8. It’s good. I’m grateful for it. I’m trying not to wish for it to go faster.

I have done a pretty good job of not focusing on my body. (Except for my tan, anyway. I have spent a lot of time focusing on that.) I haven’t been eating “lighter”. I have not been choosing “diet” foods. I have been eating plenty of bacon and cheese. Always, of course, within my boundaries. But I have not been trying to help the weight loss along. Or hurry it up. I’ve got enough to process without also trying to manage my weight.

Eat within my boundaries. That’s all I have to do. It’s enough.

Also, I have been very emotional lately. Very emotional.

Yes, I am happy. Still. More happy every day, really.

But I forget that the kind of life change I just made, accompanied by a physical move half way across the country, is traumatic. That it would be for anyone in the world. And that love doesn’t make it not traumatic. It just makes me forget that it’s traumatic. But even if I forget or fail to notice that I just jumped into a new life with no preparation and almost no time to adjust, my body has noticed. My heart and soul are overjoyed. I know that I am in the right place. With the right person. But my body is letting me know that it has to deal with the upheaval.

There are two things that are happening that have me understand that my body is in shock. I have a stress-related form of eczema. I have had it most of my memorable life. And I am having a particularly severe outbreak right now. And on a few occasions now, I have found myself crying over silly things. Irrational crying. In other words, I am having feelings that I can’t explain and I don’t know how to manage.

And I don’t get to eat them.

These kinds of feelings and experiences are why I ate sugar. Why I was a binge eater and sugar addict. Because sugar got me crazy high. Anesthetized. So I didn’t have to deal with feelings. And I didn’t have to deal with discomfort. And the not dealing occurred like managing.

But that was not the reality. I was not managing. The thing about not dealing with feelings is that they don’t go away. They just become dormant. Until they’re not anymore. Until they come back with a vengeance. From out of nowhere. When I least expect them.

So I’m not eating over my irrational emotions. And I’m not trying to hide or stifle or contain them. I’m crying when I feel the need to cry. And honoring what is going on in my body. And letting it be what it is. Because it is what it is. And carbs and sugar and binge eating won’t change that.

And then I’m trusting. That everything is going exactly the way it should be going. And that life is giving me the right things at the right time. And that as long as I keep my food under control I can come from a place of love. And that when I come from love, I can’t do it wrong or mess it up or fail. Because I know I’m where I want to be. And where I’m supposed to be. And with the person I’m supposed to be with.

I have heard it said that the only way around is through. So I’m going straight through. Right through the center. Because when this adjustment is done, I want it to be really done. And when I have moved on, I want to really be moved on.

I like to live clean. Honest, with integrity, and in the present moment. And I can say at this particular present moment, as I hit the “publish” button to post this, that I am well and happy. And that there is nowhere else I’d rather be.

My life in boxes

This week’s post is early. And short. Because I have going away parties tonight and tomorrow. Plus I still have meals to prepare. Because life-altering moves are no reason to cross my food boundaries. (And thank God for that!)

It has occurred to me that I haven’t yet freaked out. I haven’t cried. I haven’t mourned. I haven’t panicked.

Maybe I won’t. Maybe.

But I love New York City. Obviously I love my boyfriend more. But I’m still going to miss this place. This city shaped me. I grew up here. From a 21-year-old, fat, compulsive eating, dishonest, bad at life, wreck of a girl to a beautiful, capable, woman of integrity. (Did I mention humble?) With a handle on my eating. In a body I love.

It will also always hold a very special place in my heart because I got my eating under control here. And this place made it easy for me. Or at least as easy as it could have been. If I needed to get out of my house at night because I was afraid of binge eating, I could go to a bookstore that was open until midnight. Or I used to go to a bar down the street from my apartment. In my pajamas. To read comic books and drink diet coke. Nobody gave me a hard time. Or even looked at me funny. It’s New York City. Neighborhood regulars are expected to be neurotic and weird.

Plus, you can find anything in New York City. So if I needed vanilla extract with no alcohol, I could find it. If I wanted pasta when I stopped eating sugar, grains and starch, I could find soy pasta. If I wanted a cantaloupe bigger than my head, or a 1 ½ lb apple, there were famer’s markets.

I never expected to leave. But when I look at my life, the way it has turned out, so many things make sense.

My boyfriend and I knew each other 23 years ago. When I wasn’t ready for him. So God sent me to the big city. To grow up. To learn about myself. To become the kind of person I wanted to be. To become the kind of woman I wanted to be. To dismantle my fortresses. And to learn to love myself. And to learn how to be awake and alive and good at life. Without being numb. To learn how to deal with my feelings. To learn how to stop eating compulsively.

New York City was a fantastic 14 ½ year adventure. I’m so grateful for my life here. Because of all of the things that I did here, I am available for this next adventure.

But by next week’s post, neither this apartment nor this city will be my home any longer. And as I look around at my life in boxes, I’m a little sad. Not sorry. Not for a moment. But a little sad. (Ahhh. There are the tears…)

Here we go…

So it’s another short one this week. I’m with my boyfriend again. And this weekend was spent meeting each other’s parents. Which was great. But, you know…Thank God that part is over. Even though everybody was cool, and we’re obviously in love and happy together, it was stressful.

And now the next part is that I’m leaving New York to be with my boyfriend full-time. I’m going back to my Brooklyn apartment one last time to pack it up and ship it to his place. Before June, I will no longer be a resident of New York.

It might look fast from an outsider’s perspective. Although, maybe not…I’m actually surprised that we haven’t had more people question our choice. Basically everybody has been happy for us. My friends are all supportive. Go! We’ll miss you! But, go!

Of course, I am 35. Not 15. Or even 25. But also, I have so much clarity. And self-assurance. They know that I make good choices. That I have excellent judgment.

I talk about my clarity a lot in this blog. How it’s one of the gifts I got from quitting sugar and putting boundaries around my eating. But there is another gift that I talk about less. Maybe it’s because for me it’s about God, and I know that “God” is a loaded term.

The one thing I will say about God this week is that my relationship with God is about my life. God doesn’t talk to me about what other people should do or think or say or be. God talks to me about me.

And I know that God wants me to pick up my life and move. That He wants me to be with my boyfriend. There is not a doubt in my mind.

That “knowing” is what I mean by self-assurance. The answer is obvious. God wants me to keep boundaries around my food. God wants me to leave New York to go be with the man I love.

In September I wrote a post about how it was difficult to leave my own kitchen. That I was attached to sameness and routine when it came to food. Now, just 8 months later, I’ve been traveling like crazy. With a future life of moving every 2 months to a year. (My boyfriend moves around a lot for work.) And it’s suddenly easy. Peaceful. Obvious. I’m not afraid.

Because I know it’s what God wants for me. God wants me to keep my food boundaries. And He wants me to be with this man. How do I know? I have no idea. But I know both things like I know that the sun rises in the East. I know them like I know how to walk. I don’t question. And I don’t have to. And because I know these things, I know that as long as I am willing to keep boundaries around my food, God will make it possible. Even if we end up living in hotels with hot-plates for a month or two.

I am nervous. I’m an anxious person. The unknown always makes me nervous. That may never change. And I am about to leap into the unknown. But I am not afraid. Here we go…

I have a confession. I did not pop out of Zeus’s head fully grown 7 years ago…

So oh wow, oh boy, and here we go. This week’s post is about my past, and my body, and the fat girl I was growing up. Who is me. And from whom I have spent the past 7 years distancing myself.

It seems that my fortress, my youth and adolescence, and my body, then and now and a year ago, are all tangled up together. And that I won’t be ready for love until I come to terms with the fact that I am the same person that I have always been. Which I have been dying to forget.

Here’s a little of the ugly truth. The girl I was didn’t believe she was worthy of being loved. And I have never believed she was worthy of being loved either. And for the past 7 years, I have considered her the obstacle I overcame. I have always considered her a burden to others. I assumed she never made an impact. I considered her not worth knowing, or remembering. I considered her not worth caring about. And I am just starting to realize now that when I end up back in touch with people from my past (Thanks Facebook!) I assume that they had no love or interest in the girl I was then. But that they would probably like this new, improved Kate. This beautiful, intelligent, sexy woman. Who did this really impressive thing. She lost the weight of an entire person! Who wouldn’t want to know me? I’m awesome. Now, anyway…

Sure, a few old friends have told me they missed me. Liked me so much then. Were happy to be back in touch with their friend Kate. But I never had to let it sink in. They’re women. They’re kind. I could love them and be touched without ever having to look very hard at that part of my life.

And then recently something happened that changed everything. I got a letter.

It was from a man from my adolescence. Well, now he’s a man. He was an adolescent back then too. And he was important to me. He was my friend.

When we got back in touch via Facebook, I figured he didn’t really remember me. 20 years. Why would he? I was just some girl. Plus I was “the fat girl.” What was there to remember? Who was she to care about? But I was very happy to introduce this new me to him.

But the letter he sent me was to say that he did remember me. Then. As I was. Yes, fat. Yes, weird and insecure. But his friend. And the point was that he remembered saying something hurtful to me. Not maliciously. But hurtful none the less. And he was apologizing. He was asking my forgiveness.

There are two things about this that have had a significant effect on me. And made me look at that relationship I have to my younger self.

Of course, I forgave my old friend. His apology was sincere and touching. It was vulnerable and unselfish. There was no reason to hold a grudge. But it took me a long time before it even occurred to me to think about that teenage girl. You know, me. I was worried about him not feeling bad. I was very much interested in him knowing that he was forgiven. But I didn’t give a thought to her. I never bothered to worry about her heart.

But Eventually, I did think about her. And when I did, I was overwhelmed with her pain.

Good Lord, I lived in constant pain growing up. And my life was colored by the underlying belief that I was a burden. That my love had no value. So yes, I had loved him so much. He had been so special to me. But it had seemed inevitable that eventually he would realize that I was unworthy of his care. I already walked around knowing that I was unworthy. I was just waiting for the sign that the other guy knew it too.

But maybe even more significant for me was that he was not apologizing to 35-year-old Kate. He was not apologizing to the beautiful, sexy, eloquent, confident (for the most part) woman in a thin body. He was apologizing to the fat, unhappy, self-loathing 14-year-old girl who had been his friend. Because she had been his friend.

I can’t remember a time, before I got my eating under control, that I didn’t hate myself. Really. I hated myself all the time all my life. And a huge part of that was about being fat. And being aware of the fact that I was fat. Growing up, it was constantly taking up a corner of my mind. I spent every moment of my life aware of it. It was the definition of me. Anything else that you could have said about me, that I was smart, and funny, and generous, and a good singer, and had really long hair, came after being fat. First I was fat. Everything else was incidental.

It’s hard to think of myself then as somebody’s friend. It’s hard to imagine meaning anything to anyone. It’s also hard to think of myself then as me. And I think maybe this friend understands, better than me, that that girl and myself are the same person. I think maybe it’s so much clearer to everybody who has known me than it is to me.

A friend told me that I have been feeling stuck because I am smart. And I have been letting my brain try to run away from my body. And she’s right. I can see it in how I have been dealing with this weight gain. I keep saying “You’re not my real body. Go away. Are you gone yet? No? Go away. You’re ugly and gross. You’re not mine. Are you gone yet?” In other words, if my body is not what I think it should be, I disown it. It’s not mine, it’s not me. It’s not good enough. I deserve better. Are you gone yet?

When I changed, I changed so comprehensively, and so quickly, that I was able to pretend that I am not the same as that fat girl I was growing up. And I probably needed to do that. At first, anyway. I had to get my feet planted firmly in my new way of living. In many ways I had to walk away from her in order to change.

And I do not regret changing. I do not regret getting a handle on my eating disorders. I do not regret stopping a lot of dishonest and unhealthy behaviors that were part of my addictive and disordered eating. I do not regret the confidence and peace that I have now, that I never had then.

But I can’t pretend she is not me anymore. I don’t understand the how or the why, I’m not clear on the logistics, but I know in my heart that somehow, loving her is the key to finding love. I don’t have to be her, but I have to stop denying that she is me. And I have to consider the idea that she was loved. Maybe she didn’t love herself. And maybe I didn’t love her. But somebody did. Maybe lots of people. Maybe more people than either of us ever knew.

If you ask me today, right now, what am I afraid of, the answer is “everything”. I’m afraid of being alone. I’m afraid of being in a relationship. I’m afraid of never being loved by a man. I’m afraid of finding out that I am incapable of being loved by a man. I’m afraid of being loved by a man. I’m afraid of being rejected. I’m afraid of having my heart-broken. I’m afraid of existing my whole life without taking a risk. I’m afraid of getting the end of my life and never having lived. But maybe right now, for the first time ever in my whole life, I am not afraid of being mistaken for that girl. And I’m not afraid of acknowledging that it wouldn’t be a mistake.

No, I didn’t change my hair. I just got a view of myself through a hole in the space-time continuum

Just briefly I want to note that this coming Friday, I am going to have to weigh myself. And I am afraid. Of three things. Gaining weight. Being wrong about my metabolism kicking back in. And having to admit to you that I was wrong. I am afraid of being fat again. And that the idea of me starting to get smaller is all in my head. And what you will think of me if it is. And not just you. Everyone I have told. I worry a lot about being wrong. I always have. I used to lie and manipulate to make myself seem less wrong. Now I don’t. But it still makes me feel oogie.

The truth is that my metabolism may have kicked in and I still won’t have lost any weight. Rational Kate knows that after a person quits smoking, their metabolism slows way down. Then it speeds back up again. That it is simply a matter of time. And waiting. And for me that means waiting without crossing my food boundaries. But Rational Kate hasn’t been given the floor too often lately at the committee meetings in my head. So she just sits there. And occasionally makes an objection when Bulimic Girl, and Sugar Addict Girl start to get unruly and insist that it’s time to do something (drastic, most likely futile, and certainly unhealthy) before I get FAT! Rational Kate is biding her time. She knows this, too, shall pass. And that when it does she’ll get to be in charge again.

But what I really want to talk about today is change. Because I am different today. Different than I was just a few days ago.

When I was growing up, I believed in predestination. And I didn’t even know it. When, in High School, I was reading American Literature of the Puritanical variety, I would have told you that I believed in Free Will. That a person had the opportunity to make of their life whatever they chose. I would have told you that I believed in the American Dream. That if a person who lived in a free country was willing to work and strive, he or she could do or be or make anything.

But I didn’t really believe. I believed I was broken. I believed I was genetically, and irreversibly fat. I believed I would be “ok” without ever having to do much because I was born smart and capable. Born to smart, capable, middle-class people. I unwittingly believed that with some minor potential variations, my life was already set in stone.

There were so many things that seemed either inevitable or impossible. I believed my fear. I never thought anything was worth taking a risk. I “had to” eat compulsively. And I could never ever give up eating sugar.

But somewhere inside, there was the wish to be free from being fat. And even more importantly, to be free from not being able to stop eating. (Or at least it would eventually become clear that dealing with the uncontrollable eating was more important. I am sure at the time, I thought being fat was the bigger problem.)

It was such a conflict for me. To want so much to be able to eat in a way that was not embarrassing. To be able to manage my weight. But God, sugar was my best friend. Sugar made life bearable. (It also made it unbearable, but it made bearable in the short-term, what it ultimately made unbearable in the long-term. It was like paying off a credit card with another credit card. Needless to say, it was bad economics.)

And then I stopped eating sugar.

What I learned from quitting sugar is that my life seemed to be set in stone because I kept making the same sugar-induced, fear-based choices over and over. And that having this commitment to abstain from sugar, no matter what, changed the course of my life.

When I say it changed the course of my life, I mean that the path I chose was more than just “no sugar.” I chose to be present and honest and growing. Continually. So I have been constantly changing for the past seven years.

But sometimes that growth comes in a big spurt.

In the past four days, I have been told repeatedly that I am a different person all of a sudden. That my energy is different. That I am more free. But also that it has manifested physically. Not just that I am more beautiful. (Though that has come up. It really never gets old, people…Feel free to keep saying it.) But that my face is different. My skin. Did I change my hair? (No.) “Since I saw you last week.”

I’ll tell you what I think it may be. I think that maybe I am available to fall in love. Not just wanting and willing but able. In a way that I have never been before in my whole 35 years. Because for the first time ever, I can say my truth to men. I am willing to be rejected as a burden. I am willing to be disparaged for my intensity. I’m starting to understand that I have been afraid of scaring men with my big feelings and my big energy and my big heart. And I’m starting to understand that there are men in the world for whom my intensity, integrity, and power are a thrill, and a gift. An asset. That there will be men who think that these traits are what make me a catch. But no, it won’t be all of them. Some will indeed be scared away. And have opinions. And things to say.

But my job is not to win over men who think I’m too intense by being less intense.

In one 24 hour period this week, I was given a powerful opportunity to communicate with 3 significant men from my past. One from my fat and food addicted childhood when I was invisible and believed that I was destined to be alone. One from when I was hot and sexy, all face and body, but everything substantial was unavailable and protected by my invisible fortress (as opposed to my fortress of fat). And the one that made me realize for the first time that I wanted something more than to be a face and body in a fortress. That I wanted to do the work to dismantle my fortress and be intimate. (I would venture that he’s also one who would probably like me more if I weren’t so intense…)

In that 24 hours, I said things that I was afraid to say. Things that six months ago I would have refrained from saying. For fear of being considered selfish or obnoxious. Or just too much. But I think that’s why it all happened at once. Like God ripped some sort hole in space-time for me so I could get a composite view of my life with men up until now. And understand that it was time to start using my voice to let them know who I am. And know that it is not just ok to express myself, but necessary if what I want is love. I got to say what I needed to say, without regard to how it was received. I got to experience the importance of speaking. Not just talking. The kind of offering that is vulnerable and intimate.

After I gave up sugar and got control of my eating, it took about a year and a half to get clear-headed and confident. And to believe that I was not actually born to be fat. That it was possible for me to reach and maintain a healthy weight that made me feel good about myself. And to know that I don’t have to be out of control with food as long as I don’t put sugar in my body. And to realize that I am really beautiful. But it took seven years to get here. Ready to take a look at love. But really it’s bigger than that. I believe…No, I trust that God would not have given me so much love if He never expected to give me the opportunity to use it. Maybe He’s been waiting for me to get out of my own way. Or maybe He hasn’t been waiting at all. Maybe God thinks seven years is warp speed in human terms and while it has felt like an eternity to me, maybe God thinks I’m right on time…

It turns out 2012 *was* a good year! Good thing I decided to go back and check!

Like you (probably), I have been looking back on 2012

When I first started thinking about it, I was thinking that 2012 has been a difficult year. Or at least a painful one. But when I go all the way back, and start looking at the beginning of the year, I remember that it has been pretty extraordinary. And that some amazing things happened.

Life threw a lot at me this year. It threw me some curveballs. It threw me a couple of bones. It threw me some parties. And it threw me in the lake a few times. But whatever it threw me, I caught it.

Maybe the most noteworthy thing that happened this year is that I kept showing up. Over and over. When it was hard. And when I didn’t want to. And when I was scared. I showed up anyway. I showed up because I want to be the person who shows up. And I think I maybe figured out this year that I could. That I was capable. Which I never thought I was before.

I have changed in the past 12 months. It has been subtle and gradual, but so consistent that I am not the person I was on December 29, 2011.

The first thing I did this year was start this blog. (Ok, the first first thing I did this year was shout “Happy New Year” on a dance floor. But on January 2nd, I started writing this blog.) When I started, I was filled with shame and fear. And secrets. About the ways that I felt and the things that I thought. Especially about myself. And they were poisoning me. And keeping me stuck. And keeping my life small.

Now I am still easily overwhelmed. And I need to take things slow and in small bites and baby steps. But I have kept at writing. And I keep writing this blog every week. And I am ever closer to shameless. And I am so much more gentle with myself than I have ever been in my life. And I have some room to be human and imperfect. So thank you. Because I got (keep getting) this gift for myself by writing for you.

And I am proud that I have kept my word to you and to myself. That I write every week. That I tell the truth. That I keep it honest and intimate. That I do it because I do it. That how I “feel about” writing is irrelevant. It has been a moving experience. To be a writer. Not to want to be a writer. When I grow up. Or when I have time. Or when inspiration strikes. To be a writer by virtue of writing. Putting in the time and the thought. The key strokes. And to know that I’m pretty good at it.

I quit smoking this year. I let go of an unhealthy work relationship. I paid my taxes. I started crocheting again. (I’m even making myself a sweater dress at the moment. Ambitious much, Kate?)

But the most important thing I did this year was fall in love.

No, it didn’t end up going anywhere. And it sure didn’t end well for me. But while I was in it, it was pretty spectacular. I was filled with excitement, and tenderness. I was motivated to be a better person. A better woman! And I was inspired to pray and wish and hope for someone else’s happiness. Maybe the best part was just knowing that my heart isn’t atrophied from lack of use. Or maybe the best part was figuring out that I am not so ashamed of myself anymore that I want to hide away from love, for fear of being belittled as unworthy, or exposed as a fraud. Or maybe the best part is that on this side of it, love and partnership and commitment look a few steps further from impossible and a few steps closer to obtainable.

Thanks for being a part of my 2012. You made it special. I hope we get together a whole bunch in 2013. And, of course…HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

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It would be nice if you were honored. But really, I didn’t do it for you.

Since Sandy hit, I have been stranded in my neighborhood. So I have been doing projects. Mostly, I have been crocheting. The other night, when I looked at the scarf I had been making for 2 days, I realized that the whole day’s work was lop-sided. I have a rule that when I don’t know what to do, I don’t do anything. So I went to bed.  And in the morning, I looked at it and I thought about it, and I ripped out row after row of stitches. Many hours of work. Gone in seconds.
I don’t know if I would have done that a month ago. I may have tried to see if I could finesse it. Hide it. Or maybe just labored on and let it be lop-sided. I mean this scarf is not for anything. Except to escape boredom. And it was a lot of work.  But today it doesn’t matter how much work I put in. It doesn’t matter how much I have invested. It doesn’t matter how much of myself and my love I have offered. If the result isn’t satisfying, I can let the whole thing go. Without regret. Or resentment. Without being tormented. Without feeling like the work or the time were a waste.

It turns out I have had a shift in the way I understand value. Recently. This week. I have had no way to get to work. No way to get almost anywhere. And a monotonous hobby. Crocheting is meditative. It puts me in a sort of trance. It let me think a lot about what I want, and what I have done to get what I got. What is my part and my responsibility. And what I can change. To get what I want.

I recently sent a breakup letter to the guy I wasn’t dating. (No. That’s not a typo.) It was as bold and honest as I could be. I said everything I had held back for fear of being rejected. I was embarrassingly authentic. I took a big giant scary risk.

And what I got back was a (kind of mean-spirited) rejection. It was maybe worse than I had expected. Which is saying something because I have a history of being rather gloom and doom when it comes to men…But I kinda can’t blame him. Kinda. I probably should have anticipated that breaking up with someone you are not actually dating can make them a little irritable.

Needless to say, I was shamed. It was explained to me that my love wasn’t wanted. And that I really shouldn’t feel that way. And there was even a smattering of a who-do-you-think-you-are kind of arrogance. Which is hard for me because it pokes at a lot of sensitive childhood wounds. (Or at least that was my experience. Which, admittedly could be clouded by my sensitive childhood wounds…Just sayin’.)

But also, I didn’t die. And I didn’t smoke a cigarette. And I didn’t eat a chocolate cake. And really, it wasn’t so terribly horrible. It is not even as terribly humiliating as I thought it would be.

And here is what I have decided. 1) I got a lot out of loving him. I learned a lot about myself. It made we want to grow up. Be better. And I am a better person than I was. I like me even more now. So it was all worth it in the end. 2) Whether he wants my love or not doesn’t have to have any bearing on whether or not I love him. I am allowed to love whomever I choose. I don’t have to give him power that doesn’t belong to him. I have decided that nobody gets a say in the validity of my feelings. I can’t shut my heart down anymore. And 3) I want to be the woman who does whatever it takes. To have the kind of love she wants. Not whatever it takes to make myself what I think someone wants. But whatever it takes to find the one who loves me back. To be honest when it’s scary. To be bold when it’s risky. To be authentic when it means I could be shamed or belittled or mocked.

I do whatever it takes to keep my food boundaries. To have a relationship with food that honors my soul. Every day. Every time. No matter what. I want to do that with love now too.

I hope you are well and safe. And I hope somebody loves you. Even if you don’t know, don’t care, or don’t love them back.

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What do you get when you cross an oven with a mountain?

I started out writing this post a couple of days ago, but since then, I have become aware of something that has changed everything. I was given some insight into how I operate and how it affects my life. I’m having a hard time processing it. So I wrote this rather mixed up post with two analogies that don’t go together. The kind of thing only Shakespeare can get away with. And it turns out he’s dead. But bear with me. It’s at least short and ends with an interesting point…
On Friday, I started out writing about how I deal with relationships by trying to “do it right”. I used cute cooking analogies. I explained that how you cook something affects the result you get. If you cook at a high temperature for a short time, you get a different result than if you cook at a low temperature for a long time. Pan searing versus slow roasting. But that I had come to the realization that I was wrong thinking I could “do it right” when it came to relationships. That unlike food, people are autonomous. And that, as a good friend reminds me, I am only 50% of any relationship. So I was about to declare to you that I was going to give up trying to do it right in relationships. That I was going to start living like I couldn’t do it wrong.
Ok. Now that I have a little more clarity about my MO, let me give you a better analogy about the way I have been viewing relationships. I have been living like sad loneliness is all around, everywhere. And love is the very peak of a colossal mountain with dangerous terrain. That in order to love and be loved I am going to have to scale this mountain. I’ll have to be at the top of my game, in perfect physical and emotional shape, and even then, one false move and I could lose my footing, lose everything, and end up right back at the foot of the mountain. Or I could climb and climb forever and never reach the peak. There is only the peak, or sad loneliness. The journey will be treacherous. There is no room for error or a lack of focus. And my success, as well as my ability to succeed is doubtful.
So here is what a friend pointed out to me. That all of this caution, all of this tentativeness and focus and “doing it right” is doing it wrong. Because it’s dishonest. It’s inauthentic. It’s a manipulation. Because I am doing my best to be what I think I should be in order to be loved by this one, instead of just being who I am and finding the one who wants to love me. Because I’m so worried about not getting rejected, that I fail to notice that I’m not actually getting loved.
So let’s go back to my cooking analogy. I’m going to say that I was wrong about being wrong about doing it right. (No, it’s ok. Feel free to take a minute to diagram that sentence if you need to…I’ll wait.) I have been wanting something to come out slow roasted. But I have been unwilling to stand in the heat of an uncomfortable kitchen. So I’ve been pan searing it. And I have been pain-staking about pan searing it exactly right. But in the end, it still comes out pan seared. And that’s not what I want. So it’s time to turn off the stove top, turn on the oven and heat up the house.
I’m trying to remember that it might not come out right at first. That it might take a few tries before I get the dish I want. But at least I’m on the right track now…
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