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…