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Archive for December, 2008

My “Normal” Weight

am_i_perfect__by_mutatedpie

  I just love this picture that I found on DeviantArt.  It reminds me of one of my favorite phrases – perfectly imperfect.  It means finding perfection in the “imperfect” – imperfect as popular culture would define it anyway.  😉   It brings to my mind that perfection is found in acceptance of what is.  That extends to weight – normal, over, obese, etc. 

My friend commented to me that it was inspiring to some folks that I, at my normal weight, still am all into the fat acceptance.  Yeah, this is something I’m really proud of indeed, for many reasons.  Here are some of them…

In the past, whenever I lost weight, I would go into this NEVER AGAIN frame of mind.  NEVER AGAIN will I ever be that fat.  NEVER AGAIN will I be that horrible… disgusting… whatever.  I would then start telling any fattie who would listen, “If I can do it, you can too!!!  There’s no excuse!!!  Stop being sooooo fattttttttttttttttttttttttttttt!!!” 

Ugh. 

I no longer go there.  Yay me.  😀 

Will I ever be overweight again?  Maybe.  Do I care?  Not really. 

The plain fact of the matter is, I am on Prozac.  Prozac made it very easy for me to “weight restore” as some folks would call an overweight person becoming an average weight.  Prozac doesn’t work this way for everone.  It just happened to for me. 

Perhaps, I became an average weight, because my body is meant to be an average weight and without the crushing depression I eat better.  Perhaps, my brain has some “deficiency” beyond depression and even if I fully recovered from depression and came off the meds that I would be overweight again.  This is a distinct possibility and I’m okay with that.  My goal is to live the healthiest life I can live… and that may mean that I will give up the Prozac some day (as the depression would be healed) and I gain weight.  This is not the end of the world.  I would not see this as a failure – simply the natural order of things. 

In fact, I don’t even like using the word “deficiency” for what may be going on with my brain that could make me naturally overweight.  Maybe it’s SUPPOSED to be that way.  Maybe it’s GOOD that I am this way.  Calling it deficient is implying my brain is somehow less than and I don’t think it is. 

When I first lost the weight, I have to admit that I felt the fear of gaining the weight back.  I became afraid of losing even more weight, because I was afraid the fear of gaining weight would become even more acute… and eventually crippling (as it had become in the past).  So, to me, it is so very important that I practice fat acceptance and body acceptance as a normal weighted person. 

Otherwise, it is so important to me that I am honest and live according to what I believe… and I truly believe that fat is not a health nightmare.  I believe that fat is actually beneficial in many ways.  I believe that being overweight in whatever flavor (obese, morbidly obese)  can be HEALTHY, if you live a healthy life.  I believe that thin can be unhealthy if you live an unhealthy life – no exercise, no balanced diet, etc…  I believe that weight isn’t the big barometer of health. 

Believing this is easier for me than it is for some, because I lived it.  I was thin.  I was VERY unhealthy.  Does that mean all thin people are unhealthy?  No.  Like fat folks, some thin people are healthy and some are not.  However, it is very telling to me to what ridiculous lengths I had to go to to be thin.  I had to starve.  I was painfully cold all the time.  My skin turned grayish and my hair thinned.  Even the smallest little cuts and scrapes took months and months to heal.  My brain was soooooo painfully foggy from mal-nutrition.  While I say I was thin at this time, I was really smack in the middle of what many doctors would call my “healthy weight range.”  This was very thin – to me.  This was so thin that my health was severely compromised and years later I am still not fully healed.  This gives me the idea that perhaps I am not MEANT to be thin.  Maybe I’m not even meant to be a “normal” weight and Prozac is just taking me on a temporarly trip into average-land. 

And ya know what?  I am good with that.  I just want to be the best me I can be and that has everything to do with eating well, exercising, resting well, etc. to me and nothing to do with how much I weigh.

–AngryGrayRainbows

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Tolerance of Ignorance

annoyance_by_crimson_like_blood

*Head desk*

I will start by saying that is not one of my cats.  It just shows fairy well how I feel at the moment. 

This Christmas, I am considering how much I want to tolerate ignorance…

I am at my boyfriend’s mother’s house for the holidays.  Overall, I must say it’s been pretty nice – with one fly in the ointment.  My boyfriend’s mother has said so many ignorant things about abuse survival, fat and health.  It probably wouldn’t have surprised me if this woman wasn’t very progressive in so many ways (though I know progressives have a long way to go with body acceptance still…) and was a nurse in a progressive country.  I would hope she knew better.  Besides, she’s quite overweight herself…  I’d hate to know what trouble she gives herself for that.  Sigh.

She actually called a fat cat that she saw on a web-site “just disgusting”.  And, ya know, hearing someone talk about fat as disgusting ticks me off.  She went on about how the cat must just be lazy and eat and lay around all day.  Really?  You can tell all this just from a picture?  Yeah… didn’t think so. 

She also seems somewhat invested in trying to convince me that I haven’t really been abused.  I’m going to avoid getting into the particulars, but this is annoying me, to say the least.  I didn’t bring up that topic, my boyfriend did.  When I was questioned about it, I was open and honest.  What happened to me wasn’t my fault and I have no shame over it.  And now, every chance she gets (it seems) his mother makes some jibe about me seeming too well-adjusted to have gone through anything like that.  (Nevermind eight years of trauma therapy.)  While, this may be some a compliment in some way, I find it invalidating and annoying.  It’s the same game my mother plays – constantly niggle to try to get me to admit it wasn’t “really all that bad”. 

Right.  The beatings and the manipulations and the mind games and the hours of screaming and the shaming me whenever we had house-guests and telling me that I didn’t see what I saw in order to convince me that I “wasn’t so smart” for 18 yrs was… what?  Pleasant?  Not horribly crazy-making to the point that I had lost touch with reality to a very large extent for many years?  *head desk*

I wonder if some women of a certain generation just have this knee-jerk reaction of invalidating the experiences of others…?

And, last, but not least… I am not particularly happy about how she judges my boyfriend.  Some of his perfectionism is now starting to make more sense to me, given how judgemental his mother is.  I am going to take some deep breaths tonight and think about ways to deal with her negativity without jumping into defend my boyfriend.  All the defending is tiring me.  Maybe a pat “thank you for sharing” would be sufficient. 

All that said, it’s been a pretty good Christmas.  Other than these thorns in the side, his mother is actually pretty nice.  She appreciates the nice little things I do for her and she seems to like me, which helps.  I’m going to try to focus on the positive…

Like this something-like-two-carat-aquamarine-and-dozens-of-diamonds ring I got sparkling on my hand right now.  Maybe it’s three carats.  Not sure.  Whatever it is – it is divine.  *drool*  My boyfriend wanted me to have a very nice piece of jewelry from him.  Wow.  Mission accomplished. 

I’ve always wanted an aquamarine since my grandmother was given one as a child.  Generally, I go for very simple jewelry.  Plain siver, celtic braids, rings in the shape of leaves, etc.  However,  I was very close to my mother’s parents growing up and I’ve always wanted things that reminded me of them.  Having a big aquamarine like my grandmother did makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.  It also makes me feel somehow close to someone I love(d) who died 18 years ago.  It’s more than just a ring to me.  It’s a reminder that I was loved once by a very special person… and that a very special person treasures me today. 

Well, dinner is almost ready.  I have a feeling that it’s going to be delish!  I went out of my way to make sure vegetarian friendly options would abound (as I am veggie) and I am ready to nom! 

In the meantime, I think I will take some deep breaths and try to think of how I can be respectful of my boyfriend’s mother and take care of myself at the same time….

Any advice is welcome.  🙂

–AngryGrayRainbows

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Where I work has suffered some really low morale issues in the past couple of years.   I work in public service and the community has not always been supportive of what we do.  (You can’t make everybody happy all the time, right?)  Our pay has not been increased in the past couple of years and, of course, I don’t foresee a pay raise this coming year either.

Despite everyone’s down mood around here, a couple of the guys got together and planned a Christmas party.  I’m talking a real Christmas party, not just a get-together.  These guys went all out and organized this party really well.  We had food out the wazoo and it was delicious!  We had live entertainment and the band was great!  We had free liquor and beer and we had a big banquet room to enjoy it all in.  We even had designated drivers!

The party was scheduled for last Friday at 7:00.  For the couple of weeks prior to the party, everytime I saw a co-worker I would encourage them to come and have a good time.  I was so excited to have something good to look forward to and I shared my excitement with everyone I knew.

The majority of us that work here did show up and the party was a huge success!  We visited with each other and danced and relaxed.  Fun was had by all!

Wait!  Back up!  Did you read that sentence?  “We visited with each other and DANCED and relaxed.”  I got out on the dance floor and shook my booty!!  I table hopped and talked to everyone!  I introduced myself to all the spouses and I really enjoyed myself!!

So to recap: 

I went to a party and socialized!

I ate in front of people!

I wore comfy clothing!

I DANCED with reckless abandon!

I ENJOYED MYSELF!

My size had/has nothing to do with my enjoyment of life!

~sas

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Abandonment

I still have days where I think about why I am where I am…what led me to this point in my life.  Now I’m not talking about why I’m the size I am.  I’m talking about why I feel the way I feel.

I have, for years, felt abandoned.  Abandonment is scary…especially when you’ve tried everything you know to keep from being abandoned.  I’ve tried being a “good girl”, living in a “Christian way”, apologizing for everything even if it wasn’t something I did wrong, trying to fit in to what was expected of me, loving people to the point of obsession and putting myself last so as to make that person feel extra special by putting them first.

I’ve been hurt doing this.  None of those actions were good for me and they didn’t result in what I was truly wanting or needing.  If anything, those actions were toxic to me and whatever good feelings I gained because of them were really just false feelings of security and nothing to be counted on as “real”.

My feelings of abandonment started when my father packed up and left.  He came back but he still left and that’s the impression that was left on my heart.  When my father was verbally and emotionally abusive to me, my mother never defended me.  I felt abandoned emotionally by my mother.  I was just a kid!  I felt so alone.  Now that both of my parents are dead I really feel abandoned.  I wasn’t able to say bye to my father and my mother was in so much pain at the end that that is all I really remember (although happy memories are creeping back in now).

The only “family of origin” person I have left is my sister.  We’ve never been close.  I felt like she also abandoned me when we were small.  She’s 12 years older than me and we were never taught to love each other.  By the time I was old enough to talk to her, she left.  She moved out as soon as she could.  She didn’t come see us when she moved out.  She got married and had her own life.  I was never important to her.  I speak to my sister about 4 times a year. 

I would love to have a closer relationship with my sister.  Over the years I’ve tried several times to get closer to my sister and it’s been in vain.  She just doesn’t seem to want to be close to me.  I still feel abandoned by her.  I know I’ve done all I can to mend the relationship (that I don’t think I broke off) but she is just not willing to come halfway.

It hurts.  I have, for years, felt like I was the reason we’re not close.  If that’s true then it’s because of something I’m completely unaware of.  It’s time for me to stop trying so hard to communicate to and with her.  I’ll still do the ritual calls at birthdays and holidays but I’ve tried as hard as I can for over forty years and I’m tired. 

I’m going to spend more time cultivating the relationships I have that I have the option to grow and stop wasting time on that relationship that seems to want to stay stagnant.

~sas

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Data.  Facts.  Support.

One of the reasons I left the “Something Fishy” website (referred to earlier in the “Closure” post by Angry Gray Rainbows) was because I was constantly challenged on my beliefs. 

My “beliefs” have stemmed from reading two books by Jane R. Hirschmann and Carol H. Munter.  The books are, “Overcoming Overeating” and “When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies”.  These books have changed my life.  They’ve completely changed my perception of most things and jump started my recovery in ways I would never have been able to without them.  These two books are what led me to intuitive eating and trusting my body for it’s needs.  I see my eating disorder for what it is…a survival mechanism.  From these books I’ve also learned the most vital belief I have now, acceptance of who I am right now.

One of the challenges I would face on SF was fellow posters asking me if the principles of “Overcoming Overeating”, “When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies” and intuitive eating worked.  They wanted data.  There was a catch.  They didn’t want to know if those things worked the way they were intended, they wanted to know if by living by these principles they would lose weight.  In the books by Hirschmann and Munter, they clearly state throughout the books that this is not a “quick fix”; that it could take weeks, months or years to come to terms with your body (generally dependent on how long you’ve used food to survive/cope).  

These challenges didn’t escape me…I knew what I wanted to say but it seemed that every time I mentioned intuitive eating I was further challenged.  It was like the posters were trying to save me from myself and they wanted me to believe as they did because their way was right.  The others on that site had resigned to the fact that they would have to diet to be happy with their lives.  For some it was the “last piece of the recovery puzzle” so to speak.  They felt they had conquered their emotional issues and now it was time to lose weight.  The obsessive need (secret want) to lose weight was the emotional issue they needed most to conquer yet that was the biggest thing they were trying to accomplish– weight loss.  I wanted so desperately to share with them the liberating feeling I have felt of late…the feeling of true acceptance of myself.  I just couldn’t put together the words that I needed to, to be able to express how I felt.  It was so frustrating to have such a strong belief only to have it squashed every time I tried to post about it.

I retreated back to my books to do some reviewing…not to prove to myself they were what I believed but to feel supported when I felt beat down.  The other night I read something in “When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies” that said everything I wish I had said at SF.  Here is what they wrote:

We are often asked for “good, hard data” to validate our work.  “How do we know that your approach really works?” professional and laypeople alike ask.  “We know all about the evidence against diets,” they said, “but where is the evidence that you are any more successful?”  And the inevitable one:  “How about some statistics to show that your approach really does cure compulsive eating?”

More interesting than these questions (or our answers to them) is the bigger question of what people are really asking for when they ask for “good, hard data.”  The fact is, the information they really want in order to determine whether or not  we are successful is information about weight.  Do people who use our approach lose weight?  Do they keep their weight off?  Do the gain weight?

Questions like these are reasonable when asking whether or not a diet is successful, because the promise of a diet is that you will lose weight.  Indeed, most diets fulfill that promise for a while, but most women who “succeed” at the traditional diets never touch upon their painful obsession with food and weight.

The goal of our program is to liberate those of you who have a spent a lifetime hating your bodies and feeling tortured by your compulsive relationship with food.  We do not judge our success by the numbers on your scale, but by the extent to which you accept yourself.  We do not judge our success by the willpower you call into play in your efforts to avoid the foods you crave, but by the degree of comfort you feel around food and by the extent to which you are able to think about your problems rather than eat about them.  Many of the women who meet our standards of success lose weight as well.  Their weight loss, however is a by-product of our approach — it is not the goal.  

– from “When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies” by Jane R. Hirschmann & Carol H. Munter in the chapter entitled A Final Word

My data to validate that the principles laid out by Hirschmann and Munter work?  Here’s my data:

  • I go to a gym and workout and I don’t care what anyone thinks of my full and round body.  I would’ve never stepped foot in a gym a year ago.
  • I dress in clothing that is comfortable and cute.  I don’t care what people say about what I’m wearing.  I’m worth the feelings of comfort.
  • I go places with my head held high and a feeling of pride.  I don’t walk into restaurants looking at the floor anymore.
  • I eat wonderful yummy foods based on what I’m hungry food, not based on calories, and I don’t care who sees me eat it.
  • I don’t talk about diets anymore around my girlfriends and co-workers and if they start that kind of conversation, I avert them to something else.
  • I snuggle and cuddle with my husband and he doesn’t shun me!  He never shunned me but it’s funny what low self-esteem can have you imagining.

There’s my good hard data!!

~sas

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Words, Thoughts & Rebellion

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I never used to think that the way I spoke to myself really mattered.  I am me after all.  If I am not careful with my wording, surely I must understand the meaning underlying my words.  Of course, those of us who have Recovered to a certain extent from eating disorders or who are experienced with body acceptance, know that the way we speak to ourselves (ie: our thoughts about ourselves) matter. 

For example, the thought may occur to me that I’d like to be healthier in some way.  And, here comes the list of shoulds, needs, haves and betters. 

I need to eat more of this or that.  I should go to the gym.  I have to clean the house more!  I’d better drink less caffeine or I will be up all night.  —  Of course, I say all these things to myself in the tone of a parent threatening punishment to a child.  *head desk*  This is where the rebellion kicks in.  After surviving micro-managing (and otherwise insane) parenting and a micro-managing (and otherwise insane.. hah) parade of eating disorders, I don’t like being told what I need, should, better be doing.  I really cannot think of anyone who would like being talked to in that way. 

Now, I always used to think that because this is ME saying this to ME, that even behind the harsh wording I would understand all of this comes from a place of love and wanting good things for myself, etc.  But, like the idea I see so often in the fat-o-sphere, you cannot be cruel to yourself for your own good.  In the end, it doesn’t work.

Thankfully, I’ve realized this kind of wording and hard-handed is unnecessary.  I guess I realized this for the first time years ago, but I do through periods of refining the idea and rediscovering it and I think this is where I’m at right now.  Rediscovery.

If I frame my desires as “I want to”, I often feel an initial moment of surprise. —  I want to?  Really?  Who are you?  Do I know you? 

I WANT to eat nutritious foods.  I WANT to get some exercise.  I WANT to vaccuum the floor, so my allergies aren’t going haywire.  Woah… from that wording, I sound less like someone being talked down to as an impetuous child and more like a responsible adult that I can relate to. 

I’m really grateful for this period of rediscovery.  I have realized that I have a job that makes me very unhappy.  Besides not liking the culture of my company, I have a boss that has no boundaries and doesn’t expect me to have any either.  She has allowed herself to be overworked to the point that she is so stressed that her body cannot kick a simple head cold.  Most of the time, she is doing so many things at once, that I have to go round and round with her twenty times to get a coherent sentence from her on what our priorities or tasks are.  On top of all the work stress, she also seems to thrive on upheaval in her personal life.  I have never heard her speak to her teenage daughter in a loving or respectful tone.  She buys more than she can afford… way more.  One day, she was leaving her husband and in a complete panic as if he had hit her… and the next she was speaking of him as if he’s the best husband ever.  She has never explained what happened there.  But, why do I need to know about it in the first place?  I could list the craziness all day, but there’s no point in rehashing it. 

I bring this up, because I have spent months pushing back on this woman, to create boundaries, to establish some kind of sanity in this work relationship… but what I get instead is talked down to.  She tells me that I have an attitude.  She tells me I’m not being fair.  And, she gives me assignments and projects that make no sense with deadlines that are often completely unrealistic. 

In my mind, all I hear from her is “need, have to, should, you’d better!”  Hearing this brand of speech from someone outside of myself seems to have triggered my own condescending inner dialogue again and so this period of rediscovery becomes necessary.  And, I think it is time I look for another job.  Thankfully, even in this economy, my particular skillset is still in demand, so I have a clear “out”. 

Since this blog is fairly new, I will qualify that I believe in HAES (health at any size).  My point about eating well isn’t about losing weight.  It is about allowing myself to eat well.  Eating well in my world includes egg/cheese panini’s and cookies.  However, when I see for the sake of rebellion that I feel malnourished because my body really craves something green, but I’m too angry at the world (and myself) to eat it… then I know I need to take a look at what is going on.  What my weight happens to be is none of my business.  That bit is up to the wisdom of my body.

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Trust and control

For me, I lost my say in my own life as a youngster and I was never taught to be independent.  I was taught and encouraged to remain dependent solely on my parents.  I was never schooled in the art of self-love or self-respect but first and foremost, I was never told I could trust myself.  I wasn’t encouraged to count on myself or trust myself to make sound and intuitive decisions regarding my own life.

Contol of my life was never handed over to me and by the time I was old enough that I should’ve taken over, I didn’t know I could or didn’t know how.  I wasn’t ever taught the basic skills of living my own life.  My entire life (pre-pursuit of recovery) was lived for other people.  I answered to my father all of my life  until the day he died.  Having no opinion and having no self-love was what my parents wanted of me.  They wanted total control and they controlled me for so long that I lost my sense of self.

My father had control over me (feeling) and he controlled me (fact).  My mother’s control of me was much more subtle but there nonetheless.  Both of my parents controlled me through guilt and shame.  (No wonder I dieted so long…the guilt I felt whenever I ate the “wrong” thing or “wrong” amount was actually a very familiar and comfortable feeling for me).

Sixteen years ago, I married my husband.  He’s turned out to be a great guy!  I won’t go into all the details at this time but he and I have both changed a lot over the last eight years.  When we first married he was a very controlling person.  I’ve been told over and over that you marry a person who reminds you of one of your parents.  I married a man who was very much like my father.  It was so familiar to marry a man like my father.  It’s like I didn’t think I had a choice at the time.  Control was what I knew.

Consequently, I was 28 years old and didn’t know how to do anything on my own.  I could not make any real decisions on my own.  I had to have someone backing my every decision…I couldn’t claim any decision as my own.  If someone suggested I do something contrary to how I felt, I would do what they suggested because I didn’t trust myself.

So I’ve learned since I’ve started my recovery from an eating disorder that my ability to make decisions about my eating was also taken away from me.  My mother took me to my first Weight Watchers meeting when I was 7 years old.  She drove 45 minutes one way to take me to a WW meeting once a week.  (That was back in the day where WW believed you HAD to eat calves liver once a week.  bleh!)  Ok, think about this…at the age of seven I was pretty much told I didn’t know how to eat and that I needed to depend on outside influences to make me acceptable, desireable and “enough”.  I learned early to count calories, to count servings, to measure serving sizes, to live by numbers and to determine if my day was bad or good based on what I did or didn’t eat.  By the way, I lost the weight my parents wanted me to and we got to go on the Florida vacation.  Whether you go on a vacation or not because of your weight is a lot of pressure for a young child.

From the age of 7 I dieted over and over.  I tried pills, starvation, the grapefruit and egg diet, Diet Center, restriction, Nutri-System and mostly WW over and over again, feeling like a failure everytime because I would lose weight, only to gain it all back and add more to it.  I dieted myself to insanity!  I never felt acceptable to anyone, least of all me.  Diets controlled me….it was so familiar, damn it, it was so familiar.

I’m still learning how to live my own life and make my own decisions.  This is a matter of self-preservation.  I must learn to trust myself in every aspect of my life..and that includes telling myself I’m acceptable, I’m beautiful and I’m smart.  I can trust myself on this one!

~sas

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