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Archive for the ‘Centeredness’ Category

I’ve spent years learning to listen to my body and eat in a way that is satisfying to me and fuels my life.  It’s been a slow progression for me, though I’ve felt in a rut with it for a good long while, but I’ve had a breakthrough that I think is worth sharing:

Finding a physical activity that I really love has made eating well really easy all of a sudden, because I want to have the feel good enough and have the stamina to bike.  Maybe I had it backwards before.  I was waiting to feel better (meaning less under siege from IBS symptoms) to add some more physical activity in my life.  I would try and try and I just couldn’t get there.  Perhaps it is just hard to do nice things for yourself (like eat well) when you’re frustrated from not really living life.

What do I mean by eating well?  I simply mean eating in a way that is healthy for me, is satisfying and doesn’t trigger the IBS monster.  It has meant no longer force-feeding myself the vegetables that make me sick and eating more fruit that doesn’t make me sick.  It has meant not being afraid to drink a 7-Up, if my tummy is acting up, even if the old eating disordered troll in my head wants to complain about the calories (“You eat so much sweet stuff already!  Do you really have to drink this stuff that doesn’t taste that great to you yet still has calories, but will make you feel hugely better when you’re having a nauseous day?!?”).  It means I eat cookies when I want to, but it is intuitive not to go overboard on them, because I won’t be able to go out and play if I do, because I’ll be too sick.  This morning it meant carrot cake and tea for breakfast.  I am finding more ways to get protein in my diet (I am mostly vegetarian and married to a man allergic to soy/nuts, so this gets complicated).

My digestive system approves.  My IBS has flared up a little here and there, but not nearly as often as it has in the last five years – about once week now compared to three or four times a week before.  I feel so much better and I’m having fun.  Yay HAES and Fatosphere for helping to make this possible.

 

–AngryGrayRainbows

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Like many women and even men, for my whole adult life, I have been afraid to wear a bathing suit.  Approx two years ago, I tried to challenge this and, in a lot of ways, I succeeded.

But, on one day, I was feeling particularly vulnerable.  I went to swim at the gym (as usual) and all went well.  It was in the locker room that it happened.  This woman looked me up and down and looked at me with such disgust.  She actually sneered.  I have never forgotten her face and every time I wanted to swim, I literally became nauseas with the memory of her face and her disgust.

This summer, the husband and I went on vacation.  The lake cottage was hot and there was no AC.  I had a bathing suit packed, as always, just in case I worked up the courage to swim… and I decided to take the bull by the horns.

It was terrifying.  That woman’s face was swimming around in my head.  I couldn’t breathe.  I became sure that my husband would divorce me once he saw how horrific I looked in a bathing suit.  I started to remember an old relationship that ended in large part because I got treatment for my eating disorder and dared to gain weight.  I was sure there would be a replay of that experience with my marriage.

I swam anyway.  Every single day we were there.  Oh yeah, it was awesome.

Even after I had swam twice, the fear of being divorced for wearing a bathing suit (yes, I know now and knew then how ridiculous that sounds) became so bad that I had to tell the hubby about it.  He was so supportive, understanding and knew just how to laugh at my fears so as to validate that they were unfounded fears, but not make me feel like an idiot.

That woman and her sneer is still in my head, but she’s not ruling me any longer.  Her sneer was about her and not me and it is wonderful to fully understand this after a long time of being owned by the memory, even if it still makes me queasy every time I think of it.

I’ve been out.  I’ve been having fun.  I’ve been riding my bike, even though some jerk yelled something about my ass the very first time I took my bike out last year and that memory too haunted me and prevented me from biking very much until now.  The very day he yelled at me, I considered that he actually meant it as a compliment (it is unclear), but the possibility that he didn’t gripped me so tightly that it was hard to go out an exercise in the daylight for fear of more commentary.

You know what?  Fuck their comments.

This is my life and it is mine to life.  My body is no one’s business by my own.  I am enjoying myself and having so much fun going out and biking (and this winter, I will probably join a gym for more swimming too!) and I’m not letting prejudice get in the way of that.

I have also been repeating to myself over and over “function – not form” to remind myself how wonderful it is to be physically capable and stronger and just feel better from exercise.

I let myself circle a particularly beautiful garden on the bike path that is often filled with butterflies as many times as I want, no matter what anyone thinks about this silly woman going round and found breathing in the scents.  Maybe I can inspire someone else to have that courage to enjoy them self as well.  That would be worth enduring a few looks and comments.

I often think about my history of a complete focus on form over function of too many years of my life that included my eating disordered years.  I wouldn’t have cared if someone completely scooped out my insides – all my muscles, thoughts, feelings and anything that made me who I was – if I could have a perfect exterior that everyone would approve of and worship.  I giggle to myself at the memories while riding my bike, because in the light of so much fun and feeling good the idea of the form obsession becomes utterly ridiculous.

I’m not posting a picture of myself in a bathing suit.  I’m not ready for that yet.  I’m also not sure that if I was confident enough to do it that I’d even do it then.  If I ever get to that level, we shall see.  Instead, I give you a picture of my smiling face flush after a day of really living life and having some serious fun.

–AngryGrayRainbows

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I’ve decided it is time for another random post.  Surprisingly, people were actually still commenting on my poor neglected blog (your comments have now been approved).  Thank you to all who still lurk. 

I am still practicing and growing with HAES.  I am no paragon, but I am growing stronger every day and my latest challenge inspired me to come back to AGR to post. 

I have a new job.  The place where I used to tend cafe and make lattes has gone out of business and I was lucky enough to find a very similar job before the final day of my old job.  So, here I am again, a barista in a small corner of a retail store. 

Had I known what I was getting into I probably wouldn’t have taken the job.  In terms of body acceptance, I am now working in a very toxic environment.  There are a myriad of other problems most of them cartoonish in their ridiculousness, but I will stick to the body hate for the purposes of this post. 

My supervisor is a happy member of the food police and the store where I work is generally full of women on diets and who want to talk about their diets all the time.  At first (I started end of April) I was very intimidated and angry.  I feared that I would be dragged back into diet hell… or even worse: eating disorder hell.  I was very angry and very defensive.

But, I have overcome and I was stronger than I realized. 

I have seen women get upset that their favorite food item had 10 calories more than a food item they didn’t really like, but buy the less favored item anyway for the sake of 10 freakin’ calories.  I have seen my supervisor who admits that an extremely important goal right now is to build sales at our cafe barely restrain herself from chastising teenagers who dared to buy both a sugary drink with a chocolate chip cookie (“DON’T YOU KNOW HOW UNHEALTHY THAT IS???!!!”)  I have several coworkers (and I generally see more than one of them every day I work) who are dieting right now and are deep in the obsession of weight loss, food rules and self-hate… and, boy, do they like to talk about it too.  One of these dieting people makes sure never to work on Wednesday nights so she can watch (and obsess over) “The Biggest Loser” (a ridiculous body-hating monstrosity of a show). 

But, I am doing okay. 

I am able to more calmly challenge (when I choose to) my food policing supervisor.  I have learned that I am able to just mentally roll my eyes and move on with life when I hear more diet tripe.  I’m not fighting every possible battle.  It is too exhausting and isn’t going to win any wars for me anyway, but I am not keeping quiet either.  I am learning balance in my resistance. 

Maybe this situation has made me stronger, but I think that mostly it has just revealed to me that I was already a lot stronger than I knew.  It feels really good.  I’m starting to more intuitively understand the connection between challenges and personal growth and am starting to appreciate challenges a lot more (I always understood this rationally, but could never quite convince myself of the logic regardless…).  Life just feels better and I feel more secure in my body-acceptance in this world full of body-hate and diet-talk.  It feels pretty darn good. 

It will be interesting to see how these work relationships turn out with all my agitating for body-acceptance.  Perhaps they will be the inspiration of more blog posts, but I’m sure those posts will be spaced out in time kind of randomly.  😉

And yeah, I know the mermaid picture* doesn’t really jive with the topic of my post.  I just love the picture… and so there she is.  Enjoy!

–AngryGrayRainbows

*Link to awesome mermaid picture:  http://browse.deviantart.com/?qh=§ion=&q=fat+acceptance#/dt8hpu

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I work in a cafe with lots of high fat/sugar and super-delicious pastry type foods, so I also get to hear a lot of customers tell me about their self-hate and diets.  I’ve seen a 60 or 70-something year old nun consistently come in and worry about the calories in her hot chocolate.  I’ve had a very thin/tall man regular customer keep babbling on and on about the diet he is on and obsessing about even after I told him several times that I am not interested in the subject (What is it about diets that people seem to lose all sense of boundaries in regard to them?).  I have seen a woman who could easily be someone’s grandma talk about the “sin” of putting whipped cream on her mocha and the even worse “sin” of buying a cookie to eat with that mocha.  I have also been thanked by a few women for challenging their body-hating talk and my pointing out that food is just food – not a “sin” and not a moral issue.  One customer has told me flat out that she feels a lot safer ordering her favorite blended coffee drink when I am around, because she knows I won’t participate in any body-hating dialogue.  It is sad that food rhetoric has become so vitriolic that a person of normal weight (as this customer is) doesn’t feel safe ordering a blended coffee drink…

I wonder what people would be capable of achieving if they put their energy into goals that were actually achievable rather than the infinite black-hole of making the next diet work and finally becoming thin.  I wonder what people would be like if their idea of morality wasn’t sunk into thinness and instead, ya know, had something to do with not shaming or abusing others for a start.  I wonder what unproductive and even cruel behavior some people allow themselves to get away with because they are pursuing the “ultimate” virtue of thinness or are trying to maintain the thinness they have so painstakingly achieved. 

These questions bring back memories of myself.  I was thin obsessed and willing to sacrificed just about anything to achieve that goal.  I went from being a person who cared more about the feelings of others to a person who was unfailingly rude to the barista at Starbucks and any poor customer service worker I came across.  But, that didn’t matter.  Thin was what mattered.  I think we all probably know someone like this… that person who is so lost in their diet schemes that their other values get put on the shelf and what is left is a very unpleasant person sacrificing too much on the altar of thinness.  There are too many of these people out there, so many that it is sad and somewhat disheartening to contemplate.   

Yesterday a customer thanked me for making a snarky comment in response to her “cookie as sin” talk.  I mentioned something along the lines JennyRose originally said to me about real bad behavior being abusive or cruel rather than it being daring to eat a *gasp* cookie or being the fat person you were born (or dieted yourself) to be.  I asked the customer if she had abused a child or shoved any little old ladies down stairs.  Had she kicked a puppy?  Because that sounds a lot more like “sin” to me than eating a friggin’ cookie.  Seriously.  Cookie sin… I can’t stop rolling my eyes at the idea.  There are way bigger problems in this world than cookies and, yes, even overeating.  Imagine though what a comforting (unrealistic) world those people who think fat or cookies live in.  You’d need no complex answers to things like racism, poverty, sex trafficking, war and child abuse.  All you need is to keep chasing that FOBT* and everything is peachy.  I can understand the allure, but couldn’t live with myself for living that lie and wish I could be more compassionate with those who do, because I am sure that shaming them isn’t going to help them change anymore than shaming fat people makes them thin. 

–AngryGrayRainbows

*Fantasy of being thin

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 Good morning Fatosphere and body acceptance friends!   See… there is a picture of me and some lovely morning sunlight in the background –  this is me coming alive and starting to feel again.  Whooo hoooo! 

I didn’t realize it, but over the last year (and probably longer)  my emotions were slowly and steadily leaking away from me… and with them my inspiration for writing anything.  Initially I thought it was happiness and healthiness that was causing the block, but I’ve felt happy recently and I can still write.  In hindsight, I realize I was on meds that were so not right for me.  I didn’t realize it until I came off them for reasons that had nothing to do with emotional numbness; I just couldn’t sleep properly anymore. 

Will I be able to blog consistently now that Prozac and Zoloft are out of my life?  I really don’t know.  I am wary to make promises that I am not sure that I will be able to keep.   What I know for sure is that I feel this awakening sense of a need for connection and a desire to write again and I hope that I will be able to be more consistent again.  Wish me luck, friends. 

Waking up from a deadening of emotion since I started Zoloft (about a year… maybe even more, since the Prozac I was on pre-Zoloft also numbed me, just not as dramatically) is no fun.  The muscles I had built up for emotional coping are a bit atrophied and I feel like I’ve lost some ground.  But, there is some difficult to articulate benefit…  I appreciate emotion more.  Before this experience, I wished to be something like a machine* and not having to deal with the constant tempest that lives inside me.  I didn’t realize the good things the tempest gives me – creativity, empathy, compassion, motivation, inspiration and so many other things that I can’t think of right now.  I’m waking up to realize I am horribly lonely from alienating some of the few friends I had and losing touch with this lovely blog.  It is a large, painful loneliness I was even beginning to feel on the medication that stole most of the rest of my feelings.  I feel like I’m living with a yawning void inside of me at the same time as the sparkly parts of me are also coming back to life. 

Waking up from emotional numbness has also left me vulnerable to negative body image.  I’ve searched the web and reread the basics and it has helped, but, you know… lost ground and all that.  I’m remembering to look at my body as a partner, but also as a tool for living – a tool that I have to respect and take care of, if I’m going to be able to live life.  I am relearning that my body is not clay that my morality is stamped on and where fatness and other imperfections are not evidence of my being “less than,” bad, or even evil and definitely worthy of abuse and punishment.  Yes, I know “evil” is a strong word, but with the poor small emotional coping muscles I have at the moment “evil” is truthfully where my mind goes a lot of the time.  It is very interesting that after a year or so of being nearly impervious to body negativity that this is where my mind goes.  It seems like the world is so full of body hate that without my emotional coping muscle to take up space in my mind that I very quickly became filled with the self-loathing the world pours out by the stadium full everywhere I look. 

 Which brings me to the joy of water…

My behavior with water has travelled a pendulum’s stroke.  When I was in my early 20’s, diet obsessed and riddled with an eating disorder that I didn’t know I had, I read too many articles about how drinking lots of water helps one be thin.  So, I drank water – lots and lots of water.  I felt sloshy most of the time.  (You know, that feeling when you’re so full of water that you can hear it sloshing around inside you and your entire being feels diluted.)  I was a slave to my bladder, felt so cold all the time and something else I can only describe as water sick. 

When I was hungry, I drank large glasses of water.  Of course, this only works for so long (if at all depending on how diet fatigued your body is) before it backfires on someone so gullible and self-loathing as to try this and, of course, eventually it did for me too.  My reaction was to dehydrate myself for many years.  The thought of feeling sloshy again horrified me, so I overcompensated, which wasn’t an extremely helpful reaction either really… but at least it got me to where I am now.  I am drinking water.  I am drinking lots of water, but only according to the wishes of my body.  I am learning that it is possible to be hydrated without overdoing it to the point of feeling unwell and I’m realizing that it feels really good in the happy middle ground of water drinking.  I just feel better… more energy, less stomach trouble and all that.  It also feels so lovely to be doing something good for my body just for the respect and good maintenance of my body, as opposed to the old fantasy of being thin motivations of water drinking past. 

In fact, I am finding a new appreciation of food in general.  I am, in fact, one of those fatties who doesn’t really like food.  Ironically this not liking food has caused overeating rather than prevented it.  Listen well “fatties love food more than anything else” trolls.  I was often force-fed as a child and it has left me a very picky eater.  Often the mere thought of eating left me feeling nausea and violated, so I left off eating as long as possible to avoid the icky emotions attached to it until my body’s self-preservation switched on and made sure I overate to compensate for the constant mini-famines.  Something about having the break from major emotion and coming back to life now seems to have left me room to appreciate food again.  I am able to eat mindfully (instead of in the normal zombie-state required to avoid feelings of being violated by food for me anyway) and stop when I’m full and before the nausea of overfullness (and feeling even more violated by being overfull) sets in.  I can see food as fuel for this lovely body as opposed of just another torture devised by old abusers.  I have also been able to recreationally and mindfully enjoy food.  Yup, humans do eat for more reasons than just to fuel the body.  This is normal and healthy; the sugar cookies I made for Christmas were delicious! 

Maybe I needed to have this experience with Zoloft to learn these much needed lessons – the appreciation of emotions and my body.  I’m starting to feel a little grateful for it…   🙂  This feels like the beginning of a new adventure and hopefully one that will bring me more in tune with my body, a more positive body image and a brighter, more fulfilled life.

 –AngryGrayRainbows

 *Okay, I still want to be a machine a lot of the time, but the appreciation for emotion that I have learned has made a huge difference in my life and I wouldn’t give up my feelings right now if I had the choice to.  Oh right, I do have the choice to… I could take more Zoloft and that is so not happening sleep issues or not.  😛

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So it’s 1:49 a.m. and I’m up reading through blogs and I decided to read through some of our archived posts.  I came across one that I still hold near and dear to my heart.  It still rings true to me today so I thought I’d share it with you again.

Data to Validate

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sun behind the clouds near sunsetToday is Friday.  It’s the last day of my work week.  I love Fridays!

My husband has gone for the weekend to visit his parents about 3 to 3 1/2 hours away and it’s just going to be me and the dog all weekend.  Can you say AWESOME!?!  My plans?  I have none. 

Today is a new day and I woke up feeling good not only because it’s Friday but because I read my responses to yesterday’s blog entry last night before I went to bed.  I woke up knowing I wasn’t alone.  I also woke up knowing there are people out there that believe and live knowing that fat phobia is WRONG!  I woke up feeling validated!!

The sun is peeking out from behind the clouds and the chill is still in the air.  I’m finished Christmas shopping and I’m going to make candy and bake cookies this weekend.  I might even go hit a couple of clothing sales for me tomorrow (I need some long sleeved shirts and blouses for work). 

I’m feeling good and accepted today.  I’m accepting myself today and that’s always a good thing, right?  I hope you all have a great weekend and I’ll see ya later!

~sas

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