Thursday, November 3, 2011

You Spend Half Your Life Trying to Turn the Other Half Around: More on Core Life Priorities

Note: This may be triggering for people with food issues.

I wanted to write a light hearted follow up to my Core Life Priorities entry about getting my shit together but given the season, like it or not, I'm in a pretty somber mood.  Jezebel just posted about where my struggle is.

I'm a geek girl and I live with an eating disorder.  It was easy for me to be thin until college and I was always a (thin) girlie girl geek who was a geek in her own right - fandoms, the ability to run WW RPG, top of the heap. 

Well, when I started freaking out in college about a lot of things, one of things I decided to take control of was my body.  So I stopped eating very much.  My hair started falling out, people told me that I didn't *really* have an eating disorder because I wasn't skeletal, even though I was dropping a lot of weight fast (one "friend" said most girls would envy me).  When I flatly told my mother that it was therapy or tossing myself out my dorm room window, I started therapy.

People forget the eating disorder because I never fit the stereotype in their heads.  But really I spent my twenties channeling it into Weight Watchers where I could obsess over what I ate (in a socially acceptable way) and figure out how to cheat the system and weigh myself like a million times a day.  All I learned from WW really was that it was better to do three shots of tequila (6 points) verses three beers (9 points).  Awesomesauce!

I really only have two modes - "on" (eating reasonably healthy food mostly but too much of it like The Hungry Caterpillar) and "off" (not eating, not taking my meds).  "Off" is a dangerous scary place . . .because what no one tells you about not eating is that it feels awesome.  It really does, you're high as a kite and nothing bothers you because you're not super lucid and you start getting lots of dumb thoughts like, Hey!  This is awesome!  Food is gross!  If I keep doing this I'll be thin and everything in my life will be magically perfect because I made my body perfect!   I make light of this somewhat when talking about this because it's what geek girls do best to talk about scary things and say, and then I remember that eating is a basic bodily function and failure to do that means you're failing at being human, like when you choke on your own spit. 

Despite knowing better, I apparently generally need to take a trip to "off" about once a month, once every other month.  I take a deep breath and I make myself eat something and take my pills.  Generally I can talk myself down by some point in the evening although I'm honest with Jow when I am having an "off" day and he suggests things I will be willing to ingest like a banana or a glass of juice and then my thoughts get more rational and I go back to normal life.

I've really worked hard to love myself just the way I am weight wise by investing time into learning how to dress my body, do my hair, do my nails, makeup and accessorize because before it felt like I was punishing myself for being fat by only dressing in sweats and a ponytail.

The whole food "thing" is kind of my white whale.  And it rules me more than anything else does in life.  Either I'm spending a lot of energy ignoring it or half assedly addressing it but either way it still runs me.  And I don't think that people understand that people with a food "thing" have a really hard time because you can't not eat.  It's sort of like saying, hey just be cool and get a recreational smack habit, what's the big deal?  Most people can't just casually shoot up H without getting an addiction.  But you can live without drugs, smoking, drinking and all that but you can't live without food.

Earlier this week, coincidentally, I decided I wanted to catch the fucking whale already.  For me that means that I am limiting my portions, drinking lots of water, eating more fruit and veggies and going to the gym a few times a week.  And it's been awful.  It feels like having a gnawing tiny beast inside you, constantly nibbling at your organs and complaining loudly and constantly about how everything you're doing is against your own best interest. 

For me, that's not even the worst part though.  I know I can do anything I set my mind to and accomplish any goal I want to accomplish and that's what scares the shit out of me, hands down every time.  Because if I start accomplishing this goal, that means success and that means massive meltdown for me.  I have a weird thing where it totally derails me when people tell me how good I look once I've lost weight.  It does all sorts of fucked up conflicted things to my head and then I start self sabotaging and it gets into a big terrible cycle of suck.  I'm trying to breathe through the fact that people will give me positive reinforcement for conforming more to society's standard and accept that it's going to shake up my ant farm like whoa.  But I feel like if I can do this thing, then I can do anything.  And if I can do anything, then I'm unstoppable.

Being unstoppable means getting in touch with my core life priorities.  It means pushing through this fucking Christmas season for my crafting business.  It means getting back in touch with my spirituality.  It means writing the damn book and getting it published.  It means taking care of myself.  It means loving myself.  It means I need to stop being afraid of success. I get closer and closer every year to who I want to be - starting my own business, not having to work for The Man, better relationships with my loved ones, a clearer understanding of my spirituality, stronger belief in my capability both as a Witch and as a functioning adult, living (and marrying) the man I love who also happens to be a functioning adult, owning my own hearth.  But there's still a few things that evade me (the food "thing" and writing a book most notably). So I'm starting here.  With my white whale.



Unknown said...

Wow Deb; I can't imagine how difficult it must be to struggle this way with a necessity like food. I'd just finished reading the article at Jez, and then saw your post. Poingnant, and made me do some serious thinking--I have a family member who has struggled with her weight for most of her young life...I'm going to go ask her how she's doing and do some listening. She may not have an eating disorder, but I wouldn't know because I haven't been paying enough attention. Thank you for writing this, it's not something people in our world talk about openly very often.

petoskystone said...

just to say, offering kudos for getting back into shape & wrestling with the demon of food is more congratulations for achieving the discipline than for anything remotely close to cheering you on for molding your body to societys' expectation.

Diandra said...

I cannot imagine how scary this must be. As you said, you cannot just "not eat and get over it". And most people will probably be like, "What's the problem? It's just food!"

Just with any other enemy, it might help to learn as much about food as possible. Not only the calories/fats/carbs, but also the minerals and fibers and vitamins. And learn about what our bodies need to function properly. You could try to get in touch with a good nutrition counsellor - no one said you have to do this yourself, right?

And stop listening to the other people. Most of them are plain stupid. I once talked to a guy whose idea of a "beautiful" woman was that of an excessively athletic twelve-year-old with breasts, and after some probing I found out that he mainly liked this body type because he had the idea that his girlfriend was starving/torturing herself so he'd like her appearance, and that gave himm a sense of power over her.

I'd rather make peace with my body and try to take as good care of myself as possible. This includes healthy eaeting and regular exercise, but also enjoying nights out with friends and treats without going nuts, because being social in a relaxed way is a big part of living a healthy life.

And finally - yes, of course you can do anything you want. What kind of book do you intend to write? How far have you gotten with that project? I just finished my first manuscript and collected a handful of "no, thank you"s from agencies, but I am not giving up. And if I could do it, you sure as Hel can.

Lydia said...

Beautiful, honest, and moving. Thank you so much for sharing.

Karen said...

Mew. Just as an aside: not eating is not euphoric for everyone...I have a sometime habit Ive been working on..though I guess it also goes back awhile. In school [especially middle school, but others as well I think] I would just eat dinner, skipping everything else, unless my mum forced me to have breakfast...there may be snacks involved at home, my memory is crap [also I doubt I considered milk or juice food]...but this did not so much help me at all as break my connection with my body [consciously, but for many reasons]. I also flirted with purging, but I did not realize it was a "thing" other than a Roman way to eat more [my family went mostly to buffets when we went out to eat on Sundays, can you tell?]...and when I did figure out this could be a real problem, made a rather thick mental block against ever vomiting and am now really horrible at it =\ But even when I did it back then, it was not [referencing now a tweet you made earlier] at all good-feeling. Can't say it isn't for others [I recall reading some anorexic-is-awesome blogs where there definitely is at least the perception they get euphoric from it...but also a lot of shame/self hatred...] but just saying from my experience. These days I mostly just don't eat when I forget [there used to be that whole 'i dont deserve to eat this food, Mark needs it for lunches' thing when I was out of work...but I seem to be better about that, though it may help that Mark is here now and I often eat when I feed him...].
I do get euphoria from working out though...and since I have discovered my silly new phone can play tv shows at me while I work on the nordictrak [yay for ri and helen not having the room for it anymore and it borrowing space in my basement =)]

Unknown said...

"I know I can do anything I set my mind to and accomplish any goal I want to accomplish and that's what scares the shit out of me, hands down every time. Because if I start accomplishing this goal, that means success and that means massive meltdown for me."

This is my life. sigh. I'm working on it.

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