Unflattering Clothes

I wore an unflattering dress yesterday. It made my breasts look saggy, my stomach seem bulgy and my thighs look wide. It did NOT accentuate any of my better features.

But it was REALLY comfortable.

I met my friend at a meeting and asked him if my dress was unflattering. He paused (for just a second, but I saw it)and told me I looked fine. Later, back home, I asked him again.

He said, “why do you care what other people think about how you look in a dress? You’re 53, who gives a fuck?”

I’m not sure why I care (aka – give a fuck.) I have spent a lifetime picking clothes that ‘flatter’, ‘slim’, ‘define’, and basically, fit well. But why?

And he’s right, at 53, who really cares anymore? Why not wear what I like, no matter how saggy my boobs look?

I suppose I’m self-conscious about the weight gain. Ten pounds ago or so, everything looked slim, no matter what I wore. (Although, I still tried to flatter my figure, regardless. “Slimming” is very ingrained.)

I’ll have to give more thought to what my friend said, but I think at this point, I’m not quite evolved enough for his approach. The comfy dress is probably confined to the house. For now.

Why Do We Hate the Fat Kid?

Why do we make fun of overweight people? Why is size a joke? What’s funny about excess weight? Why are we cruel? Why do we hate?

For all I may dislike about our governor, Chris Christie, I don’t care what he weighs. Why is he fat-shamed? Why did he have to go on David Letterman and self-deprecatingly eat donuts? Self hate-ingly might be a better phrase.

Why do plus size models Ashley Graham and Tess Holliday get reams of hate mail? What’s to hate about a bigger body? Bigger than what, I have to ask?

There’s a dispatcher at work, sweetest and most helpful guy in the world. The other guys call him Fatboy. Why? I call him one of my only friends at work.

Of course, I’m sensitive about this issue. I was the fat kid – teased and tortured and scorned. (One day, I suppose I will forget that I was the only girl in all of 8th grade who wasn’t invited to Michele Grosseibl’s birthday party. But it’s only been 40 years, so I guess it might be a while.)

But actually, let’s go back to the deepness of that pain. I have forgotten and forgiven truly excruciating situations. Drug dealers who stole my every last cent, boyfriends who cheated, friends who dumped me, employers who fired me… Against all of these, i hold NO grudge. I understand. I pray for them. I see my part.

But the eighth grade girls who laughed at me, made fun of my fat and left me out of everything…

I bought the drugs, picked bad men, wasn’t the best friend or the most stellar employee, so I can understand all the consequences there. But as a chubby kid, I hadn’t done anything wrong. (sidebar, I think it is finally time to get over Michele Grosseibl and friends!)

Again I ask, why do we hate the fat kid?

Done

Perhaps the most important key component to getting well is – am I done? Because if I’m done with the misery of life as I’ve known it, then I’m ready to get to work. I need to be fed up and desperate, at the end of my rope, willing to do whatever it takes to get well. But if I have any lingering notion, even the smallest, that I can still do things my way and get well, I’m probably doomed to repeat old behavior. (For now. Until I find I can’t take it anymore, I’ve hit bottom, and I’m ready to give up.)

For me, I came to this place at 40. It finally hit me that everything I’d tried, had failed. That I was still binging, purging, starving, binging, purging starving…and I truly hated my own guts.

It wasn’t a life worth living, CONSUMED with food and weight and very, very little else.

The first part is finding a way of eating that works for me. Whether I follow a strict food plan and/or give up sugar and white flour or begin to eat intuitively or any other way that feels right for me, I need to commit wholeheartedly and give it a chance. I may well struggle at first, I may well find I need to try a different way, BUT i have to be willing to give up my old eating habits and take on new healthier ways.

And, I need to be brave. Desperation will allow me to eat what I need to and not what I shouldn’t. It will allow me to stop purging, not matter the results. Most importantly, desperation will give me the strength to face what’s really bothering.

Because, it’s not about the food or anything else I’m using from the outside to make me feel better on the inside. Whether I’m drinking, drugging, binging, gambling, shopping – I’m using all those as a vehicle to get me to relief. I want to anesthetize feeling. But inevidentally, I find, it doesn’t work. No amount of ice cream or vodka can actually heal sadness, anger, fear or loneliness

But facing these and getting through THEM can help me heal, get well and leave the devastating habits and behaviors behind.

It’s funny that all my life I fed and fueled and nourished my resentments and fears. But I had no idea how to actually feed my body! These days, I face and get rid of anger and fear. And I feed my body well! And I was able to get here, because at 40, I was DONE.

Bad Body Thoughts

I’m thinking about doing a workshop on Freedom from Food Obsession – or something like that. I’m just in the beginning stages. I am so passionate about the topic, and wish I could help every person who suffers find peace and freedom.

SO, what stupid, ridiculous, evil thought came right into mind AND lodged itself there,

“MELISSA, YOU HAD BETTER LOSE WEIGHT NOW”.

Because, after all, who would want ME as a role model, as I’m not exactly classically thin anymore? Who would take me seriously now? Who would want advice and guidance from ME?

Over the past few days, I’ve wasted way too much time contemplating this – how much weight exactly do I need to lose to seem viable? And how should I lose the weight? Milk instead of cream in my coffee? Smaller portions? Skip lunch? No eating at night?

AM I CRAZY?! (Well, yes. But that’s for another post.) What’s really sad is how old thoughts and beliefs have stayed embedded somewhere in my brain. Old beliefs die hard. Time to bury them for good!!!!!

SO, enough of that. I’m happy and healthy and free. I’m going to leave my body alone. And go plan my workshop! 🙂

Why Therapy didn’t Work

I saw many therapists over the miserable years of my first four decades. The last one, Vanessa, was incredibly smart and lovely and learned and compassionate; however, she -nor any of her predecessors- could help me at all with my addictions.

There was one huge way she did help me, though – she told me I was very, very sick, and I had absolutely no choice in life but to stop doing drugs and to attend 12 Steps meetings. Through the 12 Steps, I was able to heal and to get well.

Why didn’t therapy help me with substances AND food? BECAUSE, the therapist was so kind and compassionate – I never had to take a tough look at myself and my behaviors, and I never had to change myself.

For example,Vanessa would tell me what a terrible mother I had – that I was entitled to my anger. In fact, she thought I should be angrier than I was? (Hard to imagine – I was really, really, really angry!)

The 12 Steps told me that I had to get free of anger – anger would lead me back to drugs and the drugs would kill me. The 12 Steps told me I was 40 now and responsible for my own life. I couldn’t blame my mother for my current sorry life because she hadn’t been perfect when I was a child. Besides, the poor woman was dying of Parkinson’s Disease at the time – not much she could do to help.

In therapy, I was allowed to wallow in ‘poor me.’ But as they say in AA, Poor me, poor me, pour me another drink. Wallowing is very dangerous for the likes of me.

Through the 12 Steps, I had to face my life, show up and grow up. I had to see where I, me, Melissa, was the problem. My mother, my father, my brother, my teachers, my friends, my colleagues – they weren’t my problem. And that’s really good news, because I can’t change other people, but I can change myself and most specifically – my actions and reactions.

No therapist ever told me to show up and grow up. Uh, my sponsor did – many, many, many, many….times.

Turns out that self-pity was my BIGGEST problem, mostly because it lead me back to food, alcohol and drugs. I now know I have NO reason to feel sorry for myself at all. I am completely blessed and lucky (particularly lucky to be alive, considering some of the things I did, back in the day.)

But ONLY through taking that hard and thorough and honest look at MYSELF and MY defects and defective thinking – was I willing and able to change. And to see the truth – I have a very good life.

There is no longer any desire to run to substance or food. Bottom line – I have nothing to eat over.

Me, Eating Intuitively

I am having an entertaining time trying to eat really intuitively, as recommended by Karen yesterday.

I’m very busy, trying to figure out if I am truly hungry, or is my tummy churning because I’m tired or anxious?

Once I’ve discerned hunger, I then spend some serious time identifying what exactly I want to eat. That does take a while, particularly as I have a lot of work to do at my job in between all the meditating on my belly.

Now that I know what I want to eat, I then have to see if I have access to that food – so, unfortunately, there weren’t any lamb chops at my office cafeteria this morning.

I’m being a little dramatic. I do like to eat when I’m hungry and not when I’m not. And I do tend to know what I want when I’m hungry – it’s usually a small combination of protein, carb, vegetable and a smidge of fat. But it doesn’t get terribly specific, many combinations will do just fine, any time – turkey with lettuce and tomato and a swipe of mayo on a slice of toast, tuna on crackers with a salad and a drop of dressing , an egg on toast with tomato and a little butter.

I can’t really be bothered to pay THAT much attention.

I did notice, though, how often I am NOT hungry! hmmm

The Intuitive Eating Workshop

Here are my thoughts on yesterday’s thoroughly interesting workshop:

I loved the feminist perspective our leader, Karen, discussed – as women, we are told that we are too big, that we want too much, that we’re not entitled to all the wonderful and delicious things in life, like dessert.

Every woman (and we were all women )in the room nodded vigorously. One woman, Jen, shared that when she was 7, her mother told all the neighbors that Jen wasn’t allowed to eat cookies.

“I wasn’t even really overweight,” Jen said. “I just liked to eat a lot of cookies. The other kids would be snacking away, and I’d have to just sit there and watch.”

My mom had lots of rules for me. So, when my Aunt Rose took to me to lunch once a week, she was told to watch what I ate and not let me eat too much. I was never allowed to order what I wanted. I wasn’t worthy, somehow.

Yesterday, our leader, Karen, assured us that we are entitled to everything! And if we eat intuitively, following our bodies directions, we’ll be just fine.

With intuitive eating, no food is off limits – all foods are legalized. If I can make a match with EXACTLY what my body wants when I’m hungry, I’ll pick the right food and be completely satisfied with the right amount. It doesn’t matter if the food is lettuce, chicken or a milkshake.

I do tend to eat this way. However, most of my sponsees do not. I have one or two who eat more like I do, but most stick to a very strict food plan and abstain from certain foods which they find difficult, such as sugar and white flour. That works really well for them. The most important aspect, I believe, is knowing MY OWN TRUTH. When I am completely honest with myself, what is the right approach? Are there certain foods that are simply too troubling? Do I do better what a set a plan? Whatever my answers are, I need to honor them.

I brought my friend Annie with me yesterday, and while she loved the feminist perspective, she felt the process wouldn’t work for her at all. She’s so happy with her food plan, and by knowing exactly when and what she’s going to eat daily, she feels she can put down the food and live life totally free.

I did really appreciate Karen’s anti-diet approach. She spoke about accepting ourselves as we are right now, no matter if we never lose another pound in our lives. Weight loss is not to be commended because of the warped philosophy that it’s ‘better’ to be thin. Weight loss may possibly be a good sign that I have gotten in touch with eating from hunger, not emotion.

Now, we get to the part where Karen and I started to part ways. Intuitive eating is all about learning to eat when I’m hungry and to stop when I’m full. And If I’m not hungry and I’m eating, it’s emotional eating. I need to learn to ‘feel my feelings’ and not eat over them.

For me, that doesn’t nearly go far enough. Sitting with bad feelings is not going to work for me. For example, the woman sitting next to me said she was filled with resentment and fear and then ate 15 fudge pops.

I bit my tongue – there IS a way out from under resentment and fear. The 12 Steps offer a clear way to face and BE RID of fear and resentment and guilt and shame. And then the desire to eat over these is REMOVED.

By taking the hard (and often, tough) look at myself, I can get over self-pity and resentment, and see that I’m not a victim at all – in fact, I’m just fine. I can also bravely face my fears and see that I can survive. I need to get out of myself, I need to be brave and I need to contribute to the world.

Mostly, I need to take action – not sit and ‘feel my feelings’.

That’s what works for me.

It was a fascinating day, though, and I did learn a couple of things. One thing I did love was when Jen was talking about always wanting to over-eat chocolate cake and Karen turned to her and said,

“You’ve never lived in such a way where cake doesn’t glitter.”

Exactly! Cake doesn’t glitter for me anymore. Life can and does glitter. And that’s pretty darn freeing.