What I Didn’t Know

 

I didn’t know grief before this. I had a loose empathy and reverence for it because of my dear friend Mished-up, but I just didn’t get how it overtakes you. And, let’s be real, although my father left this plane in a tragic, violent manner, we’d been almost entirely estranged for several years and on a surface level I had accepted that I had lost him to alcoholism shortly after getting sober myself. I grieve, and then I grieve some more when I realize how others must feel when they lose someone that they woke up next to every day or tucked into bed every night.

He’s been gone two weeks now. The insomnia/flashbacks from viewing him at the mortuary subsided within a couple days. The crushing early-morning wakeup call of heartache and tears left after about a week. The early-morning anxiety and feeling like I need to do something about all this (memorial planning, obituary writing, etc.) is still here. So I usually paddle downstairs before everyone is awake and stare at the computer screen and feel lost. The day-to-day is easier. I don’t feel entirely sad. I sometimes feel numb. It’s easier to fake that everything is okay. It’s easier to not think about it. I can smile and laugh. I danced with the kids at a school event last night. I only want to watch comedy on TV.

What’s not easier is concentration. I’ve had trouble helping the kids with homework. I signed them up for the wrong swim classes. I outsourced the obituary to my mom because I felt like I didn’t know how to put the words together. I can’t really read too much. I’m generally forgetful (i.e. forgot both my mother’s and husband’s birthdays this week.) I’m hoping this gets better and am trusting that it will.

I started this blog to help myself recover from alcoholism and disordered eating. I guess now it’s also to recover from my dad’s suicide as a result of alcoholism. As I type that I already know that they are entangled and in some ways one and the same. Because what I didn’t know is that after my dad’s suicide I would hate myself. I don’t want this to be true or admit it to you. But it’s there. And I’m embarrassed by the amount of time I spend thinking about how gross my body is while my family grieves. I feel selfish. Like a monster. I mean, who cares about fat when he is dead.

But this is me being honest. So that it can get better. Because I’m the child of someone who hated themselves and that has not worked out well for any of us. One of the first overwhelming feelings I had when he left was that God had perfectly forgiven him and I just wished he had known that. I also had the thought that if God loved him so much, then he must love me, too. And you.

Unfortunately that grace subsided and what has come up is a voice that tells me I’m disgusting every time I look in the mirror. Fuck.

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30/30, Self-doubt, Gaslighting

Never say never, but I think this will be my last Whole30 for quite some time.  The first time around I got so much out of it.  I really became aware of how certain foods affect me, and that makes it so much easier to make good food choices.  I think it’s hard to refuse the burger and fries just because they are unhealthy.  Not so hard to refuse when it is going to wreck you digestively for 24 hours.  Y’all know I’ve hemmed and hawed over this 2nd round.  I’m proud that I’ve finished, but I’m glad to be finished.

Suspect I’ve lost some more weight, and I wrote about the bit of anxiety it was causing.  Yesterday in therapy I made an amazing discovery that really this just comes down to not trusting my own body.  As long as I am responding to my hunger and fullness, making the best choices for my body and keeping a conscious eye on my emotional eating, my body is going to find it’s right place.  Maybe it’s less weight, maybe it’s more.  Today I’m open to whatever comes.

Many of us are so used to relying on external cues to tell us we are okay.  Corporations trying to sell us shit have told us what our bodies are supposed to look like.  We become fixated on numbers on the scale, dress sizes, body fat percentages, etc. as an indicator of whether we are good and normal.  I’m suddenly aware that it is impossible to love your own body if you’re looking at someone else’s as the ideal.  A wise friend of mine offers the reminder, “Eyes on your own paper.”

One thing I’ve learned over the past year is that just like my alcoholism is a symptom of a spiritual disease, trying to change my body from the outside in is a symptom of not trusting myself.

I came across this article the other day.  I can’t tell you how much I love it.  From an early age I was told that I was dramatic, sensitive and prone to overreacting.  Looking back, I was just expressing normal emotions and the people around me were so emotionally repressed that they didn’t know how to deal with it.  When I suffered a trauma in my teens, I was told to, “Pull it together,” because my behavior was embarrassing.  I don’t fault my mom for that; she didn’t have the whole story.

When everyone around you is telling you that your emotions aren’t right, eventually you start to believe it.  Eventually you stop trusting yourself.  Eventually you become so out of touch with your feelings, that you’re hard-pressed to label them when asked.  I used to get upset and have no idea why.  Many times I’d find myself in an argument with my husband and just be making a best logical guess at why I was agitated.  I felt totally separate from my feelings.

I want to make some kind of poignant wrap-up, but must to return to the land of diapers and dishes.  You get the gist, right?  If I can’t trust my emotional feelings and myself, how on earth can I expect to trust my physical feelings and my body.  Have you ever been gaslighted?

Is This Real Life?

Great post on Mark’s Daily Apple today.

He offers up some steps to help deal with emotional eating.  Good stuff that most people trying to lose weight gloss over, but I believe is vital.

photo (12)I’ve been thinking about this quote obsessively since yesterday.  How amazingly true and counterintuitive.  It is the foundation of Step 1, and I see how that has worked to get and keep me sober.  I accept that I am an alcoholic and I also accept that in order to stay sober, I must work the steps and implement them into my daily life.

I think for a long time I was in denial about the fact that I was going to be permanently overweight because of my choices and lifestyle.  I had this idea that things would somehow magically get better and that I was not that bad.  That the slow crawl I was doing towards obesity was just a temporary thing and one day I was going to wake up, be in shape and eat less ice cream and more kale.  Maybe the first time I really saw myself was in that CrossFit class.

At some point I began thinking, “Yes.  This is where I really am.  All my past thinking and behavior has gotten me here.”  And then some time later I also accepted that it was going to take a lot of work to get out of the hole I was in.  Not just a diet or exercise plan, but a complete overhaul of the way I looked at food, fitness, weight and my body.  That’s a lot of work.  Physical, mental, emotional and spiritual work.  And I don’t know if you are aware, but I have two little kids and not that much time to myself.  However, because I’d already gotten sober (that definitely involved some work), I knew it could be done.  I knew that this kind of work looks WAY scarier from the outside looking in.  It’s sometimes difficult, but always worth it.  You start by accepting where you are, take an honest look at how you got there and just put one foot in front of the other.

And for God’s sake don’t try and do it alone!

Whole30 Day22 and why losing weight is scary.

Feels like I’m in the final stretch of this Whole30 nonsense.  A week ago today I decided I was going to quit.  I announced to my food group that I was going to announce to my Whole30 group that I was turning in the towel halfway through.  It makes me laugh now.  A few posts back I talked about feeling a sense of responsibility to the people who were doing it for the first time.  Well that delusion persisted and suffocated me until I got to that place of “fuck it.”  I’m grateful to have a very wise, sober friend who gently suggested, “You know, you don’t have to tell anyone what you are doing.”  And just like that the situation deflated.  Listen folks, I’m just not that important.  I’m not saying this in the spirit of putting myself down, but to acknowledge that I had ventured beyond right-sized and into grandiose.  The only person I’m responsible for is myself.  Ahhhhhh, what a relief!

Over the past week I’ve noticed my pants fitting loser once again.  I touched on this in my last post, but a strange something is going on in that I am not necessarily thrilled by the weight loss.  I don’t weigh, so I only go by how I feel.  When I look in the mirror I feel mostly happy with my body and sometimes I love it.  I feel really feminine and strong.  So when I put on a relatively new pair of jeans and found that the butt was sagging, I noticed that I felt a bit of panic rising in me.  Part of it was that I don’t want to fork out money for new clothes, but behind that was the thought, “But I like where I am.”  And delving deep down to the bottom was the belief that skinny = dangerous.

I didn’t totally acknowledge that thought at the time, but I could feel this little niggling discomfort at the idea of losing more weight.  I couldn’t put my finger on it until I read this post from In My Skinny Jeans.  When I met ED I was 15 and bottomed out after a real mind-fuck of a relationship.  Self-worth was nil and I stopped eating much of anything.  The thinner I got, the more attention I got and I found myself in some situations that feel very dark and sad.  Then we moved out of state.  I got a fresh start, came back to a normal weight and began blaming that normal weight as the reason why boys at this new school didn’t like me.  Never mind that my aura screamed “DO NOT DISTURB!”  When I finally was able to cobble together a relationship in college, I started eating with enthusiasm and couldn’t seem to stop.  When that relationship began to display some serious foundational cracks, I decided to learn how to purge.  It goes on and on like that.

It seems almost insane that I would never put it together until now.  Yes, Miss Skinny Jeans!!!  Sexuality.  Yes.  **deep sigh**  So I’m even more grateful to be on the path of discovering my erotic creature through feminine movement.  It sounds kind of silly when I type it out, but WHATEVER!  That is totally what I am doing and I think it’s fantastic and interesting!  From here on out I plan to post a link to the song I choose for my dance each week.  I’m two weeks behind so…

She absolutely loved this one:

She absolutely hated this one which was a surprise because I love this song!

I Don’t Just Say No

I’ve spent the majority of my adult life failing at diets.  I can’t say for sure, but I don’t think I ever lasted more than 2 weeks on a diet.  The counting and measuring was too laborious and the restriction was suffocating.  Plus, I couldn’t stop drinking.  When I entered therapy for my eating last year I already knew that diets didn’t work, so I was relieved to swear them off forever.

Today I confuse myself because I follow a paleo diet probably 95% of the time.  When I first decided to go paleo, I was really conflicted because of my pledge.  Later I did a Whole30 and further baffled and questioned myself.  Was I dieting?  Was I restricting?  Was it going to lead to a backlash binge?  So far (it’s been about 6 months) I haven’t had any retaliation eating.  Sometimes an urge might come up, but I’m usually able to identify an emotional cause and work through it.  I want to roll my own eyes at myself when I justify my nutrition plan with, “It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle,” but I think that is the truth.

Although I choose to not eat grains, legumes, soy, refined sugars and I limit dairy, the reality is that I give myself permission to have whatever I want at any given time.  The caveat is that I have to be aware of the consequences of what I put in my body.   “This will make you fat,” is not a consequence.   It’s shaming, mean and puts me into an immediate state of longing.  Today I was driving home from the gym, knew I needed some protein but didn’t want to cook.  I passed by Zankou Chicken, thought about stopping in and thought, “That will give you garlic breath.”  Now there is a concrete consequence.  I have shit to do tomorrow, I can’t be blowing dragon breath on people.  Because of Whole30 I know that gluten gives me tiny, itchy bumps on my cheeks, peanuts give me heartburn, soy cause huge zits, vegetable oil upsets my stomach, etc.  Suddenly these foods have very real consequences.  So when I crave something, I have to weigh whether the taste pleasure is worth the suffering that will come later.  When I pause, I’m usually able to make the kind choice for myself.

Then there is sugar.  I think that beast deserves its own post.

If you’re not from LA and, therefore, haven’t ever gotten down with some Zankou Chicken, it even gets a mention in one of my favorite songs of all time.

I’m Eating Chocolate Right Now

Pretty sure my keyboard is getting chocolate smudges.  I’m having a sweet attack and am just going to go with it.  I’m worried about my husband’s family in NY.  Sandy is approaching and each time we get on the phone they sound more and more scared.  My father-in-law said it is the worst storm he has ever seen and it hasn’t even touched down yet.

My dog has something wrong with her nose.  I’ve been trying to treat it for weeks and it’s getting worse.  I’m taking her to the vet in an hour and am already pissed off by the bill.  Whatever it is, and it’s always a lot, there isn’t room in the budget.

I got socked with a major drinking craving on Saturday that left me in tears.  We had an extremely rare date night planned, and I got upset that I couldn’t drink.  I played out the fantasy to then end, and even though it ended in me trying to drunkenly add up the babysitter’s money and then overpaying due to literal fuzzy math, I couldn’t shake it.  My 1st step is annoyingly solid sometimes.  Surprisingly what made me feel better was my sponsor telling me that at 16 years sober she gets craving every now and then.  She said that our natural state is to want a drink, and that made me feel like less of a freak.

So what do these three different things have in common?  Weather, illness, alcoholism?  Three things that I’m totally powerless over.  I’ve started reading Start Where You Are by Pema Chodron.  She was talking about control being an illusion.  The big things like natural disasters, sicknesses and oh yes, addictions smash that illusion to pieces.  It throws our powerlessness in our face, and that is quite uncomfortable.  I’ve managed to stop at 4 pieces and feel pretty satisfied.  A little chocolate and reflection goes a long way.

It’s Heeeeere!

The Halloween candy has arrived.  We live on a steep hill and don’t get trick-or-treaters because kids are lazy little buggers these days.  I don’t have a good reason to have the candy in the house, and am glad to not have to waste money on it.  Although yesterday I saw mini bags of Pirate’s Booty and made a mental note.  Happy gluten-free Halloween, kids.

Last night we went to a Halloween festival at my son’s school.  It was adorable, but I let the stress of getting dressed and out the door get to me.  Then I spent the whole time chasing them in opposite directions.  The Power Ranger insisted on going in the haunted house which is hilarious because he often gets scared watching Dora.  The butterfly just wanted to play in leaf piles.  I got into self-pity because my husband has been working so much these last two weeks.  I expertly turned the Halloween festival into, “OH MY GOD I ALWAYS HAVE TO DO EVERYTHING ALL BY MYSELF!”  I’m awesome.

Anyway, we came home with the first Halloween candy of the season.  It’s only noteworthy because I really don’t give a crap.  I don’t want to eat it.  I look at it and see chemicals and diarrhea.  Sorry.  Since reading It Starts With Food, this type of highly-processed stuff doesn’t appeal to me.  And since my Whole30, well I’m pretty sure that even a little of that stuff would end in zits and an upset stomach.  If I wanted to fall head-first into a sweet binge, I’d probably take the time to bake something so I know what’s in it.  I now am so aware of the consequences of my choices.  And since I’m not drinking, those consequences are a lot more uncomfortable than they used to be.

How are you feeling about the Halloween candy?

Getting Right-Sized

Getting emotionally right-sized is something that comes up in almost every conversation I have with my sponsor. I suspect that leveling the playing field of life will be central to my recovery from alcoholism, but it recently it occurred to me that getting right-sized is the literal goal of my food recovery.

One of the reasons I cited for my drinking is that I felt overwhelmed by the task of living. The day-to-day stuff you have to do to keep life moving forward for myself, my kids, my husband felt so monumental. Sometimes it seemed to me like I was responsible for making the earth revolve. I saw myself failing at a responsibility I didn’t even want. So I drank and ate because it numbed the feelings of failure. Plus, didn’t I deserve something for all my hard work?

This perspective I had of being the one in control, the one keeping everything and everyone moving forward, was a result of an inflated ego and it lead to the inflation of my body. And you know something, I’m not alone in this. In talking to others who struggle with overeating and being overweight, I think we all share this notion of having more power and control over life than we actually do. The most common thread I see is that we view ourselves as being able to manage the happiness of others. I can’t tell you how many overweight women I’ve heard identify as people pleasers. And there are those of us who don’t even realize we are doing it.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I think people pleasing, controlling and manipulating life, doing doing doing, etc. are symptoms of an enlarged ego. Not ego in the sense of self-esteem, but ego in the sense of believing I have that much power over others. Ego in the sense of believing I can make life turn out the way I think it should be. My sponsor calls it playing God. I don’t know if ego gets much bigger than that.

Then there is the flip side. I had a bout of anorexia in my teens. It was brought on by a distinct feeling of powerlessness. It felt like I had misread the rule book of life. It felt like nothing I did or said mattered to anyone. It felt like life was slipping through my hands. The women I have known who struggle with anorexia have said similar things to me. I don’t know about them, but preceding this feeling of uselessness was the idea that same belief that if I did x, y, z that I was somehow guaranteed something. When things didn’t go according to plan, I started to believe that maybe there was nothing I could do to get the life I wanted.

Two opposite sides of the coin, but both founded on the same mistaken belief. I can’t say it more perfectly than the Big Book does, “Is he not a victim of the delusion that he can wrest satisfaction and happiness out of this world if he only manages well?” I think putting some cracks in that delusion was the beginning of me getting right-sized. Not everything is up to me, but I’m not a victim of life either.

It’s a half-baked theory, but wondering what everyone’s experience has been with this.