Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Dear scared, angry Aubrey,
I know sometimes you feel helpless and useless. I know you have large stretches of memory where you did nothing but zone out to TV for weeks at a time, barely even making conversation or doing your homework. I know you feel like you wasted so much and it hurts so badly to feel like a day is wasted.
It's not wasted. Baby, you don't have to tally up at the end of each day. No one is coming for the reckoning to say, "How'd you spend this day?" It's your life you need to worry about. Let it go.
How is cramming angry food into your angry face going to make the day amount to something? How is hurting yourself going to make you alive? You want to feel successful and productive? Go for a goddam walk.
You just went outside in the whipping wind with little flecks of snow whirling around your pretty face, and in a moment of calm you drew a breath and raised your arm. Then you hurled that hideous mug right into the dumpster, listening to the shatter and pop of the ugly ceramic. That felt great, right?
I'd like to remind you that you belong to a martial arts institution. Seriously, girl, try beating your fists bloody sometime. You love that crap.
I will not take my anger and frustration out on my fridge any more. I will not subvert the beauty of food by shoveling gross stuff into my face. When I am angry, I will beat the mother loving crap out of nothing in particular. I will exhaust myself. I will be a fierce, dangerous woman. I won't be afraid.
Monday, February 27, 2012
I can spit out the rhetoric concerning emotional eating like no other and yet I still have no idea what it is. I have a sad, stupid image in my head of some girl sitting on the couch and weeping while shoveling Ben and Jerry's into her mouth. Um... okay, that is emotional eating, yes, but that is also a simplified version of it.
You want to know what else is emotional eating? Eating when you aren't hungry and eating well past the point of satiation. It doesn't matter what you are eating--oreos or okra--if you are cramming it down without listening to your gut, then you have imbued that food with extra meaning.
I'm emotionally eating and I find myself trying to substitute my binges with healthier options. The food isn't the problem and treating it is superficial. I have to admit I'm an emotional eater and deal with THAT.
So why am I cramming chocolate popcorn in my maw like I'm a competitive eater? Because I am ashamed. Our family is financially stable while I'm unemployed and I'm debt-free. The fact that I am "safe" and "lucky" makes me invalidate my sadness saying, "You don't deserve to be unhappy. You are white, middle class, American, educated, and thriving. STFU, girl."
So I shut it by eating. I constantly tell myself that I do not deserve to be unhappy, that I cannot "afford" to be sad. Only occasionally (and always with physical stress) am I able to say, "Let me mourn this." I'm not letting myself mourn, I'm not letting myself face my sorrows and say, "Yeah my life is perfect but some stuff still sucks."
So first of all I apologize for complaining when I am so blessed but I have to get it off my chest. My problems are minor in the face of the greater world but they are MY PROBLEMS and I have control over those. I have to choose to solve them rather than be ashamed of them.
I'm no longer ashamed of being unemployed but I am ashamed of being LAZY. I have an image in my head which is half-true-half-crazy: the fat entitled sloth girl who lives off the hard work of other people. I wake up late, I stuff my face, I'm unemployed, I have gone whole days in my pajamas.
But the reality is that isn't true. For lent I am waking up to greet the sun. I volunteer with a running program called Back On My Feet which helps the homeless get back into viable markets through running and we have to run at 5:45 in the morning. Usually I don't stuff my face, in fact I usually cook awesome and healthy meals for our little family. I start every weekday morning with sexy oatmeal and flax. I put on my shoes and always make sure to dress well in order to stop myself from just locking myself in the bedroom. I'm writing. I sent in two great stories to three different contests this week and I'm ready to send them in to more. I'm editing friends' papers and getting my life together.
Still, some of these problems are real. I am afraid that I will never be successful (whatever that means) or I will never pull my weight in our family (as if that is why my husband married me). I'm afraid that I'll become lazy, entitled and isolated. I'm afraid that I'll take advantage of my good fortune or I'll intentionally exploit other people. A crazy, absolutely insane part of me is afraid of actually BEING successful.
If I lose the weight, if I become a writer, if I become a happy bread winner then I really won't have any more excuses to be sad. I'll be skinny and rich and in love, so I can never EVER feel down. That's what I think anyway, and I know it is totally crazy.
Once I deal with that insane little piece of me, once I stop being afraid of no longer having an excuse, I can move forward.
Sunday, February 19, 2012
In order to live as an obese child and teenager I had to disassociate from my body. I've been able to reverse some of that on my own, but there is still one unexplored frontier: my pelvis. I have absolutely no idea what my pelvic floor is, but my physical therapist determined that I have a tension knot in it. She would move my legs and say, "Does this hurt?" and honest-to-God I didn't know the answer. Did it hurt? Or was that pain the same as my daily, normal pain?
That is a bad sign, Sparkers. When you cannot tell whether you are in pain, you are in serious denial. On Wednesday I was forced to see that I am broken, that I have done bad things to my body, and that I've been lying to myself for a long time. My body has been crying out to me and I have not been listening. I am so disconnected from my center that I cannot even begin to work on the tension knot in my pelvic floor--I cannot find it. Try moving just your third toe, only that toe, and you'll know what I mean when I say I'm lost. I don't feel in control of my body at all.
I came home with a bizarre prescription from the physical therapist: Massage Crotch Daily. I have to work on overstimulating my scar tissue in order to get the nerves to re-calibrate. I also have to bring my abdominal walls back together (diastasis recti) using simple, slow exercises. Currently you can stick three fingers in the gap (btw there should be no gap at all, it should have a ligament holding them together. I've lost mine and they will never be joined again, but I can still fix my muscle strength. Pregnant women get this, usually.) Once we get those problems settled we can get to the center of things (literally).
It's more than being fat. I did not trust my body and I ignored it. Now, as I grow healthier, I can see what a great and wonderful tool my body is for my mental and physical health: it warns me if that food didn't sit right (whereas before I would have kept eating it anyway). My body warns me when I am stressed out or allergic to something (whereas before I would have shrugged off the tension and headaches as part of my regular life). It asks for specific nutrients when I am sick or lacking (Craving potatoes and onions? Maybe I need the potassium!) What sort of messages and information am I missing by ignoring my lower body? What kind of pain am I pretending is normal every day? Pain that is so ubiquitous I can barely recognize it any more?
Wish me luck, Sparkfriends.
Saturday, February 04, 2012
When I was fifteen I felt like I was a mute. My language was not my own, I felt the increasing pressure of not having a catharsis. I could not articulate myself through language, music, art, dance, or any other form that I tried. I didn't understand my body, I didn't understand my thoughts. I clearly remember staring at an opinionated girl in class and I thinking to myself, "I wish I had opinions."
My parents were writers and my English teachers passed me on assignments because I could use punctuation properly. I did not understand what a preposition was, and I am still pretty confused about particles (in terms of English grammar). Occasionally I rebelled, in a muffled sort of way.
When asked, in a writing prompt, about a girl spending her family's grocery money on new acid-wash jeans so that she would still look middle-class in school, I responded "Acid-wash jeans are out of style and this metaphor is irrelevant." I failed that assignment without further inquiry into why I undermined my own work.
I took four years of guitar. A few times I cried in front of my teacher, which is an ugly sight when you are overweight, greasy-haired and plagued with acne. I remember learning a song and being able to play it, but never feeling it. My teacher cranked up the accompaniment and said, "Feel it! Let it go!" but I couldn't. I can't remember any of the music I learned.
I was very, very angry and I didn't know what to do about it. I didn't even know I was mad.
Then I went to Italy. Apparently over there people don't speak English, and so I found myself forced to rely on a language that was not my own. My brain began to re-wire as I sought to match the ideas to the words; concepts to articulation.
After a bit of short-circuiting in an American Starbucks (where they are cavalier with their Italian and confused my jumbled brain, "Uno tall macchiato per favore? I mean, A piccolo macchiato--CAZZO!) I began to speak English more clearly. I began to articulate myself. In a Theology class I overran a discussion about Karl Rahner (who is kind of a big deal) and I stood apart from myself thinking, "Who is this girl?"
I began to find conduits for catharsis. I began to see and hear and touch and marvel at myself. The world I grew up in was apathetic and expected me to ride on the middle-class coattails of my parents and my social whiteness. I was not challenged or forced to ask hard questions. "Your parents are writers?" They would ask, "Then study English." It was a small act of rebellion not to do this.
Now, my yoga instructor says, "Join me for this tumbling class on the weekends." That sounds easy, right? I got a look at the online flyer and it is called "Ninja Club" and involves lots of flipping and climbing up walls. I am flattered and bemused that my wirey, six-foot-six instructor seems to think we are the same size and that I am capable of things like walking on my hands or back handsprings. Often I find myself back in the muted-15-year-old body saying, holding my hands over my ears and rocking. "I can't do that," I say to myself, "I'm not that person."
But then, as I let my hips raise over my shoulders and the weight balance into my arms, I realize I am that person. And I can fly.
Friday, January 27, 2012
I was delighted to get my body fat percentage read again on Tuesday, and when he said "twenty-eight percent" I about spit. I LOST SIX PERCENT??!
"Uh, no. You were 28% last week, too. If anything, you went up .00483%"
But I didn't hear that. All I heard was twenty-eight-percent.
Last year the lowest I got was 32%. Last year, I was struggling with the thirties. Wow.
I also weighed in at 168, which was a 2lb loss. I am aiming for 1.1lbs loss per week, so I'm ahead of schedule! Yay!
You'd think with all this good news I'd be pumped and motivated, right? Well... one of the girls lost 6lbs in just a week (though, to be fair, she did inflate her initial number by overeating and drinking tons of water on the first day) so I'm feeling "behind"
But I got up this morning to go on a run with the guys at the YMCA as part of Back on My Feet. I walked with Steve, who is just starting running, and we talked about perseverance. We talked about trusting the process and showing up.
I thought about "show don't tell" and how I'm pretty good at talking the talk, but sometimes I just stay in bed and skip the day. I thought about how I feel like I should always be eager, always be up and ready for a fight. The truth is, sometimes you have to haul yourself up and fake it until you make it. Sometimes the only way to get happy and motivated again is to just do it. I thought about how my numbers, my flexibility and my body speak to my experiences better than my words.
I thought about how easily I can lie to myself.
Last night, I was feeling disjointed and lazy. I wasn't particularly motivated to go to yoga & kettlebell that night, but I went anyway. My friend texted me and said, Cherish these moments of weakness. You will not always feel this way, and you need to remember what it is like to be at the bottom so you can better appreciate your progress in the future.
Yoga was beautiful. Kettlebell was rough, but good (my push-up form is weak and I overcompensate with my legs when I should use my abs for crunches). I have a ways to go, but I have to remember where I'm starting. I have to trust the process, show up, and take credit for my progress.
See you soon, Sparkers :)
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