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When Things Fall Apart

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

If I were a hermit I would be skinny.

Seriously - if all I had to think about was myself, my daily caloric intake and expenditure and had zero distractions from the outside world, this whole thing would be a piece of cake (or piece of reduced fat, sugar free banana bread).

But we all know that's not normal, and I cannot, for the life of me, figure out how to live IN THE MIDDLE. I'm either on the wagon or off the wagon and for a whopping 10 days in a row now (or more), I've been OH SO OFF.

Why? Because I have friends. And a boyfriend. And work. All the things that NORMAL people have, but who are ruining my life. Well - my skinny life.

When I was really fat (313 pounds of fat on a 5'2" frame) I didn't have a lot of friends. I had a boyfriend for a while, but that relationship was unhealthy in so many ways I lost count. I had the same job, but my coworkers were on health kicks too, so changing my daily Starbucks/Chipotle/Potbelly habit wasn't as hard as it could have been. In short - for the year and a bit that it took me to lose 130 pounds, I pretty much WAS a hermit. I gave up living (fully) to lose weight. And for a year of my life, that was ok. I was fine with that sacrifice. I had Spark, and the people here substituted for "real life" friends. I was fueled by "woohoos" and "way to gos" and by the ever decreasing scale. I wasn't lonely and I wasn't hungry because those things kept me full. I was my own best friend.

But times have changed. Sparkfriends don't show up at your office asking you to go out for dinner with them (mostly because they live in other states!). The scale doesn't follow you to a Saturday night party and tell you you're better off without wine and cheese and puff pastry and candy corn cupcakes. And instead of living just for myself, I am now living for 2 people. I have expanded my sense of who I am again to include my significant other, and that means that I have also "expanded" again.

Here's a common piece of advice that we have all read in about 100 different articles:

When you go to a party, eat ahead of time so you aren't hungry, stick to veggies and other low calorie options and limit your alcoholic beverage consumption to you can maintain control of your inhibitions and your calorie consumption. Concentrate on having fun with your friends and not on the food.

And here's the reality of the situation:

I go to a party at which I know about 2 people in the room. So already my social anxiety is high. How do we deal with that? Alcohol. Lubricates the conversation, and the salivary glands and EVERYONE else is drinking - heavily. This said party is in a TINY one-bedroom apartment, and every single surface is COVERED with food. Not a freaking carrot to be found. Cheese and crackers, pizza, pigs in a blanket, pumpkin bread, cupcakes, pie, coffee cake, candy corn, and SO MUCH ALCOHOL. Everyone at this party (and there have to be about 40 people crammed into this teeny tiny space) has brought both a food item and a bottle of something. There's even coolers of alcohol out on the balcony cause there's no more room in the kitchen. Admittedly, this is a kickin' party. Welcome to socializing in your 30s. We finally have the money and the means and the locations and the friend circles to do it, and do it up good. This is an experience that I have not had many of. I don't go to parties like this, because for my entire life I have been a loner. I don't get invited to these events. My boyfriend does. He makes friends like bees to honey and he has an invitation to somewhere awesome almost every weekend. I am profoundly jealous. So what do I do? I get TRASHED on far too much wine, and eat about half of the cheese and cracker tray and the pumpkin bread by myself. Because even though I followed the advice to eat before, and even though I wasn't hungry, and even though I was only going to have a small amount of wine, I literally went crazy. My brain clicked off, all sense of reason flew off the alcohol laden balcony, and I went into full-on food zombie mode. And this is what happens 98% of the time when I try to involve other people in my life. I lose control, and I become a food zombie. And I KNOW I'm not alone in this confession.

So I need to be a hermit. But that's never going to happen. In losing 130 pounds, I have gained so many things in my life that I never had before. But I know why I can't lose anymore weight right now - it's because I can't handle what I have gained from the last loss.

Here's another example:

After a series of very bad days that all ended with me on my couch with the bucket of leftover Halloween candy, consuming at lightning pace mini bar after mini bar after mini bar, I jumped back on the wagon yesterday morning. Mondays are good for "dieters" - Mondays are always fresh starts because they're built that way. Clean slate. Here we go. I had a great breakfast, great lunch, snacks were on schedule, and then my friend Jess called. Jess is a great girl. We're just in the baby stages of something that I felt could have been a really lovely friendship. It's like dating. We're still figuring each other out, but times with her are good times and I had high hopes. And then she found out she's moving to Michigan. This week. And my hopes were instantly dashed. It's not like we aren't going to ever talk again, but I am so desperate for a really great girlfriend in the city, I feel like I've been kicked. Things were going so well. So when she called me up to have dinner with her last night, there was no way I was going to refuse just so I could go home and have me pre-planned pumpkin and carrot smoothie. Add insult to injury, the restaurant we chose comped us strawberry mango bubble teas and an order of coconut shrimp IN ADDITION to our order. I am the type of person who feels like I'm being rude if I refuse food that has been given to me, for free. That's a issue. So I ate it. All of it. Plus half of my regular order. And half of the appetizer that Jess ordered "for both of us". And then I was so upset over being off the wagon again, I went home and consumed the rest of the Halloween candy.

I woke up this morning with a salt & sugar hangover. My head is still pounding. And I feel like I can't win. I can EITHER be skinny or have a life. Apparently I have no idea how to do both.

And the icing on the cake: Nikhil and I are not speaking right now because he caught me with my lover...the bowl of Halloween candy, right in the middle of a binge. I tried to cover it up, tried to laugh it off, but the truth of the matter is that I was so naked, so exposed, and so embarrassed by the incident that I blamed him for surprising me. I blamed him for a sweet and perfectly innocent and kind gesture(a gesture that I have complained he doesn't do enough of in the past) because I was so upset over what he had walked into that I went crazy. The fight about him "barging in on my personal time" escalated to the point that I asked him to leave my house. Which he did. In a very, very angry huff. And now we're not speaking because he is so hurt over something that I caused. But my own pride was so hurt, my own dirty little secret so precious to me, that I am at a loss for how to explain this to him in words that he will understand.

I am disgusted by myself. But I know I cannot heal from this until I can accept it. I'm just not there yet. Acceptance right now feels too much like an excuse for bad behaviour. And the longer I continue to berate myself for these actions, the harder I'm going to fight against it and the more I'm going to eat and binge. It's a horrible, terrible, awful cycle - and I know I'm not the only one out there who feels like this.

But how do you learn to love? How do you accept these hurtful things that you know about yourself and forgive the years and years of self-hatred? How do you drag yourself out from under the image of gluttony and sloth that is so red hot in your mind and smooth that over into something that you can find acceptable? I don't have the answers yet. I'm still in a place that feels FAKE when I say that I miss running. I won't allow myself to be that healthy person who can say things like that because for so many years I have fought so hard against that image. Fat Me is not gone yet. She's hanging on for dear life and she's an ugly bitch when she's angry. I'm living with the monster every single day and I don't know how to shake her loose. She is trying SO hard to rebuild and refortify the parts of her that I got rid of. She is the one that needs the fat - the fat is her fortress - the barrier against the outside world of "others" that might try to break me down. I don't know how to be exposed without the fat fortress. Because when people don't like me or get upset with me or cut me down or aren't what I expect when I'm fat, it's the fat's fault - not mine. But when I don't have the fat, when I'm just a regular person with nothing else to blame for my shortcomings, they are MY shortcomings. And I guess maybe I'm not ready to admit to all the things that I don't really like about myself yet. I'm really good at picking apart the things that I don't like in other people, but I can't accept those things in me. It's just so much easier to hide behind the fat. And Halloween candy tastes good. So it's too much positive reinforcement in negative actions right now for my good reason to fight. I feel like I'm losing the battle and I don't know what to do. And when I'm angry all the time, I'm leaving a path of destruction in my wake - Fat Me is trying to destroy the new things I have painstakingly built for myself - my health, my relationships, my sense of self.

If there's one thing I do know it is this: I don't need to be a hermit in real life to be skinny. Friends and events and work are all positive things that we need in our lives to feel normal and fulfilled. But I do need to get rid of the monster that lives inside me every day. This is not her territory anymore. But the death match going on in my head is exhausting, and there are times when I really don't know who is going to win.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I think you depicted the eternal struggle perfectly. I commend you for that. I like that you don't pretend that everything is easy because you are successful.

    You are a brave one. You are.

    2328 days ago
  • PJH2028
    "I don't know how to be exposed without the fat fortress. Because when people don't like me or get upset with me or cut me down or aren't what I expect when I'm fat, it's the fat's fault - not mine. But when I don't have the fat, when I'm just a regular person with nothing else to blame for my shortcomings, they are MY shortcomings. And I guess maybe I'm not ready to admit to all the things that I don't really like about myself yet. I'm really good at picking apart the things that I don't like in other people, but I can't accept those things in me. It's just so much easier to hide behind the fat."

    Will the real me please stand up!?
    Yes... I hope so, and She's here. We've all just got to keep making it safe for our Real Me (parts of the fat me and parts of the skinny me combined? plus new parts that have been bound and gagged by fat me for decades?). Keep discovering creative ways to help her shine.

    New goals for 2013.
    Love you,
    2328 days ago
  • no profile photo SHELLYBABE2
    emoticon I've been struggling with my journey lately and have read a couple of blogs (one of them yours) that eloquently describes my struggles and offers me hope that I'm not as alone as I feel with said struggles. For this I thank the ones who can put down in words what I struggle to (lots of struggling here lol) & this leads to my advice for you - phone your SO & read your blog to him or show it to him because your written words are beautiful and as he loves you, he will probably feel relieved to gain some understanding as to what happened. My husband, poor soul that he is, feels relief when I get to the point where I can explain my certain crazy behaviour and I'm sure your SO will feel the same too.

    The hardest battle of all is with ourselves, if friends spoke to us like we talk to ourselves, they wouldn't be known as our friend for very long - if only we could learn to not criticise so darn much!

    Take care :)
    2334 days ago
    Wow! You had a lot to unload. I totally know where you are coming from. I am an outgoing person but, when I get in social situations my anxiety and lack of self-confidence take over. To make up for feeling nervous, I drink too much, talk too much and eat too much. I always regret it the next day. The parties just don't seem worth it to me. I want people to like me but, I really need to just like myself. It is hard to remember that sometimes.

    You are putting yourself in dangerous situations by going to the parties. I know that you want to be social and enjoy having friends and not hide in the house all the time but, the truth is that you are a food addict like me and food is your coping mechanism.

    If you were a recovering alcoholic or drug addict would you agree to sit in a room with other people drinking and doing drugs. How long do you think you would last in a stressful social situation with alcohol and drugs around? It is the same with party food. It is so tempting and pretty on those shiny trays. It is impossible to resist and drinking alcohol makes it easy to just relax and eat what you want without thinking clearly about the consequences...and yes! there are consequences!

    You gain weight, lose focus on your goals, trigger old cravings, feel lousy and risk falling off the wagon for good. Is it really worth all that for one night of partying? No!

    You have a life long journey to stay healthy. This is just something you and I will have to do. It means we have to be careful what situations we put ourselves in. It means that we have to stay home if we feel we will "slip up". It means that if we go to a party, we must have a plan we know we can stick with and do it. If we can't, we need to leave the party early or just not go. I would think about WHY you felt like you needed to be drunk and eat to enjoy the party?

    I am not judging you at all. I am not trying to make you feel bad. I am just telling you how I see it. I have been where you are many times. I go from social butterfly to hermit on a regular basis and I know that the social butterfly is a very delicate person who can enjoy being with people when she has confidence from weight loss success but, that she can ruin what she has by giving in to temptations she knows she can't resist.

    I lost 70 lbs. and let Christmas last year knock me off the wagon. Here I am after gaining back 27 lbs. and I am trying to get back on track. Was my little slip-up last Christmas worth a whole year of struggles and frustration...HECK NO!!!

    Who will be with me years from now when I am either fat or thin...ME! That's who! Not the 2 friends I knew at a party. Friends come and go. Find friends that are into exercising and meet them for Zumba class or to run, etc. It is okay to be selfish and pick only friends who have the same healthy interests you do. You can still socialize with the others on Facebook.

    I just hope that your boyfriend understands how his social life affects your health.
    emoticon emoticon
    2338 days ago
    Thank you for your honesty - for "saying" the things so many of us feel. Some things in life are painful, it's part of our experience. Jobs, relationships, friendships, loss.

    You are insightful, intelligent, beautiful, strong and lovable. You'll never go back to being who you were. Never. Even weight gain can't change what you've learned about yourself.

    With respect - and love - xxoo
    2343 days ago
  • NUMD97
    Wow. I followed the SP crumb trail and found your blog. We share an SP buddy. I totally get what you're saying. You are imploding with what it feels like to let "life" in. Hermetic stuff we get. We have no one to explain our behavior to, because no one is there. We want the outside world to come in. Yet, what you describe, perfectly describes someone I know. There are so many new things that are nice when we feel good about ourselves, that it makes it easier for others to be around. When we slip, someone has to be blamed and it's just too hard to internalize it now that we've "escaped". Does that make sense?

    So little of this lifestyle change has to do with actual weight loss. It's the other stuff in our brain that's at issue, and delving deeply is problematic for a number of reasons, different for each of us. But I agree with SouthPondCamp: Call the guy. Let him in. Let him know what is happening and why. If he loves you, as you seem to indicate, he will want to understand. And perhaps in explaining it to him, you will have more insight yourself.

    I don't want to offer simplistic answers to a very complex problem. All I know is, it takes time to undo the massive issues from our past. One brick at a time.

    I wish you well in your quest,

    2352 days ago
  • SOUTHPONDCAMP I have so been there...and feel greatly for you!

    I'm not sure which sparker said this...but you need to make that inner fat girl cry. Outer fit girl cries real tears of anger, frustration, sadness...inner fat girl cries sweat. So..GO MAKE HER CRY. Seriously. She's messing with your just ran a freakin' have the mental strength...anyone who can run a marathon has huge mental strength. You've totally got this within you...this is just a slight detour.

    Call your boyfriend. Really. Tell him what is in your head. Use lots of words---there isn't a way (at least that I know of) to explain the derailment/binge thing in a succinct paragraph. I've tried! My guy doesn't have a problem with just doesn't make a lot of sense to him.

    Tell him you know it makes no sense and you are still trying to figure things out in your head. Figure out what you need from him, if he is able, to help you get back on track. He probably wants to help and just doesn't know how! Then go for a run with him (back to making the inner fat girl cry!)

    love and are strong, awesome, and an athlete...go show that inner fat girl who is boss. xoxo

    2352 days ago
    Oh yeah babe - I feel you. What an amazing blog because we all go through this on the journey. When I am on - I am SO on - consistency is easy once I get on a roll, however the same is true when I am OFF - then I am so off and I also resent anyone who dares notice or try to help (heaven forbid people try to help us right). And yes, it is easier alone - but not rewarding. I wish I could say it was easy, or that I have it figured out (I don't) but I am right there with you trying to figure out a way to live that is MAINTAINABLE -something beyond consistency. I am not there yet, but I think it has to do with daily accountability and being able to reset and leave the past in the past. Let it go and just accept where you are - right this minute - because in the end it is all that matters

    2356 days ago
    Thank you for writing this all down. And I also feel you might want to share this blog with your boyfriend - it says your feelings very clearly.

    One thing that remains a constant struggle for me (and I am NOT losing weight like crazy) is the "forgive yourself after a setback." I logically understand that concept, but do not understand how to make it real for me.

    I, too, have struggled with my self image all my life - the only dark-haired, very smart girl in a family with three blonde, "beautiful" sisters. And then I thought I had it under control into my 20s and thirties, working out and living at a good weight for me. And so much happened for me that was good - grad school, getting married...

    But the fat girl crept into my psyche again and took over. I'm trying to put her into her place - because we don't ever get rid of who we were - we just need to learn how to integrate those parts of ourselves we don't particularly like and recognize what we learn from them. And we need to know we are not perfect and to FORGIVE ourselves for not being so.

    You've come so far over a length of time. A few weeks are a blink of an eye in the grand scheme of things. Self-awareness is the first step. Start over again now.

    I dont' have any clear cut answers, but I believe you'll find your way.

    2357 days ago
    boy I'll tell you what, that was the most honest, totally straight blog I have read in a while. it hit right in the heart.

    The fat me? oh yeah....I have come so far and it seems like the fat me, the one who sabotages everything is right there to let me know he isnt gone yet.

    It really seems to me that obesity is just as much an attitude as it is a physical condition. it always seems like that mentality is always lurking, stalking me.

    You hit so many deep things that it is difficult to meaningfully comment on them all, for real.

    Just know that you are not alone in your struggle and what you are fighting is totally normal. You are not the only one that has had stuff like that happen.

    like you, I was a total loner because of my weight but now that alot of it is gone and it seems like I have it together, I find myself still separating myself from people, making excuses, feeling like I have to choose between being "normal" or pushing hard to meet my goals... no middle ground. It seems like the bigger the goal, the more militant you have to be to reach it and it changes you.

    people just dont get what it is like to be morbidly obese then have to become almost like a superhero to lose it.

    dont know if I am making sense but I want you to know that I can relate. its hard.

    hang in there... oh btw... the sage advice about eating before a party...choose only the healthy options... lol... reality check.

    all of that stuff is easy to say when one is reading it on a computer screen but flies out the window when you drop into a situation like you described.

    such advice is totally "combat ineffective" and unrealistic.

    also... I also got a little like that after my marathon... drifted, didnt care etc.... that stuff can happen, trust me.

    you will come around. honest.... trust a fellow "vet"
    2358 days ago
    I have spent a lot of my life trying to be what I thought I should be because someone or something else projected an ideal of what I should be. My life has not been my own because I thought I should be someone that I was not and in the process I hated myself. My point here is I hated myself based on other people's standards, not my own. For example, I would feel guilty because I like to drink the whole bottle of wine and eat mexican food after, because you can't be healthy and fit and perfect if you do that, right?. Well, first I don't do it everyday, but I have grown to accept the fact that I am gonna keep doing it, it is who I am, I make no apologies, and I have to work around it. If you want to eat the bag of candy, eat it, but I know it is not the actual eating of the candy that is the issue, it is the why you are eating the candy. Don't get mired down in candy or how much you ate or drank at the party, who doesn't like to get trashed once in awhile. Life is going to happen, but be present in it now, live it now, be happy now, stop hating things about yourself for things that are just inherently you. You can only change then if don't like them or then embrace them.

    I may only be a virtual observer in your journey, but I think what you are doing and have done is extraordinary. I truly care about your struggles and I know you can move on from here, you know how to do it, but I also know that hate just gets you know where!!

    2359 days ago
  • KBARRY23
    You are much stronger than you know (and think right now)...just look back on what an amazing journey you've had. It'll help you get through the hard times. I can totally relate!

    We should plan a meet up in Chicago - I'm just a minute north in Evanston...or train for another race!!

    Keep getting back up because that's all we can do to move forward. emoticon

    2359 days ago
    I think maybe is you let Nikhil read this blog he might just understand your struggle a little better. Reining in your eating in a social situation is tough. In relationships I find myself eating like a man. My husband is 6'3" 300+ lbs. I can't keep up with that but I try. It's frustrating but knowing what the problems are is halfway to solving them. Hang in there. Better days ahead.
    2360 days ago
    Thank you for sharing this. It's something not talked about often with large weightless and I go through these cycles and feel like I am crazy. Just tonight I had my hand in the Halloween candy and snapped at the kids and Jim because I instantly felt awful. Going so far as telling Jim I wasn't happy and that I don't know why we had kids. Things I didn't mean. But food and the chemicals from eating too much makes us do crazy things. I don't know if I ever will shake that fat girl. She always rears her head. But slowly my hope is that she is not easy. Just please know that you are not alone..sometimes it's a day by day thing, others a minute by minute. I love you and am always here. I wish I wasn't in the burbs!
    2360 days ago
    Very well-written. I could relate with a lot of the things you said about the clash between socializing and working to control your weight. I hope you and your boyfriend are able to have a healthy conversation about things and patch things back up.
    2360 days ago
    What a brave blog! If you figure this all out, I hope you post again. I'm sure that you'll be able to explain yourself to Nikhil and that you guys will be speaking to each other soon. I've been in a mostly off the wagon situation myself lately. I think it's because I'm frustrated with my weight and going home at Christmas to see my parents who've both lost a considerable amount of weight, while I have not. I have a general "why bother" kind of attitude right now. But your candid and courageous blog make me want to renew my efforts to lose at least a couple of pounds in the next 5 weeks. It's possible... no need to give up! I get the hermit thing too. I think as we lose weight, we get more confident and find more friends and go to more things, and then the food and alcohol is there and our friends are enjoying and it's so easy to say me too or just this once. I don't know how to stay vigilant all the time and to be honest right now I'm suffering from a little diet/fitness fatigue. I'm just tired of obsessing about calories in and out. :) Anyway, let me stop babbling here. Just know that you're not alone in this feeling and I'm here to support you! I wish I was in Chicago so we could hang out! If you ever come to Phoenix, you better let me know!
    2360 days ago
  • -POOKIE-
    Wow, can I really relate to this blog.

    When I started losing weight, I had a boyfriend, who after I lost a couple stone, stopped wanting to let him feed me, dumped without reason (well the reason was he couldn't enjoy the change in me).

    So I was also single for nearly the whole time I was trying to lose. I briefly dated, had plenty of flings, but nothing serious, then when I met my now fiance I was only about 10 lbs off goal... and got gastric flu and met my goal *laughs*

    I maintained while we where not living together, then after surgery, when we moved, so many things changed and the cosy evenings of a takeaway, or sharing a box of cookies (like I literally just finished and feel slightly sugar rushed from) or the little thoughts you could put aside if nobody encouraged you, but you always do because hey, eating out is fun, trying new things is fun.

    and that adds up to 40lbs of fat Im not shifting and feeling miserable.

    2360 days ago
    emoticon Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, climb back on track, smooth over the rumpled relationship (you know you will feel better once you do) and get on with it. Remember, you are emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2360 days ago
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