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.