Tag Archives: Body

License to Love Myself

theworstfilteredMy new driver’s license came in the mail yesterday. The picture is terrible. I can’t stand to even show you the full measure of it, can only bear to post this modified version. I expected it to be bad, but was shocked by just how bad. I wasn’t smiling because I was afraid I’d do that weird blank stare I sometimes do when I smile for a picture, or that I’d do that thing where I squint one eye so much smaller than the other, or that other thing where I tuck in my chin so that it completely disappears. In trying to avoid all those things I just look annoyed. It looks more like a mugshot. They tell you to look down because the light of the camera is so bright they don’t want you looking directly into it, and move your hair away from your face because they are using “facial recognition software” (um, wait, where did I agree to that?!), which made made me do the thing where my chin disappears anyway. One side of my collar is also flipped weird. The capture makes me look heavy and sloppy and mean.

Change, if it is to be long lasting, must occur on the unseen levels first. With understanding, inquiry, openness. ~Geneen Roth

You try to feel good about your body, okay about who you are, accepting and gentle and kind, and then your new driver’s license comes in the mail and the picture they took of you is so bad, and you have to live with it for the next five years, no Retake Day like for school pictures. But I’m not worried. My prediction is that in five years when I get a new license and a new picture, I’ll finally be in my authentic body. I’m not saying that I will necessarily look any different, but rather that my true self will be embodied in a way it just isn’t right now. This body is so tired, swollen with the expectations and judgments and criticisms it’s carried, puffed up by things that don’t belong to it, burdened by all the ways it’s been hurt, holding the weight of all the stuff I haven’t been able to release. This body is not free … yet. And still, I am free to love it, utterly and completely.

I made a list a while back of the 25 reasons I carry extra weight. At some point, I’ll dig it out and share it with you. What I can say for now is a lot of it has to do with protecting myself, having a physical barrier between myself and the world. So some of it is a choice, but some of it isn’t — cultural expectations, social norms, the way my metabolism has been ruined by years of starving myself to meet them, genetics, hormones, an autoimmune disorder, other mysterious imbalances, the food I eat, how I move, my environment, injury. My body and the way it works is a puzzle, a mystery. I’m only now giving myself permission to figure it out for myself, to know and understand what it needs, enjoys, and how to heal it, keep it healthy and happy and strong. It’s been interfered with, bullied, abused for so long. I’m not going to let that happen anymore.

 

Day of Rest

softdexterConfession: Even though I don’t talk about it as much as I did, I am still missing Dexter something awful. I was looking through my archive of journals this morning for something specific I wanted to write more about, stumbled across my entry from the day Dexter died, and maybe partly because Sam and Eric were gone on a walk and I was alone and knew no one would hear me or be upset by it, I started sobbing. It seems harder to “get over” this loss because I still wasn’t really over losing Obi or Kelly when “it” happened again. And to be quite honest, since I’m confessing, coming clean, in the past five or six years really awful stuff has happened, much of which I didn’t talk about here, either because it was someone else’s stuff or because the consequences of speaking out were too great. Add that to the fact I’m an introvert and Highly Sensitive Person who is easily overwhelmed and it’s a toxic mess.

Stress, suffering comes from resisting what is happening, when things aren’t going the way we wanted, and no matter how evolved we might be, how able we are to stay with, cope with the hard stuff, no one wants to see those they love suffer, get sick, or die. My delusion that I should be able to help, to fix it, and smashing myself to bits if I can’t, only adds more suffering.

Continuing in the spirit of confession, yesterday I ate an entire bag of Smart Puffs. They are all natural, gluten and trans fat free with no preservatives, and an entire bag is 630 calories, which is less than a Big Mac or a Peanut Buster Parfait, but still it was a deliberate binge. I was tired, frustrated that my energy wasn’t keeping up with everything I wanted to do, so I took a break to watch TV, a really good show from Mike Birbiglia, My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend. I finished off the tail end of a bag, less than 10 puffs, could have stopped right there, but made the decision to open a new bag. Multiple times I made the decision to keep going, keep eating, and eventually finished the whole bag.

(This video has been helping me to be gentle with myself when I eat something I think I shouldn’t, I remember his sweet little voice listing off everything he’d eaten, groan about how it was too much, and it makes me smile, have a sense of humor about it rather than beating myself up)

Underneath any binge is always the collection of all the other hard stuff I haven’t quite been able to deal with, all the bad stuff that’s happened, the things I’m sad or worried about, what’s been lost, the various times and ways I’ve abandoned or denied myself.

The bottom line, whether you weigh 340 pounds or 150 pounds, is that when you eat when you are not hungry, you are using food as a drug, grappling with boredom or illness or loss or grief or emptiness or loneliness or rejection. Food is only the middleman, the means to the end. Of altering your emotions. Of making yourself numb. Of creating a secondary problem when the original problem becomes too uncomfortable. Of dying slowly rather than coming to terms with your messy, magnificent, and very, very short—even at a hundred years—life. The means to these ends happens to be food, but it could be alcohol, it could be work, it could be sex, it could be cocaine. Surfing the Internet. Talking on the phone.

For a variety of reasons we don’t fully understand (genetics, temperament, environment), those of us who are compulsive eaters choose food. Not because of its taste. Not because of its texture or its color. We want quantity, volume, bulk. We need it—a lot of it—to go unconscious. To wipe out what’s going on. The unconsciousness is what’s important, not the food. ~Geneen Roth, Women Food and God.

whatareyouhungryforI am rereading Geneen Roth’s Women Food and God. You already know, if you’ve been reading, that I am working with a therapist who specializes in dis-ordered eating. I’m also starting a book group with the book Intuitive Eating led by Rachel Cole. I’m making an effort, but in other ways I am surrendering, letting go of effort, letting go of pushing and trying and forcing. I also am back to weighing the most I’ve ever weighed, after losing this same 20 pounds six years ago, having hired a trainer and started yoga and even running and going on yet another diet, starving myself down to what seemed acceptable. Slowly the weight came back — some due to more food less movement, some because of the shame I felt being called obese by someone who was supposed to be helping me, some of it because my body is changing and my metabolism and energy levels just aren’t what they were — but mostly because I wasn’t dealing with the underlying issues.

Brave Belly

When you believe without knowing you believe that you are damaged at your core, you also believe that you need to hide that damage for anyone to love you. You walk around ashamed of being yourself. You try hard to make up for the way you look, walk, feel. Decisions are agonizing because if you, the person who makes the decision, is damaged, then how can you trust what you decide? You doubt your own impulses so you become masterful at looking outside yourself for comfort. You become an expert at finding experts and programs, at striving and trying hard and then harder to change yourself, but this process only reaffirms what you already believe about yourself — that your needs and choices cannot be trusted, and left to your own devices you are out of control. ~Geneen Roth

I don’t want to keep doing this, cycling through restriction and binging, punishment and control followed by rebellion, shame and smashing myself to bits. I’ve lost all sense of what my authentic body might be and I want to discover it, that point at which I am both happy and well, sane and healthy. I want to reach the point where I can stay open to what is happening, show up for what is exactly as I am, to feel the full weight of how sad I am, how much I have lost, allowing how much it’s going to hurt. And the one thing I know for sure — it’s not about the food.