Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Paradise Found

It's day one in Maui -- I'm on the island in the Pacific. Don't get me wrong -- it's a cool thing. I'm on the brink of relaxing. It's all good. My husband and I here for a wedding. His best friend is getting married. They've been close friends since they were 8.
Over the years, their friendship has gone through the normal roller coaster of a life long friendship -- but there was no way he was going to miss this event ... despite the fact it's wedding number three for the groom. Over the years, I've become good friends with the first two wives -- so this feels a little odd. Wife 2 (although they were technically never married) is one of my closest friends. Number 3 seems very nice. She's a tall, thin 30-something -- beautiful brown eyes, perfect teeth -- traffic stopping tits. She's been very welcoming too me -- and to her credit that's got to be hard -- as she knows wives 1 and 2 are my friends -- and close.
I came to the wedding with a bit of dread in my heart -- wondering what the hell I'd do while vacationing with the couple and 30 of their closest friends and relations. There are 5 bridesmaids and their boyfriends/spouses. They're young, tanned and tattooed. They call me sweetie and honey. This makes me a little crazy -- but all my city -friends seem to do this -- so apparently I'm missin' something. One of the bridesmaids apparently has decided I'm quite elderly and feeble. She hugs me around the shoulders and asks if she can bring me anything. When I wouldn't stand up for a drunken toast, she came over and as if I were suffering from an addled mind-- (Why else wouldn't I want to listen to drunk people try to make a toast? "You're my best fuckin' friend, dude." ) -- take my hand and try to walk me to the deck. I actually yelled at her. And you know what she did? She came over and hugged me for a dinner -- a meal which I did not prepare or pay for ... and included a kiss on the cheek. What is with city people? They're always calling me sweetie and kissing me.
I didn't do a damn thing today. It was freakin perfect. I sat on my ass all morning taking in the sunshine and ocean breeze. I finally got hungry and bored enough to go out in search of fish tacos and a quilt store. Found both. Got some yummy tacos and a couple of nice quilt kits and fabric. Plus, I signed up for a Hawaiian appliqué class. Conveniently it's at the same time as the reception and I think I can sneak away for a few minutes and perhaps avoid anymore "sweeties" and "kisses" .
The best part of being here is hanging out with the groom's family. Growing up, Clem became their fourth child. For him, being one of four was a whole lot easier, sometimes, than being one of 10. They are a close-knit and loving bunch - and have always gone out of their way to make me feel welcome.
While the young whipper-snappers and a few old-but-still-like-to partiers are downstairs fielding noise complaints -- the bulk of the family and I are snuggled into the upstairs condo watching Dancing With the Stars.
These are my kind of people -- and my kind of vacation.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Reality Check

You know what I've been thinking about lately? Illusions, reality and the vast space that sometimes, no -- almost always falls between.
I know that at the heart of my eating disorder is the disconnect between who I thought I was supposed to and who I really am.
When I became a full-time "housewife", I tried to fit into this image I had in my head about what a "farm wife" was supposed to do. I tried working the irrigation crews -- so I would fit in better with the farm wives around here that actually worked on their farms. I about killed myself to keep house and a yard and do everything from scratch -- like I figured my grandmothers had done.
I didn't fit in here. I am liberal, educated and worked in a non-traditional career field -- well, at least non-traditional around here. I no longer had an identity as a reporter/editor, I was "Clem's wife". Although I was still free-lancing from home, more and more of my life spent cooking, keeping house (sort of -- not my strong suit) and helping around the farm.
It was hard. Very hard. But, we don't have the kind of farm where I'm needed with the daily duties of keeping the farm running. I couldn't handle working in the office. So, I was a "farm wife" but not like my friends who were partners and integral in their family's farm operations.
I have little in common with my in - laws, but I tried like hell to be more like them and made myself even more miserable.
There is also a disconnect between reality and the image of myself I carry in my head. This void started as a child. I was told I was chubby -- that I carried "baby fat". That was my identity. Not "she's a bright girl". Not "she's a smart girl" - "she's a chubby kid."
Later, I was constantly told I was fat. That I needed to "trim up" -- that I was never pretty.
Here's the thing. Photography is a beautiful thing. I look at the pictures of myself during that time and guess what, I'm not fat. I have big boobs -- occasionally a tummy. But at the time, none of that mattered. It was too late. Being fat was already part of my cellular structure, despite the fact that it wasn't reality.
What this image did for me -- well, it's an odd thing. I have these bizarre beliefs.
Instinctively, I believe that a skinny person is right and I am wrong. It makes no sense. The first time I realized this I was a sophomore in high school and I was out running for P.E. I was in the back of the pack, because I was fat and that is where I belonged. Inside me, I wanted to run. Finally, I left the pack and ran. It felt so good. My body felt strong and energized ... and free. But then I ran past a girl who was smaller and thinner. "This can't be right. I can't be passing her. She's skinny and I'm fat. Something must be wrong."
So I stopped. I walked with her. Despite the fact my body was screaming "run, run!" at me. I stopped because there was no way a fat girl like me would be able to run past a tiny little thing like her.
When my then boyfriend, now husband, told me to eat in a way that totally didn't work for my body, I did it anyway and starved and then gorged because obviously he knew better than me what I needed because I was fat and he wasn't.
I find myself at a cross roads here at 43 and in reality, overweight by pretty any scale.
I can continue to live under the assumption that I'm wrong -- not because of anything factual -- but because of numbers on the bathroom scale. I can continue to deny who I am -- and try to fit into everyone else' view of who I am or I can listen to my body, my voice and my instincts.
It seems like a simply choice, right?
Really, it is. And here's the odd thing -- I've been having dreams about running lately. Maybe I'm trying to tell myself something.....

Monday, October 04, 2010

Hearing the call

For the past several months, I've been feeling the urge to write here again. First, I've been struggling with the eating disorder again and secondly, because I continue to hear from people who miss this site -- and could benefit from the shared experience.
I haven't written much of anything for the bulk of 2010. Mostly, I've been distracted with other things. I can always find other things to work on and do.
But it's apparent to me that the more I put aside things that bring me joy, the harder it is to combat the addictions that haunt me.
I know, I know. I've said this before. It takes me a while to catch on -- and I'm easily side tracked. Recently, I've been talking with someone close to me who also has an addiction. He didn't want to go to counseling or rehab or church, so he came to me. Go figure. The situation has forced me to look at myself, my own addictions and what is working for me and what isn't. The process has reminded me that I know more than I think I do. And just when I think I'm failing at everything, I only need to relax long enough to remember what I have all the tools I need.
I thought I'd share the suggestions I'm sharing with my friend in hopes of helping others -- and reminding myself of all the tools in my toolbox.

So for today the assignment is: Give yourself to do something you love today.
Try for an hour, but 15 minutes in the minimum. Maybe it's playing or listening to music. Try reading a book for pleasure. Maybe it's uncovering your sewing machine. Maybe it's taking your camera out for a walk and shooting some photos of the great fall colors. It doesn't matter. Do what brings you joy.

Now here's a danger: If you're like me, you'd like to say... do some scrapbooking but it would take you a day and a half to uncover all the stuff to get the job done. So, divide your time in half. If you're giving yourself an hour, spend no more than 30 minutes finding enough stuff do something simple. The time spent will bless you. Then spend the remainder of your time working on your project. Initially, it will be frustrating -- but if you give yourself a little bit of time each day -- quickly enough you'll be working on your scrapbooks -- or whatever project. If you're like me and it will take more than a few days to uncover the tools for your project -- Spend half your time working on that project -- then work on something else that blesses your soul -- like reading a book or walking or whatever.

To help your progress, find some music that makes you smile Today I'd suggest Bette Midler. This is the best version I could find on You Tube, but I highly recommend finding Bette's version.

Comment below to share how you're blessing your soul with others. Together we can reach our goals.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

It's time for me to fly

The other day I did a positive meditation with an emphasis on finding the thing that might feed my soul.
Part of the process was asking myself what area of my life needed the most attention.
The answer: Me.
I need attention. I've focused on my relationships, my weight, my professional life, my parenting life... well... pretty much anything and everything other than -- me. I need to feed my soul.
There was a time when this blog fed my soul. It's brought me friends and comfort and helped me sort through the issues in my life.
But for the last year or better it's become a chore. It's become redundant. It doesn't serve me or my readers much anymore.
More importantly, it keeps me trapped in a mindset of addiction. The reality is, as much as I believed I was fully recovered, I was really only in recovery. I have been, for the last several years clinging to the addiction...hiding in the folds of the my weight and wallowing in self pity. Really, it was just a different addiction.
I was, as I said in a previous post, standing at the top of the mountain, but afraid to leap into my life -- afraid to fly.
I'm done.
No more.
It's time for me to jump -- to move on and away from the issues and ideas that keep me living in fear.
There is no fear in what is real.
I know what to do. I have the tools I need to live freely, comfortable and in control.
I just need to do it.
So, I'm saying goodbye to Fat and Then. I'll leave it up for a few weeks to make sure people can find me, but from now on, I'll be at my new blog: http://karmafound.blogspot.com

Here I'll chronicle my life, my travels, my hopes and dreams. I'll continue to include posts about positive self esteem and the people and places that support unconditional love for all of us.
You all have been such and important part of my life these last few years and helped me become the grand woman I am today. I hope you'll continue to follow me in this journey.

Monday, December 28, 2009


I happened to be home this afternoon and had the tv on -- mostly as background noise.
I had forgotten what time of year we are in.
It's the time of year when we are blasted with weight loss and diet program ads. It's like they're being fired from a machine gun -- rapidly pelting us with more and more suggestions for losing weight in the new year.
At first, I bought in. I spent many precious minutes drinking the diet Koolaid. "This year, will be different. I'll start right now. I wonder how much I've gained this month..."
But then, I caught myself.
My health is not something to consider with a sweeping resolution this time each year. It's a daily responsibility. Further, the greatest success I have in maintaining a healthy attitude is when I conciously choose not to drink the Koolaid -- and worry not about what the scale says, but how I feel, what gives me joy and makes my soul sing.
I finally turned off the television.
I am far too susceptible to internalizing these diet ads and thinking, even for a moment, that I'm not good enough the way I am.
I am good and kind. I am intelligent and thoughtful. Generous to a fault. Talented. Creative.
I am also unorganized, scattered, moody and sarcastic.
None of these qualities have anything to do with my weight.
Perfect should be left to the professionals -- since I call myself a Christian, perfection can be left to Jesus. The rest of us are fucked up and fallable and that's the way we were designed.
And, I'm fine with you I am and what I look like.
It's too easy for me to get caught up in this message that I am ugly, unattractive, in need of repair and unworthy. As much as I'd like to blame others for making me feel this way, I am responsible for for allowing these messages to wrap themselves around my head and heart.
So my New Years Resolution for 2010 is this. I resolve to love myself as I am. To embrace my loves and my gifts and enjoy each second without ever once again wondering if I deserve it.
What are your resolutions?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Fear of flying

Well, I think I'm slowly but surely pulling myself out of the most recent depression. This time of year is difficult anyway and the incident I mentioned in my last post has left me deep in thought.
I read a great book that made me think -- Good Bye Ed, Hello Me, by Jenni Schaefer (http://www.jennischaefer.com/). I read Jenni's first book Life Without Ed and loved it and the same is true with this book.
Schaefer discusses life after conquering the addiction--not only existing without the addiction, but LIVING free from the restraints. Asking yourself, if you're truly recovered, or just living in recovery.
I've talked about reaching my summit before...often. I've written about how, especially during the past year, I have felt like I'm nearly to the top of this mountain top I've been climbing. As I've overcome my food addiction and found a way to love myself for who I am and not what I look like it has felt like climbing a mountain. To be honest, I am not sure what I thought it would feel like when I got to the top -- I just figured I would know when I got there.
After my friend told me he thought I had a "horrid addiction" back in October, I took the time to really consider what he said. Was I still addicted? If not to huge amounts of food, then to what? If I didn't feel like I was addicted why did his comments bother me so much?
After a couple of months of soul searching I have had to come to grips that I'm truly NOT living outside the prison on my eating disorder. In her book Schaefer writes about reaching her summit, but never jumping. Her eating disorder was still in the background guiding her actions in one way or another.
Mine is too. I have brief moments when I have freedom, but all short lived. I've always been afraid to leap from the summit and fly..Soar away from bounds of gravity and live freely.
In order to fly though, I have to truly embrace all the thoughts I've been writing about for the last five years or so... I have to be honest with myself and acknowledge that while I've come a long, long way toward self acceptance I never truly made it 100 percent.
While I was writing and telling msyelf that I love myself and that I'm happier being healthy, the reality is, in the back of my head, I wasn't truly buying it. At my core, I was thinking,"You're beautiful, but...not enough." "You can motivate others to a point, but they'll never truly find inspiration because you're not really good enough."
Deep inside I kept telling myself I wasn't deserving of success...of the freedom to fly.
While I'd like to say I'm ready to fly, as I type this it occurs to me I'm terrified of making the leap into the air. I suspect that after feeling so confident just a few months ago, and then feeling like I backtracked so much in the last 90 days, I'm a little wary of trusting myself again.
I can feel the desire building in me though...with each letter typed it's growing. I want to leap from the summit and feel the rush of air as it takes my breath away. I want to live without wondering, questioning and doubting my true self and identity.
I know I've been here before. I'm getting quite proficient at climbing this mountain. Maybe the more often I climb it -- the more likely it is that I'll succeed in flight sometime soon.
What about you? Are you soaring above your boundaries or do you have a fear of flying?

Here's a blog I like

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Honesty, sometimes, hurts

The other day, a dear friend gave me the "I'm worried about your weight" lecture.

I was devastated.

It's not like I haven't heard that lecture a million times before. Well meaning friends and family members have taken me aside for the "this is not good for your health" seminar many, many times.

"I picked up this brochure on gastric bypass, I think you should consider it."

In general, I have nodded my head politely and said, "thank you for thinking of me." Then, I go home and sob uncontrollably into my pillow. Occassionally, it triggers an all out binge. Sometimes, I just say, "fuck off. get off my back."

This time, I did all three.

I'm not sure why this lecture hurt so deeply. I can't stop thinking about it. I have been crying for days. In fact, I've been able to think about little else. I've allowed this conversation to haunt me...and ED (Eating Disorder) is rejoicing. He hasn't been this strong in years.

"I'm very concerned about your weight."
"I think you have a horrid addiction."

I simply cannot get the words out of my head. I hear them when I get dressed. I see them when I look in the mirror. I have allowed the words to consume me -- and take away all the success of the summer -- a summer in which I just enjoyed being active. A summer in which I felt stronger than I had in years.

I had lost some ground due to illness and the confines of the back-to-school schedule. However in the three weeks since we had the conversation I've lost my footing and tumbled back down the mountain I'd been climbing at a point when I felt so very close to the summit.

I know they were just words. I know that my friend did not intend to hurt me or cause a relapse. I know that I am stronger than he is -- that I can and will conquer this again. But right now, my heart is writhing in pain.

"I think you have a horrid addiction."

I haven't even used the word addiction to describe my eating habits in about three years. Three years! That's a long time, but now every morsel that crosses my lips has "addiction" on it -- lit up in giant neon green.

I have fallen into a depression I haven't seen in a while. All because a well intentioned friend decided he had to say something.

I'm aware that my reaction is about me, really. It's not about him. This is about how I feel about me. It's just that I thought he was someone that understood -- understood that it wasn't about the food. We talk about everything -- have few secrets from each other. I told him about my insecurities. I thought he knew.... but then what? What could he have really known.

I think it hurt to think that despite all that he knew and all that we've shared, he couldn't get past my outward appearance.

But then, maybe I can't get past my outward appearance. Despite all the soul searching, and writing and research, the real issue is perhaps that I don't accept myself the way I am. That when I look in the mirror, at my core, I still see failure.

Honestly, I don't know why those words have seemingly managed to undo years and years of work. Months of taking charge of my health. Weeks of feeling like, at long last I could put an asterisk at the end of my addiction. As in *recovered.

I want to blame the depression, the anger and fright on him. In fact, I did. Spewing forth a profanity laced rant about how he'd betrayed my trust -- crossed a line -- thrown our friendship out of balance.

Why did he have to say anything? He knew what I looked like, he's read parts of the blog...we've talked about it... he knew I've been working on getting healthy.

In him, I'd found a pal that I thought understood how hard it is to get healthy after years of going the opposite direction. I thought he'd be aware of how sensitive the topic is... I thought he'd see past my weight and see the real me.

He apologized profusely. Practically begged forgiveness. I tried to forgive and let go -- knowing he said something because he cared. I've tried so hard to just count my blessings and relax in the comfort of a good and kind friend who only wants what's best for me.

I'm still devastated.

I told only my counselor about the conversation. My counselor reminded me that this was obviously a good friend who cared about me. He understood my reaction and we agreed it would be fodder for conversation for several more sessions -- especially since the whole episode triggered a binge -- though in relative terms a fairly minor one for me -- but I knew what it was and I didn't stop myself.

Telling other friends was risky -- as I knew there was a potential for yet another well intentioned lecture; "I love you honey, but he's right."

I finally broke down and told two of my friends. One offered a loving hug. The other pointed out something that I probably needed to hear.

"This isn't about him hurting your feelings. This is about you."

"No this IS about him," I replied.

He crossed the line. I trusted him to just be my friend without conditions and now how am I going to ever be comfortable with this man again? I won't be able to share a meal with him because I know he'll be judging every bite I take. I can't share my fitness accomplishments with him because it will never be enough. I can't say, "I just had a great steak," because in my head I'll hear him say, "you should have just had a salad". I won't be able to do anything now, because I'll always expect him to sit in judgement.

He is part of only a select handful of friends I have trusted enough to tell all my secrets to -- (OK probably not all, but enough). He's male and in general I don't trust men, but I trust him. Or at least I did.

I had this great pal -- a buddy-- and now it's gone.

Or is it?

"What if he criticized your writing," my girlfriend asked me.

"Well, oh well," I said. "His opinion would be his opinion. It wouldn't have been a big deal."

"Wait," she said. "He could criticize your writing, what you do best, and it wouldn't bother you?"

"Probably not."

"This isn't about him hurting your feelings. This is about you and your issues with your weight."


I just want to shout from the mountaintops and wear a sign:

"I'm working on it. I know it's not healthy. I see my doctor once a month.You should have seen me a year ago. I am who I am, why can't all of you just see me for me and not the...what does my medical chart say,'morbidly obese bright woman in her 40s'"

I rarely have a binge anymore. I exercise. I eat right 80 to 90 percent of the time. I don't know why I'm not thinner. I thought I would be, but I'm not. I do what I can. I just really work on keeping my head above water. I really just want to enjoy my life. If that means I want a dessert, I have dessert. I refuse to live like a pauper in a princess' world. I just try to listen to my body and serve it well.

I've about given up anyway. Apparently I've reset my metabolism to the point it's going to take an all out miracle to work again. I dont' really understand why I don't do all the things I know I'm supposed to to make it work again. I don't really understand why I hate taking the pills and following the doctors recommendations.

Maybe I'm scared. Maybe I have too many other things going on in my life to really give a shit right now. Maybe everyone should just leave me the fuck alone -- maybe, just maybe being in control of my body isn't as easy as it sounds. Maybe this extra weight protects me from something that scares me -- although I can't really see what -- despite the miles and miles I've written on it. Maybe, just maybe -- I want people to just love me the way I am.

The reality is, I'm probably the only person that doesn't love me the way I am. I'm the one who is holding back because I've found comfort in the defiance. I have found that shouting, "I'm working on it" gives me the "out" to work on it when it's convenient and not worry about it when it's hard.

Losing weight -- if that's the goal, here isn't so simple as the folks on tv make it. It's not just about working out to the point of exhaustion. It isn't about putting your life on hold to take off the weight. It's about figuring out why you gained that weight in the first place. It's about healing from the inside out -- not the outside in.

But as I write this, I know I've been drinking my happy Koolaid. I have every tool in place to heal from the inside -- but I've not taken the final step. Not really. Oh, it's there sometimes. I have felt the comfort of it.

I have lived outside that comfort for so long it's too hard to stay there for very long. I don't trust it and I'm not interested in getting hurt again. I don't take better care of myself because there are other people more important than me. I get sidetracked on my way to the medicine cabinet -- sidetracked by fatigue, anger, resentment, Facebook, e-mail, phone calls and the cat. When I do manage to take my vitamins and medication that would heal the parts of the body that are not working and then I start to feel them work, I panic.

What if I need to hide? If I'm not 150 pounds over weight, there will be no place to internally seek shelter from the pain of living my life.

None of this seems to make sense. I'm still hurting. I'm still trying to sort out feelings and wants and needs.

The thing is, I really thought I was doing well. I had fallen off the band wagon a little bit, but I have felt better physically this year than I had in a long time. I'm gaining confidence back ...slowly but surely find my way back to my core...and then this person that I appreciated and trusted so much reminded me I have a long, long, long way to go.