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Confrontation

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Something happened the other day that I am so proud of. I wanted to share it with you guys.

I’m not sure if anyone remembers but I have struggled with an eating disorder for almost 20 years. I have been trying really hard since my illness to stop being so uptight about what I eat.

As a result, I have gained a lot of weight. A lot. I actually am happier with my body than I have ever been. I would love to be thinner, but I am afraid to try to diet. I do exercise, but not obsessively.

Anyway, none of that is the point. The point is that since my illness and weight gain, my mother has made non-stop comments about my weight and size. It is incredibly hurtful to me and rude.

The final straw was when I called her for mother’s day. I mentioned going to a lunch meeting that I was super excited about. And meeting with the hospital where I had my surgeries. And then I mentioned that I was working out more and was even thinking of running again for a benefit.

And that’s when she proceeded to tell me that it would be great for me to run again as I really needed to lose weight. She has told me in the past that I get fatter and fatter every time she sees me (which is true). And that I would be happier if I weighed 150lbs (which is not true, I was miserable when I weighed 150).

In high school, when I was 100lbs thinner, my pediatrician told my mother and I that I needed to gain 20-50lbs because I was unhealthily underweight. My mother told him no, that I looked good. And the pediatrician told her that we were discussing my health, not my appearance.

The other issue is that I am one size larger than my brother, but every time she sees him she acts like he is one meal away from starving to death.

So, I called her the other day and told her I needed to talk with her. Then I told her off.

I told her that I didn’t appreciate her constantly putting me down. I told her that her rude comments were not helpful. I told her that my doctor, cardiologist, sex partners, and myself did not think I needed to lose weight. So why did she?

I also told her that she was my mother. If she loved me, then she needed to love me at any weight. And that if she didn’t love me, then I didn’t need her in my life.

She claimed that she had no idea she was hurting my feelings. She claimed that she was only trying to help me. She claimed that she thought I was trying to lose weight and she was trying to be encouraging.

But I know she and I have had this conversation in the past.

So I made it extra clear. I told her that I never wanted to hear a word about my weight again. Not if I lost weight. Not if I gained weight. I told her that if I ordered a salad, it would be because I wanted a salad (which I love) and not to lose weight. If I started running it would be because I love running (which I do and always have). If she buys me something that doesn’t fit, it’s because the clothes are not my size, not because I am too big.

It felt amazing. I felt so powerful. And I have decided to cut her out of my life if she doesn’t comply with my request. And I am trying to get my brother to confront her too as he hates her comments on his thinness.

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Purpose

I have never felt there was any reason for anything that has ever happened to me. I can barely register cause and effect sometimes in the abstract, let alone some purpose for my life.

I don’t think I got sick for a reason any more than I think there was one in me getting better and not dying. I don’t think I was “saved” by anything more than medicine and technology. And not for any reason other than that I was lucky enough to afford it and living in a time that offered it.

I am starting to be able to see the beginnings of all the threads that have led me to where I am now. I can see all the good things that have come out of all those bad things. I can even see more threads in front of me, leading down the path I want to go.

But I don’t feel any sense of meaning in any of that. Sometimes people tell me that I am alive for a reason. That god had a plan. And all I can think is that it would be nice to believe that.

But I just don’t. I can’t. I’m no more deserving of life than someone else is deserving of death. Because that is what these people are saying to me. That when my friend SL died of a heart attack, he wasn’t as deserving of life as I am. That I am somehow more important than a husband and father of two.

I guess I have just experienced so much in my life that seems so arbitrary.

I think we have to create our own meaning in life. It’s up to each of us to decide why we’re here and if there is a greater purpose. For some it’s religion. For others, it’s their family.

Some people never seem to figure out what they need to be their purpose in life. And those are the people that seem kind of sad and lost.

I don’t really know what my greater purpose is. Right now I am focusing on getting better. And that’s a big enough project for me for right now. It’s enough to occupy my time and energy. But I know it’s something I’m going to have to figure out someday, though.

I’m starting to think it might be writing. I have been journaling for the past 20 years. It has helped me through some hard times. I write a lot. Almost every day. And I don’t stop at journaling. I also write fiction, which is surprisingly helpful when you are trying to figure things out.

But it is so different to put all these thoughts and feelings out into the world. Even if I only had one reader, I think it would still have helped me. Maybe even if I had none.

I feel that every post I write is a weight lifted off my shoulders. I used to imagine my baggage as the weight of the world, something I carried wherever I went. Like Atlas. And now I feel I am unburdening myself with these words. It’s almost like all this stuff is evaporating into the atmosphere.

The wrong guy

I finally think I know why I want the wrong person every time. EL and I had a talk about this. I was trying to give her advice and I realized I was talking about myself too.

I want the wrong person because they are the wrong person. The wrong person is easy and safe in an idiotic way. I know it won’t work out with him. I know he’ll give me a reason to dump him. I’ll get an out.

I won’t get overly attached. I won’t feel bad about being a bitch. And I know the relationship will end.

I won’t have to make a commitment forever. He won’t be the last person I am ever with. I won’t be trapped, it won’t be as terrifying. It’s a temporary relationship, just like all my previous temporary relationships. Safe, easy, and short term.

And it’s easy to leave when it stops being easy. I don’t have to feel bad for ending things with the wrong guy. I certainly won’t regret it. And I never have to put in the effort to fix things.

But the wrong guy makes no sense for the long term. I want a good relationship. I want to be happy. I want to get married someday. And I want all that with the right guy. So I need to start choosing him.

Enough

I was thinking about suicide and suicidal ideation earlier today. I was thinking about how much I actually think about suicide. And I was wondering what was honestly stopping me.

I mean, if I want to die so much all the time and I think about it so much, why don’t I just do it? For a second I thought about how much my family would miss me. But then I realized that was total bullshit. My death would genuinely not affect their lives much.

So then I really sat down and thought about what my life was actually worth. Not a whole lot, it turns out. Some people would be sad for a very short time. And then, everyone would just move on with their lives. I don’t have children. My death really wouldn’t affect anyone for life. And even if it did, they’ll be dead in 100 years too. So who cares?

Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t thinking this in some emo “nothing matters and nobody cares about me” kind of way. That’s what happens when everyone dies. It’s ultimately kind of meaningless. My death would be so insignificant, it would barely have an affect on those closest to me.

So then I started wondering why I was even still alive. What is keeping me here? And then I started thinking about the thousands and thousands of things that I experience on a daily basis that I enjoy.

And I realized that I was keeping me here.

Because I totally do not want to die. At all. I just want all my problems to go away. And I know that dying is the only way that will happen.

Being alive means having problems. And I have A LOT of problems. I like to think that’s because I’m more alive than other people. Or maybe I’m more alive because I have more problems.

Maybe I have bad luck. Maybe I am doing this partly to myself because I avoided facing my past and letting all of this go.

But I do get to start choosing how much I allow my past to affect my future. This is not how I want my life to be at 30. This is not how I imagined my life. And I don’t want to realize it at 40. I don’t want to waste another 10 years stuck in the same old patterns and afraid of the same old things. Being the same old me.

I like me, most days. But I want to be better. I want to stop being so scared all the time. I want to stop worrying so much about the end result.

I want to stop obsessing over what everyone else feels and thinks and wants and I want to start obsessing over what I think and feel and want. I want to stop blaming myself for everything. I want to stop being afraid of being rejected, especially physically.

Because all these limitations I have been imposing on myself, they are actually limitations that were at one time imposed on me. By first my parents and then one abusive man after another.

I’m tired of letting all of them win. Because allowing them to continue to dictate my life and how I feel about myself is letting them win. It’s still allowing them to abuse and control me.At this point in my life, I am the only one that can abuse me. I am the only one that can let my past continue to harm me. And I am the only one that can say “No. That’s enough. No more.”

I can’t say I’ll never think about suicide again. But the thought of it seems to have lost whatever appeal it had. At least, for now.

Linearity

I have never wished there was a linear path to getting better more than I do right now. I’m like a fucking nesting doll of illness and neuroses. To an outside observer I feel like I am worse than when I started all this.

 

I am even more fucked up than I ever thought was even a possibility. And I don’t have any quantifiable evidence that I am getting better. I mean, I guess there is never quantifiable evidence for any emotion. But still…

 

I still have so many issues. I can just name them now.I still feel scared and worried and anxious and mistrustful. I still feel a sense of unnamed looming dread and hopelessness. I still have bad days where I can hardly function and can’t face the day. I remember when that used to happen growing up too. By the time I reached high school I could finally recognize what I was feeling and just passive aggressively refuse to go in.

 

But I guess I am better in some ways. I mean, I have names for things now. I recognize my feelings a little bit more quickly and easily. I’m starting to trust my gut feeling. I’m even starting to be able to recognize when someone or something makes me uncomfortable. And I can pinpoint what it is and even why sometimes.

 

I am starting to experience my emotions as they happen instead of not at all. Or a week later.

 

I’m also starting to see the hidden meaning behind what people are saying or doing. It’s kind of gratifying. It’s like everyone is speaking two languages. The things they are actually saying and the secret language they don’t even realize they were speaking. And up until recently, I didn’t speak the first language or even realize there was a second one.

 

So I guess I do see positive changes. It just takes so long. I never expected it to be easy. But I did expect it to be a linear path. Like a race. Instead, I am starting to realize that there is no finish line. Or markers to know for sure that I am even on the right path.

But I guess life is like that.

Size Matters

The strangest thing about having an eating disorder is how long it took me to realize I had one. I mean, I used to be really, really thin. If I am being honest (and why not on an anonymous blog) I was unhealthily thin. But I was actually still a size 6. I mean, yeah I was over 6 feet tall. And yeah, I sometimes went 3 or 4 days without eating. But I thought it was because I just wasn’t hungry.

 

Even though I thought about food obsessively. It’s not like I was eating until I hated myself and then vomiting it up. I mean, except for the times I did exactly that. And that did happen more than once or twice.

 

Despite the way I always hated my body. How repulsive I thought it was. I always thought I was fine. Despite thinking that gaining any weight would make me disgusting and fat. I was terrified of that.

 

Even despite the complicated, intricate food rules I still have to live by and can’t logically explain to anyone. Despite the fact that I ate nothing but an apple for lunch for three years in middle school. Despite the obsessive working out that I did every day starting when I was 10 (yes, 10).

 

I somehow knew that I was fine. I couldn’t possibly have an eating disorder. That was for pretty, rich girls with nothing better to do. It was for people shallowly obsessed with their appearance (in ways far inferior to the way I was shallowly obsessed with my appearance). Lastly, it was for girls that were actually thin. But not thin the way I was thin. It was for skeletal, emaciated girls on the verge of death. That’s how I could be so convinced that I was fine.

 

I never wore size 6 clothes. I didn’t want anyone to really see how thin I was. I still don’t like wearing anything too tight. I don’t like showing off my body. It’s funny how I still rationalize things. I have actually said, out loud. “You just haven’t seen me naked. I look way better in clothes.”

 

I’m a size 12 now. I’ve gained almost 100lbs in the past 10 years since graduating high school. Nobody in their right mind would say I was fat. But I still do. And I still genuinely think it.

 

I’m still shallowly obsessed with my appearance. I still have an eating disorder. Only now you wouldn’t know it to look at me. That scares me. I’m scared people won’t believe I have a problem because I am not underweight anymore. I’m afraid people will judge me the way I used to judge myself. That I must be healthy and normal because my weight is healthy and normal.

 

I usually eat now too. And I am much less obsessed with eating “healthy” foods. I do still skip meals, but still, only because I am “not hungry.” Though I’ve found my hunger seems to be based more on my emotional state than anything physical.

 

I rarely go more than 24 hours without eating anymore, which is a huge improvement. I eat things I used to never allow myself. I am actually waiting for a pizza delivery as I type this. But I am still so picky about every detail of my diet. I will still vomit up something I find “gross.” I still make myself vomit sometimes. I would still rather not eat than eat something I don’t feel like eating. I’ll still eat an apple as a meal.

 

Most people think I am just extremely picky and uptight. Which I am. Almost nobody knows I have a real problem. So, what changed?

 

Four years ago I was doing an extremely strenuous workout. And for the first time in my life, I couldn’t force my body to do what I wanted. I couldn’t understand why it was failing me. This was during my super fitness phase. I got angry with myself. I hated my own weakness. I hated my body. And for the first time I realized, I hated myself.

 

Approximately two weeks later I found out that I had a heart defect and needed immediate emergency heart surgery. I could have died. I almost did die. I thought back to that day when I hated myself so viscerally. I hadn’t been weak. I was ill. I cried, thinking about hard I had always been on myself.

 

I decided to eat all the foods I had been denying myself. I was waiting to have the second of what would ultimately be 5 heart surgeries. I didn’t want to die without eating pumpkin pie one last time. Or ice cream. Or fried chicken.

 

And then I was eating whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. Since I was so sick, I wasn’t able to exercise either. I couldn’t even walk to the bathroom at times and would have to crawl to get there. I immediately began putting on weight.

 

And now I’m here, uncomfortable with my weight. Enormous in my mind. Self-conscious of the way shirts cling to my chest and stomach. Convinced everyone is silently staring and judging me. Envying those thin girls that I see.

 

I still hate my body. But I also like it more now than I ever have. There was never a weight that made me feel pretty, or good about myself, and there never will be. Sometimes I think “If only I could get back to 180.” But, when I was 180, I wanted to be 160. And when I was 160, I wanted to be 150. It will never be enough. Even with the insight I have now, even with the hindsight…

 

The problem isn’t my weight. It never has been. The problem is with my mind.