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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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Underweight

I realized today that I have had an eating disorder for 20 years. Not just that I had one, because I know I will always have disordered thoughts and feelings regarding food. But I was actively suffering from an eating disorder for the past 20 years.

And somehow everyone claims ignorance. Was I so good at hiding it? I don’t think so. People see what they want to see. All my puzzle pieces were on display if anyone had ever cared to piece them together. But I guess they never did.

I’m starting to worry about the long term health effects of being underweight. Of what starvation really did to me. I’m thinking about long term bone damage and osteoporosis. I’m worried I may have damaged my internal organs. My liver is probably already doomed from my heart medication.

I’m worried I’m going to have to stop blaming being cold all the time on the blood thinners I haven’t been on in almost 2 years. I’m worried I’m going to start blaming it on my eating disorders.

It’s probably to blame for some other health issues too. Like my sometimes dangerously low blood pressure. That isn’t completely the fault of my heart problems. I’m even starting to wonder if some of my heart problems were caused by my eating disorder.

I wonder about the long term issues my malnutrition caused on my developing mind and body. I denied myself the nutrients I needed to grow and be healthy for so long. I can’t help but wonder how I would have been had I not done that. Would I have been smarter? Happier? Better adjusted? Taller? (I hope not). But I guess I’ll never know.

Chicken Fried Hunger

Holy shit! Something amazing happened today. I was reading this book about appetite, eating disorders, and desires. I was reading it while eating lunch at work today.

I was having a kind of crappy, stressful day (most days at my work are extremely stressful). I was talking to a co-worker about KFC. I don’t like KFC but it made me really want to eat some fried chicken.

So I went to Popeye’s and ordered my favorite thing there (hint: it’s a lot of food). Since I started eating more like a non-disordered person I tend to eat a lot in one sitting. An unhealthy lot.

I was sitting there, eating fried chicken. And I got to this part in the book about eating your emotions. Eating as a way to sublimate desires of all types. Or (in my case) not eating to sublimate desires of all types. And I realized that for the past year, since I started eating again, I have been doing exactly that.

I got a more stressful job and instead of responding to that in a healthy way, I ate. Then some relationship stuff went down and it ended badly, and I ate even more. And that’s definitely why I’ve gained close to 40 lbs this year.

So, I was sitting there with my fried chicken. And I realized not only did I not want how much food I ordered. I didn’t even want what I had ordered. It didn’t taste good. It didn’t make me feel better.

All it ever made me feel was full. But not in a good and satisfying way. In an unhealthy “I hate myself. Why did I eat so much?” way.

In a weird way I can see how that feeling of fullness is comforting. But it’s really only as comforting as that feeling of emptiness was when I wasn’t eating. Now that I am starting to recognize it for what it really is; it doesn’t offer much comfort.

The hunger and the fullness is the exact same feeling. I feel like my hunger was consuming me all the time. It was filling me up and seemed to take up the same amount of space inside my body and my mind as the fullness does now.

I feel like today, for the first time in more than 20 years, I was listening to my body’s hunger cues instead of mindlessly eating nothing or everything.

I actually almost cried.

It makes me wonder if a few books on eating disorders (in combination with my therapy and journaling) can help me so much. Maybe I should read a few books on some of my other issues. It can’t hurt.

I read so many books about so many things I can’t help but wonder why I never picked one up on any of my emotional issues. It feels like I was being willfully ignorant. But I wasn’t. It was all subconscious.

But I don’t want to pretend this stuff never happened anymore. I want to face it and work through it and fix it and move past it all.

Perfection

This book I read about anorexia not only linked extreme pickiness to eating disorders, but also extremely healthy eating and food exclusion. For example, only eating organic foods, raw food-ism, vegetarianism, vegan-ism. All of these things can be an expression of an eating disorder. And I’ve tried all of them.

I think food exclusion is a big one for me. It’s easy to practice until I am eating nothing but cereal and apples for weeks at a time. And it’s something I need to watch for. Nothing is so healthy that I should be eating it exclusively.

It’s strange how my food disorder doesn’t seem to be related to my weight. At least, it wasn’t back then. Maybe because I had always been thin I didn’t have to obsess over it. I could obsess over the control angle instead, which I’ll get to.

I never consciously remember wanting to be thin. In fact, I complained about it and acted like I didn’t know why I was so thin. I always claimed to want to gain weight. But I didn’t eat, or behave in a way that would have allowed that to happen.

But now that I have gained weight I am obsessed with being thin again. And, in my own mind, a thin woman is judged much more leniently than overweight women. Not just in regards to appearance, either.

I can really see the connection between eating disorders, control, and perfectionism. I feel like I can never forgive myself for not being perfect. I beat myself up over every detail of every thing I have failed every single day.

I do the same thing to other people in my life too. I expect perfection from myself and others. Even while I am saying I don’t. I do. I have such a hard time forgiving people for disappointing me. For not living up to my expectations. For not being perfect. Myself included.

It’s exhausting. I don’t want to spend my nights going over my mistakes in minute detail. I don’t know why it’s so hard to be compassionate towards myself. I still think perfection is attainable by me.

I can also see that I haven’t made much progress of the control aspect of all this. I only feel safe if I am in control of everything. I want to be able to relax. But I can’t. I want to not care about everything so much. But I do. I want to be able to trust someone to do as good as job as I think I do. But I don’t.

I still think my way is the best way. The right way.