Confessions of a former Food Apologist.

We’ve either done it, or seen it done.

You’re in the lunch room at work and you grab a donut. You search for someone…anyone in the room and say “Well, there goes my diet.”

At a wedding: “This is going straight to my thighs.”

Baby Shower: “I’ll work out an extra 15 minutes.”

Barbecue: “I’m being so bad right now.”

I’m not going to slam the population that exhibits this behavior. Connecting food with guilt is something that I’ve done for a very long time, and I understand it’s a way to verbally atone for what you think is a detriment to your health, coupled with showing everyone that you are not a gross pig. However, the connection we have with food and guilt is what got a lot of us…me very much included…in the situations we are in now.

We’ve all seen images like this. Women secretly scarfing a brownie sundae in their living room in the dark, candles lit, seductively licking the spoon. Talking all sexy like on the phone to her bestie about the Boston cream pie she had three times this week (except it was actually yogurt…NAUGHTY SNEAKYPANTS) and this particular woman who looks like she’s celebrating the house she just set on fire.

For a long time, I didn’t let anyone watch me eat. Being overweight made me feel like everything I put in my mouth was judged by those around me. The guilt got deeper. I’d eat out with friends, and finish the rest at home in the dark watching Police Academy. I’d never order dessert, but I’d stop for ice cream on the way home.

So I decided to attempt to disconnect food with guilt. When I eat, I eat with Devo, or with friends. The times I eat alone are because I am alone, and not because I’m going out of my way to be alone. The only thing remaining was my extraordinary drive to apologize for what I did eat.

In the past two years I’ve made a very concentrated effort to remove food apology from my life. This does not mean eating what I want, when I want. My health is in jeopardy if I do that, which the doctors have made very clear. However, if I’m at buffet one weekend I’m not going to clue in the rest of the world unless it was extremely delicious!

It’s not easy, especially being overweight. People watch what fat people eat. They watch us work out, walk down the street etc. It happens. It’s ok. Feast your eyes. Right around the time I decided to end food apology I started going to the gym. I wanted to tell the world, because the first few times I felt amazing about myself and my accomplishments. I decided that this was a different sort of over-sharing, because I got support. I needed it, so I put it out there. There is no support when you eat half a donut and get the other half fifteen minutes later. There is only a weird silence, followed by the occasional “Oh please you look great” which you never believe, because you’re a gross pig who just ate a whole donut.

Food’s connection to guilt, to me, is proof positive that I am battling an addiction. It’s also proof positive that we are a nation still obsessed with appearance. If a beautiful, thin girl can’t pick up a cookie without bowing penitent at the alter of the break room table, what the hell are we doing to ourselves?

Believe it or not, this new-found freedom from food apology has helped me exceedingly in both my self esteem and my quest to be a healthier person. Food is becoming less and less of a pair of comforting arms the more I disconnect it from my emotional well-being. Eating a piece of Easter candy with no follow-up comment has started to take away the naughtiness of it all. It’s not a life ruiner, it’s a piece of chocolate.

This does not mean I’m throwing caution to the wind and eating everything that’s not nailed down. I just don’t want to feel bad about it anymore. Feeling bad about things and then eating to feel better is a lifelong cycle I’m trying to break, and loving my treats is helping. Taking away negative feelings from food is the best thing I’ve ever tried to do, and it’s working.

This is my ice cream face. My cake face. My careface.

So go to the gym if you’re going. Do that extra lap. Just try to fight the urge to proclaim your horrible guilt, and move on knowing that you’re working towards emotions being emotions, your body being healthy, and food being delicious.

Look to the world for support, not confirmations of guilt. You’ll be happier receiving the former.

Half-way to Hell.

On March 21st, I turned 35.

I’ve never had an issue with my age as far as telling people what it was. I understood the fear of ageism but grew up in a household where “Screw it, this is me.” was a familiar mantra. I didn’t really celebrate this year which was a bit odd for me. I usually have some sort of epic gathering. (People still talk about our $589 bar tab). This year I wanted it laid back and quiet. After a bit of deliberation, Devo and I took a few days off and drove to Lancaster county to hit up this massive buffet and then some outlets, both of which proved to be a bit disappointing. Neither of us like shopping, Devo hates driving, and we’re both trying to watch our food intake.

So why do all that aforementioned crap?

I guess because I don’t care what I do with him. He’s a blast to be with. A rainy day driving through Amish country becomes a laugh riot.

My birthday itself was a bit of a non event. I went to work and hung with my awesome co-workers, came home, got Devo his dinner and played Mass Effect 3 multiplayer until we both passed out. I was a bit sad I didn’t have a party and that I didn’t really do anything epic, but in the long run I’m ok.

I think a lot about what I should be doing when I hit certain milestones. I never went to college, and that follows me around quite a bit as far as my career goes. I’m starting to get to a point where it’s going to be even more complicated for me to have children. All of my friends are married. I know these things could happen for me in the future, I’m just trying to be ok with however it turns out. With giving up control. Letting it happen naturally.

It’s a bit of a struggle to hold back my want to keep up with those around me. Doing things your own way is charming when you’re in your teens and 20’s. After 30 it can be a bit detrimental if it’s done in the same mindset. My weight holds me back. My lack of education holds me back. All these protective walls I built for myself as a kid crumble down steadily as my priorities shift. Are they my priorities, or am I just giving in to the pressures of the status quo? Is this what I really want, or what everyone expects?

This post is kind of all over the place. I’m kind of all over the place. I’m trying to breathe and just be. My apartment. Man I love. Fairly steady paycheck. All there.

I think I just get stuck sometimes in comfort zones. This may sound weird coming from a girl who got on a plane to Texas to meet the man of her dreams, but change does not come easy for me.

So we’ll see what this year holds. I’ve already started it with the assumption that folks may want to see what’s on my mind, so that’s something. We’re also joining a gym, Devo and I. We’ve both gotten pretty crap bills of health over the past few months from medical professionals so it’ll do us a world of good.

No real warmth or anecdotal tales this week, I’m afraid. I’m allowing myself a day of being overwhelmed and weird.

Big Business

I wasn’t sure how to approach this topic. I’m still going in slightly blind, so we’ll see where it winds up going.

I’m overweight. Obese. I don’t remember a time in my life where I haven’t been. Until I was about 14, it caused huge issues with my social life and self esteem. The worse the teasing got, the more I ate to feel better. Even when my life started getting much nicer, I had 14 years of emotional eating experience behind me that I’m still trying to conquer.

I never considered myself “fat positive”, nor a “fat activist.” My size does effect how the world treats me every single day, and I appreciate the positive message these amazing activists send. I’m just not one for groups. I have some very beautiful and thin friends who suffered with their own bodily issues, too. Maybe that’s why. We’re just women struggling with what it’s like to walk around real while surrounded by unreal.

I used to look at skinny, pretty girls with..well sadness I guess. I liked who I was so it wasn’t exactly jealousy, I just didn’t like what I walked around in. I’d walk into a room and pray there’d be another fat person there so I wasn’t the only one. Being fat did teach me to be observant of my surroundings, and it’s due to this observance that I no longer compare myself. Two incidents stand out. One being a small bachelorette hangout with an acquaintance and her friends.

I was the fat one of course.

This acquaintance did a lot of work for women’s organizations, and considered herself a rampant feminist. The second we entered the club, she and her friend began to take apart every single girl there. Low rise jeans? Slut. Tank top? Slut. Afterwards on the ride home, I asked her why she felt the need to rip the other girls there to shreds. “Oh I know I’m a horrible person.” was the dismissive comment I got. She was beautiful, she was thin and about to get married. Why did she care? I just didn’t get it then.

The second incident was a few weeks later while I was hanging out with my old hairdresser, S. She was STUNNINGLY pretty, blonde, bright…the works. She was crying that night because she couldn’t keep friends due to them being nervous around her with their respective boyfriends, and she’d overheard a girl at her salon wishing she’d get fired because she looked better than everyone else there.

Well shit, it’s not just me!

Surprisingly, changing my attitude on how I felt about other women built my own esteem up tremendously. I have no idea what I’d do without the women in my life, and I’m sad that I shut them out for so long.

Some very strange things happen to you when you’re fat. People say very confusing and insulting stuff, most of the time without even knowing it’s insulting. I remember being on the phone with a blind date once and I gave him my speech. This what what I told everyone before a meetup. “OK, so just to let you know. I’m a big girl. If you have an issue with that, you can bow out. ”

“Really? You don’t sound fat. ”

I got sort of quiet for a second before running on about some banal crap while my head tried to process what I just heard. How the hell does fat sound? Are you surprised I’m not muffled by all the donuts in my mouth? Am I supposed to have a deep bellowing Santa voice? Shall the sounds of crumbs hitting the reciever deafen thine ears?

Needless to say, it didn’t work out.

This is just one in a slew of many comments that run the gambit from the classic “you have such a pretty face” to “oh you’re not fat” which is a flat out lie. I am fat. I may always be fat. Still, these folks mean well and I try to stave off the desire to eat them.

Another strange thing that happens. People assume you’re lazy, miserable, and devoid of intellect. Although I have some bouts of all three, they’re not who I am! People seem surprised when you can pull together a coherent sentence or a decent outfit. One of the things I decided to do in order to protect myself was attempt to have a sparkling and self deprecating personality. Wanna have preconceived notions about me? Well not if I do it first, pal. Part of me enjoys watching people laugh uncomfortably, while another part of me just wants to not have to do that.

I’m sure some of you are asking yourselves, “Well, why don’t you go on a diet and lose weight?”

…Holy shit. I never thought of that before…I’ve…I can’t believe…you’ve just made it all clear to me. IT’S SO SIMPLE! OH MY GOD! WHY DON’T I JUST LOSE WEI you see where I’m going with this.

I’ve been schooled, shamed, forced, stuffed, pushed in, told off, given pills, given advice, work at a gym for 4 years…I know what I need to do.

This is the part that’s hard to write down.

I have an eating disorder. Food is different for me. It’s been a friend, a comfort, and something I can always rely on to momentarily make me feel absolutely nothing but pleasure. It’s momentary, but it’s undeniable. It sounds silly to you probably in the same way Heroin addiction sounds silly to me. I know I’ll get picked on, I know I won’t be able to buy clothes as easily. It won’t be easy to make the money thin people make. Get the jobs thin people get. Walking down the street constantly waiting for that one comment. Wanting to work out, but being deathly embarrassed by the concept of others watching. Having everyone in the universe know what’s good for you and not believing you know the same exact thing. This is not a conscious choice for me, this body.

The only thing I strive to be is healthy and devoid of shame. No matter what size I end up. Right now, part of who I am is being the size I am. I choose to change this, not you. Trust that I am intelligent and strong enough to do what is correct for me, and we’re golden. I have an amazing support system of both friends and family who drive me in the right direction every day. I really want to fix my addiction, but I have no preconceived notions that my life will suddenly become whole when I do. I’m in an amazing relationship, and I’m happy.

So no, I’m not fat positive. I’m body positive. Positive my body does not embody me. Positive that no matter what size we are, we will deal with an over-present media that wants to make us feel like we’re these half-done creatures, ever-tumbling through life in a fog without their self help books, handbags, magic diet pills, eye cream, giant boobs, six packs, cellulite smoothers and Oprahs.

There’s nothing wrong with any of that stuff up up there. If any of it makes you feel better, then it’s serving a purpose. Just believe that you’re a work in progress making your own decisions, and ignore the slightest suggestion that you have to live up to anyone’s standards but your own.

Tip Toe Through The Technoverse

I’m home sick today, which means I really don’t have any excuse not to blog.

One of my main struggles with this medium is, of course, what to write. Some of my more established blogging friends have helped me through this rather inane struggle, having found their path in the Blogosphere (Is that a thing?) and settled into what they’d like to do.

Coupled with that struggle is a surprising bout of “What will others think?”. Will I offend anyone? Will any of my friends think differently of me? Should I talk about my personal politics or religious beliefs here? You know, the typical flame topics.

I’ve been raised to consider others, so I do. Sometimes to a damaging and infamous degree. I remember being pulled out of class by our Dean during my senior year to console a girl that had been targeted as bully fodder by some of the younger kids. I wound up missing a crapload of notes. Was that too self serving? Saying that?

SEE?

I’d like to be one of those folks that touts a “Devil May Care” attitude regarding the universe at large, but I’m just not built that way. I’ve never minded talking about how I feel when asked in person, but I’m well aware that not everyone I know is exactly like me and I’m cool with that as stated in my previous blog, (which I’m now reading with a scrunched face and becoming highly embarrassed about), I don’t particularly like being around a bunch of people just like me.

For this reason, I made a decision about my Facebook a while back. No massive politics, no religious talk, no deep personal issues. I’m quite comfortable talking about all of these things, but even the most carefully typed updates can be misconstrued and lambasted by those with the best intentions. See, now I’m feeling the need to tell you that I don’t mind if anyone else does it…but do you really believe me? It’s just me not being up for debate on a social medium that I’m not at all comfortable using as a pedestal. Do you feel better yet?

I’ve got no problem telling people how I feel face to face. Devo and I got into it last night about feminism and politics. He challenges me constantly with opposing viewpoints and I love him for it. There’s no guard, no anonymity. I can’t stop mid sentence and Google Bella Abzug on my smart phone without looking kinda stupid.

It’s not that I’m worried about random internet people, mind you. I’m fairly well versed on the way it works out here and there are certain battles best left alone. I’m more concerned about those I love or those I’ve just met (and linked to my blog like a shill) feeling alienated or offended. It does feel rotten and weak admitting that.

I wonder if I’m writing a catharsis blog.

Most blogs do one of three things. Take off, go nowhere, or cease after the first few posts. I’ve made it to post four, and I’m sure I’ll find my notch in the net eventually. I’m not sure how I’ll write, or what I’ll write about. Perhaps I’ll use this as a springboard to become more brave when it comes to the typed word, damning all possible judgement. Perhaps I’ll just write about benign internal struggles with acceptance.

Perhaps I’ll just post cute pictures of animals.

Maybe a little bit of all that. I’m a complex creature, damn it.

Until I settle into the routine I’m comfortabe with, I’ll preemtivly strike with a little something borrowed from The Bard.

If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber’d here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to ‘scape the serpent’s tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.

Suck on that.