Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I Am Woman Hear Me Roar... no. I Am hypocrite. Hear me Whine.

I don't buy fashion magazines. I avoid full-length mirrors when I can. I work hard at not engaging in guilty whispers with other women about how fat we are and how we should be exercising more and we should be eating less. I eat anything and everything. I avoid food rules. I abhor the culture that glorifies skinny while ignoring actual skinny people who are that way because they can't afford food. I work at not judging my value by the numbers on the scale, or by the number of indents in my thigh. Inner and outer. I put (Brian's) scale up high so I won't be tempted to climb onto it and so that my daughters won't fall into the trap that I did at their age.

But I have times when I am fat. Embarrassingly fat. Encumbered by fat. Obsessed with fat. And I search my mind for ways to lose weight. To return to that weight where things fit better. Felt better. I dream about it. Conscious and asleep.

And this is a trap, decorated in numerous red flags. I've learned too much to diet. I know its unwise, and a seemingly innocent "first step" to falling down the rest of the stairs, broken and bruised, down into the hell of obsession and possession.

But I hate my weight. And then because I am frustrated, and "too evolved" to diet it off, I just turn it inward and hate myself. Which I hate. And when I hate myself, I want to improve, and to improve, I want to lose weight. But I can't because I won't diet.

Couple that with the fact that my disorder is closely enmeshed with my emotional health. Stress me out, embarrass or frighten me, or throw life into overdrive, and my brain goes straight to default: must control. Must manipulate body.

Sometimes if the stress level gets high enough, it all sort of works itself out in a dysfunctional way. I get upset enough to feel nauseated and I can't eat. I feel myself begin to lose weight. I rejoice in my stress. But here's where things get weird. (er)

I feel frightened.

The looser feeling in the rear of my jeans scares me. As much as I've been craving it and dreaming it and desiring it, I'm scared. And my appetite returns. My ass returns. And I hate it.

(Anyone still with me?)
What I really need is peace in my head and in my heart. The irony is that when I have that peace, the fat falls off without me becoming obsessed with it. My recovery was largely thanks to Geneen Roth, author and speaker whose sensible, rule-free approach to making peace with food and body resonated with me like nothing else. So, many times over the past nine years, I have picked up her books, determined that I will once again find my way. But her words fall on rocky ground. I continue to eat mindlessly. I continue to abhor my body. I go back to considering desparate measures like the cabbage soup diet or something equally revolting.

I need a gifted surgeon to separate all the entangled stuff in my brain so that I can think/behave straight again.

Or maybe a lobotomy.


Anonymous said...

Try walking Joyce. Limiting food doesn't work all that well because your body can adjust it's metabolism, we're designed to live through famines. Up your exercise. And exercise has a wonderful side effect, it's good for the mind. Walking is like a kind of meditation, very calming. Good luck sweetie and be kind to yourself.

Roo said...

i love you joyce. the title really connected with some stuff i myself am wrestling through right now.

i hate being a hyprocrite. talking and walking are two separate things. we live in such a virtual world that its easy to think we're doin' the stuff when we write about it. at least it is for me.

Roo said...

btw -- LURVE the pic of you up in the left hand corner. was that taken at some near by thrift shop boutique? yer beautiful.

Anonymous said...

The good thing is that we can't eat away our problems. So perhaps we should stop trying. Taking care of our minds is so important as well. There's people out there who can help you sort out your insides so you don't feel like you need to eat to cope with things. Find someone cool, who you can trust and who wont just try and pray it away. God gave us brains and science for a reason. He can answer our prayers through that as well.

Don't freaking diet either. Make little changes every once in a while and you'll find you're suddenly eating healthy. You don't have to think so much as limiting food as to truly nourishing your body. Eating things that it needs. Whole foods. #1 thing it needs is whole grains #2 fruits and veggies #3 and #4 are meat and dairy. Make sure your plate looks like that.

Anyway, that's what has worked for me before. I'm right there with you feeling bad and fat. I know that drastically changing things doesn't help me. I need to slowly move into it and form new habits.

Judy said...

I loved the cabbage soup diet.


I felt great on it, too.

My husband HATED the cabbage smell.

I'm fat.




It could be worse, I hear.

Anyway...I think you are wonderful.

it's a gong show... said...

can i borrow that book? i saw myself at an angle i hadn't seen before, and now it's seriously playing with my ming.

Valerie Ruth said...

i understand totally where you're coming from. my mind has been there too lately - i'm growing a baby bump, and i don't appreciate my new body shape. it doesn't feel like baby - just like chubb.

Nancy said...

I have gained 10 pounds since spring. My jeans are tight and that bugs me cause I have nothing to wear. Would I like to be thinner? Sure, but my self-worth no longer depends on it. I have been set free!
"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Eph. 6:12
You can read all the books in the world, try all the diets, and do all the right exercies, but they will not free you! Contrary to popular opinion, prayer is the ONLY thing that will work. Trust me on this one, I am a living example! Praise God! George! You won't regret it! He will pray over you like you've never been prayed for before! You CAN be free!!!
I love you Joyce.

Brian the Mennonite said... you mean call Cookies by George? Those cookies are good and all but I'm not quite sure that's the right solution.

Praying...sure. Joyce already does that. That has been as temporarily effective as dieting. Prayer is a salve for the mind for many people and for varying lengths of time, just as you are experiencing now. But what happens when the George effect wears off and you are back to the beginning? Many people are wanting a permanent solution, Joyce included, but as Bruce Cockburn sings, "Sometimes the darkness can be your friend."

I think it's easy to say, "pray". That seems to get rid of OUR discomfort with not having the solution. We get our nod and smile of agreement, thus ending the tension. But the person is still left with the feelings, plus the new feelings of guilt because maybe their faith isn't where it is most effective.

I love what Pluckymama said above, "God gave us brains and science for a reason. He can answer our prayers through that as well."

Nancy said...

Brian, this could be a lengthy debate...
I can only speak from my own experience. And I don't believe this is the place to share all the details. But I will share that it goes way beyond reason. I have been told my whole life "it's all in your head" and "if you just think differently or try a different drug you will be okay." That's a bunch of BS! It was not just in my head. And it's not just about feelings. After 32 years of being in bondage, I am free and I won't relinquish that to anybody!
My Christianity has changed. It is not the Christianity I was raised with, where everything was polite and nice. No, now I am seeing God as he was in the OT and how Jesus was in the NT - POWERFUL! and yes, sometimes messy, but in the end - freeing!
Yes, God gave us brains but unfortunately most of us are just like stupid sheep when it comes to matters of faith.

Brian the Mennonite said...

No debate from me.

Bonnie said...

I think it's sad that we must all struggle with this. I usually don't talk about weight issues because clearly I have them, you know that by just looking at me, you don't need to get into my head to see it or know it. I so badly want to be thinner and as I sit in front of the tv or by the computer or even when I'm out and active, I don't think it's something I will ever attain for myself. Am I happy with who I am, yes, am I happy with how I look, not always, but I know my Lord loves me, my family and friends love me and sometimes that's enough, sometimes it's not. How do we get beyond this? Why does it always have to be about that? I don't know the answers to those questions, and I surely don't understand why so many people in this world struggle so much with it, but I work out those issues with the simple fact that I know my Father loves me just as I am and I have that first and foremost in my mind that because of that I'm ok with who I am. I'm not saying that I don't "try" and lose weight, because it is a healthier life style that I want for me and my kids, but while I'm learning these things I always, always remember that God loves me now just as much as He will love me when I am thinner, He can not possibly love me more because He has already given me all of His love. So, there you have way of dealing!!

Nancy said...

btw are right about Cookies by George. I haven't had one of those since I worked in the Trizec Building 13 years ago. mmmm...i really want one of those cookies now. maybe you could mail me a couple??

joyce said...

unfortunately, this is not something that answers easily. Anyone can read the Canada Food Guide and know how to eat well. Anyone can lose weight. That is so not what eating disorder survivors need to learn more about. We could all write our own books. When this illness has been growing with your brain (literally, since these neural pathways get "grown" during developmental years) no simple guidelines will erase their presence. Its just weary-ing. And sometimes it makes a person feel pretty damn insecure because you wonder if your mind is just so terribly small. Aware am I of REAL problems in the world, and REAL problems that people suffer. Yet, I am captive to this stupid, retarded, small-minded battle of the bulge.

Maybe I should stop writing about it?

Anonymous said...

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gloria said...

I think you're super too Joyce, and I am proud of Brian. It's hard when someone (no matter how well intentioned they are) tells you that if you just "believe enough" it will go away. Now you have 2 issues, the first, and the fact that your faith is not strong enough to surrmount your problem.

lettuce said...

i'm still with you

Anonymous said...

What a sore subject with so many folks. I feel your pain, I understand it as well. I don't "diet" anymore either. What I am trying to do is exercise more because I understand that exercise speeds up your metabolism and that will increase your weight loss and increase your well being. It is about committment for me. I am committed in my heart, but not always does my body wish to follow. It is a raging war within me to get to the gym and just do it. I am trying to work my way up to working out 5 nights a week, but it is so ridiculously difficult because I just want to go home after work, I don't want to go to the gym first. What is so sad about this whole thing, for me, is that I FEEL SOOOOOO much better when I am done with my workout! Who, in their right mind, does not want to feel better? This is the crazy stuff I deal with on a daily basis.

There is much to be said about bringing God into this, I think he can help, but for most of us it is about getting off our fat asses and "just doing it"...I am really only talking about me...but it sounded better saying it that way.

Anyway, that is my "couple of cents" on the experience and my battle that I work with on a daily basis...just saying.."I understand where you are at and I hope you figure it out for you one of these days."

Judy said...

I remember reading somewhere that people tend to move TOWARDS what they are always thinking about.

It's seemed rather true in my life.

So, I try to justice, love mercy, walk humbly...

I'm not actually GOOD at it though, so don't think of it as advice.

Just a thought.

Linda said...

I suppose a lobotomy could work but then you'd be a different person!:)

Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as THE (only) result of these steps...

I believe that it is a spiritual problem with a spiritual solution and for me, to focus on my spiritual health tends to help with the obsession.