Food and the Funeral

My friend’s funeral was the saddest thing I have ever attended. Weeping loved ones packed the church. Even the minister could barely keep it together.

Her parents spoke of her beautifully. All hearts broke for her father, remembering his beloved youngest child.

Her mother lovingly described my friend as a baby, a child, a teenager and a devoted young mother. Gulp.

Her mom also joked about her daughter’s famously picky eating habits – how as a teen she’d only eat Caesar salad, deviled eggs and pumpkin pie.

After the service, we adjourned for refreshments, where they indeed served Caesar Salad, deviled eggs and pumpkin pie, in honor of of my dear friend and her quirky palette.

I thought to myself, when I die, what if they served the only things I ate during my picky (anorexic) teenaged years? My poor guests would get diet coke, black coffee and a salad, with dressing on the side!!!!

Good grief!

I

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A Funeral and My Hair

After years of bright sunny highlights, I dyed my hair red last Wednesday and don’t really like it. When I look it the mirror, I look darker, drearier, older and definitely less sexy.

I’ve allowed this to ‘color’ my life (I know, it’s ridiculous). Last night, I was out with a nice guy and my friend, Jen, who is younger, prettier and has better hair than I. And yes, I pouted jealously each time he directed a comment to her.

Jen is also sweet, funny, brainy and cheery – always a delight. Hmmm, why did he prefer her to the pouty, pissy, cranky, envious redhead?!!! Clearly, it was about the hair……….

Today, I’m going to the funeral of a young mother who died with everything to live for – a beautiful daughter, a wonderful partner and a fulfilling career that was just taking off.

I’ve already had 24 more years than she will ever have on this earth. How dare I waste one more minute worrying about my hair color, which – of course- can be changed back at any time?!!!

My friend at work is a woman of deep and certain faith. When someone dies, she tells us not to be sad. That its a joyful time – the dead are absolutely in a better place – at home with God.

She and I often hold different beliefs. This time, I’d like to think she’s right.

Skinny and Sick

As a kid, I loved magazines, television and music. I wanted to look like every model and actress and rock star, particularly the really, really skinny ones.

I envied women like Susan Dey (Laurie Partridge), Pamela Sue Martin (Nancy Drew) and Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac. If only I had their lithe bodies, I knew I’d be happy.

Come to find out, years later, that they either suffered from anorexia or cocaine abuse or both. What I thought was natural and aspirational was actually serious illness.

I thought of this a couple of weeks back when I had the flu and tonsilitis. I couldn’t eat because it hurt too much to swallow. Whatever I could get down, got thrown up anyway because of the flu.

After a week of this, I’d definitely lost weight and slipped into pants that hadn’t been fitting. Of course, there were compliments – “wow, you look great.”

It’s all from sickness – the weight loss AND the thinking.

Would I have Become Anorexic if..?

Why does someone become anorexic, I’m not sure – there are various schools of thought. However, I wonder if I would have become anorexic (and later bulimic) if it were okay to be fat?

I know for sure that I was born a compulsive eater. I over-ate from the day I arrived. Once I put food in me, I wanted MORE. Eating became my answer to everything – fear, sadness, loneliness, anger, confusion….. It didn’t matter – I ate. Compulsively.

As a kid, I grew quickly and tall. Each time I’d get chubby, I’d spring up several inches and look somewhat slim again. Until I stopped growing. And life got really sucky and I ate even more. I got fat.

I became the fat awkward kid who got teased at school. No boys wanted to date me, and boy did I want to date boys. My family, so focused on appearance, wanted me thin. My family also wanted me to be happy and believed a woman, in our society, can’t be fat and happy and truly accepted

But what if fat hadn’t been bad? What if I was excepted at school, asked out on dates, and encouraged at home? Would I have stopped eating and gotten so sick?

We’ll never know, because I hated being teased, wanted to date and was told to diet at home.

Of course, once I stopped eating and started losing, the compliments stormed down upon me. What if they hadn’t? What if no one had cared either way? Would I have still believed it was absolutely paramount to get and to stay so thin, no matter the consequences?

Again, we’ll never know. But I do wonder

Naturally Skinny

Once again, at my fabulous friend, Karen’s. Her nephew and her cousin share one thing in common – they’re naturally skinny and try very hard to gain or at least maintain their weights.

Karen’s nephew specifically eats a lot of fattening food, even when he’d rather have vegetables. Otherwise, he gets super thin and everyone bugs him to try to gain weight. It really bums him out, and he wished everyone who leave him alone and stop commenting on his weight.

I’m sorry – I’m sorry, I’m really, really, really trying. Really.

After years of practically (seriously) killing myself to be skinny, it’s so hard to have any compassion.

I’ll work on it.

From the Anorexic Years

Walking through King’s yesterday, I remember how overwhelming supermarkets used to be for me. All the aisles and aisles of food, almost of all of which I never allowed myself.

Imagine being terrified to eat?

Standing in Kings, I remembered how any connection to food triggered an anxiety attack. Walking through the cookbook department in Barnes & Noble; strolling by restaurants on the streets of Manhattan; a dinner party…the list was endless as food is everywhere.

I lived a teeny tiny life, based around starving. I waited longingly for the moment that I’d be so hungry I’d finally allow myself to eat something – a little something.

I wrote long, longing lists of all the foods I wouldn’t let myself eat, and I’d dream of a day when I might have them.

So I wouldn’t be tempted to eat, I stayed in most of the time.

For years, I didn’t allow myself any caloric beverages – only black coffee and diet soda made my list. Eventually, I decided to include white wine, enabling me to do something at parties, other than eat. And then alcohol, of course, became a big problem.

Starving lead to binging and purging. For another post.

What a miserable, lonely life.

The Eating Disorder Cafe

Years ago, I wished there existed an Eating Disorders Cafe, where one could go and order all kinds of weird and restrictive choices without raising an eyebrow.

Some perfect sample meals – ketchup, mustard, balsamic vinegar. And a diet coke.

Iceberg lettuce and two saltines. Dessert – a pack of sugar-free gum

Once served, I’d be allowed to nibble two bites, then douse the rest with pepper so I couldn’t eat any more. And no waiter would ask if there were a problem.

It would be a safe place where I could exhibit all my sick habits with food and be excepted and cared for.

Really and truly – this sounded like bliss. I had no idea how sick I was.