On Self-Bullying

Yesterday, Wednesday, was my birthday and my choice of birthday eve activity was attending a wonderful yoga class. Usually, I work Wednesday nights but by sheer coincidence, kismet or luck, I had the day off.

I chose to spend the day alone – I have a very love/hate bittersweet relationship with my birthday. But I knew for sure that I wanted to take yoga.

I’ve only gone to this class a few times, but the teacher is amazing – so spiritual and a real healer. After the first class I took, I felt fear lift and the very next day, I accepted my current job which for months I’d been too scared to take, sure that I wasn’t good enough. But suddenly, I wasn’t afraid.

Last night, during the relaxation part of the class, ideas began floating through my mind. I thought about childhood obesity, a topic I think about a lot. Fat kids get bullied (I know from excruciating experience), both my other kids and (often well-meaning) adults. When one hears over and over that you desperately need to lose weight and shouldn’t eat this or that or you absolutely must exercise more, you begin to believe you’re not good enough just as you are. Other kids, who are left alone, seem to be more lovable and… better.

Lying there on my yoga mat last night, I began to wonder how best I could help today’s hurting kids — is the work in helping them lose weight through understanding why they overeat? helping them like themselves as they are? or is the real work with the bullies who torment fat kids?

I began to think about my own torment in being the fat kid – all the teasing and cruel jokes and how embarrassed I was by way too big body. I remembered all the diets I tried, all the clothes I bulged out of and how much I believed I disappointed my family. Just because I had a big fat ugly body.

Suddenly last night, I realized that I was lying on my mat with the biggest bully of all – me. It hit me how I’ve tortured myself my whole life. I have been nothing but cruel to my poor body for as long as I can remember. I’ve hated it my whole fucking life! Too big. Too fat. Fat pig.

Even now, I’ve wanted it so small and yelled at myself every time it’s grown. Even yesterday, buying bras, I was horrible, apologizing to the saleswoman about how big and droopy and lopsided my breasts are.

And what about how I’ve treated my body over the years? All the diuretics and laxatives and puking?

Who was the bully? ME

There on my yoga mat, I began to sob. I started apologizing to myself, over and over and experienced such sorrow for the fat child I’d loathed for so long – that lost, heartbroken, deeply sad little one who’d only wanted unconditional love.

“I love you”, I repeated over and over, meaning it for the very first time, at 54.

All of this happened without effort or thought. I feel like a different person now. What a revelation. What a call to kindness. How could I have been of real service to others without first loving and accepting myself?

Glorious.

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On Ambien, Roseanne and Me

Sleeping drug Ambien can cause a host of side effects, but it’s unlikely racism could be categorized as one, as Roseanne Barr claims.

A few weeks ago, the comedian wrote in a since-deleted tweet that “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj.” The “vj” stood for Valerie Jarrett, an Obama White House aide. This led to the cancellation of her hit ABC show Roseanne, and an apology from the comedian, who said at one point she was “Ambien tweeting,” in another social media post that has since been removed.

Sanofi, who makes Ambien, tweeted a response Wednesday morning: “While all pharmaceutical treatments have side effects, racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication.”

What a great response! And I agree. Besides, Roseanne is responsible for her comments no matter when or where or how she makes them.

However, all the Ambien talk reminded me of some of my own sleeping pill (and potentially dangerous) hijinks.

Once, I took Ambien on a flight back from California only to wake up cuddling the elderly Indian gentleman to my left. Our arms were wrapped tightly around each other and my nose nuzzled the back of his turban.

My brother and sister-in-law held the seats behind me (and my apparent date.) They looked to be in pain trying to contain their laughter.

Nothing became of my affections for my seatmate, but I never took Ambien on a plane again.

I did, however, take it at home. One night years ago, right after I’d moved to the apartment over my brother’s garage, I took an Ambien and crawled into bed.

The next morning, I woke up to find myself surrounded by container after container after container of Chinese food! I couldn’t remember how they got there at all!!

First of all, I barely new my knew address and the apartment is all the way back in the woods. How did I direct someone?

Second, how did I find a Chinese restaurant in Ledgewood, NJ that delivers that late? I barely knew where to find a supermarket at that point.

And the worst question of all (and an embarrassing confession) – I don’t wear anything to bed. How on earth did I greet the delivery guy?

Happily, I cleaned my life up right around that time and haven’t had an Ambien or a naked experience with a restaurant worker since.

Wonder what Roseanne is doing these days?

The New Normal; In the Belly of the Beast

The truth about the scale in my house – if I’m not vigilant, it goes up. Doesn’t matter if I’m running around like crazy all night when once I sat sedentary; doesn’t matter if the extra food I’m eating comes in the form of dry salad – when I eat more than before, I gain weight.

Since I started my new job three weeks ago, I’ve gained five solid pounds and the scale continues to creep up.

My reaction, frankly, is mixed.

On the one hand, I’m so busy and working a lot of hours and getting home in the middle of the night – who has time to watch with the eye of an eagle? On the job, I’m surrounded by easily accessible, yummy food all the time, and it’s kind of fun to indulge. I’ve been sooo vigilant for so long, it feels kind of playful to eat french fries just because the chef knows I love them and made them especially for me. And even though I’m not really hungry, it feels inclusive and familial to join in the family meal (and seriously, I just have a little soup and salad, but still, my scale has the trots.) And to come home late at night, exhausted, and to allow myself a small snack with late night TV – relaxing. (On a different note, I can’t tell you how I resented missing Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers all the years I toiled by day. THIS is living.)

On the other hand, I miss the comfort of my old eating habits – so solid and safe. I never worried about weight gain or portions size or should I have this or that….It was completely easy not to have choice. Didn’t worry about food. Didn’t worry about my weight. It gave me a lot of freedom to just live real life. Too much thinking about food and weight gain can become too consuming.

Yet, most people I know don’t gain so much weight so quickly just by adding an extra soup and salad or two. I know my body, by nature, simply weighs more. If I’d never had anorexia or bulimia, if I weren’t a lifelong compulsive eater; if I’d learned early how to feed my body as IT wanted, I doubt I’d be any kind of sylph.

I haven’t made a decision about this dilemma. I suspect I’m having too much fun right now, delighting in food and ‘freedom’. But I also suspect that I’ll need to get back to my old ‘weighs’ – eating safe foods and only when hungry. That just feels more free, in the long run. Or so I suspect.

Well see. For now, time to head to work. And then – woo hoo- two days off in a row. I’m still so happy – and that’s good enough for now.

Why I Worried about Anthony Bourdain

When I heard that Anthony Bourdain died of an apparent suicide, the following thoughts came to mind. I, of course, know nothing about his death or its cause. This is just my own thinking:

The first time I learned about Anthony Bourdain was when I read his amazing book first book, Kitchen Confidential. At the time, I was so lost and fumbling careerwise and envied that one person could be a wonderful and successful chef and such a truly great writer. No fair – too much creative talent gifted to one guy!!!! I’ve since read all his books and re-read Kitchen Confidential several times – it’s so interesting and well-written. (And yes, OF COURSE, I envied that Bourdain could eat all the time and stay skinny. I know I get boring with this one – but that’s really how I rolled.)

Over the years, I thought about Anthony Bourdain a lot, because every day on my walk home from work, I passed the restaurant Les Halles where he got his start.

I also thought about Bourdain because we shared a common peril – addiction. Over the years, we both put down substance; however, a few years ago, I read an article where Bourdain mentioned that he’d started to drink ‘very moderately’ again, enjoying an occasional glass of wine with a great meal.

A red flag went off – most successful recovering addicts I know don’t drink. Most of us find it impossible to moderate both drugs and alcohol. Of course, I didn’t know Bourdain personally, but the revelation made me uneasy.

Recently, I read an interview with new discussing a new project, in which he planned to ‘eat and drink’ his way through some remote country.

I began to worry again. He’d gone from not drinking to the ‘occasional’ wine with a fancy dinner to drinking his way through the world.

I don’t know that this has anything whatsoever to do with his death, of course. But I do know that for the alcoholic/addict, drinking might well indicate an inner malady. And/or, it might lead us down a dangerous path.

I always admired Bourdain’s work and am really saddened by his death. Prayers for his family. May he Rest in Peace.

Kate Spade’s Death

While in my sophomore year of college, I binged compulsively around the clock, gaining 80 pounds in six months. I never slept – I just ate. I hated myself and every bone in my body. I hated life and finally, absolutely miserable, dropped out of school. And as much as I despised the home I grew up in, I felt so defeated I crawled back there, miserably.

I had a classmate that sophomore year who embodied everything I wanted to be – Elizabeth Morris was smart, interesting, open-minded, beloved and beautiful. She seemed to have the perfect, loving nuclear family. If you’d asked me who I wanted to be (certainly not myself!), without pause, I would have quickly and easily answered, “Elizabeth Morris.”

Elizabeth killed herself that summer, after apparently attempting suicide three previous times.

It astonished me that I, who felt I had and was nothing, still had the strong will to live and she, who looked to have everything, lived in so much pain she chose death.

I prayed then, and do to this day, that Elizabeth Morris finally knows peace, wherever she is.

Today, the great designer Kate Spade apparently committed suicide, leaving behind a husband of many years and a 13 year old daughter. I can’t imagine what pain she knew that lead her to that end.

I’d always actually envied Kate Spade. She’s a few month older than I, and I often compared my meager life to her ‘fabulous’ existence.

Kate Spade was so successful (her company sold for 175 million dollars! in 2007); she had a long marriage; she was soo cool and creative and interesting and seminal – who didn’t have a Kate Spade bag or at least a knockoff? Here I was a single, college dropout, struggling financially and working odd jobs. Life would grand, I assumed, if I were Kate Spade.

And, of course, Kate Spade was skinny. Back when I weighed 230 pounds and was the least cool person that ever existed, I knew for sure that Kate Spade had it all. What a life.

Apparently, I was wrong. I’m still here, living life and full of hope. She’s gone.

I pray for young Frances Beatrix Spade. And may the great Kate rest in peace.

Working with Food

Working around food has actually been harder than I expected. I’m pretty surprised, and kind of disappointed. Everything with food had felt so perfect for so long – this really is unexpected.

I work long days, in and around the kitchen and notice a fair amount of inadvertent food going into my mouth — a few french fries, soup, the mis-fired steak…And there’s a big vat of my absolute favorite chocolate chip mint ice cream right in front of me.

Also, the staff eats meals together. My shifts are long enough that they incorporate lunch and dinner. And it’s free. I’ve been living on such a tight budget since I quit my last job – anything free seems incredibly inviting.

Prior to this job, my current way of eating was strong and served me perfectly for quite some time. My rhythm’s just off. It’s just not working. Food feels a little out of control.

Because, let’s face it – by nature, I’m a food addict. Food will always be much more intriguing to me than the normal eater. If I don’t nip this in the bud, I’m going to be miserable.

As I said in an earlier post, even though I’m running around constantly, I’m clearly not burning calories. My pants are getting tighter. I’m feeling uncomfortably full. I’m never really hungry anymore.

I’m not happy. Time to jump back on board with my ‘normal’ eating, which makes me very, very happy.

P.S. I may not be thrilled with my food consumption BUT I’m still loving my job. Woo Hoo

Fat and Happy?

The actress Chrissie Metz of the TV show This is Us appeared on the Today Show this morning. She’s written a book, This Is Me: Loving the Person You Are Today, that is apparently giving hope and comfort to women of all shapes and sizes, at all phases of their lives..

That’s amazing! I would have loved to have read the book when I hated the person I was.

Ms. Metz seems really happy and together, as far as I can tell. Her career has taken off – she’s in s hit TV show, making movies, writing books, she’s happily married…Still, her body looked so, so…uncomfortable to me. Even my friend who has no body issues and never comments on anyone’s weight, mentioned that Metz looked really, really uncomfortable. She couldn’t quite sit properly in her seat, even though the show had taken out their regular chairs to accommodate her size.

She says she’s happy, and I have to believer her; however, it’s hard to imagine that their isn’t something underneath that desire to eat enough to maintain her size. In my case, it was pain and sadness. Once that healed through the Twelve Steps, I no longer had any wish to fill myself with more than I needed to keep my body healthy.

I wish Metz could find that solution and not need to eat to the extent that her body looks so uncomfortable. But perhaps I’m presumptuous and she IS perfectly happy and living a complete life with family, friends, fortune and fame. Perhaps my own experience prejudices me?

Any thoughts?