Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Magic Wand of a Fat Child....

For many of us who grew up "broken" and overweight, we have believed for a very long time (and in many cases have been told flat out) that if we would just lose weight, get thin, things would be better. That people would love us, would respect us, support us, care about us and want us in their lives, something we haven't felt or believed in most of our lives, if ever. These message may have come from parents who themselves were broken and didn't know how to love, but instead of facing that put the blame on us; from schoolmates who found security from their own insecurities by putting others down; from the media who blares hour after hour how the good people are thin and the bad people are fat. No matter where the messages came from, for many of us they shaped who we are, what we do and how we think, even if we don't realize it that is what drives us.

This post is much more personal than I would normally share. This is something I would limit to my private blog which only my eating disorder treatment team (therapist, dietician and physician) and my personal trainer would see. But in the last two days I have conversations with two of my friends, that made me realize, I need to say this 'out loud'. That I need to be the one brave enough to go public with my feelings on this. Jen and Angie, I am sharing whats in my heart and my head because I love you enough to not want you not to end up where I am!

In my last post I shared I was seeking treatment for my eating issues, I am about a month in now and have gone from just the therapist to working with a team of people. It's one of the hardest things I have ever done, it means exposing my inner thoughts and feelings in a way that, quite honestly, I find terrifying. Every session means admitting secrets I have hidden for years, feelings I am ashamed of and trying to change behaviors that while dangerous are also comforting. It is intense, emotional and at times overwhelming, but despite that, I am glad I was pushed to do it. I feel surrounded by the right people (safe people) who truly want to help and are willing to take me for who I am and that makes this the right time to deal with this. I have also come to see that this is not going to be a fast or easy road for me. That 41 years of thoughts and feelings are not going to be solved in a week or a month, that there is so much more to this than just learning to put food in my mouth and swallow.

The successful end to this journey, if it has an end, is not going to be a number on a scale or loving food and eating, but learning not to wait for the number on the scale to make me whole inside, realizing that you dont find Oz by following a diet or on a treadmill. And I can say that logically, I know that is where I need to get to, but that doesnt mean by any stretch that I am still not trying that solution. I am still battling on a daily, hourly, minute by  minute basis somedays to not see being thin as my nirvana, the key that will reverse all the pain I have faced in life, that will make everything that feels so wrong inside myself better. And more days than not right now I still lose that battle and the disordered thoughts win and I dont eat, or I over exercise. Knowing what I need to do and trusting that doing it is safe are still two very different things for me.

Here is my reality, I have struggled my entire life with feeling like I mattered, like I was wanted, like I had value in the world. I have spent most of my life doing everything I could to hear people who matter to me tell me they are proud of me, to love me and to care. I have spent most of my life feeling very alone and out of place. Sadly I dont think many of those feelings are unique to those who grew up in abusive situation, who were overweight as children or both. I have grown up as a child and now into my adult life believing if I disappeared off the planet tomorrow my absence would leave very little impact on people, that even most of my own family wouldn't notice for years, if ever.

But when I started losing weight, for the first time in my life I felt like people were proud of me, I heard that word more in the first few months than I had my whole life. For the first time ever people used words like pretty and beautiful to describe me. I finally had a group of friends and a social life, and simply put, for the first time I felt I had value. And honestly, I became addicted to feeling that way and in turn addicted to wanting to lose weight. While my whole life I had felt I was worthless because of my weight, ironically as I started lose weight my feeling of worth became directly proportional to the number on the scale dropping.

I want to be VERY clear I do not blame anyone around me for how they reacted, what they said or how it impacted me. The problem wasnt what was being said or done, the problem is was and is in my translation of those comments. There is a great irony to being "broken". Even when you do have value to people, even when you are loved and cared about you can't feel it. I know logically that people didn't love me or care about me more at 250 lbs than than did at 338 lbs, but I was more ready to believe it. I had spent so much of my life believing that if I was thinner I would be more lovable, more valuable, that when it happened and people started to notice me and express things they hadn't before, i was willing to believe it.

And the more I believed this, the more the world seemed to validate that. The greatest moment of my life, last August, was standing at Twins stadium, having 40,000 people celebrating my weight loss, but I look back at that now and realize how much that moment symbolizes how warped my thinking (and a lot of the world's) is. That losing a lot of weight would be given that much value was just a reinforcement of my backwards thinking that I mattered now that I was thinner and didnt matter before.

But sadly as quickly as I lost weight and found that feeling of worth, just as quickly it has left. A as the weight loss has stalled, I have fallen right back to how I felt about myself before, except this time into a place of desperation to get back that feeling of having value, of mattering in the world. It was something I had never had before in my life and something that I have become willing to do almost anything to get back to. Whether that whatever is not eating, working out until I drop, considering the use of diet pills, diuretics or other things. All dangerous, all stupid, but truly the sign of how addicted to the feeling of worth that losing weight gave me.

I started treatment a month ago to learn to feed my body, but what I am slowly coming to see, if that treating my eating disorder is going to be much more about feeding my heart, my soul and those pieces of me that never became what they should have. So many times through my life I have felt broken, but something Aleica has helped me see, I never got broken, because the way I grew up I never got the chance to be whole in the first place. Hopefully this is my chance to do that, and the first lesson I need to figure out is how to separate that from whatever the number on the scale or the image in the mirror is saying!!!!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Never Say You Love Me....

"Never say I love you...if you don't really care
Never talk about feelings...if they aren't really there
Never hold my hand...if you're going to break my heart
Never say you're going to...if you don't plan to start
Never look me in the eye...if all you do is lie
Never say hello....if you really mean goodbye
If you really mean forever...then say you'll try
Never say forever...'cuz forever makes me cry "

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Total Disclosure.....

I started this post over two weeks ago, I have fought with it since, trying to find the right way to say all this. It might be the hardest one I have ever posted, because it means sharing some really deep dark secrets, but I am realizing I need to do that, I can't keep living with my secrets... so here it is, it isnt the perfect post, but it's honest.....those that will read it and judge me I can't worry about any more, if people can't accept that have some major flaws they just have to walk away I guess, I am who I am, I am where I am and pretending for the world isn't helping, so here it is, total disclosure.....

"Hold yourself together like a pair of bookends
But I've not tasted all your cooking
Who are you when I'm not looking?" Blake Shelton
 I am a logical, rational, highly intelligent person. I can easily sit across the table from the CEO of a Fortune 500 company and tell him how his firm is falling apart and why, I can stand in front of a room of 10,000 and speak with absolute passion and clarity about middle east peace or philanthropic needs without breaking a sweat. 

Just as easily I can sit and spout the biological needs of the body with the best medical school graduates, I am tell you without a single emotion the down sides and dangers of not eating, I can logically share that I have lost 120+ pounds because I started eating and that the scale goes up when I don't.

But not one bit of that matters as soon as I have to face a plate of food, or even the thought of one. For as far as I have come in the last 15 months in some ways I am moving backwards, and when it comes to eating, body image and coping with all that goes with that, I have moved back 15 years in the span of a few months.
I made a promise when I started this blog, to be honest and straight forward, and as I look back at the last couple months I am not sure I did a great job keeping that promise. I have never lied, my sin tends to be one of omission. This blog has become a tug of war for me, like so many other things. I started it to share and to vent my feelings, but people started reading it, and started coming here for motivation, so I felt less and less safe showing my flaws and my falters, to the point I started a personal blog just where I could be fully honest again. And, it wasn't just about the blog, I hid what was going on from many of the people around me (who I hope will forgive me when they read this). I realized this morning (after swearing my trainer to secrecy on something last night) that isn't fair, it's not what I promised and it does nothing for those of the rest of you also battling in silence - and I know there are many of you. So it is time for some honesty.
Simply put food is not going well, my self image is not going well, I am fixated on losing weight vs being healthy and getting fit and I am doing a lot of damage to myself, both physically and mentally over it. That part is probably no secret to anyone who knows me well. In the last 6 months I have retreated from doing any kind of group physical stuff (sat and watched this weekend, quite frankly in tears, as my friends did an indoor tri), I have pretty much cut out a social life because it usually involves food.

In short my eating disorder is back in full force. I am under eating, over working out and obsessing over my weight, my body and the scale. It is back to controling much of my life and it is taking its toll physically. To the point that getting help became a necessity not an option. Yet I have kept that help a secret

I started down the path to help softly a couple months ago. In January I started seeing a Health Coach, Christy. Looking back I know I needed more even back then, but I wasn't ready, heck I'm still not ready but now don't have a choice. I knew from the get go this wasnt the right fit for how bad things were, but I was hiding how bad they were, so it worked, it kept the concerned people around me happy, I was doing something. And that worked til my body told on me.

I have a horrible time with using or hearing the word malnourished about myself. I weight over 200 lbs I still can not wrap my brain around it even being possible for me to be malnourished, I keep hearing my mother say "you could live off the fat of the land for years". But that is one of the sad truths of an eating disorder, you can look fine and be destroying your body, and that is what I have been doing for months living on nearly nothing or the same couple foods (protein shakes and chicken).

And that denial finally crashed in on me sitting in my doctor's office. My body has had enough of it. I am deficient in some key areas and if I don't do something it is only going to be more problematic going forward. So I had to accept the step I have fought and fought again.

On February 21st I started seeing a therapist at an Eating Disorder Program and will be seeing her at least weekly for an unpredicatable length of time (not going away anytime soon I would guess).

I dont know why admitting that is so hard for me, but it is. It feels like the ultimate admittance of failure and weakness. I have hid it from as many people around me as I could (it is what I swore my trainer to secrecy on). It also scares me who in my life will run away screaming when they hear I am this broken. I keep thinking of all the comments that have been made to me about how I am such a motivation to people, and now I feel like I am just letting everyone down by showing my true colors.

But at the same time I also know there are a lot of people around me who are fighting the same battle and hiding it out of their own shame. I am sharing this as much for them as I am for me.

The one thing I am trying to come to terms with in working with Alecia (the therapist) is that being this screwed up isnt my fault. That it has roots in how I grew up, in how I have faced life and that it has gotten me through some really terrible situations. I can logically say that but still working on it being something I can make friends with. Either way it is who I am, it is where I am, and now its time to stop hiding it and face it.

I think in admitting this I am also taking the blog into a new phase of its life also, it is time to admit the dark side of facing issues with food and eating, maybe a lot more honestly than I have up to now. Time to share some of the dirty little secrets from the minds of those of us who battle ourselves and food, whether we weight 300, 200 or 90 lbs.