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!!!!

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