Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Here's what I'm thankful for:

Today is the last day of work until Tuesday. I've been working especially hard to get everything done, and I think I've been able to do it all with a minimum of mistakes. I'm looking forward for a few days off to spend time with my daughter (who is also getting a break from school and gymnastics), decorating the house for Christmas and maybe making some cookies.

Tomorrow is my family's Thanksgiving dinner and everything's falling into place. My cousin and his wife are bringing their five month-old baby girl Molly and I simply cannot wait to hold her.

I'm grateful that my family is healthy. One of our neighbors unexpectedly died yesterday, and I feel so much sympathy for his family as they have to deal with their grief over the holiday season. My parents are in good health, my husband is fine, and my daughter's a cartwheeling ball of vim and vigor. And I'm doing okay, too.

Despite the cons to living in a very small town, I appreciate the good things about it. Yesterday afternoon I stopped to drop off something to my former neighbor who recently lost her husband (I wrote about this at the beginning of the month) and we wound up talking for two hours. There were plenty of things I was going to do yesterday afternoon -- mainly clean my house -- but this time with her seemed so much more important and precious to me.

I'm also thankful for the other good friends I have, who have been there for me in good times as well as the rough ones.

Yes, I have my share of problems. There are things in my life that I'm unhappy with. Some are within my control and some aren't, even though some of the ones that in theory are in my control seem impossible to change. And sometimes I let these things drag me down and feel miserable. But, like the song we sang in church last Sunday, I need to Count My Blessings. I have to remember all the good things I have, all the positives in my life.

The lady I visited yesterday talked to me about this, too. And her comment was, "When I think I have problems, I look around and what some other people have to bear and I realize I don't have any problems at all." And this is a woman who just lost her husband of 60 years, who has diabetes and probably other issues I know nothing about. If she can have this attitude, I need to take her as an example and realize how fortunate I am.

So, to everyone out there, spend a moment or two in the next 24 hours appreciating the good things in your life. Be thankful for all that you have. I plan to do the same.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Church Lady Snaps

This is without doubt the busiest week of the year at my job. Compare it to the week of April 15 for accountants. To survive this week I have to do a lot of pre-planning, time management and multi-tasking. My biggest headaches come from outside sources: mainly procrastinators and people who expect me to drop everything and get their last-minute requests done.

I am not proud of the fact that I made someone cry yesterday. This is a person who makes tons of demands on me and is always expecting me to fulfill her last-minute requests throughout the year. But yesterday she hit me on the absolute wrong day, and I snapped at her. I didn't even explode on her like I really wanted to, but my obvious aggravation and displeasure was enough to send her over the edge (and let's be frank here: this is a woman who is always teetering on that precipice from all the drama in her life).

Of course when she starts crying I feel awful, although I was kind of confused as she starting gushing about some relative who's dying and doesn't want anyone to know. This made me think that the tears really weren't about me, but then she came back a few minutes later and tried to give me a $20 bill for my "trouble." This started the whole discussion of me not wanting her money, that I just need things in a timely manner, not two hours after I've completed the project she wants to contribute to. I reminded her that I put reminders in the bulletin about this for the past month, and I can only wait so long. But then she was martyring herself all over the place and offering to stay and help me. At that point all I wanted was for her to get out of my office so I could do my work without her tearful theatrics disrupting me.

Then there's this other woman who drives me absolutely crazy. She is the queen of procrastination who feels it's perfectly fine to call me at the last minute -- often at home -- with all her requests. Even though she works at a place full of computers and e-mail, most of her requests are handwritten and left for me on the piano bench in the basement of the church, so I have to go hunting for them. Worst of all, she leads me through her directions like a dim-witted five year-old and often forces me to read back her stuff when she dictates it to me over the phone.

I've slowly been trying to correct this situation with this woman. Two weeks ago she called my house at 9:30 p.m. -- the night before I print the Sunday bulletin -- to dictate an announcement she wanted in there.

"Do you have a pencil handy?" she asked me.

"Um, no," I replied curtly, "I'm in bed."

Boy did she stutter around! I told her to call me in the morning (wishing it would be at the office), but instead she called me at 7:30 a.m. while I was trying to get Mabel ready for school. I of course had to write down her announcement and read it back to her. Oh, and by the way, she needed a bunch of copies made for her Sunday School classes, too.

So this morning she calls me at home again at 7:30 in the morning, asking me to go find her papers in the church basement and make all these copies for her for this Sunday. The same week I've got the newsletter and annual meeting and envelope distribution and poinsettia orders and everything else.

I wanted to unleash holy terror down upon her, but the image of the other lady crying in my office kept me from verbally ripping her head off. I told her I would try to honor her request, but it was awfully last-minute and it's an extremely busy day, not to mention week. She him-hawed around and said if I couldn't do it all, if I could at least do make copies of the one sheet. I told her I would do my best, but that I'd appreciate it if in the future she would get things to me earlier.

I so wanted to tell her to take her copies and shove them up her butt. But what kind of a church lady would I be? I'm supposed to be gracious and helpful and take care of people. But where's the line when you become someone who gets taken advantage of and becomes a doormat?
It's no wonder I've been doing some stress-eating the past couple days. Not a binge, but nervous, mindless eating. I'm incorporating other options to reduce my stress -- yesterday was my appointment with my therapist, I'm exercising in the mornings, I'm trying to read a good book and start my Christmas counted cross stitch projects. But let's face it, it's hard to fight those urges to eat some cookies or some chocolate to soothe myself. But I'm trying.
Today's crunch day, and fortunately things are coming together well. But my personal life is equally jam-packed right now, and this afternoon I have to try to cram in as many errands as possible, especially since the weather man is calling for several inches of snow tonight. Often our road crews aren't prepared for our first major snow, and I'd like to be able to avoid as much traveling as possible tomorrow.
I have to admit the thought of being snowbound in my house for a day sounds nice. Of course, I'll have to disconnect the phone so no one can bother me with their demands. I can just sit back, read my book, do some stitching, and rediscover some relaxation.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

What Other People Think of Me is None of My Business

Today's better, I guess. I was so busy at work today I didn't get a chance at all until this evening to think about blogging. It's newsletter time, but also time for our church's annual meeting, which means I need to compile agendas, minutes, budgets, reports etc., and assemble them into 200 packets. It's also time to distribute the new offering envelopes, so I had to label all 299 boxes. The Christmas Eve poinsettia orders are due this week, so they're flying in, as well as memorial gifts for a deceased member of the church, and these have to be recorded so I can put them in the newsletter. Oh, and the Sunday School superintendent needed lessons printed up for grades 1-6, and our associate pastor needed 200 copies of his Christmas letter copied. All of this on top of my usual work. Fun fun!

I really kind of worked myself into a bit of a frenzy over this whole ordeal I shared with you yesterday. But at least when I'm upset I'm not compulsively overeating. Hubby and I talked about it more this morning, and I suppose it's as resolved as I'm ever going to get it.

I feel kind of foolish about the whole thing now. I look back at myself and see a whining, spoiled brat who threw a fit because she didn't get her way. The scolding mother in me looks at this little girl and says, "Guess what, kid? Life isn't fair, so get used to it."

I also think I totally set myself up for more disappointment and hurt feelings with my e-mail to him. Looking back, I think I expected him to respond objectively and empathetically -- basically like a therapist would. I wanted him to listen and validate my feelings and not interject his opinions into it or give me any judgments or criticisms. And that just isn't realistic. I know this man pretty well, and he responded pretty much like he always does. He gets defensive, he sees things subjectively and can't help bringing his feelings into it. And let's not forget the family gift of guilt.

I also realize a lot of my upset feelings stems from my age-old quest to win someone's approval. It started with desperately trying to get my dad's approval (i.e. love) and has moved on to peers, teachers, bosses, boyfriends, etc. This also feeds into my difficulty saying no to people and the need to be perfect. I've always had a horrible time coping with criticism, negative reviews and full-out *ss-chewings. I fall apart emotionally because I feel worthless, stupid and unlovable.

Let's face it: Hubby and his family did not approve of my trip, and although they've apparently backed down on their outright disdain (at least to my face) I will never make any of them think it's a great idea. And that's what's felt so unfair this weekend: all of the "boys" were basking in their fully sanctioned, 100 percent approved trips, while I will never get that.

There's a great saying my Mom shared with me: What other people think of me is none of my business. I have to quit relying on outside validation to feel good about myself. I have to tune out those people out there who are out to make me feel bad or that my opinions are shoddy because we don't agree on certain things. I have to stop comparing myself to others and focus on my good qualities and how I can improve the ones that are a little shaky.

So, instead of telling this little girl to suck it up and tell her the world is a cold, hard place, I need to give her a hug, tell her I love her and let her know that things will get better.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Sick As A Dog

It's been ages since I've published pictures of my doggies. In case you're new or you've forgotten, Bruno is the yellow one and Pearl is the black one. They are practically inseparable. And did I mention how freakin' BIG they are? It's like having livestock in the house. But like children, they're always so precious when they're asleep.

I put this picture on my entry last night, which has now become somewhat apropos, since I awoke at 2:30 a.m. sick as a dog. Why? Because, folks, I had my first full-blown binge since starting the Wellbutrin. I can tell it's been about a month since I last did this, because my body is already out of practice, and I was miserable.

As I laid in bed chewing on antacids, I tried to figure out why I did this. It didn't take too long to figure it out. Over the course of the weekend I watched my BIL and FIL plan and go on an overnight fishing trip to New York; then on Sunday my husband and his buddies were on the phone all day like a bunch of giddy teenagers planning next year's Alaska trip. It stirred up a lot of feelings about my upcoming trip to England and the unpleasant time I had when I first decided to go.

I thought about how great these guys had it compared to me: no one jumped all over them with guilt and criticism about going; no one judged them and their traveling companions as being morally "unfit" or "deviant"; no one had major discussions behind their backs, ranting what a horrible spouse and parent they are; and no one accused them of being unfaithful to their spouse.

I have tried very hard to get past and forget about what happened to me over my England trip, but it's been very difficult. Even though I've tried to explain it to my Hubby, I don't think he really understands how terribly hurt and angry I was at how I was treated. I rank it as one of the most painful experiences of my life. In Hubby's defense, he and I discussed what happened between us. He apologized, I understood what his feelings were behind his actions, and I was able to forgive him.

I have done my best to put my hard feelings aside and be polite and courteous to his parents, even though it didn't help me begin forgiving when I was told "not to take it personally." I know this is a major exaggeration, but it's like telling the Jews not to take the Holocaust so personally, because the Nazis wanted to wipe out all the homosexuals and gypsies, too. It's continued to be a challenge as I was first given the silent treatment for several weeks. And now I and my England trip have been relegated to the family's Shameful Secrets Closet, where if we never talk about it and pretend it doesn't exist, maybe it will all go away and we can pretend everything's fine. Yet I have continued to try to rise above this. I had no qualms about Hubby inviting them to my family's Thanksgiving dinner; despite what has passed, even I didn't want to see them with nowhere to go on the holiday. But the feelings don't go away.

I dwelled on this (okay, obsessed) over this for several hours, then finally got back to sleep. I didn't wake up until Hubby was walking out the door, so this morning I e-mailed him a basic rewording of what you see above. I told him I'm not telling him this because I don't want him to go to Alaska. I WANT him to go, I want him to have a great time and enjoy all the anticipation leading up to it and relish all the wonderful memories afterwards. I just wish I had been given the same opportunity.

I told him I AM telling him this because I have to get these feelings off my chest and quit burying them with food. I have packed on enough pounds over the last couple months because of it, and it has to stop. Only by feeling my feelings and not hiding them will I be able to break this problem I have.

I feel like a fool for emotionally eating and making myself ill. But at least I was able to realize why it happened and made an effort to stop it in its tracks and not let it continue to fester and run out of control. And maybe next time I can see it coming and prevent a future binge.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Yea Me!

The above title should be well known to those of you who have children who watch Disney Channel, mainly "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody." The one character, London Tipton (a Disneyfied version of Paris Hilton) often exclaims "Yea me!" when something goes her way (which is often, since she's a rich hotel heiress).

Anyway, I've been exclaiming it today as I show off my counted cross stitch masterpiece, which took several months of work to complete (not to mention I did several little projects in that time, too). I actually bought this pattern WAY back in 1993, stitched the littlest plate and two of the oranges, then gave up when life got too hectic. This is definitely the largest counted cross stitch pattern I've ever done (it fits in an 11x14 inch frame) and by far the most intricate. It gives me such a sense of accomplishment to see this finished, to know that I made every single stitch and that it all came together into such a beautiful picture.

Hubby actually seemed a little disappointed when I told him I wanted to hang it in my office at work; he wanted to hang it in our kitchen. But I have some other pieces (including the artichoke I displayed here back in July) that I'd like to hang in there instead.

Still not a lot to write about. Tonight we're going out for my BIL's birthday to a Mexican restaurant that just opened in a nearby town. It's part of a small chain of restaurants that we already like a lot, so I'm looking forward to ordering my new favorite dish of theirs-- a shrimp chimichanga.

Otherwise, Mabel's feeling better, which is a relief because I don't have to find a babysitter for her while we go out, or worse, stay home with her and not get to go out at all.

Maybe tomorrow I'll have more to ruminate on. Hope everyone's having a good weekend.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Mom At Work

I had a sick kid at home today. Mabel came to me at six a.m. complaining about her belly and feeling like she was going to throw up. She didn't perk up at all the next hour, so I decided to let her stay home. It doesn't seem like she's faking: she's been achy and droopy and laying low all day.

So I did my usual house cleaning, broken up here and there with requests for chicken soup, soda and Popsicles. I haven't gotten around to the Room of Doom today, other than to vacuum the carpet. Maybe now that Dad's home he can supervise the ill child and I can get a little bit more done.

I've noticed one big difference since starting the Wellbutrin: before, Fridays were my day to eat anything and everything I wanted because I was by myself and could "treat" myself. While I did make a little batch of apple cranberry crisp for myself (about two servings), it wasn't much more than an over-glorified apple and cranberry oatmeal, and I wasn't driven to go hog wild with anything else throughout the day. What once seemed to be an uncontrollable drive to eat has suddenly been cut off at the knees. In fact, it feels suspiciously like what I imagine "normal eating" to be. I could handle that.

Sorry I don't have much else to post. Been too busy being Mom/Housewife today to do much deeper thinking. Maybe tomorrow I'll have more.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Happy Jonimas!

Happy Jonimas! My fellow Joni Mitchell devotee and friend SS reminded me that yesterday was her birthday, and we always like to celebrate one of our favorite artists. In honor of this special day I listened to two of her albums on my MP3 player-- For The Roses and her live album, Miles of Aisles -- while cross-stitching during Mabel's gymnastics class.

This was a good thing to do, because yesterday afternoon I got horribly irritable, and I could feel the urge to binge creeping in like cold air seeping into the cracks of a house. Music does have a calming affect on me, as well as doing needlework, and it helped me to avoid eating yet allow me to focus on what was bothering me.

I will say that one song in particular really hit home: Lessons in Survival. But that's a whole therapy session in itself there...

What I did manage to sort out were the feelings that were affecting me that evening. First of all, my back was hurting me off and on all day and was really starting to ache by late afternoon. That by itself is a logical cause of my irritability. But the real problem was feeling overwhelmed: I've dug in deeply to this Room of Doom project and making real progress. My book shelves are looking great and I managed to organize my large collection of greeting cards (I suppose that sounds odd, but my late grandmother was an avid card sender and always had a stockpile for every occasion. And guess who inherited it? Yeah, me.) But now I'm getting to the hard part; sorting through my husband's and my own miscellaneous papers and other office doodads and figuring out what to do with them all: file them, store them or throw them away. I feel a lot of uncertainty about Hubby's stuff (I have a difficult time getting him to file, organize or throw away anything, and if I go ahead and do it for him, I worry I'll do something wrong), and the piles are so big that I don't even know where to begin.
I found myself facing a similar situation last night with the counted cross stitch project I've been working on since August. I am finally getting close to completing this larger-sized, somewhat intricate picture, yet last night I had that same feeling of being overwhelmed and not knowing where to start. I finally made myself minimize my focus and just pick one color of thread and deal with that and not think about the rest. By changing my perspective, concentrating on a small amount of stitches instead of letting myself get overwhelmed by all the ones that need to be done, it was much easier to deal with and lessened my trepidations.
As I was getting into the groove and enjoying myself again, I realized I need to do the same thing with the Room of Doom, as well as the rest of my life. I see that this has to do with my perfectionism: I fret so much about doing something right that I either get irritable and fret about doing it wrong or wind up not doing it at all. I've seen this kind of procrastination a lot in my family and can recognize it in myself. Instead of getting overwhelmed, frustrated and apprehensive about the big things or what's going to happen in the future, I need to redirect myself and focus on the Now -- i.e., conscious living.
While I was still a little irritable when I got home last night, at least I knew why, and I didn't turn to food to make myself feel better. I used my shiatsu massager to loosen up my back, laid down on my heating pad and went to bed early. This morning my back is still a little tender, but better, and I'm prepared to tackle that stack of papers this afternoon a little bit at a time.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

To Be Like Paula

I've noticed, as well as been told by some readers, that the photos on my blog have been pretty gruesome lately (mourning, gallows, Lizzie Borden), so I'm trying to perk things up around here to fit my rejuvenated feeling.

On Monday I made myself a ham and cheese sandwich for lunch and sat down in front of the TV. There's not a lot on at 1 p.m., but if I can't find anything else I always have my stand-by, Paula Deen. Her show was about one-pot meals, and at the end of the show her husband Michael Groover came into the kitchen to sample some of her recipes. It's so obvious they have a fun relationship that involves a lot of laughter.

I've always liked Paula Deen, even though back in my dieting days there were very few of her recipes that I would even think of making. This woman loves her butter and cream, and she doles them out liberally in her food. But even then I found her charming, funny, self-effacing and such a flirt with the men! Now granted, I know this is the image she portrays on television and I have no idea how she is in her day-to-day life, but she sure seems genuine to me. Not to mention I think she has the prettiest hair and eyes.

I sat there on Monday watching her and thought to myself that she definitely has some traits I would like to develop in myself. I'm not saying I want to start talking with a Southern accent and buying my butter in 50-pound vats! She just seems so comfortable in her skin, so confident and at ease with herself. I am a little aware of her past and that at one point in her life she suffered from agoraphobia. But she seems to have recovered from that and has made a true success of her life.

The last two days my eating has been great. I'm not counting calories, but I am staying aware of portion sizes as it pertains to the amount of food it takes to satisfy me. I'm not eliminating any foods, but I am looking at the nutrients in my food and seeking a balance of different food groups. Last night for dessert I got out a Hershey's Special Dark chocolate bar and realized after eating half of it that I didn't want any more, so I put the rest in a sandwich bag for another time.

Yesterday morning I got back to my gym and did 20 minutes each on the treadmill and the stationary bike. Then I went to my yoga class in the afternoon and we had a great time doing some different poses. I got home and went back to work on my Room of Doom, which is coming along well. The more I go through boxes and get things organized the better I feel. My life feels less chaotic and definitely more productive. And that evening it carried over to the rest of my house and I puttered around decluttering and tidying things up.

I may not be forming a restaurant-cooking empire like Paula Deen, but I think in my own small way I'm becoming more fulfilled in my life and making it more the way I want it to be.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Another Door Opens

It's snowing this morning. I knew it was coming -- it is November in Appalachia, after all -- but I still didn't really want it to come. While snowflakes are pretty and I love seeing the landscape covered in white, there are a lot of things about winter I'm not crazy about. Already my hands are drying out on me; ever since I lost weight I get cold so easily and have to bundle up much more than I used to (even with this current regain); plus I have a real fear of ice after my fall a few years ago that shredded my poor left knee. And let's not forget the joys of shoveling snow! Although I've heard predictions that this winter is supposed to be mild, so maybe I won't have to dig myself out of my house every day for the next six months -- and won't have to wear three layers of clothing just to keep from shivering!

Thanks to all who offered words of support yesterday. The funny thing is, while I was writing about mourning, I don't really feel that sad. Maybe it's the Wellbutrin doing it's job, but I'm feeling rather positive and good about myself right now, in spite of the regain. The signs are there: I'm putting on makeup and jewelry on a daily basis; I'm exercising regularly again; I'm tackling jobs I've procrastinated about for ages. I look at myself in some of the new clothes I've bought, check out my hair that I've been growing out for months, and I actually think I look pretty good.

It makes me think of this quote from Helen Keller: "When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us." Instead of concentrating on the closed door -- the one that included entrance into the Onederfuls -- I'm finally seeing this new door and walking through it.

For example, I am finally tackling my Room of Doom (thank my friend SS for that name), the office/den. Since we moved in last December (!!!) I have been putting off organizing this room, and all the den/office boxes have been sitting in the attic, waiting for me. This past Saturday, after saying à bientôt to my "skinny" clothes, I took a look at that pile of boxes and decided that yes, it was finally time. On Saturday the main job was just going through the boxes upstairs to see what was there. My first discovery was that the multitude of boxes was deceiving; my husband, in his usual" flying by the seat of his pants" method of packing his things, just threw random crap in boxes, and a lot of his them weren't even a third full! So I did a lot of consolidating and greatly reduced the number of boxes. Just doing this step made the process seem much less intimidating and overwhelming.

Yesterday afternoon I started tackling the book shelves that are in the Room of Doom. These have been filled in a chaotic way with a lot of nonsensical stuff that just got thrown there when we moved in, and this mess has continued to grow as we just laid things here and there instead of putting them in their proper place. I found a lot of things I've been trying to find for months as well as things I had completely forgotten about. And I found plenty of things that should have just been thrown in the garbage can, which is where they went. I only managed to bring one box of books down from the attic to put on the shelves, but the big accomplishment of the day was to actually clear the shelves and realize how much room I actually have to finally display some of my most treasured books. So hopefully I can get some more time this week to keep working on this!

Here's another discovery: the more I get involved like projects like this, or doing my counted cross stitch, the less I'm compulsively overeating, or more importantly, want to. Because I've realized as I'm taking this Wellbutrin that it is not a cure-all magic pill. Even though it helps reduce compulsive thoughts and decreases my appetite some, I can still binge eat while on it if I don't do the cognitive-behavioral work.

The trouble I was having before was that even when I'd try to occupy myself with housework or needlework, with all the books I was reading and feeling exercises and therapy I was doing, my brain was still thinking about food constantly and my cravings were still haunting me around the clock. Now, if I can get myself busy or just get myself in a peaceful, conscious state, I can completely forget about food and eating, which is something I've never been able to do before. It seems like I've finally got the right combination of tools -- pharmaceutical and psychological -- to really be able to succeed with Intuitive Eating.

I realize I never updated you all on my doctor's appointment last Thursday. My weight was up, although not as high as my scale at home said, but the doctor didn't berate me for it. She was a little concerned about my blood pressure, though; it's not high, but at that borderline zone, which makes me unhappy because at the beginning of the year I had it down to 110/70 or something like that. I know it's due to the weight gain and not exercising regularly, as well as the stress and depression I've dealt with, but both the doctor and I think my improved mood, thanks to the Wellbutrin, and renewed motivation will allow me to turn this around.

Sunday, November 04, 2007


I found myself mourning this weekend.

On Friday was the funeral of the gentleman I talked about in a previous post. I got there early to help usher if necessary, but the men I called to help me said they had everything under control, so I could mingle and just be a visitor. His wife of 60 years and I chatted for a while, and his daughter pulled me aside and had a very nice conversation with me, too. While I don't know everyone in the family, the ones I do know are so genuinely nice, kind people, and I felt for them as they grieved the loss of their family's patriarch.

His son-in-law, a Lutheran pastor, gave the eulogy, and what an amazing job he did. His love and admiration for his father-in-law was evident, and he shed true tears of mourning during his time up at the podium. Of course I started crying, too -- lately it doesn't take much -- but having known this family all of my life, I felt their sadness as they said goodbye to this wonderful man.

This next part will probably sound really superficial and selfish after writing about the loss of a special person, but I also did another kind of personal mourning this weekend. I'm really coming to grips with my weight regain and facing the reality of what my compulsive eating did to me these last few months. Saturday morning I forced myself to go through my closet and try things on, and what didn't fit would go into storage. How sad! There were so many pretty things that I bought last winter, thinking I was only going to get smaller and smaller, that are simply too tight to wear now. I wound up with an embarrassingly big pile of clothes, which were placed in their plastic coffin and taken to the attic, where they will be stored in hopes of being resurrected one day.
It reminded me of when my grandmother died and we had to clean out her closet. The discarding of a person's clothes really makes you face the fact that this person is dead. Our clothing is a tangible part of our personalities -- it reflects not only color preferences but can reveal if we're conservative or liberal, flirty or demure, sometimes what we do for a living or what activities we engage in.
It wasn't very long ago that I was discarding my "fat" clothes, and there were some pieces of clothing I found it very difficult to part with. There was the outfit I wore when I first saw my daughter, the dress I was in when I later adopted her. I had one shirt I adored -- it was comfortable and I loved the pattern of the fabric -- that I really didn't want to get rid of even though it had become more of a tent than a shirt.
At that time I was saying goodbye to the Fat Me (and when I say this I mean the body that wore sizes 26/28 and 30/32), and while it was generally a good feeling, there was a sense of loss of a life I had been familiar with. I had sworn to myself I would never buy bigger sizes again and would never return to this weight.
Well, I have to admit I am fortunate that I haven't gotten back to that size. The clothes I packed up on Saturday were mostly below a size 16, except for a few pieces that must have been vanity-sized to make people think they can wear smaller clothes. I'm mostly in the 18/20s again, which in the grand scheme of my life isn't a terrible tragedy. I've been much, much bigger, so I still don't feel like I utterly failed.
This packing up of the skinny clothes did feel a little bit like defeat, however. I felt like I was saying goodbye to any hopes of ever reaching the Onederfuls, that I was mourning the loss of a size I never even got a chance to reach.
I am part of a Yahoo group called dietsurvivors, run by Linda Moran, and I wrote there about what's going on with me right now. Nadia wrote the following paragraph, and it really meant a lot to me.
"One thing I'd like to point out is that when you grieve the loss of something, and then move on with life with some sort of peace and acceptance, it does not mean that you are glad that the loss occurred. You've still lost something that you cared about; it's just that it no longer rules your life, and happiness is possible in spite of the loss."
What a wonderful paragraph, and how true it is. At one point reaching 199 was my main goal in life; I even named this blog after it! And I was so close: at the beginning of this year I managed to get down to 205, and I was so sure that by now I would be firmly in the Onederfuls. But life didn't work out that way, and now that goal seems nearly impossible, mainly because I can no longer keep up the calorie restricting and the constant diet mentality that twisted my brain and made my eating so wildly disordered.
So maybe this weight gain has its purpose: it's making me see that this goal I had can no longer rule my life, and that I need to find happiness and contentment in spite of it. It's not giving up and saying I'll never reach it, but that reaching it -- or not -- will not define me as a person and determine the overall quality of my life.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Stepping on the Gallows

Why is it that I equate the doctor's scale to the gallows? I suppose it makes sense: from early childhood that act of stepping on the scale was so full of humiliation and shame, there were times it felt worse than execution, because I had to walk off and either face the disgust and ridicule of my other classmates or look forward to a brow-beating or downright abuse from my doctor. In some wild coincidence my daughter had weigh-in day at school this week, but thank God for her, she doesn't face this embarrassing, mind-scarring experience because her weight falls within society's "normal" range. As bad as it was in my day, at least I didn't get a letter sent home berating my parents for having a fat child with an unacceptable BMI, like they do now.

Why this focus on the scale today? This afternoon is my doctor's appointment to see how my Wellbutrin is doing. I'm not concerned about this: I feel great on it. But I know Dr. Amy is going to weigh me when I walk in, and right now I think I'd rather climb on the gallows mentioned above.

So as to be prepared for this moment, this morning I stepped on the scale at home. I was actually kind of expecting to see a little bit of a loss, or at least stay close to the same from the weigh-in at my last doctor's appointment. Since starting the Wellbutrin I haven't had a full-blown binge, I feel like I've been eating less, and I've been slowly building back up on my physical activity. So I thought it would have had a positive affect.

Oh, foolish me! I actually weighed more. A lot more.

I just wanted to sit down on the bathroom floor and cry. It hit me in the gut like a big nasty glob of shame, anger and sadness, dipped in a crunchy coating of failure. I felt like I was watching all the hard work, dedication and sacrifice I've given over the past three years slipping through my fingers like grains of sand.

But then my anger, which was originally towards myself for screwing up so royally, changed direction. I was furious that the day before I was feeling great about myself, yet a number on a machine could ruin all of that. Why, after all the time, after all I've tried to learn in this Intuitive Eating journey, do I still let myself be emotionally devastated by a number on a scale?

Of course my mind race with diet mentality thoughts: "that's it, I've got to start losing all this weight, I've got to count calories again, I need to exercise two hours a day, I've got to do something about this!" But even thinking these thoughts initiated those old fears of deprivation, and I knew this wasn't the answer.

I have to take a big breath and think clearly about all of this. This weigh-in was just a record of one day, one moment in time. It doesn't reflect the process I'm undergoing. And let's face it: it took me months to gain all this weight (and I'm sorry, I'm so embarrassed by how much it is that I can't even begin to post how much), so it's probably going to take even longer to undo the damage I did. Certainly more than two weeks!
I can't let this reading discourage me and make me feel awful. I have to remember all the positive things I'm doing right now -- yoga, incorporating healthier foods, increasing my exercise -- and realize I'm doing this for my mental and physical health, not my weight or dress size.
I have to get going -- I've got a ton of work to do today. I'll let you know how the appointment goes.