Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Weighty Post

I'm in a very strange place in regards to my weight. I made my goal. I feel much better without the extra weight. But....there's always the but isn't there? This week I binged liked crazy. I ate tons of candy, and way too much chocolate cake. But it was a small binge compared to some of my past binges. And there wasn't as much guilt upon waking up. However, there was some unfortunate incidents that came a little too close to bulimia for my tastes.

And then the other day, I was dressing Piper and calling her my fat baby. I love her baby fat. But she looked at me for the first time and said "Don't call me that." "Don't call you what?" I asked her, thinking she meant "baby." "Fat." She answered. And I really almost broke down in tears. What the hell am I passing onto my daughters? Obviously, I was not as careful as I wanted to be about calling myself fat in front of them. I was really angry with myself. I don't want them to ever feel like fat is some kind of defining value in their lives. I don't want them to go through the intense self-hatred I feel towards my own body. And yet there was my beautiful, sweet, chunky little girl telling me to not call her fat.

I realized that even if I don't say anything, they are surrounded by my food obsessions. There are the WW books where I record everything I eat. They know I go to meetings every Saturday morning. They watch me calculate points for every bit of food I put in my mouth. I found myself thinking today at supper, "What am I teaching them?" "What do I want to teach them about food?"

Couple this with a horrible article I read in "People" (okay I soo don't read it but it had an article on Joe Olstein and since I am interested in prosperity gospel, I had to look). Some absurdly thin actress was saying her new thin look was due to monotony: "When you eat only to sustain your body, you don't see food as anything else." Argh. I mean, I love food. I love the pleasure of good food. I love the taste of spicy dal and crisp samosas. I love Godiva chocolate cheesecake. I love preparing vegetables and sauces. Food is about pleasure for me. But there is also this other side where food is about addiction, and trying to drown out uncomfortable emotions. But food as only sustaince? Is this where I really want to go? I think no.

What I want for myself is to have a relationship with food that is based on pleasure not desire. Desire seems to me that elusive thing you can never have. For me food has become that thing. If I binge food is the enemy. That love that you desire but hate at the same time. When I diet food is still the enemy. The things I want but that I feel I can not have.

What's made me realize how problematic WW is becoming for me is when I started craving a hamburger this week. I mean, I wanted red meat so bad my mouth watered. But I started thinking about why I became a vegetarian. I thought about all the political reasons why this important to me. And the craving went away. But this week I was also craving some Chinese vegetable fried rice. I denied myself this because I thought of it as a "bad" food. Then today, I am thinking, "Why? Why would it be bad for you to eat some rice?" This craving didn't go away and still hasn't.

I'm not sure where this leaves me. I know that WW did get me to this place where my body feels very good. I still think I'm ugly. And I knew as I did WW that being thin was not going to make me love myself anymore. I've been thin before and it's never helped with the loathing. But on the other hand, I really hate that WW works off feeding into often unfounded fears about weight, and from the obsession of American women to be thin. I looked at my meeting on Saturday and was astonished at the women who were just joining. They were all thin. And then there was this 15 year old girl there, and it really broke my heart. I love my leader, and I have become friends with many of the women who go but I don't know if I can do this anymore. And I'm afraid of what I'll do without it. Something is going to have to give.

Ideally, I would get concealing since it's pretty apparent that I am really fucked up. But I don't think I can afford this. I keep thinking about how when we lived in Mexico I lost a ton of weight without dieting. I ate really good (Juanita made the best rice on the planet). We went to the bakery by H's parent's house almost every night. But I walked everywhere. I started running. And I didn't much processed foods (way expensive in Mexico). And I also lost weight when I was following Dr. Weil's Optimum Health plan. I realized that a lot of it was about conscious eating. I ate what I wanted but I thought about what I ate. Mostly I just took a lot of pleasure in eating healthy well prepared food. But I admit that there is a part of me that is scared that I can't maintain that without WW.

What do I want for my daughters? Not that they are thin. They will be beautiful no matter what weight they are. I want them to feel pleasure with food. I want them to enjoy food period. I don't want them to turn to food for stress or as a drug. But I also want them to see food as more than just sustenance. How can I give my girls these things when I am having a hard time doing it for myself?


John B-R said...

"How can I give my girls these things when I am having a hard time doing it for myself?" Ginger, you write that you can't afford counseling but are you sure about that? I mean, can you afford not-counseling? I only stick my nose into your business out of love (yes, I can love someone I've never met). My daughter Rose worked with anorexic teens for a while (she's a social worker) and from what I learned from her, it's not about the food. I know, I know, I'm not telling you anything you don't already know. I don't want to come across as someone who thinks he knows anything, I don't know anything, I just want to say that you are worth so much to all of us (especially those 3 absolutely beautiful kids), that I just can't stand to sit here in silence and read this. I don't care how much you weigh. But you gotta DO something about that self-loathing thing.

Please forgive me if I'm out of line.

Ginger said...

You're right and you're not out of line at all. I needed to hear voices of "reason" in this situation. I talked about this a lot with H last night. I get a few free counseling sessions at school, and then they try to get you referrals to places you can afford. I have no idea what kind of therapy I'll get but it's worth a try. So that's the first I'll be setting up next semester. I also decided I'd stay with WW for now. If I leave, I think I will turn to food, and right now it's helping me to control that urge.

But thank you, really. I have come to love you as well, and value your friendship and your advice.

Jess said...

I was going to suggest looking into what your school offers. Anyway, mind if I email you instead of commenting here? :)

Ros said...

I don't live in your house, so I have no idea what the girls have heard you say about fat. But I do know that mainstream American culture, "fat" can be used as a hate word similar to "fag" or the n-word. "Fat" is associated with stupid, ugly, clumsy, lazy -- a slew of negatives, and I know that some of Piper's "don't call me that" came from a slew of influences other than you.
Sean knows I own a scale to weigh myself, and he sees me thin. He has never heard me say that I'm fat, never heard me make comments about not being able to eat a "bad" food, never heard me say "Fat and [insert negative word]". But still, from all the influences other than me, he's stood in front of the mirror concerned that he's getting fat. I'm just trying to point out that it's not only your own weight issues that led Piper to say that.
Having followed much of your weight journey, WW has been a really good tool for you. Can you stay in it by continuing to think of it as a tool for a while? I understand that it's part of our culture's obsession with being thin, but isn't the program itself about being healthy? Outside of ads, outside of what members say in meetings, just looking at the written program -- isn't about health and balance? Can you use that perception to stay with a structure that's been working for you? At least until some of the underlying stuff shifts?

argel said...

just come back to mexico and you will be ok :)

Ginger said...

I am going to stay for awhile. I don't know how much longer it will work for me but until I come up with another game plan...

and yeah H has pointed out that Piper sees it elswhere (Scooby Doo for instance) but I have not been careful about what I say around them. It was a good wake up call.

Moving to Mexico...ahh, Argel, if only we could. I would in a second:)

Ros said...

FWIW, back when I was really working my recovery (to sound like AA or NA), I taught myself to stop saying/thinking, "I'm fat" and replace it with, "I feel fat." Which made me think about (or studiously ignore) what OTHER feeling was driving the feeling-fat. Cognitive restructuring is very powerful -- can you do this for yourself? Start saying, "I feel ___" rather than "I am _____"?

John B-R said...

I have a history of anxiety and panic attacks. Ros's "working my recovery" rings a bell, but for me the "working" never ends. I've found (I think this is what Ros is getting at, at least this is how it works for me) that changing "I am" to "I feel" allows one to SEE rather than BE the feeling. That little distance "others" the feeling so that it can be dealt with as simply (ha ha ha) a bad habit. I've found it also useful to exaggerate the feeling, e.g. "I feel anxious' becomes "I feel so anxious I will probably explode within 30 seconds. Probably? No, not probably. I AM SO ANXIOUS I AM EXPLODING." If the exaggeration is big enough there's usually little self-conscious voice saying "Yeah right John", this consciousness allows even more distance. Eventually I remember to breathe deeply and slowly, from very low in the belly, as low as possible. That kind of breathing does wonderful things for the metabolism, which in turn allow one to see the "I AM" as not in fact an "I AM" but rather the bad habit that it actually is. "That being so, Ananda, remember also this as a wonderful and marvelous quality of a Perfect One: A Perfect One's feelings of pleasure, pain or equanimity are known to her as they arise, known to her as they are present, and known to her as they subside; her perceptions are known to her as they arise, known to her as they are present, and known to her as they subside; her thoughts are known to her as they arise, known to herhim as they are present, and known to her as they subside." -Bhikku Nanamoli, The Life of the Buddha

Ginger said...

Most of the time I do work in the realm of "I feel fat." I think that right now I'm functioning in the frightening world of, I'm afraid I'll be fat again. There is this sense that lossing control is right around the corner. And of course I know so much of this is compounded by my depression. But...welll I'll post tonight again.