Things I Have Not Forgotten

My mom says I have a habit of reminding her of her parenting failures. The conversation often starts with a “Mom, remember when…” and ends with something she did that in hindsight she perceives as not good parenting. Like, remember when I was six and I asked you if Santa was real and you said no? Or, remember when you used to wake us up to the song Rise and Shine, but instead of ending it with “Children of the Lord” you ended it with “Children of the Corn”? Remember when I was eight and you read us The Giver and the father killed that baby in it and said “Bye bye little guy!” as he put him in the garbage chute? My mom hears these stories and thinks of her failures, but I don’t see them that way at all. I keep telling the stories because I think they’re funny, they make my childhood colorful, and they’re part of what makes me who I am today. The Santa story taught me that I don’t need a fantastical, magical figure to enjoy Christmas and it made me appreciate what my parents went through to get gifts for me. I still sing the “Children of the Corn” song and chuckle, but when I was little I didn’t get the reference, I just thought that was how the song ended. It’s one of those quirky family traditions. And although The Giver was a little intense, having my mom read to me and my brother as children fostered my love of reading both fiction and nonfiction.

None of these stories hurt me, none of them haunt me or make me feel like I had a bad childhood. All things considered, I had a pretty great childhood. I was fed, I was clothed, I was loved and I was happy. But every parent knows (even the really good ones) that they fuck their kids up in some way, despite the best of intentions. And I remember those moments too, those moments when the adults around me inadvertently cemented in me this idea that my worth is connected to my body. Since I’ve been fat since I was child, I have had plenty of adults in my life tell me in different ways that my body is too much. I was not often offered any fixes– I’ve heard lots of stories of women who were put on diets when they were children, and my parents never did that to me. I don’t really remember them helping me with my weight at all. It was made pretty clear to me that it was my problem. Continue reading

The Scale Monster

I’m really trying to stay away from the scale for awhile. I feel like when I wake up and decide not to weigh myself, my whole day is just so much better, I feel like I’m a good person and that I am worthy of love, I just feel like I’m enough for the world and so I walk through my day more confident and less concerned about how I look and how people perceive me.

When I do weigh myself (and it’s always in the morning) my day usually ends up being a shit show. If I’ve lost weight I’m happy for like 30 seconds, and then the rest of my day is spent obsessing on how much I think I should be able to lose by the next weigh in. I start to think, should I weigh myself tomorrow? How much weight can I lose in a day? Should I eat *insert snack here* or is it too many calories? Will it make me gain weight? Is it too many carbs? Suddenly everything I do I think about in relation to weight loss. Instead of walking around the building to stretch my legs, it’s to get more steps in because that might make me lose more weight. Instead of drinking water because I’m feeling dehydrated, it’s avoiding drinking water because of my fear of water weight, or drinking a bunch instead of eating food so I don’t have to worry about calories. I freak out about gaining the weight back, so I restrict my food which either leads to me feeling faint or drives me right into binge territory and it takes me weeks to get out of the restrict/binge cycle. If I’ve gained weight, I’m instantly depressed and hyper-critical of myself for the rest of the day. Of course I’ve gained weight, because I’m lazy and stupid and ugly and I will never be thin because I’m worthless. I obsess over the things I ate the day before, trying to pinpoint the meal or snack that put me over the edge (knowing full well that’s not how it works). I go to the bathroom and look at myself in the mirror, criticizing all the parts of me I hate, lamenting because I’m not where I think I’m supposed to be weight-wise and wondering if everyone else sees my failure like I do. I basically have a day long internal meltdown, I’m sent into this shame spiral and the only thing I can really think about is how much I suck.

I think the biggest difference between weighing vs. not weighing is that when I stop focusing on the scale, I approach my own health so differently. I’m more relaxed, I’m kinder to myself and I brush off mistakes way better than I do when I’ve weighed myself. I won’t hate myself if I eat my favorite larabar and I won’t drink mug after mug of lax tea or “weight loss tea” (which just makes you pee more) to compensate for eating too much of something. And if I eat too much, I don’t get as upset. I don’t hate myself for being hungry (physically or emotionally/mentally), I just resolve to make a different decision next time. When I get sucked into the number on the scale, I expect myself to be some warped idea of the perfect woman– someone who doesn’t need to eat, someone who has the power to resist temptation and who loses weight effortlessly, whose weight never fluctuates for reasons outside of her control, who is constantly successful. When I stay away from the scale, I get to be a fucking human being in recovery. I get to make mistakes, I get to try and fail, I get to be gentle with myself, and I get to revel in my successes because I can see how far I’ve come. When I’m on the scale I’m just a number. When I’m off the scale, I get to be Ndeya.

Weight Loss Journey Update

I went to the wls seminar hoping that it would help me make a decision on whether or not I want to get the surgery. However, I left feeling just as conflicted as when I arrived. I think the issue for me was that I was waiting for someone to tell me point blank that getting the surgery was either the worst idea in the world (too risky or unsafe), OR tell me that it was my best choice and that everything would turn out okay (perfectly safe). I’m not afraid of being in pain, I’m not afraid of putting in the work. I’m afraid of dying either during or immediately after surgery. That’s my biggest hang-up. I was waiting for someone to tell me I wouldn’t die. Because the whole point of me getting this surgery is to use it as a tool for health, so I can live longer than I would if I stay on this current path I’m on. What if I get the surgery and a week, or month, or year later my pouch leaks or ruptures or something and I DIE? After all that work to get into the surgery program, to lose the weight and change my relationship with food, and my body kills me anyway? That’s terrifying to me.

Later I talked to my grandmother and she made me feel better. I know that there are people out there who get the surgery and regret it. But I’m hoping I’m not one of those people. I decided to call my doctor and ask her for a referral to the bariatric surgery program. She sent it in, and I have to get some tests done (including a pap smear, WHY), and if they think I’m a good candidate I’ll begin to take their pre-op classes on nutrition and meal planning and preparing for a post-op lifestyle. We’ll see how the classes go, and if by the end I’m not 100% sure then I won’t get the surgery. I don’t know when I will find out if they have accepted my referral, but as soon as I get the news I’ll be sure to post it here.

No More Eating in Bed and Other Life Changes

For the past few months Kourtney and I have been talking about getting healthy, a topic that is really hard for me to engage in because of my eating disorder history and body image issues that have yet to be resolved. Health is such a loaded topic– it’s burdened with politics and stereotypes and misinformation, with body shaming and societal pressure and for me, grief and pain. So I often try to avoid the conversation because it makes me feel very small and huge at the same time. Small because I feel worthless, like I’m so worthless I don’t even exist. And huge because I am a physically big in a world made for smaller people so my size is very conspicuous. Health, weight, worth and self esteem are tangled together in my life, so it feels impossible to separate them. How do I get healthy without worrying about weight? How to I love myself as I am if I actively work to change my body? How can I separate weight from self worth if I keep seeing before and after shots of sad fat people in happy new skinny bodies?  Continue reading