Thursday, June 08, 2006

At Bay

Posted by Anonymous (no relation to Anonymous of the previous post.)

If you'd like to use this space to tell stories/secrets/confessions of your dangerous maternal mind, send me an e-mail and you too can enjoy the refuge of the Basement...


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(First, thanks to Her Bad Mother for coming up with this idea, and helping people like me, people who have to write about it all but wish for more anonymity than I have on my regular website. In my case, it may literally be a life saver.)

This is the kind of admission made only if I'm known by a code name and not my real one, the kind I'd be more comfortable with if I hadn't disclosed my site to my friends and family. I've long considered what I would say were I to dare write these words down, these words that I'm now afraid to NOT write despite my lack of anonymity with my site. I've only just recently admitted their poison to myself, which sent me spiraling into a weeks-long mire of self-loathing and shame, only making that inner voice I can barely ignore that much louder. I'm skirting a dangerous edge, and I know it. My common sense and iron stubbornness have kept me in check, but for how long? For how long, indeed?

I wrote a while back on my blog about wanting to lose weight, how I've observed the way overweight people are treated versus skinny people, how my coworker lambasted me with a snotty remark that reiterated my newly sparked resolve to get myself into the group of the fit people. I worked out every weekday for three months straight. I took a day here and there if I tweaked a knee, or had a migraine, but for the most part, every weekday, I was back in my work's workout facilities over my lunch, trying to literally sweat my ass off.

I failed.

I haven't worked out since my husband started going out of town every other week for his job. I have no energy to spend my lunch time, sometimes the only free time I get in a day, sweating and bending and twisting to a DVD I long ago memorized and became bored with. I tried new workouts, racquetball games, and weights only to lose interest in those activities as well. The extra stress of being solely responsible for our household the weeks the hubs is out of town has taken its toll on me and working out was the first thing to lapse. I lost 7 pounds. That's it. 7 pounds in three whole months of working out, religiously watching my food intake, and in general being miserable trying to readjust my fitness and eating habits. People working out alongside me lost three times that much weight and more in the same time span. Let's just say my resolve wavered after going weeks with little to no results on the scale, in how my clothes fit, and in my metabolism. In the last couple of floundering weeks of my workout routine, my desperation festered, my thoughts turning towards unthinkable methods of losing the weight. If I'm being totally honest, I have been having these thoughts off and on since giving birth to my son two years ago. Two years of hiding.

I've long had a love affair with food, for it offered me comfort when I was picked on by my classmates in grade school, when my over large breasts earned snotty remarks from strangers up to and through college even. Food was a commonality in my fledgling relationship with a culinary student three states away and a source of entertainment with my other foodie friends once that culinary student and I were married. Readjusting my attitude toward food proved to be much harder than I would've ever thought. Alongside my lack of progress with exercise and my attempts to rethink my food choices, my frustrations with wading through the vast amounts of misinformation in the marketplace as to what foods are healthy and what foods are not grew. How much store should be set in carb counting as opposed to calorie counting or watching fat intake or the glycemic index? As a result, my desperation to lose weight, to like my image and to shed the stigma associated with being obese, has grown to a point where I'm afraid of what I might try to get the results I so fervently desire, results that are so far beyond my grasp by already attempted normal means that I don't know what else to do. I'm not near overweight enough for the stomach surgery, but I'm still considered obese at 80 pounds overweight.

Maybe some of it has to do with societal pressure to look good because society mostly defines slender and fit by what we see on TV and in movies, but I have my own opinions of how I want to look, too. What I'm afraid of is that my opinion of healthy is at risk of being distorted by my desperation to be thin, which will lead me to try unhealthy ways of losing weight. The foodie in me loves food, and I can totally see myself binging, only to allow my Catholic guilt to take over and viciously chastise myself for the binging, seeking release from the guilt through purging. My intellect knows this is stupid, knows that if I start this, I won't stop until I'm in danger, as if I'm not already in danger by even thinking these thoughts, this betrayal to the sensible girl I usually am. I know I cannot start this, that I have to reject these thoughts. My stubbornness to refrain from such a damaging pattern has kept me from doing it, but the urge is there. In my weaker moments, I find myself thinking that if I just throw up, I'll feel better about what I've just eaten, even if it's something healthy, something that should carry no guilt upon consumption. The smart, educated, self-respecting girl in me thinks that if I stick with correct portions and don't overeat, if I turn down that dessert or the candy, then the potential bulimic in me will go away, but that's not true. I've followed to the cup, ounce, gram how much of a portion I'm supposed to have and the urge to get out a toothbrush and stick it down my throat is still there.

I can joke with Kelli and Liz at Mom101 about how much I love cheesecake and post my dad's recipe on my blog, and I can tout my husband's cooking and I can smile about those awesome ham and cream cheese wrapped pickle spears I take to nearly every potluck party we go to, with fat free ham and cream cheese of course. I can eat normal portions in front of people who don't suspect they might need to pay attention. I can pretend with the best of them in conversations about fitness and dieting that I know what's healthy. But then I fantasize about stuffing myself silly on all the food I love, on my friend Food, and then think about puking it all up. I'd get the taste and the satisfaction and none of the repercussions of the calories. Thoughts of food, of my calorie intake, of what those calories are packing onto my body in the way of inches, of giving up food altogether are becoming increasingly frequent, insistent, obsessive, and difficult to ignore. Is this how bulimia or anorexia begins?

The thing is, I KNOW these thoughts are destructive. I want to take myself by the shoulders and shake until I get it straight that this is not an option. I'm fully aware it's not an option. I've been in therapy. The bulimic in me is still there and she's starting to speak louder. I write this in fear, not of losing readers who might figure out my identity and think they can't read me anymore because I'm crazy ~ and I'm sure I'll lose a few ~ or of having people comment so viciously that I'll feel slapped around, though each of those thoughts have crossed my mind. I write this in fear that I might need to post it.

For the most part, I'm a normal, professional woman, a wife and mother firmly entrenched in the middle class, 29 years old with dreams and aspirations for my family. But I'm also a woman with a growing seed of obsession. I guess it truly can happen to anybody. I only hope I'm strong enough to keep it at bay. So far, I have been.

23 comments:

Annie, The Evil Queen said...

Have you considered checking out an Overeaters Anonymous meeting in your area? My sister in law is a compulsive overeater and she found great support through this group.

If you can afford to, I hope you'll go back to therapy. The more you talk about this with others, the less secret and scary it will be.

I've had that urge after too many cookies and not enough exercise. Like you, I recognize it is an unhealthy and unreasonable urge. So far, I've had no trouble curbing it.

I'll be thinking of you and hoping that you are staying well.

PeetsMom said...

I'm leaving my identity in the open for this, since I don't feel like I want to take the time to get anonymous when you are in need NOW.

What I want to say is YOU CAN. You CAN overcome, you CAN control. Do you know why? Because you're WORTH IT! And how do I know this? Because you are someone's dear friend, someone's daughter, maybe someone's mother...those people in your life make it so that you are meaningful. Overweight or not.

All you can do is one day at a time. One moment at a time. That's all you are given.

If you have had thoughts about purging, but not acted on it - you have WON for that moment...that day...you cannot think about the 6 thousand other days that you MIGHT want to do the wrong thing. You've got to give yourself credit for doing the right thing ONCE. And then do it again.

Life is worth living everyday and to the fullest extent. Don't cheat yourself of the joys. If cheesecake brings you joy, then have HALF of what you would normally eat. It's still 100% taste in every bite!

The fact that you recognize your problem...the potential for your problem to be worse, that is actually positive I think. Because you KNOW. Use that knowledge as your power against that little voice that wants to have more or to purge. You can do it. You really can.

Hang in there and give yourself some credit - it took a lot to put it out there. And thanks to HBM!

Anonymous said...

Please, please look into getting help now. It took years and many many health scares for me to recover from bulima, and I started just as innocently "I'll only do it when I have too many cookies" "I'll only do it one more time" and eventually it turned into a full fledged eating disorder. And I'll tell you what else, I never lost a pound by doing it.

Bulima in particular is more of an anxiety disorder, people tend to turn to it when they feel the need to control something in their life when they feel out of control.

Hang in there, and know that you can stay strong.

krista said...

If anyone writes a negative comment to you about this- lightning will strike them, and their hearts will turn to freaking ash.

You are brave to be reaching out for help in HBM's basement here, and I hope if you get any help from these comments, it makes you feel hopeful enough to get more help.

Because you don't have to suffer with these feelings. You deserve to feel good about yourself and your weight.

Your human heart can only hold so much pain.

My best wishes are with you.

krista said...

Oh- Am I supposed to comment annonymously too?

mama_tulip said...

I really can relate to you. Having two kids in two years has really done a number on my body weight-wise. When I was pregnant with my first, I took the term "Eating for two" to a whole new level -- I gained about 50 pounds because I just didn't care. With my second, I resolved to be much more careful about what I ate, and I was, but I still gained about 25 pounds. Tack that on to the 50 I never lost from round one and you've got about 75 excess pounds to lose.

And I hate that. I hate how I look now. I've never been this heavy in my entire life. I'm trying to lose weight now and I'm trying to do it the right way -- I'm working out, getting regular exercise and trying not to eat crap. So far, I'm down 12 pounds and one dress size, but it's hard work, and with two little ones, a house, a husband and like, life, I can't focus solely on weight loss, and that's something I just have to accept. I'm doing the best I can, right now, one day at a time.

As I try to lose this weight I am watching a very close friend of mine struggle with anorexia and bulimia. I watch what she goes through every day and what her body is going through and I can't imagine living life like that. Please, if you feel you might be tempted to go to such extremes, reach out to someone for help. You are worth so much more than that, and you can do this. You're not alone -- I'm doing it with you.

tania (urban_mommy) said...

First up, you are not crazy. And no one is going to stop reading you because of this. This post just shows that you are human and have some issues like the rest of us. It doesn't make you any less appealing.
I suspect you will continue to feel the urge (struggles with weight are life-long for SO many of us) but will also continue to fight it off. You seem pretty in tune with yourself and know what's the right thing to do.
I have one piece of advice: please tell your husband if he doesn't already know.
Thanks for being brave enough to write this. I hope sharing helps you as I'm sure it will a lot of readers.
Fight the good fight!

Christina said...

I think it's brave of you to post this here, and I'm touched by your struggle. I think you should go back to counseling if you can afford it.

I'll be honest - in the past I've had eating disorder tendancies as well. But not since I met my husband. His mom suffered from bulimia. I use past tense because she died before she was 40. Her body couldn't take the abuse any longer and gave out. I never met her, but my husband was strongly affected by her death.

He takes eating disorders very seriously, and more than once has suggested counseling for me for my relationship with food. I agree with him that an eating disorder should never be treated lightly. You're far ahead of many in that you know you have the problem.

Bulimia is a lifelong condition, but it can be overcome! You can reach a point where you're not obsessed with food and wanting to reach for that toothbrush after a meal. I wish the best for you.

bubandpie said...

I feel as if your post has suddenly made everything so much clearer. I've been trying to cut down my food intake for three months now, and initially I lost a pound a week, until I was down between 5 and 9 pounds (depending on how you count). And then the weight loss came to a complete halt. It seems like I'm eating essentially nothing, but the weight isn't going anywhere (and weaning did not turn out to be the magic bullet I was hoping it would be either).

As I read your post, I thought about how I tell myself how happy I will be, how confident in my body, if I could just lose 10 more pounds. But when I was ten pounds lighter (before I got pregnant the first time), I wasn't happy: I felt essentially the same way about my body as I feel now: there were parts of it I liked, parts of it I didn't like, and on the whole it seemed best to smile widely and hope to draw attention up to my face.

It just seems so clear to me right now that we can't postpone accepting our bodies until some mythical future time when we reach the "right" weight. Because our bodies are so amazing - it is so awe-inspiring that they can protect and nurture these babies of ours, undergoing such a dizzying amount of changes in the process. And yes, some of those changes leave an extra pound or two, but how did we let that take away our sense of awe, of wonder at our own amazing, amazing power?

I hope you get the help you need to keep those demons at bay.

Anonymous said...

Wow. That was brave to write. I wish I have the courage to say all of that - anonymous or not.
I'm going through that too, right now. I'm trying really hard to lose weight. I gained about 80 pounds with my son - not because of him but because I felt it was the one time in my chubby life that I could eat whatever I wanted and be applauded for it. And I ate.
I just didn't stop eating.
And then I went to the doctor a couple of months ago and she said I have to - and I need to lose a lot of weight. And, I also am in the "obese" category. So what did I do when I left the doctor's office? I said fuck it and ate a donut.
And then had the same thoughts as you had about throwing it up.
I'm trying again. I'm on a program. And, I've lost some weight. But, it's not helping my self image. I mean it has in the sense that some of my clothes are loose, but I wish it was a much smaller size that was loose.
They always say don't look at how far you have to go - just take it day by day. But, that is by far the hardest thing to do.
I wish I could say something that could help. But, I can't because I'm fighting the same battle, getting the same bitchy remarks and basically just hoping that at some point I will figure out the magic cure.
But, I'm giving you a big hug across the blog - anonymous to anonymous - because I'm there and it sucks and I'm with you.
I don't know if I've been to your blog or if you've been to mine, but if I ever came across that on your blog I would not only continue reading I would go back and comment on every single post because it is so real and sincere.
Hang in there. I hope you figure this out.

gingajoy said...

as someone who has been there (and promptly got pregnant with #2 as I was trying to lose weight from #1) I can really empathize with your story here. But here's a secret--ALL of us who have had kids and are in or pushing our 30s--all of us find losing weight incredibly, incredibly hard. I was exercising, "watching" what I ate, the lot--all with a few other friends doing the same thing. And all of us had little to no weight loss. Working out alone was not working.

Two of us combined the exercise with calorie counting, and the llbs did start (very stubbornly and slowly) to come off. About 7lbs over 3 months for both of us. So not very many of them--but we *were* losing inches from the exercise. Even though the number was not budging, our side views were much improved, the stomaches a little more toned.

When I am done with this preg, I swear I will go back to calorie counting ("saving" calories for food I enjoy at the weekend) exercise and pilates. But I also swear I will have a realistic idea of what I can weigh without being miserable.

So avoid measuring success by the number so much, readjust your perspective, and see if you can get a buddy to exercise or even diet with. it really might help. it did for me. 7lbs is actually pretty fucking good! And I bet you are, in addition, much much slimmer.

I can tell by your writing, you are stunning!!! ;-)

kittenpie said...

How horrible to have your head saying things you don't want it to - but how excellent that you have the strength to hear it and tell it to fuck off. That is important, that will to stay sane and healthy. It means you have the strength to fight and get help. I think that first commenter has a good tip on therapy and/or support groups. I know these help a lot of people who want to feel better. I hope that whatever route you choose, you beat this thing into submission, into a place where you control it, rather than it taking over. Good luck - nothing like this is easy, but I think you'll get on top. I hear resolve in your voice.

Anonymous said...

My hatred of vomiting has been the only obstacle between me and the binge/purge temptation at times. I know the feeling of having eaten far too much, having let my pleasure in consuming get out of control, and wondering...what if?

I agree that you sound as if you have the obsession with food that is characteristic of eating disorders, and I second (third? fourth? I've lost count.) the suggestion of getting back into therapy. The fact that you recognize these urges as being unhealthy - far more dangerous than your weight, in my estimation - is more than half the battle. I really think it would help to talk with others who understand exactly what you're facing.

Thanks for writing it all down and having the courage to share.

Anonymous said...

I hope the post helped you get the feeling out in the open. I hope you can reread it after writing it, and it can heal you.

I've had the same urges.

I don't have any advice. Except that I ended up going to weight watchers. And I didn't do it online, I went to meetings! And they helped. And I lost weight. And once I lost a little I felt better about myself that I could do it the RIGHT way. And the urges went away.

Jaelithe said...

You haven't failed.

Just because you haven't lost the weight you wanted to yet does not mean you have failed. Even the fact that you haven't been able to find time to exercise lately doesn't mean you have failed.

Failure means you had one shot to succeed at something, and you choked.

But striving for good health and fitness is a lifelong commitment, not a three-month test you can pass or fail.

You've had a setback. Clearly you are very stressed out by a lot of difficult things that are going on in your life that have nothing to do with food or your weight, and all of this stress is making it much harder for you to find the time and the physical and emotional energy to devote to taking care of yourself by watching your diet and exercising. This is completely understandable, and it is not your fault. Every mother struggles with finding time to take care of her own health, both mental and physical.

I think the problem you are faced with is NOT your weight, or even the intrusive thoughts and impulses you've been experiencing lately that you fear might lead to bulimia. The real problem is the high level of stress in your life that is making it so hard for you to take care of yourself, and is causing you to think in self-destructive terms.

But what can you do to reduce stress if so much of it is out of your hands? If I knew an easy answer to that question, I would not be one breakdown away from the loony bin myself right now.

Obviously one thing that would help would be if you could find supportive friends or family to give you a break by helping out with childcare or housework, or even by just letting you vent in their presence. I know you are afraid people will think you are crazy or weak if you let them know just how hard things have gotten for you lately, but I think it's more likely most decent people would only be able to empathize. I've yet to meet a single intelligent person who's never skirted the edge of insanity at one point or another while under great stress.

And I am absolutely sure you can find at least one friend who wants to help you however she can.

Anonymous said...

Oh please please please don't do it. Can I just say that I have been reading/lurking on blogs for a long time now and I've never posted on a one, but this I've gotta respond to. I spent 10 whole years of my life with bulimia. God, how did 10 years happen?! And I understand completely how it starts and continues and continues and continues...but what I realize now that I've finally overcome the disorder is just how all-consuming bulimia was. It's almost impossible to have intimate relationships with bulimia. It's almost impossible to distract yourself from it. It's almost impossible to be happy. It takes so much time and energy to have an eating disorder. Now I realize how full life can be, because for 10 years it was very, very small. I even dreamt of bingeing and purging at night. Also! I never hear people talk about how expensive bulimia is, but it is very expensive. You start out only overeating on what's there, but eventually you go grocery shopping just for a binge. Ugh, I feel sick just thinking about it all. Please know these thoughts you are having ARE eating disorder-related, but you are very lucky to be aware of them NOW. Maybe check out www.bigfatblog.com . I don't agree with everything people talk about there, but it has helped me accept my body more. And become more empowered. And maybe see a therapist? I simply adore therapy, and I think it's the best gift anyone can give themselves. I used to rationalize the expense by thinking, "Well, it's either $100 to my shrink or $100 on ice cream and chips and tacos, etc. that I'll just flush down the toilet anyway." I know you'll come through this OK.....

Amber said...

I can't say anything with more wisdom, or that might help mor ethan the Anno post above... But I feel for you. I have had an unhealthy relationship with food in my life, as well. At one point I was 5'9, and 109 pounds! Then after kids, my body just held on to everything, probably thnking it was going to starve! I never knew what it felt like to be over-weight, an dthen I learned how hard it is. And it IS so hard to lose it! And boring!
I have been working out for a year now, and just now down to a good weight--no too thin. I slip all the time. So I am sending you good vibes! You are not alone in your struggle. But don't do anything rash! Going from being sooo thin, to being heavy, I learned that I am not my body. The real you is only living in it. ;)

:)

Veronica Mitchell said...

I am praying for you. I hope you don't mind. I have had trouble with eating disorders myself. Anonymous, you have to heal on the inside before weight can mean as little as it really means. I had to learn to find my beauty, my worth, my confidence in something more substantial than the eyes of the people around me. Or even the thoughts I imagined they had about me. Once I healed inside from my constant self-disparagement, and learned to accept love, learned I was worthy of love, I could see food as nourishment for my good and worthy body, not as medication for my unhappy soul. And I could fight the temptation to purge. Because that little voice that said I was no good, that I had to lose weight to be worthy of love, is the enemy. Once I knew my own value, I could be angry at that voice. I could use that anger to fight it. Because that voice tries to destroy me, and I won't be destroyed.

Not everybody gets it. Plenty of women think it's an acomplishment to be tiny at any cost. They are fools. Bulimia doesn't raise my children, or love my husband, or honor anyone but itself. It doesn't heal or give; it destroys and steals. I hate it for telling lies about me to myself, and I fight it because I deserve better than what it offers. Every day that I nourish myself, I am the winner.

You are the attacked; bulimia is the attacker. It is greedy for your life. Don't let it win.

Michele said...

Thank you for sharing this. I am learning so much from your post and the comments.

Jezer said...

Amber said it best. We are not our bodies.

I know what you're going through, but I'm at a different stage. After many, many years of starving and binging and purging, I finally stopped. It had a lot to do with getting other parts of my life in order and having a strong support system in place. I realized that being a size X (<--fill in so-called desirable size here) would not make my life better nor would it make me happy. Do I still long to feel skinny? Sure. Do I often think "if I weren't breastfeeding I could take that pill or skip that meal or run off more calories than I'm eating?" Yep. The battle never ends. But recognizing it and addressing it and making a conscious decision to just be healthy the key.

I'll echo the others who suggested seeing a counselor. My own experience is that counselors help us to see things that we're either ignoring or denying. If that's not feasible, maybe you can find a friend--in real life or online--who will help you see yourself in a more truthful and positive light and will talk you down from the moment when you want to throw in the towel and just binge and/or purge.

You'll be in my prayers. It's tough, I know. You're very brave, and--in my opinion--on the road to good health by recognizing and confronting head-on this tendency in yourself. I wish you peace and physical, mental, and emotional health.

lildb said...

I almost posted anonymously, so as to not attract attention to anything but what I want to say to you, sweet girl. but then I was like, shit. I want you to know that a) I think you're an amazing woman, b) I totally recognize your struggle and support you in it, and c) I want you to know it's *me* saying those things.

I won't say I think you're silly for worrying that readers of this post will stop wanting to be your blog friend b/c you're crazy, which you're not, and as to any fuckhead who chooses to berate you for what you're going through, they'll have to deal with me dealing a verbal blow or two their way if they do it. I will say that you are very cared for, and I am worried about you, but I would hope you recognize and can quiet the voice with the knowledge that you are a wonderful, special, many-faceted woman with a beautiful spirit and -- you just need to CUT YOURSELF SOME FUCKING SLACK. I've said that before to you, and I can't help saying it again. In fact, I think that the bulimic urges are merely a manifestation of something more deeply buried; you want to beat yourself up for something. But you don't need to beat yourself up. You need to assess yourself the way you would a stranger. and recognize that you deserve good things. and that you are a beautiful woman. and food is yummy. and it's okay to not look like a fucking magazine ad. remember Izzy's links to all that airbrushed shit? yeah. nobody looks that good. not even fucking Halle Berry.

I heart you, girl. Be good to yourself. {{{huuuugggg}}}

Mother Bumper said...

First up, you are not crazy. Second, the fact that you recognize this issue means you are doing something about it and not giving up. My sister is morbidly obese and she has done neither of those points because she is in denial and thinks she has no support (I try but that's a post I'm struggling through myself). My sister got nothing but grief from family and friends and now she has shut-down completely. Please PLEASE don't let this happen to you. Take the loving support of the people here and use our combined strength to fight. I'll be here for you (and I'm sure many others are too). You will succeed - it will take time and tears but we will be here to help (right blogsphere? The Basement is full of support and love, I just know it). I hope this helps and you have great strength in just posting this.

butty said...

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