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...
(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 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.