Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Walking on Broken Glass

Not all days are good days.

Years of dieting and abusing my body have given me diabetes, or at least pre-diabetes. As of this past week, I'm wondering if I have graduated on up to full-blown diabetes. It's been a tough week, with crazy blood sugar swings and crazy mood swings to match.

I have been extremely angry and feeling out of control. Thankfully, I haven't binged, but partially that's because I'm afraid to eat anything for fear of what it will do to my blood sugar. There's a reminder to those considering trying Intuitive Eating - and the books discuss this, I just didn't pay enough attention to it - you do still have to pay attention to your medical conditions while you are experimenting with the food relationship!

So... dealing with anger. That's a big one. It was a bad idea to express anger when I was a child. It could only make a bad situation worse. I used to think that I held in all my anger for months and months and months at a time, and then at some point I would just explode on someone or something out of the blue one day. Maybe that's true. But with the emotional tailspin I've been in over the blood sugar swings, I wonder if I haven't been acting out on high blood sugar days all along.

Either way, I found an interesting meditation to deal with anger last night. Maybe I shouldn't admit to this, I don't know how healthy this actually is, but it sure made me feel better! I daydreamed about being in a building filled with glass objects, TV sets, computers, mirrors, snow globes, whatever. All of the screens and reflective surfaces held images of things that have irritated me, pissed me off, hurt me, or angered me. I had a few good friends with me and we were all in protective gear and armed with bats, golf clubs, and other blunt objects.

Then we went all barbarian invasion on the place.

We moved from room to room, smashing and throwing and screaming out war cries. We trashed every room like an 80's hair band. There are some scenes from a couple of movies that I had in mind: the souvenir shop scene from Zombieland and the scene in the Prophecy Room of the Ministry of Magic from one of the Harry Potter movies, where all of the glass balls containing various prophecies were knocked over and shattered, entire shelves falling one into the other like dominoes. At one point I had a cricket bat and would bat snow globes into giant television screens, and then I beat a printer to dust like that scene from Office Space.

Finally we got to the last room, but there was no glass there. Just desserts. (Haha, it's a pun!) We dusted off the shards of glass and dropped our weapons and raced to the various tables, heavily laden with every delicacy imaginable. We picked up hand-fulls of it and commenced an absolutely epic food fight. We got covered head to toe in chocolate sauce, pudding, and maraschino cherries. We shot each other with cans of whipped cream and chocolate syrup. We were laughing and crying and licking caramel off of each other.

After that we cleaned up and met again, exhausted, in a cozy lodge room with a roaring fire. We wore comfy hotel robes and lazed around on comfy pillows and blankets, and had champagne and strawberries and hot chocolate with marshmallows. We laughed and talked and told funny stories, and we all felt great.

Not all days are good days. Some days are EPIC.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Mirror Mirror

I found an article on the site Adios Barbie that I'd like to share today: In the Mirror

What you see is not what you are.
This also reminds me that I really need to set up links and other recommendations in the sidebar...

Monday, September 10, 2012

Give Peace a Chance

This week I want to talk about giving this recovery stuff a chance. I know it seems so hard to believe that letting go is the way to find the path through. I know I didn't believe it myself, at first, and I suspect that doing it yourself is the only way to make yourself believe it. So, while these things I talk about may not have the kind of influence I meant when I began here, I can hope that it will help someone like me make a choice to try, at least.

When I started recovery, I read the books that you're supposed to read, I had tearful conversations with both my therapist and my nutritionist, and all of these sources assured me that someday I would be able to handle a meal without being tormented. Frankly, I thought that they were all full of crap, but I was out of energy, out of options, and just plain too tired to argue with anyone. I wrote in the journals for my feelings and my food, I talked - and talked, and talked, and talked. I read some more. I ate. I ate a lot, and I felt guilty and ashamed, and I wrote about it and I talked about it some more.

Time passed, I got heavier - yes, I'm going to admit that, I don't mind now, and those sources of mine, well, they did tell me that would happen. When that started to happen I wanted to quit. I didn't want to be fatter and despite all of the positive self-affirmations and loving myself work that I was doing... well, I might have learned to accept the body I have but I didn't especially LIKE it. In fact, I still kind of hated the idea that I wouldn't ever be that thin version of myself that I had always wanted.

Letting go of that idea was hard. I grieved for it for a while.

And I wrote about that too, of course. But it was getting to be a habit, all this thinking about feelings and writing about feelings and talking, talking, talking about feelings. And one day, at some point, I found myself thinking about those feelings BEFORE I ate the food. You know, instead of after. Not "Why did I just eat a half a bag of chips?" but "Why do I want to eat this bag of chips?"

That surprised me, and so I wrote about it in my food journal. I decided that I didn't actually want to eat a bag of chips. I just wanted to feel something different, even if it was just sick fullness - I don't know what, exactly, I wanted to feel or not feel any longer, because when you don't let yourself feel emotions it becomes hard to recognize them. (I'm getting better at that, I think.)

And I decided that if any feeling was better, that I could make a positive choice about what I wanted to feel next instead of letting the chips decide for me. So that first time I headed for the TV and queued up an episode of The Muppet Show. That's about the time I started working in all those other hobbies, like puzzles, and music, and reading. Did I need to feel something? Pick a mood and find an activity. I've already confessed to drawing in coloring books, so now I guess I'll 'fess up to dancing like a dork to disco and searching for naughty fan fiction on the internet.

It takes time, I'm not going to kid you about that. That Muppet Show episode was a long time ago, and here I still am, thinking and writing about things. But lately.... oh lately things have gotten interesting. Yes, I can deflect a binge (most of the time). Yes, I can stop when I'm full (most of the time). Yes, I can pass on dessert when I don't feel like it, and yes, sometimes I actually don't feel like it. But now it's almost like I'm discovering myself all over again, almost every day. What I need, what I like and even don't like. Lately I find myself having ordered this wonderful thing that I always used to love and crave, because now I'm allowed to have it any old time... and I don't really like it so much. I'm beginning to notice when things are too greasy, too heavy, too sweet. Just a couple of days ago I was about to call the local pizza place for a calzone, I love those so much! But then I thought better of it - they're so heavy and make me feel icky and sleepy. And I also found out that I love artichokes! Once upon a time I wouldn't have tried an artichoke if you paid me. It's like a whole new world.

So basically, no matter how many blog posts I do, no matter what I say, I doubt I can convince anyone that intuitive eating works. You pretty much have to experience it for yourself. All I can do is keep sharing what's happening to me and hope that it helps. I was in that place 15 or so months ago, where I'd tried everything, every diet, every gimmick, when I had nothing left... I gave it a chance, tried a little love instead of hate. I could have blown another year trying the same old thing, the thing that had not worked in 30 years, but - even though it was out of sheer exhaustion - I decided to give something new a chance. I think it's working; I like who I am again, I like my world again, and I'm still alive. I think that's better than another failed diet, for me...

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Recovering the Storyteller

I am back from a long Labor Day weekend at my favorite geek convention, DragonCon in Atlanta, Georgia. We had a great time and this year my eating situation was the best ever! I attended a wonderful writing workshop presented by Michael Stackpole and Aaron Allston for most of the weekend. I feel like my creativity and passion has been reignited and I’m looking forward to writing fiction again for the first time in years.

As a writer and a storyteller, I often find it easier to express myself in these long, kind of weird analogies. And sometimes I run across creative tales, poems, or analogies that sink right into my heart; they stay with me and speak to me as I journey. I keep copies of them on my desktop so that I can get to them easily when I need them again.

One of them was the poem about a hole in the sidewalk, oddly enough entitled: “There’s a Hole in my Sidewalk” by Portia Nelson.

Chapter 1 
I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. I am lost… I am helpless. It isn’t my fault. It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter 2 
I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend that I don’t see it. I fall in again. I can’t believe I am in this same place. But, it isn’t my fault. It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter 3 
I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it is there. I still fall in … it’s a habit … but, my eyes are open. I know where I am. It is my fault. I get out immediately.

Chapter 4 
I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.

Chapter 5 
I walk down another street.

Another big favorite is The Desiderata, by Max Ehrmann, which I won’t repost entirely here because it is quite long. My favorite line of all is this:

Beyond a wholesome discipline, 
be gentle with yourself. 
You are a child of the universe 
no less than the trees and the stars; 
you have a right to be here.

And finally, a very nice analogy was blogged by the comedian Margaret Cho earlier this year. Here’s the part I loved the best, I loved it so much that I pasted it into a background and it pops up on my computer desktop from time to time as an image:

“I fly my flag of self-esteem for all those who have been told they were ugly and fat and hurt and shamed and violated and abused for the way they look and told time and time again that they were ‘different’ and therefore unlovable. Come to me and I will tell you and show you how beautiful and loved you are and you will see it and feel it and know it and then look in the mirror and truly believe it. If you are offended by my anger and my might at defending my borders and my people you do not deserve entry into my beloved and magnificent country.”

Here’s a link to an article about it on the magazine site, Jezebel, and to Margaret Cho's original blog, but be warned that the language is coarse and raw and honest. 

And as for me? Well, here’s a metaphor I came up with in July of last year, still pretty new to the recovery thing but facing the long coming year of caring for my dying father. It was tough, it set me back, but like so much of the ebb and flow of recovery, it taught me to take care of myself, to be stronger, and to hold on. Here’s what I wrote:

“I didn’t like who I had become, and I am in the process of pushing her out and emptying the house of all her shit. What’s left is an empty space for me to fix up, redecorate, and move into. But the cool thing is that I can put whatever I want back in here. I can keep the stuff that was good, get rid of anything I don’t need, and bring in new things if I want to. 
I get to start over.”