That fact that I have a relationship with food says it all……

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I do, I have a relationship with food.  Unfortunately it is toxic, much like my relationship with alcohol.  The difference is, for me is that quitting drinking seems to be the easier task, than changing my thoughts about food has been.  You see, you don’t need alcohol to survive, it provides nothing beneficial to you (if you tend to over drink anyway- one glass a day only counted for me, if you considered the bottle “a” glass), you can easily live with out it.  Food, not so much.  Food is our source for nourishment, it supports our heart, brain and bodily functions that we use daily.  Food is our fuel, stabilizer and  life provider.  You can not simply abstain, you can not “quit” food, you can not give it up.  You have to learn how to moderate it.  You need to see it as nourishment and not as a reward or comforter.  I need to see it as nourishment, I need to eat to live not live to eat.

My relationship with food is kind of effed up.  I believe it started back when I was a young gymnast, a 13 or 14 year old.  It was said to me that I was “heavy” for a gymnast. I already felt large for a gymnast, all on my own.  Yes large, when I was 4’11” tall.  Having an adult say this to me validated my own feelings.  I was 128 pounds, when I first joined Weight Watchers at about 15 years of age.  As a gymnast I was very muscular, I had Mary Lou Retton thighs (so I was told).  But I didn’t have an ounce of fat on me- accept my breasts.  My breasts made me feel very large.  But I was rock solid.  My legs were built for tumbling and vaulting. But I was large for a gymnast.  And, this is where I think it really began….

Soon after this is when I started restricting food, only to eventually have a full out binge. I started to deny myself things that were “bad” and again, after long periods of time of going with out, I would binge.   I tried purging but I couldn’t keep up with that, the broken blood vessels, swollen eyes and sheer grossness of it kept me from becoming a purger. So, instead I restricted to try and compensate for the binge episodes. This became my copying mechanism at many points in my life.  Through out my adult life I have weighed 105 pounds and 254 pounds.  Back and forth, back and forth- feed, starve, feed starve.  A toxic cycle that introduced self-loathing talk, feelings of guilt, and body distortion/body shaming to me.

I can’t say the media helped me, the Kate Moss years just about did me in because that was surely unattainable, though that would not stop me from trying to make it happen.  I am not sure I spent any time, ever loving my body.  How could I? I was considered “heavy” at 128 pounds, I had no chance for any body love.  I was crushed at such a young age.  I have been on a diet since I was about 15.  That is crushing.

Thirty-five years of a diet mentality is going to be very difficult to unravel, it is going to be very difficult to retrain my brain.  To move a way from using terms like “good” food and “bad” food.  I say I am “bad” all the time when I decide to have something sweet.  I have the worse food relationship vocabulary.  Food equals negativity in my world and that means I have spent a lot of my time feeling shameful and guilty.  Like a “bad” person, a weak person, a loser.

I thought weight loss surgery was going to be the best spring board for me to get to my ideal weight.  Lord knows I tried EVERY diet and NOTHING worked.  I did all the research and attended all the pre-surgery meetings and therapies.  To this day, I am happy I did have the surgery but I regret not really taking, the time to learn why for 35 years I yo yo’d with my weight.  Why did I feed and restrict?  Why did I use language like good and bad?  I never dealt with that, and after 4 years, half of my 90 pounds came back on.  When I put myself into intensive outpatient treatment for alcohol, I quickly went back to my old pre-surgery food habits, my need to fill a whole within me came back.  Food fills holes nicely.  And now as I go through disordered eating therapy and nutritional counseling to try and repair my toxic thoughts and actions- my weight is still increasing slowly.  It is very difficult to work on one’s self and not have a vice (wine, over eating…..).   As insane as it sounds I am using food as a crutch, while I try to dissect its hold on me.  Like I said, me and food, are effed up!

Today in therapy I decided that I am spending way too much time on all the things I am doing imperfectly.  I do dwell on those things.  I have been challenged to focus on the things I do that are helpful, that I am doing well and journal them.  Like I eat a healthy breakfast every day- I never skip it and I no longer eat crap in the morning.  I nourish myself.  Every day I pack a cooler with fresh nourishing snacks that fill me up.  I do not let myself go to work with out it because that is setting me up for disaster- I keep myself nourished.  Those are good things I am doing well, hopefully throughout this week I will discover other positive actions, if not I will be happy with my healthy breakfast, lunches and snacks.

I can’t leave without saying that I do feel silly blogging about my “issues” when there is so much awfulness going on in our world.  So much scary nonsense, so much terror and insanity- but I have to keep moving forward.  The kinder I am to myself, the kinder I can be to others in this world.  All I can control is myself and my behavior.  I am going to keep working on helping to raise conscientious kind, emotionally healthy, and resilient children and young adults- these are my contributions to this hysteria.

I outed myself.

I outed myself as an official hot mess in recovery, very recently.  I found that process extremely powerful and decided to add blogging to my cognitive behavioral therapy tool kit.  I am new at this, and feel clumsy.  I spent way more time creating this site than necessary but it is all new to me, so I fell all over the place while figuring it out (of that I am still doing).

I am 50, one year sober and trying to create some order with my disordered eating. I have let shame swallow me, it is a toxic poison, that shame.  And I am drudging through its toxicity so I can rid of it and it’s sickness.  I also have clinical depression and general anxiety disorder.  The mental illness industry has hit the jackpot with me, though I know I am only a mild, annoyance to that conglomerate.

I work with a licensed therapist and a licensed nutrition therapist, both weekly.  I have relinquished coloring my hair and getting my nails done to pay for these luxuries that I am very grateful to have access to.  I have also decided enough is enough with all the glam, I even gave up most make-up with the exception of mascara (still on the hunt for a really lush making one that is BROWN only, that does not run off my lashes and into the already dark circles under my eyes) and lipstick.   I want to embrace my aging and use the money for more fun things like adventures, when therapy is needed less and I have better recovery management.  I went to Costa Rica this past summer and had the time of my life- I want more of that!

I have been seeing a counselor or therapist of some sort since I was about 30, and first diagnosed with clinical depression.  I have been giving therapists the runaround for 20 years, and really not working on “the” issues.  But all my other issues seemed to entertain them enough for an hour, and it was often documented that progress was being made.  But really, I was playing a game.  It was “let’s pretend” I am going to really be genuine in therapy.  I do not know that I was consciously aware  of the game until I hit my rock bottom and started to really dig deep and could see in retrospect that I was farting around with all the others.  I have had my share of awful therapists too..  but I was an awful patient as well.

The very first therapist that I let in, was Josh. He got to work with me on my substance abuse journey. I met him almost a year and half ago.  He didn’t put up with much shit, and could see right through me.  He had the luxury of working with me in a group setting and an individual setting for almost 30 weeks. It was an intensive therapy session, apparently that is what I needed to be real.  Josh will always be in my heart, and in my brain! He was the start to all of this recovery work.  He will say, it is all my work but I know I am NO easy patient and that man worked!

Once I had about 10 months of sobriety under my belt, I knew I needed to continue in therapy as I was graduating from intensive outpatient therapy.  I knew alcoholism was just one of my abuses and I needed to move on to the next “disorder”, to “recover” from.  It will be way more difficult than getting and staying sober, it is a dysfunction I have lived with probably since I was 16 years old.  I am driving the struggle bus on this one!  I decided to tackle my eating problems.  I have struggled with weight for years and obesity is in my genetics.  I have participated in every diet ever created, I have binged, purged and restricted myself.  I have f*cked up any possibility of having a healthy relationship with food. I even had weight loss surgery in the summer of 2013 and kept 90 pounds off,  until I started intensive outpatient therapy and started to live a sober life.  In this year of sobriety I have gained 45 of that 90 back.  I went right back to eating out of control. I have stretched my surgically modified stomach and ruined $30gs plus of surgery. Weight loss surgery does not magically make and keep you at a healthy weight- it truly is only a tool.  This past year, I replaced all the alcohol sugars with dessert sugars.  And I became sedentary because getting sober, for me was exhausting and depressing, so exercise took a back seat.  Bing, Bang, Boom, I am XL again. It is very scary and very upsetting but I am hopeful that my intensive disordered eating therapy will get me to a point to have a healthier relationship (a normal) with food.  I want to be at a healthy weight and active again, I am hoping this new path in therapy will get me there.

I have been going to therapy and nutritional counseling for a few weeks now.  I have completely gained more weight since.  While I have been working very hard in therapy for my shame issues, doing all the homework and then some, I have been doing very little for my nutrition therapy.  I try, I really try.  But working on shame while having no “crutch” (like wine and yummy fatty sugary goods) is VERY difficult.  But I am trying.  Hence this blog.  I need to have a bigger tool in my CBT box, and I think I will try this.  I believe it will give me focus and make me more accountable if I write it all out.

I will be genuine and raw.  I have to strip all the onion layers away. I truly believe that is the only way I will get back to “ME” (well me minus all the onion layers actively covering me up).