Have you ever had a large meal and after eating it, your stomach protruded and literally hurt from fullness? Did that fullness make you feel so uncomfortable that you couldn’t sit still, you couldn’t lay down, you couldn’t move without feeling miserable and you wouldn’t dare think about putting another bite of food in your mouth. I, too, have felt that sort of fullness but if I wait 2-5 minutes I know I will want more. Especially if the food was pleasing to my senses!
Food gives me satisfaction. It’s the one constant in my life I have all the control over yet no control over at all. Stripping me of that control and having to tell myself I can’t eat this or that just because I have no limits is heart-wrenching to me. I become furious just thinking about driving past the Dairy Queen during the summer and having to see the skinny families standing in line with their skinny kids and their skinny dogs in their skinny cars eating their fat ice creams and chubby parfaits. I just gained 15 pounds writing that. I’m food sensitive. I swear to it. My youngest daughter is 5 foot nothing and 98 pounds. When she got her first tattoo, she asked to hold my hand. Her petite and tiny hand attempting to squeeze my ginormous hand was comical and sad in the same breath. She’s always talking to me about how the double size zeros are too loose. God bless her. The child eats and her body refuses to gain an ounce. Just inhaling the smells of food cause me to gain.
But alas, I have no shame. I’m not a closet eater. I give no real care. I will merrily and happily eat as much as I want in front of whoever I want. If I want to down an entire pie without sharing, I will do so. This could be my curse or blessing. I hate fighting with myself over what I should eat and what I shouldn’t eat because God forbid I eat an apple on Tuesday at 3 pm after consuming caffeine but not before a kale smoothie because Keto enzymes in the blood flood are bad. Seriously, someone punch me in the face. It’s no joke hard work eating healthy. I don’t feel as comforted with “healthier food”. Don’t get me wrong, healthy food makes me feel good in the long run. But the immediate results I get from sugar and the taste from certain fats from fried food is where I find comfort, safety, warmth, and relaxation. I can take out 6 king-sized candy bars in one sitting (evening). And I’m sure the count could be higher, this is just as much as I purchased. It’s impossible to tell myself, “Stop. Listen to your body.” or “How about an apple?” or “Try water.” There’s no way in hell I’m NOT going to allow myself to enjoy this. This is MINE. I’m becoming agitated now just thinking about. So I eat it – bypass everything I feel – and enjoy every single slow moment with the sweet morsel of magic.
“Poverty. That’s why.” That’s the answer I get from my therapist when I ask “Why is it so hard to get off of “the system” and why are my children struggling?”
She continues to tell me that because my parents grew up in poverty, I then grew up in poverty which in turn, my children grew up in poverty so the likelihood of my children’s children growing up in poverty is very high. “So what, doc? You’re saying that we are just all another statistic?” For whatever reason that angers me to my core. Don’t categorize me and my family! Don’t tell me that my kids will never have anything better in life besides POVERTY!” I leave therapy that day angry and agitated mostly because I know she’s right.
When I get home I start my research. What comes with poverty? How does it affect families? I don’t know why I bothered with research when I already knew my answers. I guess I was looking for validation. According to http://www.debt.org, poverty starts with those that are less educated and less healthy than those not living in poverty. When they say “less educated” I know this is more than just about a college degree. Those that are more educated on healthy food choices, physical fitness choices, financial choices, ect., are more knowledgeable on how to better their lives in each of those areas whereas those with less education in regards to those choices have more difficulty making those decisions. Lastly, according to Gallup, (an American analytics and advisory company), with poverty also comes depression, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart attacks. So the next time you are standing in line at the grocery store next to an obese mother with 3 obese children watching the cashier ring up their chips, dip, and soda while she runs her food stamp card, this is most likely lack of education with added depression and health issues and not laziness.
So how do I fix this? I guess I start with exactly what I’m doing right now. Educating myself. Research. Read. Learn. Then pass it along to my children by leadership. They are at an age now that giving them verbal information is like talking to a dead horse. I must live the life myself and hope that they see it and follow. If I can dysfunctionally damage them, I can most certainly educate the dysfunction, right?
2015 – Acupuncture. I hate needles but I’m told that it will work for weight loss and at this point in my life I’m desperate. I go for roughly 50 sessions and notice nothing so I quit. Then, my mother assists with hiring a nutritionist. Let me just say this – nutritionists are NOT cheap. The nutritionist, who I will refer to as Miss H, offered to come into my home and get rid of anything “bad” that I shouldn’t have. I laughed internally thinking that there was nothing really “bad” in my home because I was doing my best to eat right. No Oreos, no chips, no donuts – nothing. The day before coming over she prepared me by giving me a speech. “I’m going to throw things away or you have the option to donate them. Then, we will go shopping for good foods afterwards.” Why is she telling me this?
The next day, she arrives and my mother and I sit at the dining room table facing the kitchen as this tall, beautiful, lean woman opens my cupboard and grabs a can. “You see this?”, she says, “This is high in sugar. You can’t have this, but I have an alternative that you can have, so let’s get rid of it.” I can feel a slight tingle in the tips of my fingers. She grabs my loaf of wheat bread and I feel anxiety start to set in. No lady. Not wheat bread. That shit is fine. Step away from the wheat bread. “This. You cannot have this for certain! It has so many sugars and false ingredients. I have an alternative for you.” Into the garbage it goes. I had 2 pieces out of that loaf. TWO! Panic is starting. I feel dizzy. After going through every nook and cranny in my kitchen and unloading nearly everything in it, she heads to the refrigerator. I feel shaky and nervous and mom can see it. She bends over and leans in as she grabs items she stands back up to explain her findings and why I shouldn’t and cannot have these but how she has such a wonderful alternative. I feel like I need to throw up. I need to pull it together. I feel like my best friend is being ripped from me. My security is gone. I’m bare to the world. I don’t like this. I want to ask her to leave. I’ve changed my mind. I don’t want to do this. I look at my mom with worry hoping she would catch on but she just flashes a smile at me. Jesus Christ. I can’t take this. She’s throwing away perfectly good food. My food. MINE! YOU’RE TAKING AWAY MY CONTROL!
Cupboards and refrigerator bare, we head to the Natural Foods store. We walk up and down every single aisle. I can’t hear her. My ears are pulsating. I’m ready to cry as I look at my mom, she’s so into what this lady is saying. Mom, tell me you’re not buying into this bullshit. But mom just nods and smiles at her. Fake. I see Miss H grab cheese from the shelf. Wait. Cheese? I can have that? Miss H answers, “Yes! This kind!” Shit. I said that outloud. We move onto bread. She grabs a loaf and hands it to me. She explains to me why this loaf is better than the loaf I had at home. I’m getting it now. She’s not taking away my foods – she’s replacing them! “Exactly!” she answers. Damn it. Said it outloud again. I’m starting to feel more in control. Maybe these new options weren’t so bad. We head to the register. Nearly $300 later mom and I are in my kitchen taste testing natural cheese, snack crackers, real meats, and bread! My tastebuds were in shock, my mind was racing with excitement and I felt good.
But then, everything started to crumble. I was losing my boyfriend of 10 years. My son was an addict and my children were giving up on me. What was happening to my life? I was trying to make a change for the good. I was trying to better myself so why were people giving up on me? How could things so drastically take a turn for the worse? So you want to give up on me? Fine. You won’t like what you see next.
I’ve been gone and the blog went empty. Where did The Starving Fat Lady go? I have so much to tell you. I want to begin by first saying – I’m back. I’m back to face my demons and to expose my soul. I need to start facing the facts. I was successful in losing 140 pounds and successful in gaining nearly all of it back. We will get to that in later. There are reasons for that. I just know it!
I think there are reasons for why we over eat. There are reasons we are in so much pain that we would rather hide behind layers upon layers of skin rather than be exposed to the world. I’d rather be looked at twice for being overweight and NOT complimented than to be looked at twice and told I’m pretty. I cringe at compliments but no one would know it. I’m a professional faker. I can put on any smile and grit through a “thank you” and make it convincing. Very convincing.
If you are a new reader, welcome. If you are a loyal reader, welcome back. Time to get this party started.
I want to jump into where I’ve been and what I have been doing and the reason for my absence quickly. So let’s begin.
Depression is nasty. It debilitates you and leaves you numb, causing you to separate yourself from life, family, and friends. The devil entered my life at a point where I felt weak and vulnerable and he used that to scratch his own itch. It can last days or months; in my case, months. You are able to function at some small level but anything after that takes energy you don’t have. Reaching out for help is out of the question but I’ve been blessed to have friends and family who give me my space and time to heal. For that, thank you.
Time for the big news! Thanks to all of your comments, feedback and positive prayers, I have decided that I want to share my story with the world. I am writing a book! My own little autobiography. When you read my blogs (and book) I want you to be able to say, “Me too!” You are not alone in the struggle and the struggle IS real! The book is titled, “The Starving Fat Lady – Binge eating, abuse, and mental illness.” I’ve been working on the first chapter these last few months and am hoping to have it proofread and finished in another few weeks. I have years of work to do but it will be worth it to have my readers know they are not alone. When I think about being isolated, I sometimes think about grade school. It seemed I always befriended the outcasts, the rejects, the mess. Or maybe it was the other way around. They accepted me. I, too, was the outcast, the reject, the mess. Either way I met and know some extraordinary people! Those that knew I was worthy and believed in what I did, even if I failed, thank you!!
I leave you today, with this: You will get better. With time and support, life does open up and bring you sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes it seems the darkness will never go away but trust me when I say, it goes away. Thank you to those hanging in there with me and putting up with my bouts of depression. I can’t express to you just how much it means to me.
It starts in the dressing room and two pieces of clothing…
I slide my shirt over my head and pull it down over my curves. Wait. This is a T-SHIRT, right? I take it off and look at the size. XXL. How the hell is it so short? They are charging $2 extra for plus size yet they forgot to somehow sew the bottom half of the shirt on! The pants are next. I slip those over my thighs and pull up over my stomach. High-waters. How is this possible? I haven’t grown. Well. Maybe I have. Around but not up! This is impossible. I leave the dressing room and angrily hand my clothes to the attendant. I’m angry at myself for not being able to fit into simple clothes. I’m angry because they want to charge me more for plus-size clothing but not give me enough clothing to wear! And I’m angry that I’ve done nothing to fix it.
I admit that I’m the most contradictive person alive. I complain that I want to fix it, yet do nothing about it. I give advice to others, but don’t practice it myself. I’m safe here. You will hear me refer to my obesity and addiction to food as the devil. It’s a mental fight I have daily and that fight is visualized as cruel, dark, lonely, hurtful, sad… the dark list goes on. The push-pull of the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. I share this with you not to make you sad or feel empathy for me. I share it because sometimes I struggle with the darkness and I want others, perhaps you dear reader, to know……you are NOT alone.
As I’ve become older, I’m at a point in my life, that I’m learning to come to terms with obesity. Accepting it. Feeling safe with it. It is what it is, so to speak. Obesity gives me security. Losing weight would only put myself out there to predators so I’m safe being fat. No one wants a starving fat lady.
Totally fell for this boy. I mean hard. I know I’m only 13 but he’s super cute and super nice. He smokes but I’m okay with it because I smoke too! Hopefully mom and dad don’t find out. Keep it under lock and key, diary, okay?
March 1990 Dear Diary,
I can’t believe it!! We kissed for the first time! My stomach was in knots and I was afraid he was going to want more but he didn’t! Hate how he always talks about other girls though. He’s talks to one girl and I can’t stand her. Her blush is as thick as molasses! Gag!
July 1990 Dear Diary,
I was so stupid. Why did I tell him how I feel? My heart is broken! He told my best friend, Allie that I wouldn’t “put out” so he was going to go out with red molasses face! Oooo I’m so mad!
July 1990 Dear Diary,
Just got back from school. HE CALLED ME FAT!!! He told his friend and he told Allie who also told Stephanie, which by the way I am so ticked off at, that I was fat. Yeah? Well let me know what molasses face really looks like when she scraps off her makeup!
September 1990 Dear Diary,
Totally fell for this boy. I mean hard. I know I’m only 13 but he’s super cute and super nice……..
This blog was created by the 13 year old in me. This is a true story with as much detail as I can remember. I think sometimes we just need a reminder that as children, we so easily move on from some of the disappointments and heartbreak we experience in life. But in adulthood we seem to grasp onto the negative and forget the positive. When did we let that go and why? So remember this: Why worry about what you can’t fix in this very moment? Try not to lose focus on something that’s out of your control. Your bills, your kid smoking pot, your car breaking down, getting to an appointment late. whatever it may be…..embrace that moment, breathe, gather yourself, and hit that sucker tomorrow. You got this.
First and foremost, let me apologize to you, my readers. I took a last-minute trip out-of-town and didn’t prepare to stay as long, thus missing a blog. So let’s get this started shall we?
“Tonia. Are you paying attention?” I snap to. I look at my doctor blankly. “Could I really lose my feet?” He looks at me seriously, “Yeah. You could lose toes, feet, legs. Your life. This is your life. Do you want to live it?” I sigh and start to think about what he just said. He leaves me to type out my release paperwork and I take that opportunity to reflect back to a few words my ears picked up on. “Your life. Losing limbs. Heart disease. Life. Living. Death.” My anxiety starts to rise and I can feel panic settling in.
If I don’t think about it, it doesn’t exist right? I live with the, “It won’t be me. It happens to others,” mentality. Not to mention only my health but also the way I feel. It’s almost normal for me to feel like crap. I don’t know what it feels like to be healthy. Let’s talk about the emotional toll it takes when you go shopping or out to eat or anywhere in public for that matter! When you sit down do you pull your shirt out from your belly area? Do you pray that the cheap plastic chair you’re about to sit in, doesn’t break? Does it raise your anxiety a bit to find out that the restaurant you are going to may only have tables you can’t fit into? And clothing! I haven’t shopped in forever. It’s sort of hard to when nothing fits right. What I do have, I try to squeeze into as much as possible. Here’s an example:
My jeans are just about too tight. I know this because instead of jumping up and down to get them on and zipped, I now have to lay on the bed and zip them. Getting up requires some assistance but the job is successful! There’s no way I can sit because my body won’t fold that way but my jeans are on!! I head out to my meeting. At the conference center I’m having serious apparel malfunction. My zipper won’t stay up! What if my button goes flying across the room, hitting someone in the eye, causing them to go permanently blind and me on their mind for the rest of their lives as, “the fat girl who wore the tight jeans made me go blind.” I realize I may be over thinking but this is embarrassing. This thought sends my mind racing and I have to get out! I have to get out of this room. I finally rise and all eyes are now on me. “Excuse me for a few moments, please.” I dart out of the room, catching my breath outside the door. FAT!! Think I’ll skip the rest of the meeting and head to the store and see if their donuts are still fresh. Screw it. After buying my shame, I get into the car, unzip my pants and breathe. The best taste of freedom and donut….ever!!
Losing weight is not just about feeling good in your own skin. It’s about being able to enjoy life around you. The simple things like walking to the park, not worrying about fitting into booths and chairs. The freedom to buy clothing that LOOKS good and not just buying it because it fits. It’s also about being healthy. My doctor is right. Bad things can happen to anyone if the problem is not taken care of. Maybe one day I will listen. Hopefully before it’s too late.
I get in my car and drive to the store. As I open the car door, my heart starts to pound heavily. I look at the people walking in and out and I start to slowly skip breaths. I dart my eyes around the parking lot as I head in and see several people sitting in their cars, no doubt waiting for a spouse or friend to do their shopping but staring at me as I walk in. The double doors slide open bringing a smell of deli food and bread.
Is that person staring at me?
Did those girls just laugh?
I swear everyone is judging me.
Did that person just look at me twice?
Oh God. I gotta get out of here.
I divert my attention to my phone. If I can’t see anyone, then I can’t see them staring. I grab my items and quickly leave. I get to the car out of breath and nearly in tears. Panic is setting in. I can’t breathe. My finger tips are tingling. There is a huge weight on my chest that is stopping me from breathing. I’m going to have a heart attack and die right here. Everyone will see it. Will the paramedics know to call my family? People are staring. My vision starts to blur. I’m dying.
After 20 minutes, the Clonidine taken earlier, kicks in. I start to relax and forget those around me. I start the car and drive home. I feel angry at myself for losing control emotionally and for not holding it together. Even if I did make it home alive with my groceries.
Anxiety and panic is real. It’s debilitating. It can be triggered by anything. We can’t ask the world around us to change therefore, it’s up to the person with the disorder to learn how to cope. I’m still learning and I’ve made huge strides. I wrote this blog in hopes that people know that others do understand what you are going through. I want you to know you’re not alone…even if it seems like the loneliest place in the world.
I stand at the kitchen counter staring at the butter, toast and peanut butter before me. Ireally shouldn’t have this bread. Maybe I can have it with a tiny bit of butter AND peanut butter. Well, maybe just the butter or maybe just the peanut butter. My mind is fluttering a million miles an hour. Seriously? Over TOAST?? Why is it this hard? I’m so tired of having to THINK about it. Ten minutes later..FUCK IT! I’m eating this damn toast with butter AND peanut butter ANDjelly! I eat in satisfaction that I conquered this quest. I am in control. Or am I?
Addiction is defined as “the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance, thing, or activity.” My substance is food. My thing is habit. My activity is over-eating. It’s a disease. It’s something that you slowly die of eventually if you don’t CHANGE the substance, thing, or activity. It’s not as if I woke up one day and thought, “I think I will eat everything in the kitchen.” It’s a habit in your mind; a routine so to speak. It’s an emotional connection. It’s that satisfaction of doing what you’re not supposed to but do it anyways out of spite and control. I’ve never been addicted to drugs or alcohol. But food….that’s a story in itself. I’ve broken so many chains in my life but this one keeps me rooted. The nasty, dank, stale air that surrounds my everyday life.
There was a time many, many years ago, where I would see someone obese and think, “Ugh! Why would you want to be that big?” I’ll repeat that. Why would you WANT to be that big? If I was faced with my old self, I’d slap that bitch and tell her to stop eating cupcakes at 1 am. I was always the judge of other people. I was quick to assume in my mind why they looked, talked and behaved the way they did without thinking about the derailments in their lives that brought them to where they were at that moment. I never thought about their struggles with addiction.
Can you believe that there are people who hate obese people the same way they would someone’s religion, sexual orientation and/or color? I just want to reach out to that person and hug them tight. Perhaps I could squeeze into them the unconditional love I have to offer. Help them realize that their judgment of me is partially why I am the way I am today. My insecurities took over and I became aware of every stare, every whisper, every snicker. I think it’s important to remember that people struggle everyday. The next time you go to judge someone, think about your life and what you’ve gone through and remind yourself, “Judge not, that you be not judged.”
**I want to apologize to my readers for my absence. The Mother’s Day weekend took me into a 3 day mini-get away and I wasn’t able to post for a few days. I hope all the mothers out there had a great day!**