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I am ranty and upset and I really miss home.

I have always hated shopping.  Shopping is difficult for me.  Being a big girl, I’ve resigned myself to years of living in shapeless clothes.  Lots of black, no colors, no shape at all.  I have a shape, and it’s round, and should be something that is hidden under as much clothing as possible.  There was a brief time when I didn’t give a shit, and would wear sleeveless shirts with lots of cleavage.  But I have learned to be absolutely ashamed of my body, and should hide it as much as possible.

I wish that I had it in me to wear pink tights and skirts and sleeveless shirts, just because.  But I can’t.  So I find stuff that sorta fits, and have stopped caring what I wear, as long as the flab isn’t showing.  It doesn’t help that I now live in a country that’s even LESS accepting of people like me.  And even if I wanted to buy new clothes, I couldn’t find any that even “sorta” fit.  Not unless I want to spend a fortune.

So WalMart stuff is cheaply made and mostly crap, but I know I could walk into any WalMart in America and find trousers that fit me.  I could find sweaters and tshirts and workout gear that fit me.  Sure, it’s crap.  But at least it’s available.

What the high street here tells me is that “You are not allowed to feel good about yourself if you are overweight.”  I went into a store trying to find a bra my size.  The store has an entire floor full of bras, but poorly organised, and I found 30 minutes trying to hunt down the color combination for my size.  I found -3-.  3.  And they’re not the prettiest in the world.  There was a grand total of 1 sports bra in my size.  And it’s like origami to try to put it on my body.  So, you want me to work out and lose my fat? Ok, great, where do I start?

And shoes.  The whole shoe department had maybe 3 pairs of shoes that were wide fitting.  And we’re talking about 30 racks of shoes.  I don’t care how much weight I lose, I’m still going to have wide feet that are a half size that no one carries.  And I’m always going to have these calves that no normal size boots will fit.  Unless I have some sort of calf liposuction to reduce the mass of muscles there, they’re never going away.

There was one store here in town that was a “fat girl” store.  3 floors of awesomeness staffed with these amazing women that always looked stunning. It closed a few months after I got here and moved into a tiny corner of a department store where no one even looks twice at you or tries to help.  The clothes look so sad and pathetic, as if they were just kind of thrown in there, in the back of the store, to hide the fat women from the rest of their customers.

I’m pissed. I’m SO sick of being told that I need to hide.  I just wanted to find some sweaters and a few pairs of khakis for our trip to Scotland.  But no luck.  I ended up crying in the store’s cafe while my husband tried to calm me down.  I’m sick of being told how worthless I am for being my size, and that I can’t possibly be happy with my body until I’m this unreachable ideal.

I hate having to apologise for living.  I feel like I have to make an excuse for everything I put in my mouth.  I hate having to make an excuse for being alive.

I’m sick of having no voice.  I’m sick of being told that I am a worthless human being.

So I’ll go on my trip with shapeless clothes that are 2 years old and falling apart because I can’t find anything in this entire country that fits me and makes me feel beautiful.

You think I should lose weight for my health? For my Happiness?  And if I agree to do it, does that mean I have to hate myself and be depressed the entire time? What about the body I have RIGHT NOW?  It’s not ok to love it because it’s disgusting right?  I shouldn’t show my arms or my legs or any part of me, cover it and wear black until I am thin or I die from being such a fat fat fatterson. Because obviously all I do is sit on my couch and eat junk food all day, because that’s what we do, isn’t it?  People like that shouldn’t be allowed to live or have feelings right? No, I don’t have feelings, I’m too insulated to feel them, right?

I am sick of living my life waiting to be happy because I don’t think I deserve it.  And if I keep listening to what everyone tells me, I don’t.

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It’s very difficult, damn near impossible I’d say, to explain triggers to someone who doesn’t really understand them or doesn’t –seem- to be affected by them.  My triggers are as if someone put post-hypnotic suggestions  in my brain.  They’re like a landmine , and one small trip up into that dangerous territory causes a tumult of emotions that I don’t feel like I can control.  I’ve been called weak for being slave to such things, but in order to cope I’ve figured out my workarounds, and it’s hard to tell people I love what they are.  Especially when they either don’t have them or aren’t as aware of theirs as I am of mine.

It should be no surprise to those who know me that my biggest trigger is the topic of weight loss.  It’s a very difficult area for me to even talk about or write about, and I tiptoe around the subject as much as I can.  Even the words put me into either a blind rage or a blubbering 7 year old.  I become a slave to that raw emotion, and I wish to hell that I could control it.  So I dance around the subject, trying to talk about it the best way that I can.

It wasn’t until I came across an inspirational woman’s blog that I was finally able to find the words that I could use to talk about the issue without tripping my triggers.  It’s when I took away the words weight loss and replaced them with “getting healthy” that my head instantly started to clear. .  The Health at Every Size movement is really fascinating and I had never heard of it before.  It was the freedom of being freed from the dependence on the scale and the pounds that I felt like maybe I was ready to take control of my life. I am not talented enough to put things the way that she does, so you should give her stuff a read if you get a chance – http://danceswithfat.wordpress.com

Now, I am definitely not saying that I am Healthy.  I eat like crap, I don’t get enough activity, and I am really bad at taking care of myself.  But I think that if I can focus on loving my body enough to WANT to change things to make me feel better I can actually do it.  And if I don’t even focus on the losing weight as a measure of my progress, then I might actually succeed.  I want to stop hating myself.  And that doesn’t start with getting healthy, but maybe in the process of appreciating the skin I’m in, I will learn to take better care of it.

So where does this body shame come from?  Is it any wonder?  We’re surrounded by imagery every day of the ways that we should hate ourselves.  But they’re telling us this for “our own good”.  As if they will FINALLY get our attention that we should hate the way we look and do something about it.
And it hurts worse when it’s taught from a young age how much you should hate yourself by someone who is supposed to love you unconditionally.

One of my previous therapists wanted me to write out what I thought were “pivotal moments” in the development of my self-image.  I was in a bad place at the time and didn’t take it seriously.  But now I think it’s quite helpful to try to pinpoint where it all went wrong.  Does identifying the source of these triggers make them go away?

When I was 7 years old, I gained 50 pounds in 6 months.  My mother was incredibly concerned and confused, because as a nurse, this was something she couldn’t wrap her head around.  I don’t remember this of course, but I know this happened shortly after I started taking phenobarbital for my seizures.  Again, I’m not a doctor, so I don’t know what happened here, and my memories are pretty cloudy for that time of my life.  So without explaining, my mother took me to the doctor.  Well, no, to a dietician.  I remember sitting next to my mom in uncomfortable chairs on the other side of a huge desk.  And the doctor telling me that my weight was unacceptable and it had to change.  As if I had any control over what I was eating.  As if I wasn’t a really active kid already.  I remember looking to my mom for encouragement or help or something, and she wasn’t saying anything, it was like she was tuned out.  I don’t remember anything else about the appointment.  But I remember crying later when I told my dad about it.  I asked him why everyone wanted me to change who I was.  He just hugged me while I cried.  I remember getting really angry and slamming my door. I remember crying and screaming and throwing things. I remember feeling completely out of control.  My mother never spoke to me about that appointment again.  But put me on what was my first “diet”.

At 7, I was on swim team, and I rode my bike everywhere.  Ok, so I sucked at running and gym class was usually a nightmare for me, but I was a kid.  I was doing kid things.  I didn’t have any understanding of the side effects of my medication.  I didn’t understand what having epilepsy meant.  I was just…a kid.  I wanted to be a kid like everyone else.  But suddenly all this “diet” food started creeping into the house, and my mom started taking me to aerobics classes with her.  And I was hungry all the time.  And I thought I deserved it.  I took everything to heart.  I didn’t understand why my sister and I did the exact same things and ate the exact same things and she looked the way she did.  But I learned to hate the scale, and hate the food, and hate the person looking back in the mirror.  I was 7.

That is just scratching the surface of the layers upon layers of hurt and sadness I have on my body and on my heart.  And maybe I am weak because I can’t control it.  Maybe I’m crazy because I let that still define me.  That was 27 years ago.  But I instantly feel like that 7 year old girl that is out of control when the topic of “weight loss” and “diets” come up.

I don’t want to be out of control.  I want to tell 7 year old me that it’s ok, not to hate herself, not to be so hard on herself.  To enjoy the amazingness of being a kid.  To love every swim meet, and cherish every race, victory or not.  To love the skin she’s in.  I want to nurture her and love her in the ways that I lacked nurturing and love.

How do you explain all that to someone you love without alienating them? I feel like I’m making demands on the types of conversations we have, but I think this small allowance should be ok?  When this topic comes up, I lash out and say things to try to wound the other person to make them feel as hurt as I do.  As if that is fair.  It’s not fair.  And certain things, once said, can’t be taken back.  So how do I admit how scared I am?

I’m scared.  I want to be supportive and nurturing and loving, but how can I do that when I can’t nurture myself?

I got upset today, as is the norm lately.  There wasn’t anything in particular that set me off, and maybe it’s my time of the month or something, or the moon cycles, or whatever.  Wait a minute, why am I apologizing for being upset? I don’t need to come up with a justification for being upset. I was upset, and it sucked.

I just wanted to “feel better”.  I wanted some instant gratification, a quick fix until I could get myself together.  In the past, I would have lit a cigarette.  I can even hear the sound of the lighter flicking its beautiful flame towards a waiting cigarette. I can feel the filter between my lips, and smell the tobacco.  I can almost feel the light headed giddiness from the first drag, and there isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t think about it.  Smoking helped, sure, but then I’d want another, and another.  When I was upset, I was known to chain smoke into the night talking on the phone and cursing the world.

Life is different now.  I have no cigarettes, and more importantly, no one to talk to on the phone to curse out the world.  I still need that gratification.  My sister exercises when she stresses out.  Another sister cleans.  My parents drink.  Everyone has their ways of coping when a day just sucks ass.  But me, all I have left is chocolate.

I have been an emotional eater my entire life.  This started around the time I was starting to realize I had to be ashamed of what I looked like.  So I started stashing boxes of girl scout cookies in my nightgown drawer and stealing change from my dad’s desk to buy a candy bar at school.  I was really good at hiding the candy wrappers until I could hide them in the kitchen trash. I’d be extremely careful concealing the evidence under rotten leftovers or empty cans of Alpo. And the sad thing was, I ate the chocolate so fast, I barely tasted it most of the time. I just knew I wanted it, and it was bad to want it, which made it that much more important to have.

I don’t have a box of cookies stashed in my drawers anymore. I’m an adult, and don’t have to hide the fact that I feel like I must have chocolate at least twice a day.  But still I do.  I feel like I’m buying drugs as I stand at the counter, trying to make it look like I decided at the last minute to grab the candy bar to go with the diet coke I was about to buy.  Like the whole reason I went in there wasn’t actually to buy that candy bar, but it just looked so tempting that I had to have it.  I still feel the shame as I take my clandestine purchase out the door and hide it in my handbag so no one can see.  As if the world needs any other excuse to look at me and think I’m not worth living.  Why don’t I just feed the stereotype?  Look, that fat girl is crying while eating a candy bar!  I know no one is REALLY saying that, but that’s the scene I play out in my head.

Tonight, while upset, I wandered through the aisles of the supermarket trying to find something to make the pain go away.  At least I had left my tears in the street, but it took all of my willpower not to take all the chocolate santas off the shelves and run out the door with them. I had this vivid daydream of me ripping off their jolly little chocolate heads and eating them all before I got out the door.  I did none of those things, but I wanted to.  I ended up buying a chocolate bar to go with the chicken and vegetables I bought for dinner.  I ate it on the walk home.  It tasted like shame.

I sometimes wish I had a socially acceptable addiction.  Because then when I acted like an idiot, people could say “oh it’s a disease, she can’t help it”.  But my addiction to eating is just seen as “oh, she’s fat and lazy, and she can help it, what a fucking loser”.  And I believe that with all my heart.  I always have.  I have attributed these words to other people my entire life.  But the person who hurts me the most is me.