So, after my Baking Bread Memories post, my daughter Meghann, also a writer, insisted I start another blog and talk about my life through the eyes of food. Not wanting to start over with yet another blog, I decided to edit this one and begin the project my daughter asked me to write in this one.
Besides the food refocus, I could not edit out my Bipolar and Diabetic experiences. I really feel my mental illness as well as my diabetes are intertwined with my life of eating; they are inextricably combined.
Long List of Memories
I began a list last night of times in my life where food took more than center stage and already have 29 potential posts!
Come along with me as I jot down memories for my children and entertainment for you readers.
A friend of mine had boudoir pictures done. She’d had a difficult few years, including a double mastectomy because of breast cancer. It took every ounce of (emotional) strength to agree to the photo shoot, wanting it as a surprise to her several-decade-long partner. When the proofs came, she was shyly pleased at how she looked. Most were fairly modest, but others did show her precious scars that saved her life.
Timidly, she showed her husband.
His response was: Nice lighting.
Broken-hearted and filled with unnecessary shame, she came into our secret group and shared a couple of the more modest photos asking if they were that bad that he didn’t even comment on what she looked like.
My friend’s pictures are stunning. When I opened the first one, I had shivers from the beauty of seeing this woman, literally, laying bare the fears she’s harbored for so, so long. (As many of us in this society do.) Of course we all held her close and loved on her, and told her what a doofus he was for not “seeing” her, but all of our approval was a drop compared to what she’d needed from him.
I’ve thought of this for several days now, asking the couple of guys in my life why a husband would do that? Why he couldn’t even muster a “You’re beautiful,” even if was fake. My male friends said about the same thing: Men suck.
Ye Olde Body Image
We women struggle with our body images, many of us since childhood.
I remember when I first began having sex, I never wanted to get on top because my breasts drooped off my chest, not remaining in pretty round orbs like the girls in Playboy. Then after having one giant baby after another, I didn’t want to get on top because my entire mid-section sagged down with gravity. Suddenly, my breasts were the least of the flopping about.
Just sitting here writing this, I remember the shame acutely. I have tears dripping from the corner of my eyes because I find myself so repulsively ugly. I feign not being embarrassed at all these doctor appointments, but the reality is I cringe every time someone needs to touch my body.
When I go to Sex Parties, there is no shame from anyone. Bodies are bodies are bodies. Most of us there are old enough to know life before Internet porn, so, I believe, have a more realistic view of growing-older bodies and sex. Besides under the covers, the only place I am free to be naked is with my kinky and swinging friends. (Even still, I am always nervous about taking my clothes off at the beginning of the evening. NO ONE EVEN CARES! Yet, I still do.)
Our Bodies Turning On Us
Fat, folds, scars, sags, creases, hair where we don’t want it, no hair where we do want it, adult acne (what the fuck are we doing still getting acne in our 60’s?!), leaking when we sneeze, farting at inopportune times… belching, using your inhaler before having sex, having not one, but two pillboxes to fill every week… having to eat by the clock so your blood glucose doesn’t go too high, or goddess forbid, too low! (One of the not-so-funny funny things is you have to shoot insulin into a roll of fat. Every. Single. Time I have to give myself a shot, I roll my eyes at the luck of so many gooshie sites to choose from.)
And let’s not even begin in the genital area.
People with means might be thinking, “Not me!” and so many begin having plastic/reconstructive surgeries as early as 16. That girls under 20 are asking for labiaplasty because they think their vulvas are ugly makes my heart hurt. Can an entire generation of women feel even more body shame than I have about mine? It seems so.
It’s sad to me that so many girls and women… and men! think our bodies should be porn-perfect or fantasy-ready.
I’ve done dozens of diets, been prescribed Black Beauties & other speed (starting at age 8), belonged to many gyms, taken Phen-Fen (with success, but with heart valve damage), tried Topamax (fail), used Wellbutrin (fail), had a Roux en Y Gastric Bypass (with fabulous success, then epic failure), done hypnosis & acupuncture (fail & fail), become a daily Mindfulness Meditation fanatic (fail for weight loss/huge win for pain relief), have tried to have anorexia, then bulimia, hand-written hundreds of thousands of journal pages, letting them “hold” my pain, shame, revulsion, self-hate, wishes, fears, hopes &, eventually, resolution with my size.
I remain in resolution.
I will never diet or take diet drugs again. Ever.
Time & Money
Thinking about the masses of time and money I’ve spent trying to lose weight makes my head spin.
Going to the gym
Writing out menus
Researching rules and techniques for success
Real life or online support group meetings, including social networks talking about losing/gaining weight
Shopping slower to read labels and make sure food is “appropriate”
Learning new cooking methods
Fighting with family about the change in foods in the fridge and cupboards
Probably eventually buying more “bad” food for my family because they whined so much about foisting my diet on them
$28,000 cash for RNY gastric bypass (GB)
Can I include the time and money (including the taxpayer’s) for the years of therapy discussing and crying about all of this?
I was a Fat Activist in the mid-late 80’s, mostly in the lesbian community. I’ve written about being fat-positive for almost 3 decades.
In the beginning, when I was in my 20’s and early 30’s, I was healthy… labs were fine, no diabetes, my joints or feet didn’t hurt. I crowed (bragged, was arrogant) about how it was the fat-hating that made fat people sick and die, not the fat itself.
Now, at 56-years old, I see how delusional I was. I am well on the road to dying before most people in my family did, and they all had diabetes, too. My future resides in my memories of my Cuban relatives & the diabetes complications they endured before dying. Heart attacks, going blind, having toes, then feet cut off, eventually dying in a coma because the body just gave up.
I see it coming as if it was a roaring train heading right for me.
Litany of Pain
Here are my fat-related illnesses and issues:
Type 2 Diabetes (diagnosed at 34 years old), now on 2 insulins and metformin
I heal terribly because of the diabetes, often needing antibiotics for residual infections
Stage 3 Kidney Disease from the diabetes
Pain with every step I take
Osteoporosis and arthritis in my feet, which have broken 3 times just from walking for exercise, and one foot breaking while swimming
Broke one foot falling off the Wii Fit Board trying to exercise… needed 3 surgeries to repair
Arthritis in my lower back, was on opioids for 8+ years for the back pain, becoming incredibly addicted, finally getting clean 3 years ago (yay me!) Now I use Mindfulness Meditation for pain relief, though many times I wish for some Norco.
It took me years to find surgeons I felt safe with to get my 4 hernias repaired (one surgery) and then my gallbladder out (a separate surgery, with 3 hospital visits afterwards because of infection)… several turning me away because of my enormous belly size (blessedly, I found the docs and those issues are resolved)
Bone loss from possibly 2 main sources: lack of exercise & the GB
Walking with a walker, but should be in an electric wheelchair, my feet hurting so badly
Using an electric wheelchair when I shop
My world has gradually become smaller and smaller. After 32 years in birth work (where I hurt daily as well), I am now a sedentary Phone Sex Operator. I live in a small space and leave the house only for doctor appointments, physical therapy, shopping and seeing my doggies at mom’s house.
Writing that makes me sad.
Part 2 On Its Way
In Part 2 of My Wall-E-esque Life, I will talk about the place the Fat Advocacy Movement does have in our lives. While it might not be health (despite the incessant refrain that it does), it is most assuredly have an enormous place in our physical and emotional world.
My wonderful submissive, my (Muslim) cublet, and I had some conflict this week about stuff going on in Europe (Freedom of the Press, Turkey, Netherlands, etc.) and he was feeling badly about how he responded to the discussion. Very badly. He felt that he’d let his Mistress (me) down.
After we worked things out, he asked me if, when I was a submissive, I ever disappointed Zack (my Dom) over and over and how did I deal with that.
I’m not sure where it bubbled up from, certainly from the recesses of my psyche, but I began talking, almost trance-like, about how Zack and I tried new diets every few weeks. It wasn’t a direct order to follow the regimen, but it was implied. I am able to follow the rhythm of these attempts in my Facebook Memories each day and, as I see each new diet, each new pledge to “Stick to this one!”, I wince knowing that I failed. Again. And again. And again.
I’ve written about how I snuck food, hiding it, eating in the car and throwing away the evidence before I got home… how I still hoard food even though I have no need to whatsoever. Old habits and all.
When Zack and I learned about a new diet (always the Famous-Diet-of-the-Moment), it was up to me to research and make menus (which I despised doing). Then I would school Zack, we’d set a date to begin within the next couple of days and, once the sun rose on that date, we were off and running.
I knew as soon as the diet was brought up what was going to happen. Promises of “This Time!” and “I’m going to the gym every day.” Vowing, even to myself, that I would not cheat.
Yet within a few hours of the new diet, my stomach (mind) was rumbling and I needed food. Not healthy salads, which I could eat as much of as I wanted. Not the vegetable soup that I could serve myself every half hour if I desired. But food. Carbs, mostly. Bread. Tortillas. Potatoes. Burgers, fries, candy, cake… that endless list of Forbidden Fruit (yeah, fruit?!)
I became a demon in search of the poison that (never) filled me up. I would sit thinking, “Where can I get money to go buy food? What excuse can I make to get out of the house? Where can I hide the other half of the burger I can’t eat while in the car?” Looking at me, you’d think I was merely watching TV. Inside my head, I was a military officer strategizing the next battle, down to the last marching step. Obsession does not begin to describe the experience.
I always found food. Even if I had to steal it from my sister-in-law. Or sneak money out of Zack’s wallet to buy it. Or sell something for the few coins I received; candy is pretty cheap.
There it was. I was a failure. Again. A crushing failure, doomed to disappoint Zack. Again.
When he realized what was going on (how he didn’t know within hours is beyond me), usually after the second week’s weigh-in and he’d lost gobs of weight and… lookie there! I’d gained 5 pounds! That he believed in me each time, that he trusted me to tell the truth “this time,” (which is how he didn’t see me cheating – he trusted me) made my failure all the more bitter.
So when my cub asked if I’d been a serial disappointment, I don’t think he expected an entire post to fall out of my fingers about it.
So, he and I met online almost 18 months ago, both of us traversing different worlds, surely never to meet in real life, but here we are, my cublet and I, both sharing those same shame feelings.
Curious. Do you think everyone has them? If we all talked to each other long enough would we all find we had this deep place inside that feels we disappoint the ones we love most?
I know people really well… human nature really well. But I cannot recall others feeling broken the way he and I described to each other.
And how do 2 broken people find each other anyway? Is it a psychic connection that says, “Join and you shall begin to glue each other back together?”
Does the mere airing of the pain begin the healing? (Provided we are in therapy, of course. I am aware that 2 dysfunctional people will not spontaneously heal the hurt.) This phenomenon really is quite baffling.
Be-ing With the Pain
I spent several days deep inside, remembering these horrid feelings of shame and disappointment, actually worried I was getting depressed and might need a med change. Instead, I just sat with the feelings. Allowing them to curl around me, reminding me that, even if I don’t remember them, they do still exist and have an effect on my life.
Writing this has been an exercise of sitting with the pain, crying at times, really deeply sad other times and now that the post is winding down, I think I am finally finding some peace.
If I died right this moment and someone had to go through my room, either throwing things away or giving them to my kids, they would find, in several different locations, stashes of candy.
right next to the insulin
behind the medications
candy canes from 2 years ago
Quite the mind-fuck seeing the candy juxtaposed with the insulin and metformin, isn’t it.
rolling my eyes
I come by the behavior honestly.
Growing up, mom was periodically on diets. When she was, so was the entire household. I called the feast or famine cycle, “Celery or Eclairs.” Either mom created delicious baked goods or we had celery and carrots filling the refrigerator. It didn’t take long to learn to bulk up for the famine that was surely to come in a couple of weeks. As a ravenous fat child, I scavenged for calories when we were supposed to be eating far fewer of them.
You see, my mom hid candy, usually plain M&Ms, in her drawers, under her marabou-lined lingerie. Being a nosy brat, I scoured the room, looking for the candy, then eating it when it was finally in my greedy hands. I didn’t process the information that mom would know I had eaten it when she couldn’t find it. That was irrelevant. Eating it was the goal and eat it I did.
When I was in a relationship (pick one), invariably my partner would have issues with my food intake. Reading my Facebook Memories makes me wince as, nearly every 2-3 days, I was starting yet another new diet or forcing myself to go to the Y.
When I went to the Y, I would ride the exercise bike until I sweat, go as long as I could, then get off and get in the car to go home.
And then began the fight, the tug-of-war to eat before I went home. Carl’s Jr. was open; I could go through their drive-through. I could go to the grocery store and get something quick to consume. Whatever I chose, I wouldn’t be able to eat it all, so would need to either throw the rest away or bring it home with me. (Another wrestling match in my head.)
I hated throwing the food away, especially when I could eat it later. So I’d tuck the leftover burger or sourdough baguette and cheese in my gym bag and hope Zack wasn’t awake so I could hide it in the closet.
My shoe holder (a long canvas bag that hold 12 pairs of shoes) was my favorite hiding place. Fuck, that is gross looking at that now. Then, it seemed like a brilliant idea.
I had to move slowly so the wrapping didn’t crinkle too loud, betraying my plan.
I’m sitting here trying to figure out how to explain how much I hate discussing food with anyone, partners most of all. My body tenses as if I was about to be assaulted, every hackle raised trying to protect my Self from the (invariably) negative and judgmental bullshit about to come out of their mouths. Yeah, yeah… I know… “they mean well.” Well, it doesn’t feel well. It feels horrid, defending myself, my size, my food choices, intake and why am I still fat even after dieting/exercising/having a gastric bypass/using medications/etc.
Don’t I know what eating so much/exercising so little is going to do to me? Don’t I see my Cuban relatives as the Cautionary Tale for my own future with diabetes?
I haven’t had but the briefest mentions of my weight with anyone besides medical people in over 2 years… and it has been heaven. Sitting and writing, even this far out, I can still feel the intense tightening of my muscles as I remember the inevitable tap dance discussion of my weight and food the moment someone began with, “Honey, I am worried about you.”
I’m not stupid. I was a health care provider. I’ve read the articles and papers about being sedentary and fat. I know my life span is infinitely shorter because I don’t “exercise and eat right.”
But the freedom from the stress of discussing it cannot be described. Doesn’t that account for something?
At first, I was on the kind you keep in the refrigerator and draw up in a syringe with a needle. Good lord, those are pain in the ass.
Not having one clue of all the options, my Insurance Liaison asked if I would rather have pens. I asked what the difference was and she said, “They don’t need to be refrigerated.”
I got the pens and loved them right away.
I keep them in my top drawer with all my pens.
I am on both Lantus (long-acting insulin) and NovoLog (more immediate insulin), so poke myself 4 times a day.
Now, as a midwife, I know to draw up solutions with one needle, then change needles and use that new one for the injection. Pushing the needle through the rubber at the top of the vial flattens the tip slightly and when you put that in the leg or arm, it hurts more.
But when I use the lancet on my finger to test my blood glucose before giving myself insulin…
… I (lazily) use and re-use them. They are annoying to change (4-6 times a day), so it’s just easier to leave it in the mechanism each time. I know, I know… beyond the lazy factor, not too sanitary, either. Especially when I am supposed to be worrying about infections. (I hear you! CHANGE THE LANCETS!)
So when I got the needles for the pens, I thought, “I can be lazy with these needles, too.”
And I was.
The one thing with the pens that was different from the refrigerated insulin was the injections freakin’ hurt! It wasn’t unusual to bleed a little after the injection and I also got plenty of bruises.
I don’t recall the reasoning behind it, but a couple of weeks ago, I changed the needle after each injection. Was I experimenting? I have no idea. But let me tell you, when I began changing the needle each time…
… the pain upon injection vanished! The bleeding and bruises? Gone.
What a dork I was re-using the needles.
Clearly, with each stab into my flesh, it flattened those really thin needles enough to damage the skin and tissue.