Life Lesson: Circling the Beauty

Boudoir Beauty

roxx mastectomy scar tattoo

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

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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.

Sexy Shame

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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

getting older

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.

“Rejuvenation”

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 have no easy answers.

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Broken

 

Conflict

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.

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Endless Failures

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.

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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.

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1 of about 6 hiding (hoarding) places.

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?!)

Diet
I would fly through this entire cycle in about 4 hours.

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.

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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.

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Clinging Together

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.

pondering

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?”

2 broken

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.

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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.

I hope it lasts.

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artist, calmdownchristina

Fat Girl Stories: Hiding Food

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Binge Eating & Food Hoarding discussed.

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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.

Quite the mind-fuck seeing the candy juxtaposed with the insulin and metformin, isn’t it.

rolling my eyes

Learned Behavior

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.

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crispy M&Ms keeping company with my meds

Hoarding

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.

pondering

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.

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Visceral Reactions

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?

Today’s Freedom

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my low glucose drawer

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?

It does in my world.

Blindsided: The Fat-Shaming Doc Visit

trigger-warning

Written 10/12/16 about 10/10/16 Gastro-Intestinal (GI) doctor visit.

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So, while I have been fat my whole life and have had my share of medical fat-shaming from fat-hating doctors, it has been a very long time since that’s happened… whether from their shifts in attitude via Continuing Education about inclusivity  (or at least learning to keep their mouths closed about their attitudes)  or because I learned to open my mouth to shut it down.

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Unknown date of un-remembered hospitalization. PICC Line insertion successful.

The GI Doc

I had signed AMA out of the hospital 12 hours earlier when the doctor, small, a person of color (no clue the origin, but shouldn’t matter),very pretty walked into the Exam Room.

“Oh, my! You look awful,” she said. I’d seen her 3 times before, but I am memorable by what I wear (tie-dye) and being bald. And I am very, very nice to care providers.

“You look like you haven’t slept in weeks!”

“Uhhh, I am at the tail end of a 2-3 month Manic Episode, so no, not sleeping much.”

She went over the paperwork, labs & prescriptions from the night before. She looked at me pretty harshly and said, “You really need to be in the hospital. You are extremely dehydrated.”

I told her no one said anything like that the night before, but I would probably still not have stayed.

She said, “Stubborn.”

Dehydration?

water

The reasons she said I am dehydrated:

  • chronic diarrhea despite 20 Immodiums and 3 Pancreatic Enzymes a day
  • vomiting a couple of times a day
  • taking Lasix to pee! (because of the ankle swelling from the Risperdal)

I would have never recognized the signs of dehydration because they were in the labs! I guess the NP the night before didn’t think I was that dehydrated because she never even said the word to me. My pee is crystal clear; strange. She said that was why my HR was 124 upon discharge. I am sure I shrugged.

Medications

She said I needed to get the ER prescriptions filled (the Cipro and Bentyl) and she added Prilosec, Lomotil and Zofran.

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This is what my New-Taking-Now meds look like (as they lay against my ballot which went in the mail yesterday!).

“Good-Luck with That.”

“You need to have your gallbladder taken out as soon as possible, before it gets infected.”

Okay, true. Emergency surgeries on fat people have an increased risk of morbidity and mortality.

But there was more to her sentence above.

She ran two of them together, “You need to have your gallbladder taken out as soon as possible, before it gets infected… but I am sure you won’t find a doctor to touch you because of your size.”

blinking as I watched the contempt drip from her lips

“What do you mean?”

“I don’t think you will find a doctor in our area to do the surgery because of (again with the disdain) – the risks.”

I told her I knew that Bariatric Surgeons (who do Weight Loss Surgeries) are ALL GI Docs and I would find one to take my gallbladder out.

“Good luck with that.”

She gave me my paperwork, prescriptions and her bulldozer-sized hatred of fat people… and walked out.

I sat there and cried.

tuckedin

raw Raw RAW

I am strong. Most of the time.

Right now in this (decreasingly) manic place, I feel flayed, nerves on the outer surface of my body. No ability to control what or who hits them. I merely react to the sensations.

This one was an animal claw dragging down my chest… slipping in and gashing my heart as it went by.

I had not felt such shame in eons. And I see doctors all the time! I mean, really, probably not for at least a decade have I been medically fat-shamed. (Many medical & personal fat-shaming experiences to come in future posts.) I felt hideous in those moments after she smashed shit down my throat, squishing it with her heel as she left the room.

Pondering

I stumbled out of the building, crying still, and drove home.

I began to find my Power, many minutes too late and useless at that point, but I thought, “For fuck’s sake, I cannot possibly be the fattest person on the face of the earth who needs abdominal surgery.”

And then I got mad, but it was a gradual dilution of the mad into the shame where, for a time, if they were able to be separated, you could see they were half and half. Now, 2 days later, I am more mad, but in retelling it to my Insurance’s Case Manager, I cried from shame so hard she kept having to say, “Breathe. Breathe.”

I have been given 3 Bariatric doctors’ names… one in Orlando, one in Tampa and one in Miami. I told my Case Manager I would go anywhere in Florida to get it done. Even if I had to go to Shands Teaching Hospital in Gainesville. I called the doc here in Orlando, explained the situation to the Office Manager and she said she would talk to him and get back to me tomorrow. I told her I knew it was not his usual surgery, that I had had Weight Loss Surgery (WLS) in 2001, but was fat again and needed help, please.

We’ll see what happens.

I will find a doctor to help me.

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