Monday, December 31, 2012

"Derp." - 2012

I believe Craig Ferguson said it best when he screamed repeatedly and without context:
Because seriously 2012, what the fuck?

follow Craig Ferguson on twitter @craigyferg and watch
his stupid show, cuz it's hilarious
The year began with so much promise. I was doing well, my business was getting better and soaring to new heights; the Emperor even took me to Hawaii for two weeks! And then pretty much right around my birthday, everything started going to shit, culminating with me unwillingly upholding the family tradition at screaming at someone else on their birthday

Normally, I'm ringing in the new year with my family, lighting fireballs, inventing new and crazy ways to distribute spell effects, and trying not to kill other members of our party (or be killed so dead that I can't be resurrected; that happened once). This year, actually, during the whole of 2012, our D&D characters decided it was just not a good year for anything, and both of our semi-annual D&D games got canceled. And so this year, I don't know what I'll be doing just yet, except putting on a sexy dress and party hopping. But this D&D game has been an ongoing tradition for some 20 years. Yes, we missed a couple in the early years, but shit man, the game must go on!

Another time I guess.

This just pretty much sums up how 2012 was a year of unlived promises, and bitter disappointments. I can look on the bright side and say, hey, new friends, but I can also be realistic and tell 2012 to go suck and egg. And if 2013 isn't much better, the Universe and I are going to have to have words, cuz this is just bullshit.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Week 8: backsliding and feeling mad

At least one day this week I skipped more than one meal. 

The chapter I'm on in my workbook talks about discovering the emotional roots of my particular eating disorder. I don't think there's anything necessarily wrong with my brain, as far as neuro-chemicals go; that is to say, I am reasonably certain that my disorder is entirely behavioral, though I may be genetically predisposed to obsessive behaviors. My workbook asks to consider what was going on in my life when my symptoms first appeared (around age 12), and the thing that stands out most in my mind is the desire to hide.

I spent a lot of time alone in my room with the door closed. When my symptoms popped up throughout the last 15 years, I will inevitably retreat into my room and spend all of my time alone. I also associate thinness with being better able to "fit in"*, and my genetic predisposition toward obsessiveness kicks in and says that I am an all or nothing kind of gal, but because my mother battled anorexia I had to be better than her** and said that I'd give binge/purge a try instead of straight up refusal to eat. I thought it would make me thin. I thought it could make me disappear.

That's just some backstory. It doesn't bother me so much now. I'm pretty sure I no longer want to disappear. When I wanted that, I paradoxically wanted recognition: I wanted to be loved, valued, seen in high esteem -- all things which are the complete opposite of wanting to disappear. And they're still things that I seek, but I think I can go after them in more effective and healthier ways.

I have beef with a few people who have, (intentionally or otherwise), made me feel unimportant or broken. This is probably reasonable, but I wish I could get it out of my head. I wish that I could overcome the lingering feelings of un-importance, (occasionally dis-importance***). I wish I could overcome the dis-importance I give myself, and if I focused on that the sting even of being intentionally hurt that way by others would disappear. 

What I'm learning is that I can unlearn disordered eating, (it being behavioral, rather than symptomatic of something requiring medication), and relearn how to prioritize my own needs without giving myself a complex about selfishness or whatever bullshit I've told myself in the past. But, I'm pretty sure I need therapy to really accomplish that*', because I don't know how to make heads or tails of any of this information. 

Right now I'm okay. I'm not mad (American) for not being able to keep with my plan this week. I feel mad (British) because I have all these thoughts still jumping around in my head about my relative value, about feeling beautiful, about dealing with the words of others*'', about wanting to pirate around with sexy people; about wanting to punch someone very specifically in the balls*'''. I feel mad because it feels like David Bowie hijacked my brain.

But... I think most of the time, I'm not as angry, or sad, or lonely, or mad (British). My heart is on healing and heading forward, not staying trapped in the past, neither remote nor recent.

*An unfortunate pun...
**Distortion: competitiveness; having a different eating disorder doesn't make me better than my mother; having a different eating disorder from her meant that it was harder for people in my family to recognize
***"dis-importance" being intentional
*'Not that I've even called the therapists my doctor recommended
*''Encouraging and discouraging
*'''I can play sadist too

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Versions of Violence

The biblical figure with whom I share a name (although for whom I am not named), is seen as perpetually grieving for her people. Rachel, the wife whom Jacob loved*, had one child then disappeared from the Torah. In The Red Tent, a mishnah of sorts by Anita Diamant, Rachel dies in childbirth and was buried where she died, then forgotten. She is the archetype for the woman who never stands up for herself because she doesn't want to trouble anyone, and doesn't feel she is important enough to have her grievances heard**. 

On a related note, my rabbi's mother recently said "the best crown you can wear is the crown of a good name". I don't know if she was quoting someone, but it does give one something to think about. Especially when one shares a name with a figure who is the archetype for issues one has faced throughout life. 

I have always sought to avoid saying mean things. I have always wanted peace, and my instinct is to say nothing if I have nothing nice to say. There were a few years when I vehemently spoke my mind, but I realized after a while that it didn't exactly serve me to do so, and stopped. In the years since, I have matured and learned how to address certain things in a diplomatic way, but even still, I have a very hard time having my own personal grievances aired and by doing so I allow violence to be perpetuated against me while doing some to myself. 

This post began as a desire to say something honest, yet horrible, to someone I no longer speak with. I decided against it, because it would have amounted to airing dirty laundry, could have created drama (to which I am strongly averse), or been misinterpreted by people to whom I do currently speak. The fact of the matter is, had I proceeded immediately as intended it would have simply been gossip and not have changed a thing. The object of my anger would have remained completely unaffected, and all I would have done is hurt myself further. I've done plenty of that on behalf of said person, and I'm disinclined to continue to do so.

But then I started thinking about how I never said anything to him when we did have contact. The last time we spoke was me starting to say my piece, but he abruptly ended the conversation before I was finished. I wanted to ignore these leftover feelings and not write anything at all, because I'm so drama averse, but also because some part of me wants to think that no one knows that I have negative emotions. I identify so strongly with my positive, upbeat, outgoing persona that I don't want anyone to know that there is damage beneath my skin. But, the undamaged, unthwarted persona is just a projection and isn't real.

Some of the intimacy I've been earning recently has to do with not holding up that projection, and letting people know that I'm just as damaged as everyone else. Even so, I continue to struggle with standing up for myself. I don't want to be too aggressive and defensive, but I don't want to get caught withholding myself from people I would really like to be close with. It's impossible to develop intimacy if you're defending or withholding. 

I know that the versions of violence that I learned and assimilated from a very early age lead directly to the versions of violence set against me as my life has progressed; violence that I further perpetuated by ignoring hurt caused by it for so long that it became impossible for me to express myself. Part of what I'm doing in this adventure (apart from constantly making constitution checks***), is trying to undo this tendency toward violence against my own soul.

Much of the issues that I deal with that trigger me like not being heard, feeling helpless or insignificant, stem from treating myself this way. I don't listen or hear myself much of the time; in fact the symptoms of my eating disorder involve actively denying myself. I treat myself as insignificant and helpless. And then, to compound the effect, I tell myself I'm a drama queen by saying it out loud. I say things like:
"He's not going to want to be around someone who's always complaining about stuff. You need to be more upbeat if you want [so and so] to want to be around you."
"Quit complaining, your problems aren't that bad."
"Yeah, cuz that's the least of your problems."
At which point it devolves into me calling me names, and one part of me ceasing to identify with the whole and creating an entirely new ego problem that, when perpetuated in just the right environment sends me back to restricting, obsessing, and the binge/purge cycle. I even worry a bit for having this so public because what are people going to think of me knowing that I, too, have problems. This is a private matter and should be resolved in private - right, cuz that worked so well the first time around. 

So, on the one hand, I have this darkness struggling toward the light, fighting to get out of my soul, and on the other hand I have this ego that doesn't want to acknowledge the existence of the darkness in me. But what's the worst that can happen? That I expose myself as human, develop actual intimacy between my actual self and the selves of persons whom I care about? That I move forward with my life and stop trying to deny true things in order to please "people"? That I never, ever have to have another experience wherein I deny my right to express my thoughts until it's too late and I have to completely cut someone I care about from my life?

How is all that bad again?

*You know, because you can't love more than one person at a time... /sarc
**It is important to note, however, that others will suffer in silence because you refused to speak out.
***First, if you don't know what that is, I can't help you; second, it's a lot harder to deal with low blood sugar when you're out of the habit of starving yourself for extended periods of time. 

Week 7: I hate pants

Nothing makes me feel more fat than jeans. Either the waist band is up SO HIGH that I can't breath when I sit down, or they're constantly falling off because if I wore them tight enough that they have something to hold onto, I would have fat spilling out all over the place. Jeans just don't fit my body right and so, I don't wear them. At least not very often. I do have one pair that I can wear that makes me my butt look good, but most of the time it's not worth the rest of it.

I'm ranting a little. I guess I'm in a ranty mood.

This week was okay, as far as normalized eating goes. I'm still working toward the eating at regular intervals thing, but most days I've been eating 3 meals and a couple of snacks throughout the day, and most of the time I am not trying to talk myself out of eating. The weight that I gained after starting this experiment has gone away, even though telling you that means that I have to say that yes, even though it's recommended I stop in my workbook, I am continuing to weigh myself several times a week. And while I still always make the disappointed noise every time, I don't think it's affecting my self-worth that much. 

Things are actually picking up in a very good direction. My social life is progressing toward being rather productive and full of wonderful people, old* and new**; my dad is ...well, I don't quite know what to say about my dad, except that he's stable and totally not dying; and I was chosen to receive a gift from a jeweler I follow on FB who did a "tell us why you deserve to be chosen to receive a gift from us" thing, and I told them the abbreviated version of what's been going on in the last several months. 

I feel better and more aligned with my own power and all that, but it's still a daily (even moment to moment) struggle to keep that going. I feel like I can identify less with my disordered eating, and more with meeting the needs of my body, but there's still a part of me that really wants to cling to that source of identity. This is normal and human, but I don't have to cling, and I don't have to react to my desire to cling; if you know what I'm saying.

Anyway, gonna cut it short. I have a wicked headache right now and should probably get some sleep***.

*Okay, not that old... I'm not robbing the grave or anything
**Hi Z!
***By which I mean watch Craig Ferguson

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

When it stops hurting there is peace

When a person embarks on a journey like the one I am taking, it is at first very painful and frightening to realize that one is surrounded by people who actually give a fuck (some flying, others more comfortable with ground-travel), because the thing that got you pulled into this self-destroying, -denying, and -displacing spiral was having to do it all on your own without any real support from anyone sane. At first, the support of others feels like grinding your heel in broken glass, but that's not because of the support, it's because your whole outlook is completely completely fucked up. A person who isn't in that place doesn't adopt behaviors to destroy their bodies; a person who isn't in that place doesn't see those behaviors become obsessions.

I think that feeling, the grinding your heel in broken glass feeling, is why a lot of people go to desperate lengths to hide obsessive behaviors; not just eating disorders, but addiction, abuse, and depression*. When you see everyone as an enemy and then all of a sudden all of these people are saying "can I give you a hug?" and telling you you're so strong, and they're so proud of you for trying to be less self-destructive... it's terrifying, and it feels like everyone either has an angle or that they're mocking you. That's apart from the tapes that start playing when you start reaching out for help, those are even worse.
somewhere somehow someone must have kicked you around some... you see you don't have to live like a refugee  
"Refugee" by Melissa Etheridge
I recently added this song to a playlist, and when it was playing a minute ago, I realized that she wasn't just talking about outwardly living like a refugee in a society that sees you as less than: you don't, I don't have to live like a refugee in my body. I think I've been doing that very thing for so long, but now I know I don't have to and it's pretty freeing, and that's when it stops hurting. 

Not hurting as much doesn't make me feel any less crazy, but at least I know that the crazy doesn't have to hurt as much. Not hurting also allows me to feel the love from the people who are around me, and have mobilized to be by my side during this tumultuous episode of my life. Another thing that makes it stop hurting is being held by someone with whom a specific level and kind of trust has been established. 

Actually, that whole thought just sent my thought train off the rails**. But once the pain stops, you really get a sense of how cared-for you are, and it strengthens the healing process. There's peace there, and I think the one thing that I've been fighting for my whole life (not unlike most people) is that sense of peace that comes when it stops hurting. And I think I can report back that throwing yourself into that pain in order to find peace doesn't really work; neither does disassociating from your being and becoming a refugee in your own body. 

The feeling, the peace, isn't dependent on another person either. It's presence. It's beauty. It's being fully awake and fully your Self both in form and spirit***. And at some point, the peace will be permanent.

*Depression is not an obsessive behavioral condition, as far as I know.
**And into thoughts of how marvelous the universe is to have the foresight to send the right people into your life at the right time, whether anyone knows it or not.
***There's been a lot of Eckhart Tolle going on recently.

Edit: "Refugee" quoted above was written by Tom Petty, according to my mother. I was listening to the Melissa Etheridge version and don't know anything about the emotional content of the original version.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

This post is mostly not about sex

Since the relapse of my eating disorder, and during my attempt to actually recover this time, I have been in a weird place where the idea of having sex really grosses me out. I'm sure it's temporary, but as I'm learning to reform my associations and emotions on such basic things as eating food, I'm also discovering that I need to reform my thoughts and tendencies as it relates to dating and sex as well. 

This revelation came about after a chastisement over handling an intimate relationship rather callously, even though I had never meant any harm and didn't even realize that I, or the relationship, was as important to the other person as to warrant said chastisement. I realized, after a conversation with this person, that I take a really fucked up approach to sex, and that this is because of how I feel about my body and the deserve level associated with it. And that that dysfunction is to blame for my recent celibacy. 

I'm fat. I know that, I can't do anything about it, and intellectually I know that beautiful and sexy are not antonyms to fat, and that the people attracted to me are attracted to all of me including my fat. This idea blows my freaking mind right now, because how is that fucking possible?! Of course, there are also people who feel the same way Mable* does about my physical attractiveness: that I am pretty, despite the fat. 

In the past, I've approached sex and relationships from this viewpoint. I've always thought that the people I would get involved with did so despite my fat, that it was my eyes or personality or whatever, and these relationships would never work out for one reason or another (I guessed fat), and it would devastate me. In the recent past I had a partner who, for some reason, always felt it necessary to clarify that he didn't want to be my "boyfriend" right when we were getting intimate. The last time it happened, it really bothered me, (actually it still bothers me right now), but I didn't say anything, because that's the level of respect and love I felt I was due from that thin, attractive person.

My modus operandi in the past has been to be really casual about sexual relationships, until they get serious and then just go off the fucking deep end. Once is fine, twice is fun, but more than that I never have the tools to handle because I don't think I'm worth the investment of a regular affair. And, apart from The Emperor, I've never had a long term relationship, let alone a serious one. Most of my experience in dating has fallen along the lines of the example mentioned in the previous paragraph, and I don't know how to deal with people who are attracted to all of me, including my fat, including my neuroses, rather than in spite of them because I can only accept myself in spite of them.

"But Rachel, you said you were gonna talk about sex." Yeah, I know I said that, but my thoughts on the subject aren't quite as formed as I'd like them to be. The point is, for so long I have been laboring under the idea that in order to be worthy of any kind of actual love and affection, I needed to be thin; that my relationship with The Emperor is a fluke, and that I can't have other relationships that are equally fulfilling because there's something wrong with me.

Turns out I've been wrong this whole time. I don't think realizing that is going to make my emotionally-imposed celibacy abate any faster, but if I'm smart, I'll work this realization into the rest of them and begin forming better relationships that don't leave my partners feeling like the missed something or that I don't care about them.

*I named my eating disorder, remember?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Recovery Week 6

This week wasn't really that interesting. The only day when I missed meals was today, but that was okay because when I went in to get my throat swabbed for strep, it activated my gag reflex. Fortunately, there was nothing for me to vomit onto my doctor*, so I didn't. 

Most of the week I listened to audio books rather than the radio, but today I listened to Randi Rhodes, and I had an urge to purge when she was talking to a listener who was, I guess, her inspiration while losing weight. I don't know if you know much about my favorite radio host, but she's not that big. She would disagree, naturally, but she really isn't. The pervasive idea that thin is the ideal, that one's value is even remotely related to the number on the scale; that prettiness, as defined by a culture who wants everyone to be so skinny you can see ribs, is the only important thing... is very upsetting.

Then there was an interesting juxtaposition of commercials: diet pills and weight loss programs, followed by "you can end hunger"... lose weight! Feed the children! SOYLENT GREEN IS PEOPLE!!! It's no wonder there are people like me in this society, who are obsessed with food, our culture is obsessed with food. It's insanity. 

Another thought of note, is the idea of taking care of the inner body. This is an idea broached by Eckhart Tolle in The Power of Now, and prompted the thought in me "I spend so much time in my head, that I hardly ever spend time in my feet". Awareness of and oneness with the inner body brings us into the now, and this is why exercise is important. Yoga came about as a moving meditation, a means of spending time in one's feet, so to speak. I haven't been exercising much since beginning my recovery because in our culture, exercise is about losing weight. Very few people (that I know anyway), exercise for the fun of it.

I do enjoy swimming. And yoga, of course, and I think in the next few weeks I'll be moving more so that I can be in my body more. I think this will help immeasurably in my recovery. For now... I've got some healing to do since I've apparently come down with something.

*Not that Doctor.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

What are we on, week 5? Review

I guess I know why I've been doing these on Friday or Saturday, cuz it's really hard for me to think about  and remember what happened last week...

I did backslide a little bit on Wednesday and Friday, but I'm realizing more and more that my symptoms pop up when I encounter stressful family situations, and not necessarily when I was feeling fat or whatever... although, I dunno, I feel like I'm starting to come to terms with it, I just haven't quit thinking the thought about needing to lose weight... and that my eating disorder symptoms are what will make that possible, even though continuing to have this thought demonstrates that I am C-R-A-Z-Y. 

Another thought that came into my head this week was the idea that eating = fuel for the things I want to do with my life. Okay, typing it out like that makes it seem like the most obvious thing ever, but as established in the previous paragraph: C-R-A-Z-Y. It was a big revelation to me. I was working on Monday and lunch time rolled around, and as usual I fought myself (just cuz I have the appointment with myself doesn't mean I keep it or am always on time), but then I said "wait, I need to eat so I can have fuel to keep working today!" So, I did. I can't say necessarily that the thought will stick, but it's a step in the right direction. 

I will say that I ate a morning, afternoon, and evening meal almost every day this week, which is definitely progress. Even though I was super stressed out this week (for family reasons as well as at least one stupid reason), I managed to keep the tapes down, and try to have a good time. It's getting to the point where the frequency with which I argue with myself about whether it's okay to not eat is going down. Rather, rationalization is still happening, but it's not winning as often as before. 

The other big thought I had this week was that if I treated my dog the way I treat myself, I would be arrested and charged with animal cruelty. Because of the way I have treated my body, certain things have happened in it, because my body doesn't trust me anymore. I need to rebuild the trust between my self and my body so that they can work together and not have to fight each other all of the time. So, just like I developed the habit of wearing makeup daily, even though it's sort of inconvenient and I have to plan extra time in my day in order to accomplish the whole makeup thing; I will develop the habit of eating regularly and training my body to be able to expect food at certain times of day. To a certain extent it has started happening, and I've been getting hungry sounds! (I don't know if you know this or not, but this is a total win.)

Finally, there was a section in my devotional this week on how it's kind of against Jewish law not to enjoy yourself. 
The Talmud teaches "In the future world, a [person] will have to give an accounting for everything good things [hir] eyes saw, but of which [ze] did not eat" (Palestinian Talmud, Kiddushin 4:12). 
Emphasis, and gender-neutral-pronouning mine. So, apparently, g-d doesn't like it when you torture yourself for the visual enjoyment of someone else. Instead, one should say "hey that looks yummy" and have some, unless it's already been forbidden by g-d through kosher/halal law, or allergies.

Anyway, more on this idea later in the week. Right now, I need to go have dinner!