February 24, 2012

The consequence of unfunny kids and an absentee husband

Me. And a stuffed wolf carcass.
 So let's talk about me some more. (Sorry, you've no choice. My kids have been sick all week = not funny. Rob's been gone every night with one thing or another = legitimate, but really not funny. So that leaves...me. I'm sorry. Truly. But not enough to stop writing this.)

But what I've been thinking about all week is kind of serious - prepare yourself.

Well, before we go there, first prepare yourself for THIS:
I'm sorry if your screen is now cracked. Or your mind blown by the awesomeness of those white spandex.
Yes, I played basketball for a while (until everyone grew muscles and aggression and skills...and all I grew was taller). Then when it became too painful and awkward for someone who looked like THIS to warm the bench (admit it, the irony is quite glaring) I quit.

So I was tall, and I was kind of thin, but for reasons that had NOTHING to do with weight (at first), I started cutting my food intake senior year of high school. (And cue "serious" - I warned you.) I just wanted something I could control. And control it I did. When I started noticing the physical results, it became all about weight. And by the time I left for college at the end of the summer, I was eating as little as humanly possible and literally wasting away.

I cannot begin to explain to someone who's never gone through this the extent to which your thoughts are controlled by food. I stressed about breakfast - for eating that 1/8 serving of malt-o-meal, even though I knew I'd be too lightheaded to work as my job as a receptionist if I didn't. I stressed about the way my stomach wasn't totally flat because I had eaten breakfast. I stressed about the times I caved and ate four skittles from my cheat candy in the desk drawer at work. I stressed all morning about lunch - could I eat just the mini yogurt, or would I cave and buy something from the vending machine. I stressed during lunch - about the 60 calories that I ingested. I stressed that my stomach wasn't totally flat after drinking water to force my stomach to be full. I stressed some more about the four skittles I had eaten hours ago. I stressed about the impending dinner with my family - could I get out of it somehow or pretend to be sick again? I stressed as I dipped a piece of lettuce in dressing. 5 calories I didn't need. Another 5 calories I didn't need. I stressed after dinner because I had failed myself and eaten some food. Food I didn't need. Food I didn't want. I stressed because I was still hungry and everything in my body was telling me to ransack the cupboards because I had already blown it by eating dinner in the first place.

I was not living that last summer - I had no real focus other than food. Family, friends and boyfriends felt like things that got in the way of me being able to control my food intake. Hobbies were merely distractions to keep my mind off eating.

Then came college...and a yo-yo of eating issues - I'd starve myself for a month, eat like crazy for two, starve myself for another, talk to an on-campus therapist for two...it went on and on.

It wasn't until the first year of marriage that I could take a step back and analyze my life. Here was my husband, a man who saw me at my skinniest (who also, funnily enough, announced "I'm going to marry that girl" the first time he saw me walk by), who still loved me "normal-sized." (Actually it was probably more along the lines of me thinking, "He is so totally trapped now. I can eat a hearty dinner! [look of awe] I can eat pizza! [eyes of excitement] I don't have to exercise like a crazy person! [gasp of wonder] Yes...so. completely. trapped. [evil laugh]")

I also began to recognize some of my triggers: fashion magazines, diets of any kind, televised runway shows or pageants, friendships with other weight-obsessed women.

I also began to take action against events that would have previously trapped me: vacations involving swimsuits, miscarriages, modeling scouts. [Okay, I did initially fail that last one - I knew I was treading on dangerous ground when I said "yes" when I was invited to a casting call, when I sashayed down the runway (to Right Said Fred, of all things, if I remember correctly), when I was called in and graciously offered a contract as a PLUS SIZE MODEL. (I am all for plus sized models, mind you - it was just the irony of the offer to someone who'd previously been dying to be thin.) That is when I came to my senses and embraced my size 6-8 self. And maybe cried for a day. And maybe remembered just how unphotogenic I usually am. (Yeah. Go ahead and click it. You know you're curious.) And probably went home and said "Take that, you model scouts" while shaking a raised fist that was clutching some form of Little Debbie snack.]
I'm a little offtrack here.

But this week it has occurred to me that the battle is over - I can eat my mom's cooking like a Hoover vacuum during Christmas and then vow to eat like a normal person when I return...and I can do it. And do it without the fear of triggering something akin to an avalanche, where I cut out desserts...and then breads...and then breakfasts...and then food altogether.

I can eat healthy (yay whole wheat flour and flax seeds!) and in moderation, yet when I succumb to the sweet, sweet temptation of (multiple) Valentine candy bags from Rob, I don't punish my body by depriving it of food for two, three, four days. I may glare and bare my chocolate-lined teeth at Rob, but I'll still eat normally the next day...although probably skip desserts. (Meh, who am I kidding - I'll probably skip only one.)

I can occasionally feast (while in my swimsuit, no less) on a delectable mountain of smoked deliciousness (otherwise known as "pork shoulder" or "ribs") my brothers-in-law prepare at the lakehouse during the summer and still remain in public in my suit. Now I may suck in my gut afterwards in an effort to avoid furtive "Is she pregnant?" stares as I get in the pool, but realistically, that's for everyone's benefit.

So this revelation took me an enormously long time to write out. Although chances are you're probably not still reading (possibly out of sheer boredom...probably due to a cracked computer screen...), I still feel the compulsive need to apologize for its length. But I won't. Because I discovered I'm "normal" again. And I'm pretty jazzed about it, as random and as seriously serious as this post is.

Yay me. :)

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