I do not like being the center of attention. I feel uncomfortable if I have to walk in front of a crowd because I am sure that people are judging me or I will trip or something else will happen where I will look silly or stupid. When I was in my 20s I was thin (of course I thought I was fat) and tall and blond. When I walked into a room people would notice. I was either oblivious to it or thought they were staring for some other reason, like I had, with out knowing it, grown a third eye. The flip side of this coin was I craved attention. I wanted to be loved and adored. The problem was, I didn’t love and adore myself, which even though I have a ways to go, I am working on it, I do like who I am and love many things about myself.
Now it is no surprise to me that I have been anorexic and now I am fat, both of which have been described as “wanting to disappear” or in my words, not wanting to be seen. When I start losing weight and people start to notice it makes me uncomfortable, but once when I lost 60 pounds, my brother said nothing. I asked him later why he never said anything and he said I was his sister and he didn’t notice things like that with me. Interestingly enough, he has taken my husband aside and said he was worried about my health regarding my weight. In his defense, my mother died of a sudden heart attack at the age of 51.
I saw a picture that someone posted of me recently and I can’t believe how big I look – body dismorphia is something I have had my whole life, or at least since I was 7. When I was at my lowest weight I was considered 25 pounds underweight and I still thought I had to lose 20 pounds. Some of this comes from the media (when I was growing up, a model that I admired who was my height, weighed what I saw as my ideal weight, which was 20 pounds less than my lowest weight), family, and society. I often think if I wasn’t raised in Southern California, would I have a different idea of how it should be? It was suggested that I post a sticky on my mirror that says, “I accept myself unconditionally, right now”. Because of this poor body image I have trouble looking in the mirror, so I have made it a point to post that note and to say it everyday.
I am reading 3 books right now about food and weight and health. What I realized the other day is that they each address a different aspect of my dilemma: mind, body and spirit. There is overlap between the mind and spirit but overall, they really break down that way. These are the books and what I have gotten from each of them so far:
Mind/Body: How to Make Almost Any Diet Work: Repair Your DIsordered Appetite and Finally
Lose Weight by Anne Katherine
What this book is saying to me is that I don’t have an eating disorder but I have a disordered appetite which is different in the way I eat and how the reasons differ from person to person. She says that disordered appetite is not your fault, that it was a way to survive and that we were not given other tools. She says diets don’t work, and that there is no one way for every one to eat. Everyone needs to listen and pay attention to what their body is telling them and adjust what they eat to how they feel. She is very compassionate and I like that and she also says she knows that we all want the magic bullet and there isn’t one.
Body: It Starts With Food: Discover the Whole 30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways
by Dallas & Melissa Hartwig
This book is filled with great facts about how our food source has been altered so that we have gotten hooked on certain things, and our brain chemistry has been altered to make us want more. There is a resource section that gives the research findings as well for the academics who want to question the validity. It says that most people have physical ailments that are due to a systemic inflammation caused by many of the foods we eat.
Spirit: Eating in the Light of the Moon: How Women Can Transform Their Relationships with Food
Through Myths, Metaphors & Storytelling by Anita Johnston, PhD.
This one really spoke to me. In the preface the author talks about her practice of working with women with eating disorders and she said that there was no consistency in their background but she did find a commonality. Here is a portion of her preface:
“The common thread seemed to be a pervasive sense of not quite fitting in, of not quite seeing things the way others did, of being a ‘misfit’.
I learned that as very young girls, these women were bright and gifted and had exceptional ability to perceive subtle realities. More often than not, a woman who struggled with disordered eating was once a girl who saw the invisible, who read between the lines, who sensed when things were not right. She noticed when people said one thing and did another. She could discern certain patterns of behavior and anticipate what was to come next. She knew when someone was being insincere or dishonest.
Her family, for one reason or another, did not appreciate her gift. They did not want to be confronted with discrepancies in their behavior or to address what seemed to be odd concerns or avant-garde ideas. They did not want to deal with her ultra-sensitivity to emotional undercurrents… Since this child’s survival depended on fitting into the family, she had to find a way to dim her light so her parents wouldn’t be overwhelmed, so her brothers and sisters wouldn’t feel jealous and reject her… She collaborated with the other family members by taking a position that something was wrong with her perception, that something was wrong with her.”