Tuesday, December 18, 2012

I Believe that Change is Possible.

I have had a hard time writing lately.   I think it’s because I have had so many thoughts going through my mind, and I haven’t been able to organize them into a coherent post on anything.   I’ve started and stopped several times, but end up walking away knowing that I have a lot to say, and frustrated by the block.

I’m hoping to break through that today.    So hang on….it's a personal story, and one I have wrestled with sharing, so read on at your own risk.   :)

Let me preface this by saying that I have a GREAT life.   I have a wonderful husband, great kids, and friends I can count on.   I laugh a lot, I have lots of love in my life, and a warm safe home to live in.   I grew up in a happy home with parents who loved me.   There was no abuse.   My parents are STILL married.   There wasn’t lots of crime where I grew up.   I have had, and continue to have….a GREAT LIFE.

But somewhere in this great life, I began to dislike myself so profoundly that I developed some pretty unhealthy ideas about what I had to be to be happy.   I somehow came to the belief that I had to be perfect in all I did, and if I couldn’t achieve that….I failed.   And when I inevitably failed, I began to be disappointed in myself, and when I became disappointed in myself, I began to hate those things about me that held me back, and when I began to hate those things that held me back, I began to try to find the reason I wasn’t perfect, and what I came up with was….I was fat.  

Easy enough.   There is a simple cure for being fat.   Don’t eat.   Exercise.   Hold on to control and you can do this.   Will power.  And in high school….I did.   I was thin.   I was successful, and I was TERRIFIED that people would find out how unhappy I was.

In college as a theatre major I worried about what I looked like on stage.   At this time, my weight dropped to its lowest point.   I existed on cigarettes, alcohol, and diet coke.  I got leads in plays.   I had boys interested in me.   I was, on the surface, successful.   But once again…TERRIFIED that people would learn the truth about me.    

This continued on through college, though grad school, and through my first marriage.   I would struggle with a few pounds here and there, and never dropped dangerously low in weight, but I was always either eating or not eating to deal with my fear of failing.    And when my marriage was falling apart, I ate.   I sought comfort IN food this time, and when my then husband told me he wasn’t attracted to me because I had put on a few pounds….I died inside.   I let my “fatness” get out of control…and for that I had lost my marriage.   Now…I know that there was  a LOT more going on at the time, but THIS is what I grabbed on to.   Failed marriage….weight gain…..I suck…..I’m undeserving, and ugly, and un-loveable, and fat.

Time moved on, and things regulated again.   I got married again, and this time…to the RIGHT person.   I had kids.   I was successful.   Life was good.   And then Andy got sick.   I held my child in my arms KNOWING something was wrong, and no one could find it….   I watched him struggle, and with that felt completely helpless…   That time was out of control.   I turned to food.   I ate for comfort to the point of making myself sick, I ate in the middle of the night at the hospital because I couldn’t sleep, and then to alleviate the feared gaining of weight, I eventually found a way to get rid of it by vomiting.  Hmmm…this was new.   And cathartic.    And POWERFUL.   It was also something I was terribly ashamed of…and something that became a dirty secret for me.  And sadly, at this time, the biggest frustration was that even with all of this was that I was gaining weight at a steady pace, not that I was endangering my health. 

I was 34, and for the first time I started to wonder if my thinking was out of whack when it came to my self image and food.  I sought out help, and they suggested I go to a hospital.   WHAT?   I didn’t have THAT kind of problem.   I didn’t have an eating disorder?   I just ate or didn’t eat because of what was going on in my life or to seek comfort….  I didn’t starve myself until my hair fell out.   I didn’t gorge myself on thousands of calories at a time….   I’m not an alcoholic, I don’t do drugs, I didn’t NEED to go to that hospital.  But I did go….

I went to that hospital.   Every day.   For a month.   And a few years later, I repeated this process again.  And guess what I found out.   That I am what an eating disorder looks like to a LOT of people.   Eating disorders aren’t always the very visably sick.   They root in your thinking and emotion, and sometimes the unseen is just as unhealthy.  Healthy is truly in the eye of the beholder. 

Why am I writing this now?   Unveiling my own skeleton in the closet?   I am not looking for sympathy, or hoping that people will send me accolades or support.   I am doing GREAT.   I am writing this because I have a daughter who is already talking weight, calories, and exercise.   She already feels the pressure at 10 years old to be perfect, and in my eyes she already is.   If we as a society don’t begin to embrace each other and our differences, both in mind, body, and spirit, we are going to create and entire generation that fights the battle I have fought, and have seen so MANY young girls fight…..and even lose.   It’s sad.  It breaks my heart, and I can tell you….it was a PAINFUL journey I would never wish upon another.

This world has proven itself to be painful enough a place to live sometimes, so let's try to find a way to live happy.   There's just not time for the pain we bring to ourselves because of expectations that are just not realistic.

So, with that, I have decided it’s time to speak out, and share what I know.  It’s time we begin to lift one another up instead of seeking out imperfections, and help each other AS HUMAN BEINGS to embrace what makes us unique and beautiful, instead of seeking out this elusive perfection that is never attainable.   So I am going to do this.   I am going to consciously look for the beauty in all that I meet, and do my best to treat everyone with kindness.   No judgement.   No expectations.   No need for perfections.  

I think about what a great world it will be for my children (and yours) if I can get more people on board.   And maybe understanding the intensity of the sickness can help us find the cure.

Share it.   Do it.   CHANGE IT!   Let's go!