Saturday, October 20, 2012

Focusing on the argument...

I've learned that I can dictate to myself from my new iPhone and so write these blog entries with more ease and efficiency.

I like this process of dialoguing with myself out loud. For some reason talking to myself keeps me more honest; I don't censor my words as I do when I'm typing them.

I'm trying to wrap my arms around myself these days and give myself a big hug. I'm struggling. I'm struggling both hug myself-to give myself the love and encouragement that I know is necessary- and I'm struggling to give myself this hug because I'm struggling in this journey of food and exercise and body and weight loss.

While meditating on how I could better love my body earlier this week, I was guided to focus on the argument instead of on the outcome.

For my whole life I've equated loving my body without a certain size are certain weight. In actuality, even when I've reached those numbers I have not loved my body any more. This spiritual guidance I've received this week is challenging me to think about the argument-the process and the day-to-day living in this body. Loving my body is not about focusing on what my body could be but is about focusing on what my body already is and loving that. I'm struggling with the actualization of this concept.

I'm really good at putting myself down. At cracking those snide tight pants jokes and making the flippant fat girl comments-these are all self-directed, of course. I'm really good at looking in my body and thinking about what it isn't:
  • It isn't slim.
  • It isn't toned.
  • It isn't healthy.
  • It isn't beautiful.
  • It isn't attractive.
This commentary (while I third-person other it toward my body) is really directed toward my self. And it's soul-crushing. I know this, so why not stop?

Because it's taken me years to get here. I remember participating in this commentary when I was just a little girl-perhaps 10 years old.

 The process of redefining dialogue with my body is 20 years in the undoing. That's significant.   However, despite the daunting task of focusing on the arguments and redefining my process with my body, I find myself at a juncture where it's imperative to do so. My inert recovering bulimic identity has been jostled out of hibernation with the stress of the summer. And, unfortunately she's reappeared with all of her (very active) bulimic beliefs and coping mechanisms.

I don't want to be bulimic.

So, while I have to focus on my behaviors (eating habits, exercise), At this point I must also focus on my mind and my heart. I have to work on being kind to myself- to wrap myself up in that self-appreciative hug and hold on tight because 20 years from now, I want to be consistently thinking about (and believing) all the great things my body and I embody- strength, beauty, and gentleness. Happy and healthy.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

An embodied love letter

My dearest body,

I never promised you that this would be easy, but I didn't realize that it would be this difficult. This time that I need to invest in you exhausts me. I sometimes want to give up on you-just forget that you need the amount of care that you do.

It's even down to the little things- like remembering to bring tennis shoes so you can work out with your trainer. I didn't do that today. Now, you have to explain to your trainer why you're missing your appointment. You already feel guilty about this. And I? All I can do is shake my head and say "I'm sorry that I forgot again." Tell you that I'm trying but that I don't know how to make this any better because I feel pulled in 101 ways every day. I know that it effects you.

See, I see you tossing and turning in your sleep. I watch you rubbing your neck and shoulders. I feel you wrestling with the desire to eat that piece of chocolate or drink that glass of wine. I accompany you when you're pacing outside-walking around the block when you cannot contain your stress at work. I witness the tension rising with the tears behind your eyes. I know that all of this effects you.

I'm still not sure what I can do differently. I am trying the best I can. On the days that I don't wake up in time I still buy you breakfast- even though the cost of doing so is eating me alive. I still feed you. I take my vitamins and drink water. I read and attempt to relax. I try to sleep for you.

I motivate myself to walk around the block, and to walk around the pond, and-like last night-to go out for a run. I like it when we run together. I feel connected to you then.

All this to say that I guess I'm apologizing for not being perfect (which is really no apology at all because none of us are perfect). But I do want you to know that I care about you and that I'm trying. I really am trying. And I'm listening. So keep telling me that you're stressed, keep telling me that you're tired, and keep telling me what you need. I will listen to you. And, I'll do the best that I can to take care of you because I love you.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Coming out femme

You know those days when it's absolutely necessary that you wear the sexy undies,paint your lips crimson, pull on the heels, or wear the sparkly jewelry? That'swhere I'm at today.

Today is National Coming OutDay (NCAD)- a day during which gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer folks around theglobe have the opportunity to shout out loud about their identities. It's a dayfor those of us who can come out safely to do so in social and politicalprotest- to be a voice for those who cannot. It's a day for those of us whocannot come out to see that there others like us. It's a day for our straightand cis-gendered allies to come out with their love and support.

This coming out day, I'mthinking about identity. In the spring of 2001 I began coming out (and by that Imean I began making out with girls at theater cast parties). By December of 2001 I'd told my mother. By February of 2002 my father and brother also knew.At that point, I came out as a lesbian although today I identify as queer.

Today, I'm thinking less aboutmy queer identity and more about my queer femme identity.

My progress on Weight Watchers this week has beenminimal. I'm tracking as best as I can, and trying not to give myself too muchgrief about it. I'm not losing weight so far this week. I know that this is aprocess and yet today is one of those days when the femme in me desperatelywishes that all those pretty dresses and skirts that I have in my closet fitlike a glove instead of like a straitjacket (or not at all as the case is with many of them). I wish I could twirl in the mirror and love every ounce of methat I see in my reflection. It's one of those days when I want to be taken outdancing or for a walk along the beach-completely femmed out and loving it.

In my rational brain, I know thatfemme doesn't equal thin. But in my feeling heart, I struggle not to equate thetwo. I question how I can hold my femme identity when I don't sit well in mybody. I worry that by not believing in my femme-self when the scales tipheavier and my curves are curvier (in all the "wrong" places ofcourse) that I cannot truly be "out" as a femme.  

Basically, I don't know how toalign my liberal queer, my femme, my "chubby kid", and myrecovering-bulimic identities. I get tangled up in media and history and"should" and "sexy" and fear.

What to do in the meantime?

Well, today, I've decided to comeout. While I haven't figured out all my femme-definitions and I don'tget to go on that date today, thismorning I pulled on the pencil skirt, purposefully chose my femme-undies, andpainted my lips crimson. Femme red.

Today, I'm coming out femme. Because she's there insideof me and wants to come out to play. Because I know there are other ladies likeme who are struggling with femme identity and body size. Because I do have thecapacity to use my voice. Because it is safe to do so. And, because I like myselfall femmed out.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

It's the small things...

So I joined Weight Watchers again on Saturday morning. It was an act of rebellion and of appreciation: a small step, a small victory, and a small "I believe in you, lady." 

Going back to Weight Watchers is about losing weight, yes, and it's about more than that. It's about investing time in myself. About believing that I'm worth the time to pour my own consciousness into; that my body, my heart, and my mind are good as they are *and* better when they're healthier. 

So, while I didn't love the leader on Saturday, I love that I went to meeting. And that I stayed. And that I'm going back. And that I'm in this journey once again. And that I'm already appreciating the small things. Like the run/walk I went for this weekend; the first in a month.

It was lovely.

Sunday afternoon was a gray, rainy day- the kind of reminds me of Berwick. I'd spent all afternoon cooking up garlic-ginger  fried rice with veggies and tofu (one of this week's meals- another small wonder), and I needed to stretch. So, I donned my gear and headed for the pond. Including a warm-up ten minutes and cool down of five, I was out for 50 minutes total.

According to the JP Pond's website, it's a 1.5 mile loop around the pond, so with my added distance to and from, it seems as though I did a 4.25 mile run/walk. My knee (left this time) felt it on Monday, so I need to take extra stretch precautions. Tonight, after dancing, I'll foam roll.

It was so good to get out- am looking forward to going again this afternoon. It's likely I'll  just walk today as my knee is still tender and there's dancing tonight and spin tomorrow. Oh, spin. How I've missed my midday dance party...

Other small things I'm appreciating so far this week? 

  • Making space for quality time with one of my favorite people
  • Sitting down to eat breakfast in my kitchen this morning- a *BIG* accomplishment for a weekday
  • Tracking my points for breakfast, lunch and today's snack (which is dark chocolate- another small appreciation!) 
  • Writing in this blog

So many good things. So many good small things.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A letter to you- and myself.

***Warning: This blog post purposefully uses the term "fat" throughout the writing. This is not intended to be pejorative but a reclamation of the term as I navigate my own dialogue with body and weight. If this language is a trigger for you, please be aware.

Dear fat girls,

Have you ever just wanted to disappear into yourself? Have you  second-guessed yourself and your body so much that you're not sure it's even yours anymore? Welcome to my summer.

I started off this summer in a wonderful way -going to the gym each day, eating thoughtfully even if not healthily, appreciating what my body could do as much as it looks, and generally being aware of my needs and wants.

And then life got in the way, as it often does. And, as the summer progressed, I found myself avoiding those things I'd instituted into my life that were for my *self*. And the weight that I'd gained overnight this spring when I was put on a new medication just kept increasing. Eventually, I found myself at a new number - one I haven't been at for 5 years.

And, while I've been acknowledging to myself that *I* am more than this new number, and acknowledging that life has gotten in the way, and forgiving myself all of that, I still feel shame. A person close to me noted just this week that I haven't been blogging. I admitted that it's because I'm ashamed of how I am right now - of my size and of my struggle. I feel vulnerable and it's uncomfortable to talk about that vulnerability publicly.

Yet over my years of blogging, I have been both proud of and found it helpful to talk publicly about these issues. There are far too few spaces in which we can truly talk about our bodies without being shamed (much less without feeling internalized shame and fat-phobia). There are far too few places where we can be vulnerable without fear of negative social, personal, or professional consequence.

For me, as a queer, femme woman, there is also an inherent tension  between my identity and the social expectation that my femme body be slim, curvy and, essentially, airbrushed. This leads to all sorts of discomfort in identity: If I'm not slim then am I femme? If I'm femme do I have to be slim? If my curves aren't hourglass, are they attractive? Should I care? If I don't feel comfortable in my body how do I embody my identity- the femininity of femme?

And then I get pulled down rabbit holes of questions and concerns- often becoming overwhelmed and ashamed. This summer reflected that pattern for me.

People don't often comment publicly on this blog. Instead they reach out to me privately via email or in person to tell me that they're struggling with the same issues I'm writing about. These people are my friends, my colleagues, and my family. I realize that by writing publicly about my struggles, that I am giving voice to those who cannot comment publicly. And yet I've still been afraid to do so this summer.

Yesterday I was forwarded  a video that's going viral about a news anchor who was "called out" on being fat by a viewer. She used that opportunity to make a public statement about the discrimination and bullying of fat people. While I appreciated her commentary on bullying, what resonated the most about the video was the moment where she asked that viewer if he truly thinks that she doesn't know she is overweight.

I wanted to simultaneously applaud and cry at that point because that's the story of my life. People assume that because you're overweight you don't know any better. Or, better yet, that you just don't try hard enough. They assume that you're lazy, that losing weight is easy physically and emotionally, and that if you don't you lose weight then you must not want it enough. But they don't know about your life, your history, or your body.

I have struggled with the weight of weight for all of my life. It gets easier over time and yet it's always difficult. As I find myself coming into this fall -once again overweight and struggling- I have to remember that this is a journey and for me it needs to be a public journey. I gain personal strength by acknowledging to myself and to my community the struggles that I navigate through each day. And, I draw strength from the encouragements I receive when I hear other people's challenges. I also hope that my blogging contributes to unraveling the silent shame that accompanies fat-phobia and sexism. And I hope if makes folks feel like they're not alone.

So, I'm picking up the pen again (so to speak) and as I move through this fall and you can expect to see more writing from me about identity, body, shame, pride, eating, and feeling. And, yes, I'll be talking about this process even when I feel vulnerable for all the fat girls (and guys) out there.