To start off 2008, I would like to come clean about some things that have been weighing heavy on my heart behind the scenes here at Back in Skinny Jeans. Something that is very important to me is to walk my talk. I realize that it is not possible to be perfect in that all the time, but I try my hardest to always be consistent in what I say and what I do. To me this is integrity. Now that I have nieces, I am even more conscious of this because little kids are like echoes. They will repeat back to you what they hear and see from you. Kinda scary!
Over the next three days, I’m going to share more details about what has been happening in my life since August when Matt and I broke up, and it is important because it is very much related to the subject of weight loss and body image, and just how much our emotions have influence over our health. It is also important because it will also help me see the future of this blog. I'm taking a risk here, mostly emotionally. How you my readers respond to what I am about to share will have an impact on what I do next with Back in Skinny Jeans.
As a business, you my readers/customers are part of the process and what you think matters a great deal to me, and as par the course, I appreciate your honesty and truth. Much of this series is me revealing some things that are not pretty at all, painful, and in some ways filled with shame. I will keep the comments open, and you are all free to speak your minds, but I ask that you first read all three parts of this series before laying any judgments, and try to read with an open heart.
"That I Would Be Good"
Each part in the series is named after a song that reflects the essence of the post. “That I Would Be Good” is by Alanis Morrisette and it is a song about being loved despite imperfections. I felt like Alanis had a conversation with my soul when she wrote this song. Some of my favorite lines in the song:
That I would
be good even if I got the thumbs down…
That I would be fine even if I went bankrupt…
That I would be loved even when I numb myself
That I would be good even when I am overwhelmed
I’m also writing this series under the advisement of my doctor and therapist, and with the support of my parents. They all told me
that writing about this stuff on my blog would actually be a good thing, and
one friend reminded me that one of my talents is my ability to tell sad,
painful stories in a way that always leaves people still feeling hope and
inspiration. My intent in opening myself like this too is to show others that
you can suffer major setbacks, fall down, and make mistakes yet still be
lovable, okay, and maybe even better off than you were before.
So, here we go…
After Matt and I broke up, I had a bulimia relapse.Yes, it’s a bombshell, and you can see why this has been weighing very heavy on my heart because here I am blogging about weight loss in a healthy manner, and behind the scenes I’m engaging in destructive behavior related to weight management and body image. Again, I please ask for your compassion, and let me finish telling you the whole story before you pass judgment on me. When I’m done, then you are free to let me have it, walk away from this blog, or hug me.
Am I afraid that I will lose readers and their respect? Absolutely! But what I fear more is not being consistent. I said that I would share the messy middle part of my “success story” and not just focus on the good stuff. So here in its un-pretty presence is some of the really ugly middle. Instead of trying to be perfect, I am being human. And as a human who has weaknesses and vulnerabilities, all I can do is acknowledge my mistakes, be accountable for my actions, and do what I need to do to move forward.
My 25 pound weight loss journey
For those of you following my 25 pound weight loss journey, you will remember I took a 5 week break because I said I couldn’t handle all the changes going on with my breakup. Well, one of those changes was me reverting back to my old bulimic ways to cope with the amount of stress I was under at the time. It’s no secret here on my blog that I have suffered from bulimia which has been a part of my life since I was 19 years old. I go through periods where I am fine, and then I go through periods where the bulimia comes back. Looking at my pattern, the bulimic behavior pops up when I’m either under an enormous amount of changes where I feel loss of control over my life, or when things are skyrocketing where I use the bulimia as a way to self sabotage. I have been in therapy and through medical assistance for years.
...Bulimia is not about food like rape is not about sex ...
I can assure you that my weight loss plan was not, "The Bulimia Diet." Did the bulimia have some impact? Of course it did, but my weight loss is not due to purging until I reached minus calorie expenditure for the day, abusing laxatives, or exercising obsessively. I tried a laxative once in my 20's and have stayed away from them because the pain was horrendous. My workout sessions have been mainly 65 minutes other than the long distance runs on Sundays training for my half marathon. I have genuinely being going to the gym 5 days a week, and have been eating as organic and healthy as I can. I have made lifestyle adjustments, and I have been seeing a doctor and therapist the whole time. During my Weigh-in Wed reports, I have focused more on exercise and my emotions because it was easier to do so. Talking about food was another story.
Bulimia though is not about food like rape is not about sex. It’s about power and control. Someone who is bulimic engages in that behavior as a means of power and control in her life because no matter what craziness is going around her, food and her body is the one thing that she always has control over. What is different between bulimics and anorexics is that you can’t hide anorexia but you can hide a bulimia problem for years. In fact, most bulimics are “perfect girls” who are typically no more than 15-20 pounds over or under their baseline weight. No one ever suspects, physically, that underneath that “put together” image is someone who is engaging in an eating disorder. Remember Princess Diana?
Breaking up with Matt was not the only thing that triggered my relapse. There was a combination of things that when complied together at the same time simply broke me. All of the changes going on made me feel like I was thrown off a boat and drowning in a sea of turbulence, and so in a fit of desperation I reverted back to the one thing that brought me familiarity and “comfort.” I don’t mean comfort in a healthy way, I mean comfort in the sense of that old saying, “It’s better to be in the comfort of the enemy you know instead of venturing out into the unknown.”
There were four things specifically that triggered my bulimia relapse.
Breaking up with Matt after being/living together for 3 years. I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. In my heart, Matt was my husband. I pictured us old in our rocking chairs laughing about the craziness of “the kids.” Matt did not have the same picture, and really emotionally “left” our relationship about a year before it officially ended. I was in denial about that for a long time, and instead of getting real about that I built more of my world around him, gave up speaking my truth to not make him mad at me, and I stopped being the person I was when we first started dating. I was trapped in fear and reverted to old painful habits like overeating and staying locked up in the house. Combined with floundering financially and not being able to create steady income like regular adults, this is what drove me to gain 25 pounds, trying to drown out my feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, and feeling unlovable.
I really believed that Matt and I could weather out the storms and end up in clear skies if we just waited. Things would turn. My folks have been married 43 years and I have seen them weather MANY storms, so I had proof that it works. But what I forgot was that my parents were on the same team. That was not my case. I was on the team by myself. This does not make Matt a bad person. He just has a different way of handling things, and he too is someone like me dealing with his own issues of pain and self love.
Finding a new apartment and moving. Moving is stressful for many people especially for those who are not big on change. This change was not something I wanted but was something thrust upon me. Matt didn’t kick me out of the house, in fact, he told me to take the time I needed. But me, I wanted to get the hell out of Dodge. It was way too painful to hang out there, and I just wanted to flee from the pain. I always pictured moving into a new place with Matt, and now I was faced with moving out on my own to be with myself.
On the third night alone in my place, half asleep, I remember turning over in my bed to kiss Matt good night only to find that he wasn’t there. For a brief moment I wondered where he was, and then it hit me that I was in a different place, in a different bed, alone. I had many nights like that. It’s like when a limb is cut off but the body still thinks it’s there and you sware you can still feel things from that limb. This is when I learned how much someone can live with you even though they are not physically around. Matt was and still is very much alive in my heart, and I can still feel him everywhere. I’m having to learn how to deal with this so I can move on to a new love.
...All I know is that I felt abandoned, not good enough, and in pain, lots of pain. ...
Before moving into this apartment, I had no steady income so I asked my parents to lease the place for me in their name. This was a very hard thing for me to do because I am a grown adult who should be able to support herself financially, but like I said before, I didn’t plan my income stream very well, and found myself in a pickle. At the time, I also had a new business partner who was going to help me make my media company dream come true. I told my folks that I needed to stay in Silicon Valley in order to get the business going. I was so close to getting funding and help that it would be better for me to stay close by. My folks live 80 miles away from the Valley across two bridges so that commute would just be too much. But mainly, being there triggers so many old wounds. I do have a very good relationship with my folks, but living in their house triggers too much stuff in me. So, I sucked up my pride and asked them to help me with paying my rent until I could land on my feet. I have never asked them for this kind of money before.
In a matter of 2-1/2 months, I had a business partner and then did not. That break up was far messier and painful than my breakup with Matt. The two of us are not even on speaking terms. My business partner was a friend whom I met at one of my last corporate jobs. I have known her for 8 years, and our relationship has seen extreme highs and extreme lows. Some of my other friends don’t understand how she and I had stayed friends that long given the history but this person and I, I’ll call her Jane (not her real name), had a great deal of understanding and some kind of karmic bond between each other because we experienced so many similar things in our past, and had so much in common. The best part was that we didn’t have to explain ourselves to each other because we “got” each other.
Over the years, we have worked on and off again professionally mainly through her marketing business. I respected Jane for her ability to be a self sufficient business woman who made a really good living for herself and her contractors. She believed in what I was doing with Back in Skinny Jeans and felt that there was so much potential. I shared with her the rest of my media company dreams and she got even more excited. I was going to make her the Publisher and a co-founder of my media company. I was going to be the Chief Storyteller (aka Editor) and Creative. It was a perfect match of skills and talents. The timing also came at the end of my relationship with Matt so I figured that God was ending one relationship in my life but replacing it with another. I felt some security that I was not totally alone.
Before the media company dream could come to light, I had to live and eat so I worked for Jane as a contractor as a New Media Specialist and writer. It was great money to help me pay the bills and earn some money to reinvest in my media company and get it growing. The plan was that I was going to do contract work until we could get the media company making enough revenue to support me financially first which was not a whole lot and then get Jane on board full time next. Her financial needs were greater than mine because she has children and a mortgage, which I totally understood. Me being single with virtually no debt means I don’t need much money to live which I was willing to sacrifice in order to get the business running. I won’t get into the gritty details, but let’s just say that things imploded in October. I was really shocked by what happened, and it hit me really hard. The breakup with Matt felt like the jab, and then the breakup with my business partner felt like the upper cut, and boom I was down for the count.
Mostly, I found myself with my media company dream shattered. In its current design, I cannot do this company by myself because I know my limitations. This partnership made me feel like I was Larry Page who found his Sergey Brin, or I was Paul Allen who found his Bill Gates. I want to be a business owner because I cannot thrive in Corporate America. So, today, I'm figuring out another way to make my dream come to blossom. Along with suffering a major setback in the "I have a dream" department, I lost a friendship in the process. Was the friendship worth saving? Let’s just say again, I found myself on the team by myself. At this point, I had no understanding of what was going on. All I know is that I felt abandoned, not good enough, and in pain, lots of pain.
The final stressor was that I turned 40 years old.
Part II continued tomorrow.