jump to navigation

Acceptable. February 28, 2008

Posted by Jae in Aimless Conversation, Body Image.
Tags: ,

This morning I weighed myself and found that I was three pounds above what I thought my set point would be.  I didn’t freak out.  I didn’t skip breakfast.  I didn’t run myself ragged on the treadmill.  But I did feel just a little disappointed.

And I hate that I did.  I want to be okay with the number on the scale.  I want to be so okay with it that I don’t even bother to check it.  The problem is that I still can’t shake the idea that there is a certain point where, for me, weight gain will cease to be acceptable.  At my highest weight, I wasn’t treating my body well.  I ate mostly junk food, and since I was always about to start another diet, I often binged because I believed every time I did it would truly be the last time.  And I never exercised.  When I decided to give up my dieting and disordered eating, I knew I would probably gain some weight and I accepted that.  Now though…now I’m only 25 pounds away from my highest weight and I’m afraid that I might end up back there, and as much as I hate to admit it, I don’t want to.

I don’t have very many good memories from that time in my life; I was anxious, unsure, and I hated myself.  I know in reality that those things were not caused by my weight, on some level I think I knew that back then, but it was so much easier to blame my fat hips than to face my real problems.  And even though I’ve grown so much since then, somehow, looking at the scale, I feel as though I’m just 25 pounds away from being that same scared, self-loathing, little girl.

Logic tells me that I’m wrong, that those things had nothing to do with my body.  At my heaviest I imagined that a size 14 would be all I would need to be totally content with myself and with my life, but the truth was that I hated myself just as much once I got there.  I never enjoyed that size 14 body; I called it hideous and disgusting on an hourly basis.  If anything, I’m happier with myself and my life now at a size 18, than I’ve ever been in my life.  But somehow it still feels unacceptable to go back.

I know that this is all part of the struggle and that I will eventually get to a place where I feel secure enough to know that all the things I love won’t slip away if I have to go up a jeans size, but until then?  How do you trust in something you can’t even imagine?


I’m Going to Harm Myself February 20, 2008

Posted by Jae in Uncategorized.
Tags: , , ,
1 comment so far

Someone found my blog today using this as the search term, and I just wanted to make a little post and say, whoever you are, if you are still reading this, please don’t.  I won’t insult you with platitudes about life, but I will say that it is worth living. 

Please reach out to someone, whether that person is a trusted friend or family member or a helpline such as 1-800-SUICIDE; they are out there and they want to help.  It’s cliche to say this, but it is so true: suicide is a permenant solution to a temporary problem.

I wish you all the health and happiness in the world.  You will be in my thoughts.

And as an aside, anyone who finds this post at some later date by googling it, the same things apply to you too.

No Free Lunch. February 13, 2008

Posted by Jae in Body Image, Jobz.
Tags: , , ,

In the past few months I’ve read a lot of horror stories about people whose offices joined the cult of Weight Watchers or started their own version of The Biggest Loser, and I’ve silently thanked God that my office was too disinterested in group activities to ever launch such a thing.  I can only imagine that the pressure to join would be enormous, and it probably makes work a very unpleasant place to be for those who have openly snubbed the idea.  I was never sure how I would handle that kind of thing.

Then yesterday my boss announced that he was considering signing us up with a service that would provide us with a healthy lunch every day.  From a company whose primary function is to produce meals for dieters. 

On the surface, this might seem like a kind gesture, and I suppose in a way it is.  We’re a small company and the perks are not what they would be if we worked in a larger firm, so it’s nice that we’re trying to do something for the employees, however the origin of the meals makes me wonder what exactly we are trying to do.

For you see, without giving away too much about the company, I work for a publisher that works heavily with diet and fitness books.  Thankfully, this isn’t my area (I work in an off-shoot company dealing with other matters), so I don’t have to deal with it on a daily basis, but the idea that we should live by the rules of our products kind of hovers in the background; in fact, as my boss made this annoucement he espoused the virtues of dieting.  So while you could look at this offer of a free lunch as nothing more than a kind gesture, given our parentage and the fact that the healthy meal came with a sticker attached boasting that it only contained 250 calories…it seems that this grilled chicken with lemon sauce and spinach comes with a heaping, cold, dish of morality.

Because if you choose to bring or buy your own lunch, you are saying that, in some way, what is provided is not enough for you.  And while for some people I’m sure that might not be a big deal, for me the implications are tremendous.  Coming off a lifetime of not trusting my body to tell me what it needs, a thing like this looks like another little message that we are all wrong.  Personally, I can not survive on a 250 calorie lunch; I’ve tried that for most of my life and it left me tired and cranky.  But this nicely packaged little box tells me that, in fact, this is really all I need and holds up my participating coworkers as proof, and this sends a message, no matter how subtle, that if you aren’t satisfied with this prepared “healthy” meal, than you are doing something unhealthy.  And my boss already feels it is part of his job to promote the health of his employees…aren’t we on a slippery slope to even more involvement in our personal lives?  Today our lunches, tomorrow our choice of birth control?

It’s probably not going to be that serious, at least I hope it isn’t, but things like this always get me to thinking.  I’m big on personal freedom.  I get nervous when I feel like parts of it are being taken away, and this is often how it begins; give someone a little say in how you live your life, and chances are they are only going to want more.  And in today’s work climate, where employers are given the impression that they have the right to manipulate their employees lives for their benefit and employees are often told they should deal because they are lucky to have a job, giving even an inch seems like a mile.

Conversations with my fourteen-year-old self. February 12, 2008

Posted by Jae in Me, myself, and I.
Tags: , , , , ,
add a comment

There’s been lots of talk around the fatosphere in the past couple of days about what you would tell your fourteen-year-old self if you had the chance.  Though I left a brief comment at Shapely Prose about it, I couldn’t resist expanding it into a post of it’s own.

Dear Fourteen-year-old Jae,

–Right now you’re pretty miserable, and I’m sorry to say you’re going to be miserable for another few years.  It has nothing to do with you; you just weren’t cut out for high school nonsense.  The important thing to keep in mind is that it isn’t going to last forever.  In college the clouds will start to break and by the time you’re in your twenties you will be a much more together woman.  Just know that you’re not crazy; you’re just different in an awesome sort of way.

–You won’t speak to D again after this year, thank God, but it’s only then that you will start to deal with what she did to you.  You know that it isn’t your fault.  She’s a sick person and though she will get away with torturing you for a big chunk of your life, she does not win.

–There’s going to be a day in a few years when your sister will disappear for a few hours and no one will be able to find her.  She’s okay, but she is up to no good.  Don’t let the subject drop.

–Speaking of letting things drop, don’t let your best friend  talk you out of telling her mother about her anorexia.  She’s never going to have a healthy relationship with food or her body, and she’s going to develop bulimia later on.  You can’t save her, you really can’t, but this is the best chance she has.

–Stop dabbling in your own eating disorders.  It won’t make you thin; it will just make you sick and depressed.  Instead go and buy a book on intuitive eating, and don’t be afraid to exercise; you’ll like it and I promise, you won’t hurt yourself.

–Guys are not the yardstick by which you should measure your self worth; it really doesn’t matter how many boys you kiss or how old you are when you first have sex.  A boyfriend is not the magical pill which cures all insecurities, so you’re really not going to be “broken” until you find one because you aren’t broken to begin with.

–Let’s repeat that: You are not broken.

–While we’re talking about boys…you’ll meet a special one at twenty, but he isn’t ready for you yet and he may never be, but you will be awesome friends.  Don’t believe the lies in your head that tell you he doesn’t love you because you aren’t good enough.  You’ll meet another one later that year…don’t run away because you’re scared.  You’ll always regret it if you do and you’ll always wish you had another chance.

–Do an internship in college.  I know it’s going to mean you’ll have to quit your job and/or work your ass off, but it will be worth it.

–Dad has bigger problems than you know.  I won’t tell you what they are, you’ll only be tempted to try and fix them and you can’t, but know that he doesn’t hate you; he just doesn’t really know how to love you.  Show him you love him and try and get mom to talk him into getting help.

–Grandma is going to die in just three years.  You’ll know it’s coming, but it won’t make you miss her any less.  Take pictures with her.  Spend all the time you can with her.  Do the same for grandpa.  You’ll have him for another six years, but it will go by in a flash.

–You and L will stop being friends in about a year and a half, but you’ll find your way back together.  It’s probably necessarry for you to do this, but she isn’t healthy for you.  You’ll love her inspite of the fucked up things she does, but until she works out her issues the friendship isn’t going to work well, and it will fall apart again. 

–The most important thing to remember: you are a worthwhile human being.  When others try to treat you as less than, don’t let them get away with it, but even more importantly don’t let yourself get away with it either.

Life Without a Man: Worthless. February 11, 2008

Posted by Jae in Hearts & Butterflies & Cupcakes, Stupid News.
Tags: , , ,

Every now and then, I wonder if I should start dating. In my life I’ve had a few romantic entanglements, but certainly nothing like you’d see in the movies…unless the movies you go to feature mostly awkward twosomes who end their dates with a handshake, and I enjoy the tingly feeling that comes along with a crush and the shameless flirting and the blushing like a twelve-year-old, but for a multitude of reasons relationships and I remain mostly at odds. Sure, I get a little lonely every now and then. I browse dating sites or chit-chat with the cute, curly-haired guy who works in the building next door, and I wonder if I’m not missing out on something.

Because honestly, I spent most of my teenage years obsessing over the idea of a Boyfriend, someone who would swoop into my life and erase my own personal drama and make me feel normal. He would not just provide love and support, but he’d fix all my problems: I would not only be comfortable with my body, but once he was around it would transform into the kind of body I fantasized about. He would make me confident and out-going. He would make it so I never had another sad, empty moment so long as I lived.

And then I grew up. I realized that a partner is not the magic cure-all for life’s miseries. It’s someone to share your life with, the miseries and the joys, the movies and the concerts, the take-out and the funny stories. It’s someone to take out the garbage because they know you hate doing it. It’s someone to run out and get you Nyquil when you’ve got the flu. It’s someone who is going to forgive you for the nasty, sarcastic things you say when you’re fighting. It’s someone who is going to expect the same in return from you. It’s someone who you actually won’t mind returning the favor for. It something pretty special to find that person, and something that seems worth waiting for.

Apparently though, according to Lori Gottlieb, I’ve got it wrong again. For those of you playing the home game who can’t stomach the idea of finishing the article I’ll sum it up for you: Ladies, especially those over 30 (but you gals in your 20’s should probably pay attention too), settle and settle now. Find the nearest man you can and marry him, even if he bores you (because married people don’t talk anyway) or he repulses you (because we all know unless the little woman is ovulating, there is no sex inside marriage) or you suspect he’s gay, because if you don’t you will die old and alone, and you’ll be sorry. And if you don’t already know that you’ll be sorry you are in denial or a great big Pinocchio.

When I read this my head nearly exploded, not just because it’s utter bullshit, but because it is utter bullshit that could seriously push a gal on the brink over the edge*. Like I said, I’m single and while I don’t love it, I don’t hate it either. I am genuinely happy. I have great friends and a great family. I love my apartment, especially now that the decorating thing is finally coming together. I have a job that well…that’s probably the one area marked “needs improvement,” but even at that, it isn’t a bad situation; I’ve got great friends there and it leaves me with a lot of free-time. For the first time in my life, I actually working on not hating the holy hell out of my body, so sometimes I even feel a little confident. And even when I don’t, I’m finally not a neurotic teenager, so I’ve learned how to handle it. I wouldn’t trade all this for a boyfriend, capital B or otherwise.

But a couple of years ago I didn’t think any of this was possible if I didn’t have a steady Friday night date, and I’m sure I wasn’t alone. In fact, a former friend of mine has spent the past four years chasing after a guy who was a few grand gestures and not much else because she doesn’t want to be alone, and she’s been nothing but miserable the entire time. She’s tried settling down with other guys, something which I imagine Gottlieb would encourage her to try, but it never lasts because she still feels empty. The hole that’s inside her, that’s inside so many people, will never be filled by another human being. The only prayer anyone ever has of filling it is to do it themselves.

That’s what I’m trying to do, and so far it’s working a lot better than any half-hearted relationship. I’m exploring my hobbies. I’m having fun nights out with friends. I’m enjoying sleeping in the middle of the bed and not sharing the covers. I’m doing all my own home improvement and feeling like a kick-ass woman. In short, I’m living my life. And if that special someone wanders in…fantastic. But if not, I probably will be too busy planning a trip with my best friend to notice.

*Nevermind the fact that this Gottlieb seems oblivious to the fact that there are a great many women out there who never, ever want children; that’s an insulting assumption for another post. I suppose she would say that they, like women who claim not to care about being married, are in denial.

Loserish. February 4, 2008

Posted by Jae in Aimless Conversation.

So if you’re reading this blog, you can see I’ve been gone for awhile. Where did I go? Nowhere really, just away from blogging. The real reason is probably that I feel like I’ve got nothing interesting to say. I read so many wonderful blogs that make me put on my thinking cap, shed tears of joy, anger, and frustration, and make me laugh ‘til I cry, that I wonder why the blogosphere needs one more voice…especially if that voice isn’t anything special.

Because in spite of being a part of a generation that is frequently painted as a very self-important bunch, I’ve never felt that way. I’m really no different and no better than most people. I’m not the smartest or the most talented. I’m not the prettiest or the friendliest. I’m not the most hard-working or ambitious. I’m just little ol’ go-about-your-business-there’s-nothing-to-see-here me. And while I suppose this makes me down-to-earth, sometimes I wonder if it also isn’t biting me in the ass.

If you don’t see yourself as anything special, you can convince yourself there isn’t much point in anything. If I’m not the most cutting-edge, the most thought-provoking, why bother to blog? If I’m not the smartest or the most ambitious, why try out for that promotion? If I’m not the prettiest or the most socially adept, why bother to smile at the cute guy who works next door? It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Once you’ve convinced yourself that you’re a nondescript human being, that’s exactly what you become; it becomes meaningless to do anything above surviving.

And that was me for a long time. Hell, if I’m being honest, it’s me right now if I don’t fight those urges. Once I decided to stop dieting and started trying to accept my body I felt like part of me came alive. For the first time I considered myself to be worthwhile just the way I was. I didn’t need to be the best anything; I was good enough simply the way I was. And I was floating on fucking air; every step was a joy. My mistake was expecting that effortless sense of well-being to last without any coaching from me.

These past few months I’ve done a lot of fighting, with myself and with others, to figure out what I was worth. I’ve met with resistance from the nasty voices in my head, and from a person I loved. One of my best friends and I came to blows over her vision of who I was, and she said some terrible things. When I stood up for myself and told her that I couldn’t have her in my life if she believed those things, if she would only love me if I lived my life her way, she told me she hated the person who I have become. Of course it hurt me, and knocked me off my feet. It made me wonder if I am indeed doing the right thing or if in trying to accept (and even love) not just my body, but myself, I am somehow settling for less. Because life is supposed to be about growth and change and becoming the best person you can possibly be…or at least, that’s what I’ve always been lead to believe: that somewhere out there, if I just did everything right, I would find a better version of myself.

But then I realized, that’s the same dream I’ve been chasing my whole life. Being thinner, being more organized, being more ambitious at work, more vocal at school, more bubbly at parties…those were the keys to transforming myself into the better me and making sure the loser me never saw the light of day again. The problem though, was that once I let go of being the better me I never bothered to truly tell myself that there never was a loser me.

I’m saying it now though: there is no loser me. I may not be the best anything, but I’m me and I am pretty damn awesome. And while saying it doesn’t change anything, it is a start. Once the truth is out there, it is hard to run away from it.