In the midst of all my crimes, I feel lost

(or have I lost enough?)

Went out to my local karaoke bar on Friday night. Someone I used to date (long, long ago) was there, and I ran into two other people I’d trysted with previously.

It’s a small town, for such a big city.

My tendency to rush headlong into things means I have a lot of “exes” in the greater Portland area, throughout California, and all over the world. I get around, or did once. Both geographically and in the bedroom.

Only a few of these people were ever in a position to break my heart, but several of them hurt me. Most of them? I rush headlong, I get hurt. It’s sort of my thing.

Carrie Fisher once said “Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” Princess Leia is wise.

I don’t know how to feel truly alive if I’m not wrapped up in someone. Whether I’m chasing after someone or trying to keep them around, other people have always been my favorite way to get high. Maybe the reason I never got addicted to anything more intoxicating than cigarettes is that there’s no drug that can get me as high or as low as infatuation can.

I have discarded people, rather coldly, because they didn’t match up to my idealized picture of them. Some people I didn’t cut off soon enough, hoping they’d change. Others, I walked away from and tried not to look back. But I look back, harshly or longingly. Wallowing is also sort of my thing.

Lately I’m having all these revelations and realizations and re-realizations, and it’s exhausting. What do I do with all this hard-won knowledge? I can try to apologize to the people I’ve hurt, forgive the ones who’ve hurt me, and do better in the future. But my life is sort of a mess, and I’m lonely.

I picked up two women from the grocery store tonight and drove them to a party at their friends’ house. Only when we arrived did I realize that I kind of knew the people there, fellow cabbies, and I was invited to stay. I hung out for three hours in the middle of my shift, practicing being social. But I’m really nervous around people, knowing how I can be. I say strange things. Tonight I was mostly quiet because I know that I have a tendency to act crazy just so I won’t be invisible. I think too much. That is definitely my thing.

I feel a great imperative to be a better person than I was. I’m trying to figure out how. Addicts make amends and stop using their substance of choice. But how do you give up being mentally ill? I don’t know how to put down that particular bottle. And how do you ease your addiction to other humans without becoming a recluse?

Alcoholics make amends when they try to get better. I am not an alcoholic, but I am trying to get better. I wanted to make things right, if I could. Or at least get this weight off my chest, which is maybe selfish.

from an email…

All the bridges that you burn

come back one day to haunt you

One striking feature of borderline personality disorder– striking because it is so accurate for me– is described like this: “A pattern of intense and stormy relationships with family, friends, and loved ones, often veering from extreme closeness and love (idealization) to extreme dislike or anger (devaluation).”

I have cut people out of my life for slights that, looking back, may have been better responded to in a more measured way. When I got my diagnosis of BPD last year, it caused me to reexamine my harsh and unforgiving attitude about what I saw (at the time) as betrayal.

I managed to mitigate a lot of the disordered thinking that BPD lends itself to, even before my diagnosis, because I resolved some time ago not to be an asshole if I could avoid it. I knew that I could have monstrous mood swings and a lot of self-destructive behaviors. So I taught myself ways to be less of a jerk, and they worked, mostly.

But I know that I have that tendency to idealize people, to put my friends, family, and lovers on very high pedestals, and then feel betrayed and devastated when they fail to be everything I thought they were or could be to me. I have ruined friendships, pushed people away, and caused some very nice people to never want to be in a room with me again.

The struggle now is to separate rational, righteous indignation from… well, tantrums. To realize that my loved ones are, above all, human, and humans make mistakes. No one can be everything to anyone else, and my disorder makes me prone to try to suck the life and love out of people.

I am terrified of abandonment, terrified of being alone in the greater sense, but my disorder has made me act in ways that have caused people to get fed up and leave me. Over and over. It’s a vicious circle. Abandonment leads to greater fear. Fear leads to more abandonment.

I know that I am responsible for my own behavior. But last year I graduated, in my diagnoses, from “mild” to “serious.” Knowing that I have always been seriously mentally ill is both comforting and horrifying. Coupled with the bipolar II I was also diagnosed with (at least it’s the less severe form!) I know now that I have always been a fucking mess. And I think, considering everything, I’ve done a damned fine job of building myself into a decent, loving, caring person.

But reading through the list of the symptoms of my mental illness, I see my whole life, every relationship of every kind, all of it.

I wonder how I can change without losing myself. I wonder what the best version of myself actually is. I wonder when I’ll stop doubting my own feelings, because now I know that seeing life through the veil of my unstable emotions has warped almost every intense experience I’ve ever had.

And that’s a lot to process.

So many stories of where I’ve been

I am a writer. My experiences, almost when I’m experiencing them, become narratives. My life is a series of stories.

But I’m realizing that a lot of the stories I tell are needlessly tragic or dramatic, that every lost love either was the purest love or the greatest heartbreak or most damaging betrayal. I’ve been spinning and repeating these narratives about how I’ve never been seen, loved truly, or deeply desired and wanted for who I really am.

Part of healing will involve being more honest and less inclined to cast myself as the tragic heroine in all these stores of love gone wrong.

I want to know your feelings, I want to know your name

As I mentioned in my last post, a guy at work has caught my eye. More than that, it seems like he (or my idea of him, which might be horribly misinformed) has decided to occupy my mind, leaned back in a chair, put its feet up, and made itself very comfortable there. I would use the word “obsessed,” but that doesn’t really fit. There’s nothing scary about it, I’m not about to set fire to his car if he won’t get coffee with me. I won’t be leaving strange gifts on his doorstep or driving by his house repeatedly (especially because I don’t know what/if he drives or where he lives.) We have spoken twice or maybe three times ever. I have no real expectations– he’s not my prince charming, I don’t expect him to be the love of my life, he’s just a ridiculously attractive and compelling person whose image is stuck in my mental overhead projector, which coincidentally I seem to be unable to turn off. So, not obsessed. Occupied. He disappeared for a month and then he came back, and Holy Crap, I couldn’t breathe when he walked in the room. I couldn’t make eye contact. I couldn’t say hello.

The other day, I wound up alone with a woman I know to be one of his friends, and screwed up the courage to ask if he is married and/or gay. He is neither.

He is mountains cooler than I am. Loads, tons, lots cooler than I am. And this… ahem, THIS… is not about him.

This is about me.

But here’s the background: A little over a month ago, I was at Radio Cab waiting to get assigned a car for the night. This involves waiting in a room with every other lease driver who wants a cab. And lo, Alex (his name is not actually Alex) turned around from a distance of approximately six feet and smiled at me. Like, a 180 degree turn. Smiled. At. Me. While looking directly at me. And the rest of the world stopped and I mumbled something about not remembering his name, and he said “I’m Alex. You’re Kate, right?” And I died and said something incredibly stupid, because I am Kate and he knew that. And I’m sure that for the rest of our time together waiting for cabs I smiled like someone who has been pleasantly lobotomized while internally berating myself for completely losing my cool.

So then I went out and bought new pants and broke up with my boyfriend. One smile from Alex, and the fact that he knew my name when I’d forgotten his (he is so pretty that I almost forgot my own name, too, so I’m glad he knew it) made me want to be a better person. It made me want to become the best version of myself I can be. Not so that he’ll like/love me. But so that I won’t feel so damned unworthy of that potential love. Because this guy– whoa Nelly, this guy is out of my goddamned league. I have fucked-up teeth, I’m fat, and I’m somewhat unhinged. I’m clawing my way out of madness and suicidal depression. I can be selfish, I have a temper, and sometimes my feet smell really bad.

The mixture of elation and hope combined with such a crushing sense of unworthiness really did a number on me. So I’ve been thinking very hard about where that insecurity comes from and what I can do to fix it.

And part of trying to fix it is figuring out how in the fuck I’m supposed to date now that I know I have borderline personality disorder.

Because, let’s say Alex agrees to go to coffee with me. How do I avoid coming off like a complete freak? How do I avoid letting him know that I know more about him that I rightfully should? How do I hide the fact that I’ve been thinking about him far more than I’m comfortable with since the middle of April?

How would knowing those things not terrify him, even if he did initially think that I’m ridiculously attractive and compelling? Would it even be fair to enter into a friendship/makeoutship without letting him know that I’m a bit prone to fixations and also, y’know, clinically emotionally unstable? How the hell am I supposed to ask somebody out when I’m reasonably confident that the truth would cause any man with a decent sense of self-preservation to bolt?

Is the solution to be single for awhile? I can handle that, I think, except that Alex is already wedged there in my mind and I know I’ll kick myself if I don’t get up the nerve to ask him to hang out sometime.

Is the solution to seek out people who have some understanding of my sort of issues who might not be immediately deterred by my intensity? Because I really don’t want to get into another relationship based around mutual brokenness.

And how do you just stop thinking about someone? Especially when you are prone to fixations, when crushes are your version of heroin, when you know that you’d be a fool to not at least try.

Every day he doesn’t show up at work (he doesn’t show up very often) I feel both relieved and disappointed. When he’s there, I’m almost paralyzed. Some days I spend time trying to become brave so that if he’s there, I’ll be able to sidle over and talk to him. But he’s only there when I’ve finally accepted that he probably won’t be.

If he, for whatever reason, declined the opportunity to get to know me better, I know that I would be disappointed and feel like an idiot for awhile. But at least I would have asked. At least I’d know and I wouldn’t have to wonder anymore. It’s the uncertainty that bothers me. The knowledge that there are only a few reasons why someone would turn around, look right at me, and smiiiile, and most of those reasons are good.

But whatever the reasons, whatever the outcome, this isn’t about him. Not really.

It’s about trying to be less intimidated, less scared of failure. It’s about realizing that risks are necessary for rewards. I’ve spent too long doubting myself, and I am really making good progress and doing well, and… maybe this guy isn’t so far out of my league after all. I have limited myself so much because I haven’t taken the leaps of faith necessary to start writing a book, working on my dreams, recording my music. This feeling of not-good-enough is keeping me from singing in public, building my media empire, living my dreams, and… talking to this hot guy at work.

So regardless of whether anything comes of it or not, this crush has inspired me to confront some of the self-defeating thoughts and behaviors that have been holding me back, and that is an amazing accidental gift that this guy has given me. I really hope he’ll let me express my gratitude with hot, caffeinated beverages, and possibly smooches.

but there’s something waiting out there that says i’ve got to try

Desire slowly smoking

A lot has happened in the past few years. A lot has happened in the last several months.

I’m living back in Portland now, in a small, windowless bedroom that will be perfect for this summer because it will remain dark and cool on days when I need to sleep in for work that night. It’s a step in the right direction. I have landlords I seldom see and a downstairs roommate who is gone for long stretches of time, and whom I’ve yet to meet. It’s not ideal, but for now, it’s workable.

I’m single. I have friends and ways to stave off the loneliness, but it’s always weird for me when I’m not particularly pining for anyone and I don’t have a partner. I don’t know what to do with my energy if I’m not trying to make a relationship work or convince someone to love me.

There is this hot guy who also works for Radio Cab, and I’m trying to screw up the nerve to ask him out for coffee sometime. I feel like a teenaged girl around him, tripping over my feet and unable to speak or look him in the eye. It’s stupid and sort of wonderful. I found out a bit about him, and realized he’s like SUPER COOL and way out of my league, and that made me sort of… reevaluate. I made a decision.

I am going to get my life to a point where I feel proud of where I am, I’m going to get my body in a stronger and healthier condition, I’m going to seek treatment for my various psychiatric concerns, and I am going to become awesome enough that this guy would be a goddamned fool not to want to date me. And then, if he doesn’t want to date me, he’s a damned fool and not worth my time. Also, I’ll be awesome.

I’m well on my way.

I had dinner with an friend tonight, someone I had a brief relationship with a coupla years back. We hadn’t hung out in about a year because of stupid life stuff. He brought up our breakup in reference to something I’d said on this blog, wondering if it was something that had scarred me. I told him that it hadn’t, and in the process of thinking about WHY NOT, I realized something:

This past year-or-so has been so chaotic, so full of loss and madness and sadness and heartbreak and losing myself, that I really don’t have space in my head anymore to hold on to old hurts. Am I pissed off about a relationship that ended for the right reasons almost two years ago? No, I am not. I’m not mad at Chris, or Cody (who keeps apologizing for things I let go of months ago.) I no longer pine for a certain someone I pined after for years. I let it go. I had to. It was time.

C. Joybell C.

C. Joybell C.

I’m still shaky, still insecure and undecided, still mentally illish, still a bit fatter than I’d like to be. But I’m working, and I have a safe place to live, and I’m striving for better things. It’s not all great, some of it isn’t even good, but on the whole, I’m doing really well because I’m doing so much better than I was six months ago.

And for the moment, that’s enough to keep me going.

 

the curse and the blessing, they’re one and the same

Baby, it’s all such a treacherous game…

Worked a half-shift last night because I had a sudden, horrid, distracting migraine that made it so I couldn’t drive safely. Smoked a cigarette (even though I basically quit months ago) because there’s nothing better than a smoke to grant me 15 minutes of clarity so I can drive home. Which I did. And then I took the maximum number of sedatives and sleeping pills that I feel is prudent, and I’m still wide awake four hours after I arrived in my nice, safe, warm bedroom.

My therapist says that on the  nights I’m feeling crazy, I shouldn’t fight it so hard. So I’m not. I’m awake at almost six in the morning because… well, because I couldn’t sleep. And rather than lay there in the dwindling darkness, I thought I’d get up and attend to this here blarrg. Whilst sedated. Because I’m a goddamned daredevil.

My life has been on a definite upswing for the last two months. I’ve become something of a workaholic, when I can manage to drive safely. I’ve had two nights in a row now where I’ve left early because I was too ill or distracted to complete my shift. This is disappointing, but I still made a lot more money than I would have if I’d just stayed home. I’ve saved quite a bit of cash for the move I have to do in the next week. I still don’t know where I’m going. I’m excited and scared. Fortunately, if I can’t move into somewhere by next Saturday (when I have to be out of this place) I can afford to stay in a hotel for a few nights. Working 50 hours a week has its advantages.

Driving a cab is making me Zen in ways I never thought I could manage. My ability to go with the flow and remain calm even when there are somewhat stressful things going on is developing nicely. I’m not as nervous anymore. I’m generally suffused with the feeling that “I’ve got this.”  I seem to be good at my job. Let’s just hope I can keep it for awhile.

For those of you who don’t already know, I broke up with my boyfriend about a month ago. We’re still living together. We might keep living together, because we know we can stand each other and it’s a lot cheaper to rent a place together than to try to get places individually. I’ve looked at some places on my own, and it was not encouraging…

So my life, as always is in flux. But I’m doing okay. It’s nice to be able to handle stress and not, you know, die.

 

they don’t know my head is a mess

all of these lines across my face…

A couple times in the last week-or-so, a person has said said “I’ve been reading your blog, and it sounds like you’re doing a lot better.”

Well. No.

The last six months of my life have all been after. After that point in September when I realized that it seemed like a perfectly rational thing to just kill myself. So I called my mother, and I got some help, and… nothing really changed. Things got worse, for awhile. Am I better than I was when things were worse? Certainly I feel better, most of the time, than I did at the end of December when I walked  into the emergency room and told them I was thinking of killing myself, and could use some immediate assistance. I feel better than I did in early January, going back to that same hospital every day to sit in a room of strangers and try to just make it until 3:30 when I could go home and sleep or cry or whatever far away from hostile eyes.

But I haven’t really come around to the point where it doesn’t seem like a perfectly rational idea to kill myself if things don’t get drastically better soon. I said at the beginning of the year that if 2014 is as terrible as 2013 was, I don’t see the point in continuing.

It feels like a waste of resources. I am exhausted all the time. I am sick all the time, actually physically ill. The other night I vomited out the door of my cab between fares and still kept trying to work for another two hours. I know that sometimes we have to soldier on through bad days, but I have had so many bad days and so few very good ones that, in my darker moments, there just doesn’t seem to be any point. Other people have to take care of me because I can’t take care of myself. I’m awful to be around sometimes. I want it to stop.

What changed in September was that, for the first time, my suicidal thoughts weren’t out of sheer desperation. I certainly felt desperate and frantic, but there was this cool, calculated core of the thought underneath when it just made sense to give up. Not to make the pain stop, but to stop wasting time and energy trying to make this life work.

When my brother’s wife decided to shut me out last March, after we’d been best friends for almost three years, something broke in me. The way things disintegrated with my roommate D only reinforced my feelings of being unlovable and broken. I can’t hold a job. I have no energy. All my optimism comes in short-lived spurts, and that’s when I usually post to this blog. That’s the face I show. I try to insulate the people I care about from the worst of what I’m feeling.

I will whine and bitch about a stubbed toe, but I’ll bleed to death alone in the dark without making a peep, to be melodramatic about it. I hide my pain behind smaller pain. People assume that if I were really hurt, I’d say something, because when has Kate ever held back from expressing herself?

All the damned time. That’s when.

I am not in active crisis right now, at this moment. But things aren’t looking great. I have an amazing, funny, strong, understanding, incredibly patient partner. I have a new car and an awesome kid in my life. It’s spring, and we’re in the midst of a stretch of absolutely gorgeous days.

But it isn’t enough. None of it is enough. I feel like I’m decaying, corroding, stagnating.

I had a panic attack on the way to the grocery store today, and Jeremy had to bring me home. I am terrified of driving and constantly feel like I’m going to get into an accident, which is backed up by the fact that I got a ticket last week for making a dangerous left turn into oncoming traffic, and I was almost hit by a car.  But I scream at Jeremy whenever he makes a “mistake” when he drives and constantly criticize him. So I’m terrified of being a passenger, too.

On Saturday, Jeremy and I drove out into Mt. Hood National Forest and put 190 miles on the Civic in one afternoon. It was a great day. I only screamed at him a few times for not observing proper following distance or for making lane-changes that I thought were “indecisive.” When we weren’t around other cars, I was fine. I was in two serious car accidents in less than two years, remember. And lately, more than makes sense, I’m in constant fear of getting into another which, consequently, makes me a worse driver. I hate being in cars, much of the time, and I am a cab driver.

And if someone treated me the way I treat my boyfriend, I would have left them a long time ago. I dragged him into my therapy session the other day (since he drove me there) and my shrink said that it’s not my job to tell him how to react to my outbursts. This may be true, but I still find myself horrified by them. I don’t want to be that sort of person. And I don’t know how to stop, except by stopping to be any sort of living person at all.

I need to have a good summer. I will spend it in nature as much as possible. I will try to sing more, in all seasons, because it makes me happy. And keep holding on, as hard and as long as I can.

at the very last second, I can change direction

So we bought a car.

I don’t have pictures yet, because we drove it off the lot at 9pm, but it looks a lot like this:

02sema currenthonda  civicsi

 

It’s a 2002 Honda Civic SI. Decently low miles. Speedy as heck, if you drive it that way. I’m more conservative. Jeremy and I were both driving really shaky old cars– mine can be repaired, his is basically rolling scrap metal– and we’re gonna split this car. I get to commute in it, he can use it to drive Sadie around, and we can take road trips and go out driving without feeling like we’re gambling with our lives every time. Well, no more than anyone else on the road.

It’s such a weird feeling to walk into a dealership and drive away in a shiny, new (to us) car. We’ve talked about who gets it if we break up, how we’re gonna pay for it, and how everything I thought I knew about driving is apparently wrong. He wants to joyride on back roads. I’m thrilled that the brakes work and it has all its windows.

It’s both a good choice and a fun one. It’s a 5-speed, lightweight, easy to handle. It has a surprising amount of power. It all feels so terrifyingly adult.

This past week has, actually, brought that feeling up a lot, like I’m faking being a grownup. I made a real effort to hang out with Sadie this week, and Jeremy was thrilled by how engaged I was. I cooked dinner, I helped her pick out a helmet and learn to ride a bike, and we both played with her on the playground. I was trying to act like a step-parent, to see how it felt. And it felt like I was pretending. Pretending well, apparently, but still… I don’t know how to do this. I’ll learn, maybe, sure, as much as anyone does before the kid changes and you have to adapt to that. After the playground, I carried her home IN MY ARMS because she was tired. And she smiled the whole way. And she wasn’t heavy. We got back inside and I made food and we felt like a family and I felt like at any moment the bubble would burst and someone would tell me that this isn’t my life and I don’t have any right to it.

Same with the car. It’s not just MINE, it’s OURS. And more than that, it’s responsibility. We signed form after form, handed money over, agreed to make payments and get insurance and all that jazz. We turned down the warranty. We had to sign something about that, too.

And then, since we’d arrived in Jeremy’s truck, I drove it home. Cruising along at 62mph in a 55 zone, all my fear melted away for a few minutes, and I took that car around corners and on straightaways, loving the way it just… worked. I like having a manual transmission again, even though Jeremy thinks I have a lot to learn about driving it because he’s a pedantic jerk. I like those moments when the “what the hell did we just do?” feeling fades and I actually feel like an adult who can handle things.

I guess I do have a lot to learn.

The Weight

When I was in high school, I weighed (at various times) between 98 and 115 lbs. When I got up to 115, I felt fat. When I was under 110, I felt good about myself.

When I got my driver’s license in early 1998, I wasn’t yet 17. The weight listed was the same as on my permit (back when it was true): 105 lbs. I chuckled to myself because I knew for a fact I’d never get back to that weight again. It was a funny fiction, and something I didn’t bother to change. I had that same info on my ID (including the nearly-identical replacement) until I was 29.

This is what I looked like when I was 17, at about 110, much of which was muscle, because I was in the “best” shape of my life.

you look like you were dying

Ah, that corpse look was so trendy in 1999.

I showed that picture to a friend last year, and he said “you look like you were dying.” I responded “I was.”

So much of my self-esteem was bound up in being a pretty girl, in being thin and lanky with perky tits and still able to eat whatever I wanted. When the above picture was taken, I was barely eating, and swimming several times a week. I’d just gotten out of my first serious relationship, and I learned for the first time what people mean when they say that anorexia is primarily a disease of control. Weight is something one can control when the rest of the world is chaos. And I was out of control and, yes, I look like I was dying because I was trying to gradually kill myself.

I gained weight and got somewhat healthy. I was still thin, about 120 lbs., but I wanted to lose weight. Not much. Ten pounds maybe. But I had the tiniest hint of a belly. I thought that if i could start working out again and eat better, I’d be as close to perfect as someone with tiny tits and a shitty jawline could ever be. Of course, I’d never be gorgeous but I could pass for pretty. With some work. Here’s a picture of me and my brother, dancing to “Old Time Rock And Roll” at his wedding in August 2001:

jessewedding

HOLY SHIT FATTY. My arms don’t look like sticks anymore! Time to diet forever!

Two days after this photo was taken, I found out that my parents were getting divorced. That summer had been, frankly, horrifying and terrible (my parents’ divorce was just the latest disaster,) and I lost a shit-ton of weight again by that winter, when this photo was taken.

DSC00047

Stick arms= VICTORY!

But I got “healthy” again. I gained weight. I was eating badly, and kinda chubby for my weight because I was so out of shape, but I was a size 6.

Around the time I turned 22, the anorexia came back with a vengeance. I went from a healthy-ish 125 (someone described me, at this point, as “fleshy”) to 105 in about six weeks. I’d gone through another bad breakup, couldn’t eat without feeling sick, and got ridiculously thin. There was a lot else that went into it; I was doing a lot of drugs and staying out all night and drinking a lot and mostly eating bran muffins from Starbucks and drinking chai. That’s where I got my calories. My shit smelled like… well, shit. Baby shit. Because I wasn’t eating enough solids, I had diarrhea all the time. I was always cold. Shivering when other people were warm.

kateandian

FOOD IS FOR PUSSIES

This is the time in my life when I really wish that someone had spoken up and seen that I desperately needed help. Some people voiced concern, but many of them just stopped talking to me because I was too much drama to handle. I can’t blame them for that, looking back. Not only was I high all the time, I was sort of a bad person for awhile. And I hated myself, but I loved being thin. I knew I was hurting myself. I wanted to hurt myself.

But, of course, when I hooked up with Mike that next winter, he started force-feeding me. I got ridiculously fat!

couch

OH MY GOD STOP EATING

The way my thighs kinda… blurp… down in those chubby little rolls was a great source of shame for me. I thought I was ugly and needed to start dressing like a fat old fatty because, well, look at me! I had gotten out of control!

And as the years went by, being with an abusive, alcoholic fucktard took its toll, and when we finally did break up in early 2008, I actually– gulp– was overweight. For the first time in my life. And I was goddamned horrified.

DSCF1699

Chubby-Chasers Only, Please.

I still felt pretty, still felt desirable… but, y’know, for a fat chick. In that picture I’m probably about 170 lbs. I hadn’t weighed myself in forever, and when I first saw that number, I honestly felt like a failure. I enjoyed the big boobs, but I promised myself that I would lose weight and keep it off and never get that fat again. Over the next six months I lost 30 lbs by dancing, eating better, and not being in a relationship with an abusive, alcoholic fucktard.

Look how cute you are when you're not obese!

Look how cute you are when you’re not obese!

So let’s skip to mid-2012. I’m living back in California, but about to move to Oregon. Life has not been swell. I had moved to SF, got dumped by my SF-dwelling boyfriend right after I moved, and then was in a car accident where I sustained a head injury and hurt my back. I was not ok. I’d had to move back to my mother’s, and I’d struggled to get medical care, got laid off from my job, and found out my mom was losing the house and I had to move again soon.

apologizing

This photo is on facebook, captioned “I will stop apologizing for my weight.”

I was, once again, the heaviest I’d ever been. 180 lbs! Holy shitballs, I was wearing size 14! I no longer got skinny when I was stressed out, I ate and ate and ate. This photo was me trying to accept myself. Trying to get it under control again, but safely, smartly, with self-love and all that shit. I thought it would work this time. I resolved to swim all summer when I got back to Portland, to get actually healthy. But it didn’t go that way. Life continued to suck. My job situation remained unstable. I got up over 200 lbs.

And in September 2013, I got into another car accident, which triggered an emotional breakdown, which triggered an inpatient stay at a mental health facility, at which point I weighed 210. My boobs were, and are, HUGE. Well, huge for someone who used to have tiny bumps where other women (my mom included, even at her thinnest) had a RACK. I was always comparing myself to other people. I was always comparing myself to myself.

IMG_20131228_022639

Monstrous!

Which is why I was so shocked when that guy said “You look like you were dying” about that first picture up there. Because I’d always thought it was a great picture. I longed to have shoulder blades that jutted, arms that didn’t pudge, knees that I wasn’t ashamed to show in a skirt. He said something else, too: “I think you’re way hotter now.”

My mind was blown.

Who would want a girl with this body? Stretch marks where there used to be smoothness! Thighs that rub the fabric thin on the legs of my jeans! Arms that don’t fit into some dress shirts! CELLULITE.

I’ve lost something like 15 or 20 pounds in the last few months. I’m eating better. I plan to start exercising. And after almost 33 years of a life that has been, in so many ways, colored by my shame over my body (even when I was super thin,) I think I’m ready to fucking STOP. Just stop.

My self-worth doesn’t depend on which parts jut and which parts pudge. My moral character has nothing to do with numbers on a scale. I’m actually a bit sickened by the fact that I know how much I weighed in all of those photos. Why does it matter? Who cares?

I care, I guess. Some other people might care. But what bothers me now is that my back hurts all the time. I don’t move as well as I used to. Plus-size clothing can be super cute, if you know how to shop, but mostly it’s pretty sad. Trying to buy a cute bra when you’re sporting double-D cups is… hard. They’re all “smoothing” and “minimizing” at that stage. As if fat chicks don’t want hella cleavage too.

When I was thin, I hated my tiny tits, and hated myself for not being more “womanly,” whatever that means. When I got fat, every time I reached THE FATTEST I HAVE EVER BEEN OH MY LORD I hated myself for my lack of self-control. I have always been vain, and I have always felt not-good-enough. These things are inexorably linked.

So now, a bit into the new year that followed the worst year of my life (and that’s saying something,) I’m resolving to just… be okay. Be okay with wherever I am, whatever I look like. Be okay with not being the hottest girl in the room, not having a 26-inch waist, not being “perfect.”

And I have a goal weight. 150 lbs. Because of all the pictures of my body, this is the one that makes me the happiest:

goal weight

But you’re not skinny!

This is me at 29 or 30. This is what I looked like and weighed and how I dressed when I was happy. I had curves, but I wasn’t fat. I had a waist, but I wasn’t skinny. My boobs were a tolerable 36C. I could zip up my Doc Marten high heeled boots. And I went out all the time, and I danced, and I ate a lot of avocado, and while I still thought I was fat and needed to DO MORE so I WEIGHED LESS, I did generally feel pretty good about myself. I didn’t worry about what I ate, but I tried to eat well. I didn’t go out of my way to exercise, but I did get exercise. This is the same era when the below photo was taken:

big smile

That’s the biggest I’d smiled in a picture in about ten years.

I no longer aspire to be skinny. Not just because it’s unrealistic, but because it’s unhealthy for me. I worried about my weight so much more when it was close to 100 lbs than I do now that it’s close to 200. I was obsessed. Now I’m merely concerned. I want to be healthy and in less pain and able to move around without having to worry about throwing my back out. I want to have boobs that don’t weigh so much that they yank on my shoulderblades (no longer jutting, of course.) I want to be able to zip my Docs again, damn it.

But I’m willing to be patient. I’m willing to give it time. And I’m willing to love myself, as I am, and be kind to myself. Which is something I never was when I had a model-skinny body and turned all the heads.

I never realized how gorgeous I was, just as I was. I never realized that the prettiest thing about me was the light in my eyes. I thought that my life would be easier, better, happier, if I was perfect, but looking back, I see that I wasted years of my life and so much energy trying to be something that isn’t only unattainable, but illusory. There is no perfect.

And I didn’t write this to solicit compliments, or even moral support. It’s just what’s on my mind right now, looking through all these old pictures and feeling so very sad for the girl in the early ones. In a way, getting fat has been a blessing. Not being anywhere within shouting distance of my old ideas of “perfect” has liberated me, mostly, from the desire to be “perfect.” Because life is short, and I’ve wasted enough of it.

And, well, I think I look hotter now than I did when I was starving. Pot belly, stretch-marks, and all.

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