I started this blog ten years ago this month. I didn’t realize that before I signed in to post, but it’s a neat little coincidence.
There’s a lot in here that I find embarrassing now. Several things I’m probably better off not looking into too deeply tonight. But I can’t bring myself to abandon it, even with all the ranting about a certain someone, even with all the bravado and outbursts and so much documentation of a time before I knew what was wrong with me and how to, mostly, stop.
I have a very sturdy government job and have been relatively stable and working in government jobs for years now. I’ve been with my partner since Summer 2014, and we eloped last month at our favorite bar. I did a jello shot. I seldom drink anymore. I quit smoking. I quit vaping. I got very fat. It is all very stable, for me, and I think the me of February 2010 would be horrified at how boring I’ve become. But I’m no longer tearing myself apart, and that’s worth something.
And here’s some Frank Turner to sum it all up:
I thought that suffering was something profound,
That weighed down on wise heads,
And not just something to be avoided,
Something normal people dread.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
I’ve been unmedicated since mid-January. Off the Effexor, which could have gotten me killed. Off the Lithium because it made be feel flat, like I hadn’t used color-safe bleach and all the colors had faded. So it’s just me. Unmedicated.
The one thing I still have is gapapentin, which gets rid of my headaches, and makes me feel giddy and slightly high. You can’t overdose on it, and I don’t take it very often. But I took it tonight.
I’m up at 4:30 in the morning, and I have a good and rational reason for it: I’m a night cabbie. My shifts last 12 hours and sometimes don’t end until sunrise. There’s a consolation in that, driving home and seeing the sun come up behind Mt. Hood. I didn’t work tonight, but I feel like if I have to be nocturnal, I might as well get used to it. I am once again a vampire.
I’ve been losing weight, which is fine because I got up to about 210 lbs. last fall, and wanted to cut hunks of fat off myself. I’m lucky; I inherited my mother’s genes, so even at this rather extreme weight, I’m proportional. I haven’t weighed myself lately, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I were under 190 now. I haven’t been exercising or paying a great deal of attention to diet, it’s just that more and more foods seem to make me sick. Sushi doesn’t, so I eat a lot of that when I can afford it. Drinking a lot of smoothies. I’m hungry all the time, but my stomach cramps and I feel nauseous when I eat the wrong things. Sometimes I vomit. I soldier on.
The job is going well. I’m better at it than I expected. I’m still learning how to be a cabbie, but I’ve always been a good conversationalist, and my customers seem to like that. It’s a very free job, I go where I want or where the fares take me, and I can have a break whenever. I’ve mostly stopped smoking again (betcha didn’t even know I’d started,) so I puff on my e-cig constantly. I can do that in my cab so I take fewer breaks. I make a lot of money when I try. People seem to like me.
But the depression is still here, tearing holes in my heart. The mania manifests in restlessness, sleeplessness. One would think that driving all night would be good for someone with my temperament, and maybe it is or will be, but I so wanted to be the sort of person who slept at night and woke up in the morning. It seemed healthier, you know? Like what a real grownup would do.
The pieces are in place for me to have a good life. I have a good job, for now, which I’m good at most of the time. I have a sweet and amazingly patient partner who thinks I’m amazing and is pretty damned cool himself. I am making money and my situation is improving. I have plans, goals, hopes, dreams.
But I feel so lost. I am going through the motions. I don’t know how I feel about anything. I don’t know whether I like my job or hate it. I don’t know whether I want to be in a relationship at all. I was thinking the other day, wondering if I’m just with Jeremy because it’s better than being alone. Then I asked myself, how many of my relationships have actually been better than being alone? And then I laughed and realized that I think too much.
My mom is visiting next week. I haven’t seen her in a year and a half. That boggles my mind. Mom has been amazing and supportive through all the mental-health bullshit I’ve been through, unwavering, present, understanding. We are very close these days.
I guess I’ve sort of closed myself off. And I need to open back up if I want to get better. I just don’t really know what “better” looks like, yet, or how to get there. Drugs? Therapy? Buddhism? I think a lot about death, but passively. Wondering if I really am doomed to keep living like this, wondering if the merciful thing to do for myself would be just to end it. But then practicality steps in: it would be very cold jumping off the Fremont Bridge, and I can’t kill myself in Jeremy’s bathtub, the poor boy has been through enough.
So I live, I go to work and to therapy, I talk to my mother, I write blog posts. I try to take care of myself and get out of this fog. I am going through the motions, and I am basically fine.
I am not a great decorator. After Mike The Asshole told me my taste was tacky, I stopped putting things up on my walls for awhile. After we broke up, I of course plastered my walls with weird postcards and the like. But I’ve moved seven times in 3.5 years, and I seldom put anything up because it’s exhausting and I’m just gonna probably move in six months anyway.
So my current bedroom has only one thing on the walls.
It’s a letter my dad sent me years ago, when I was desperately poor and felt, well, lame. Because I needed help again and I felt like a 28-year-old shouldn’t be asking her daddy for money every month. I should have had my life together, and I didn’t. He sent a check, and included this note, and everywhere I’ve lived in the past five years, this has been on my wall.
I am, whatever our problems, and whether I want to be or not, Daddy’s Girl. I have always wanted to impress him. I tell people, “my father is brilliant, I am merely very,very bright.” My father has something like 13 patents. My father had a part on the space shuttle, although I’m not sure what. My daddy does things with lasers and tank armor and makes assloads of money and lives in a house with a glorious view of the Pacific. My father is generous and charitable and at times astonishingly kind.
Which is why this is so hard for me.
He doesn’t goddamned get it, at all.
Martha says it better than I can:
You say my time here has been some sort of joke
That I’ve been messing around
Some sort of incubating period
For when I really come around
I’m cracking up
And you have no idea
No idea how it feels to be on your own
In your own home
with the fucking phone
And the mother of gloom
In your bedroom
Standing over your head
With her hand in your head
With her hand in your head
I will not pretend
I will not put on a smile
I will not say I’m all right for you
When all I wanted was to be good
To do everything in truth
To do everything in truth
I don’t know if that conveys it to you, but it’s playing in my head on a constant loop these days.
I talked to my dad about 10 days ago. It was about an hour after my weekly therapy appointment (and two days before I cracked up and went to the hospital.) And he gave me his usual dad advice that what I probably needed was some stability, that I should get a job, that the happiest and most stable I’ve ever been was when I was working, and that my first priority should be getting back into school.
Let’s address these points, shall we?
I probably need some stability.
Well fucking DUH
I should get a job
I totally agree! That’s why I’m working on becoming a cabbie! Also, if you haven’t noticed, I’m losing my mind like right now this very moment and perhaps a desk job isn’t going to magically fix things.
The happiest and most stable I’ve ever been was when I was working
Y’know, I’d noticed that too! And I looked for work for months, but I’ve been sort of bedridden with this whole “I want to die I want to die I want to die” thing I’ve been indulging in lately, so it’s made it hard to keep keepin’ on. I applied for everything I could until I could no longer work anyway because the depression and anxiety were close to killing me.
You should go back to school (even though I’m unwilling to adequately support you while you do it.)
I dropped out of school when I was 28 because of what I now know was a raging case of bipolar disorder. I could not sit still in a classroom. I spent my days at home hating everything and my nights at bars with pretty boys because they were the only thing that reliably made me even temporarily less horrid. You won’t help me pay for it, and I’m ineligible for more loans.
And I have some points of my own!
If I went back to school now, the same goddamned thing would happen. I would crash and burn. I know it. This is not a guess, this is the truth.
The last job I had, I had to quit after five hours because I got a panic attack so bad that it gave me diarrhea.
My top priority right now is to get healthy.
My top priority right now should be to get healthy.
I cannot do anything useful until I am healthy.
I have lost 15 lbs in the past MONTH. That’s terrifying (although I did have it to spare.) When I try to eat normal food, I shit or vomit. I’m basically on a liquid diet most days, and that’s more expensive than you’d think. I’m going through withdrawal from Effexor, which means that I burst into tears sometimes and my head constantly feels like it’s receiving electric shocks. All I can think about all day is going to bed, but when bedtime rolls around, I’m wired and don’t get to sleep until 2am when I meant to be in bed at 9pm and have to be awake at 8am. I have not once been on time to the hospital where I spent 20-30 hours a week trying to get better. Getting better is exhausting. Lots of anger, lots of crying.
This is hell. This is hell. This is hell.
Honestly, I’m feeling hopeful and better and therapy is working and I think lithium might fix some of this so I go to my stupid groups and I take my stupid pills and I deal with the BZZZZZZZZZZT in my brain and I get by on not-enough sleep and I try my hardest not to buy that cute vintage jacket or fuck that cute boy because I don’t want my mania to rule my life.
And I unreservedly say FUCK YOU to anyone who has never been through this but thinks they know what’s best for me.
This is HELL. And I am fighting, and I am BRAVE, and I am STRONG and I am going to fucking BEAT THIS even if you don’t believe in me. Even if you think I’m not trying hard enough. All I do is try. I fight and fight and fight and this is hell hell hell.
I had bad self-esteem my whole adolescence and, indeed, until a couple of years ago. I think that’s fairly normal for women. We don’t tend to like ourselves. Too fat or too thin or my boobs are too small or whatever.
Look at what a fucking badass I was! And I didn’t like myself. I didn’t think I was pretty. I must have been 20 or 21. And I could hardly stand myself. It was a bad time in my life. These pictures were taken by someone I was desperately in love with at the time. He messaged me tonight on Facebook and then sent me these pictures. It’s weird to see myself so young and remember who I was back then.
I like myself much better now.
I made a decision about two years ago that I wasn’t going to talk bad about myself to myself anymore. I wasn’t going to feel bad about my small boobs or my chubby belly or… whatever. What had happened was that I found some photos of myself at 18, and I remembered how insecure I always was about my body/hair/face/teeth and… how stupid that was. I had spirit, and it showed. And whatever “flaws” I might have, well, this is the me that I’m stuck with. I decided not to waste any more time despising myself.
I have good days and bad days. I still think my tits could stand to be bigger. And lord knows I could lose some weight. But… well…
I’m a badass. And some people think I’m pretty cute.
I had an EMERGENCY DENTAL visit today wherein I was notified that I need an assload of work done on my chompers, not in the least three (3!) extractions ASAP so that I stop feeling like someone’s hammering a nail into my jaw.
Still working out how I’m gonna pay for all that. Looking into cheap options.
Have I mentioned how much I hate the dentist? I hate the dentist. Ask me about my wisdom teeth sometime.
This might help with the weight loss plan, as I soon may not be able to chew. Then again, ice cream is soft.
I’m 5’4″ and I weigh about 170 lbs. According to the internets my BMI is 29.5, hovering close to the brink of obesity.
A year ago I weighed about 140, which is is cozily in the “normal” range. I thought I looked good at that point, still with ample fat deposits for when the famine strikes, but shapely.
170 lbs is, no matter how I look at it, fat. I weighed about this much two years ago, and lost the weight through a combination of walking instead of busing/driving, and dancing at goth clubs. I plan to start doing these things again.
I know there are women who can pull off this height/weight combo a lot better than I can. My friend Delilah, for example, is two inches taller, about the same weight and much more booby-licious than I am. There are girls who make a little extra padding look good.
I am not one of those girls.
I talk too much about my desire to lose weight. It makes other people feel bad, I think. A lot of women who have similar shapes to mine (generously buttered, as I like to think of it) protest that I look normal, that I don’t need to lose weight.
There’s a great movement toward fat acceptance in our culture. I think this is a good thing. People don’t deserve to be treated badly because of their weight. Attractive people needn’t be skeletally thin. Women look good with some meat on their bones. All true. Yes.
But I am fat. I do want to lose weight. And I think it’s patronizing for anyone to say that this is normal, that this is acceptable. It isn’t acceptable for me to have fat spilling over the top of my pants. I will not be consoled into thinking that I look attractive with pale, jiggly cellulite… not just on my thighs and ass, which is forgivable, but on my calves. On my arms. It’s disgusting, and no amount of politically correct babble will make me think that this looks good.
So I’m doing something about it. I’ll let you know how it goes.