January 01, 2012

What A Woman Wants (or maybe just what THIS woman wants)

It’s New Years. Happy 2012! New Years is hands down my FAVORITE of all holidays. I love love LOVE feeling like I’m starting something new, like I have a clean slate…a fresh start. I really dislike the word resolution. A New Year’s Resolution to me is something you do for a few weeks and then by February it turns into something that just seemed like a good thought a month or so ago. So, no New Year’s Resolution here. I do, however, make some renewed longish term plans, and some shorter term goals in an effort to help steer things in the direction I want my life to go. And I come up with a crazy amount of OCDish spreadsheets and lists and whatnot in an effort to figure out how I’m going to get there. I know, weird, but spreadsheets make me happy. Whatever floats your boat, right?! My ideas and dreams may or may not happen in all actuality, and some days I’m more hopeful that they will come to fruition than others, but either way they give me something to work for…a reason to get out of bed in the morning and work my butt off…a reason to begrudgingly move toward and embrace that once horrid word…’healthy’.

That's goal number one, to legitimately become more healthy so I can achieve my other goals. I've been moving in that direction, two steps forward one step back style, so I guess my goal would be to continue taking more steps forward than back...and to stop retreating back to the comfort of restricting when life feels out of control. My idea of health may be slightly different than that of my treatment team. I'm working on embracing the idea that fueling my body is necessary and acceptable, and in doing so I kinda want to fuel it with the best things possible (with the exception of my beloved chemically laden diet coke). I'm more for eating organic and mostly vegan than intuitive cupcake eating, which my team seems to think is obsessive and still disordered. And it may very well be, but being obsessive about 'healthy' eating seems better than being obsessive about NOT eating, so I figure its a start, and we can iron out the kinks along the way.

Aside from that, two things I want more than anything right now (and have for some time) - I want to be able to go back to school and become a dietitian, and I want to move back to Austin. I moved to Austin right after finishing my undergrad a couple hours away from there. I lived in Austin for two years before my eating disorder got completely out of control and I had to move back to California. I lived in California for the next 5 years, and have been in Utah now for 3, and I still miss the place like crazy. How do I love thee?...Let me count the ways -

The Oasis…oh the Oasis. Quite possibly the most beautiful place to watch the sunset ever. Multi-level decks overlooking Lake Travis – not a bad seat in the place. Loved it on a nice evening with friends. Loved it during my lunch hour as an escape from work. Loved it, loved it, loved it.

Mozart’s Coffee Shop. This one may even trump the Oasis for me…maybe. Coffee right on the water where boats can drive up and park, outdoor seating, live acoustic music. What’s not to love?

6th Street – Now, I’m not against the bar scene, but it’s not usually my cup of tea. I just tend to feel more at home in say, coffee shops and book stores. But I can’t deny the excitement of people-watching on 6th street from an upstairs patio at a pub…or watching some good live music…or laughing hysterically at the comedy club.

Did I mention the live music? Austin – ‘Live music capitol of the world’. Home of the Austin City Limits South X Southwest Music Festival. Huge. Amazing. All venues of awesomeness.

What’s that? Home of the first Whole Foods you say? Yes, my true love in grocery store form.

And UT Austin…enough said.

I want to move back. I want to call Austin home again. I want to live in that place of so much acceptance for so many types of people. Culture. Live music. Beautiful scenery. Unique. I sit here with the mug I bought when I went back for a vacation several years ago…’Keep Austin Weird’. Yep, I fit in there!

How does this fit in with my ‘plan’? Well, first and foremost, I want to become a dietitian. This has been my plan since I had to move back to California 8 years ago. I couldn’t decide whether I was more interested in dietetics or psychology (I know – an eating disordered girl interested in psychology & dietetics...that’s a shocker!). So, I was debating between the two when I went to a conference where Elyse Resch spoke. For those of you not familiar with Elyse Resch she’s the co-author of ‘Intuitive Eating’, the CFC bible! She spoke of being a nutrition therapist. And there it was…ding ding ding…the lightbulb went off. I could do both! An over-achiever’s dream! So there it was, I set out for the psych part first and got my Master’s in Counseling Psychology. Then I moved to Sacramento to start my dietetics degree at Sac State. Except that this liiiiitle thing called an eating disorder got in the way…again. And next thing I know I’ve spent like three years in hospitals and treatment centers. And here I am now, in Utah, with no money to finish my degree. Fail.

Aaanyway, somewhere along the line I figured out that being a therapist isn’t really my thing. In fact, I kinda suck at it…and I really don’t like sucking at things. Psychology really interests me, but in working as an intern therapist I discovered it was waaaay too broad, far too many unknown variables, and far too abstract for this little logical OCD brain. I definitely need something to narrow the playing field – Like say, using it within the context of dietetics. Oh wait, that was my plan all along. Really wishing that I had decided to do the dietetics degree before the psych degree. Not to say I regret the psych degree at all. I still plan on pairing it with the nutrition aspect. But standing alone without the dietetics degree it’s not doing me a whole lot of good at this point. Live and learn I guess.

Instead, I work in PetSmart management. Totally random. Never what I imagined. I have a fond dislike these days for the customer service aspect of retail. And had I not been promoted fairly recently to my current position I would have moved on by now. I do, however, somewhat enjoy my position as the presentation manager (I’m in charge of the inventory, replenishment, shipments, stocking, resetting the store for new sales, new seasons, new products, whatever…pretty much everything to do with the product). It’s tedious, involved, and stressful. I thrive on that! But it’s seriously underpaid for the amount of work, and it’s not what I want to do in the long term. But it’s a means to an end. There’s another promotion looming on the horizon – a position I really don’t think I’ll like as much, but one that will pay a whole lot more. And that means, if I continue to live pretty minimally, ideally I can afford to get back to school to do what I really want to do. THAT is the goal, and that is what keeps me trudging forward.

So, my plan for the new year (and next many new years) – Start saving what little money I have now…be able to pay for at least one class (probably Chemistry II) by Summer, or more likely the fall semester this year…add in more classes once I do get promoted and have more funds available…complete all my millions of general science requirements, then transfer to either Utah State or University of Utah (except that the U of U only offers an MS in dietetics and there are a crap load of prereq’s to get in)…complete my dietetics internship and get my RD license…and finally, move to Austin!!! My goal is to do it all before I’m 40. That sounds like FOREVER from now, but in reality, it’s only 7 years, and while working full time and having to come up with the funding (without taking out more loans), it’s actually a fairly lofty goal. Lofty, but doable.

As a side note - I have ZERO intention of working with eating disorders (at least not specializing in that field). I’d like to work in a more clinical general hospital setting, or possibly in a private practice specializing in a more holistic approach to intuitive eating. Yeah, two entirely different ends of the spectrum, but both really interest me.

As a second totally unrelated, random side note – From a complete OCD standpoint I’m so excited to move out of 2011 and into 2012. I very much dislike the number 11. I always have. The date 11/11/11 was like the worst date ever. Multiples of 11 (up to 99) are evil. No, there are no superstitions associated with these numbers (at least for me). It is purely based on the way they look when I write them out. You can never make (2) 1’s EXACTLY parallel to each other. 11/11/11, with a whole bunch of slashes in between the one’s is just a disaster when hand-written. Oh the travesty of seeing so many one’s that can’t possibly be made perfectly straight by the human hand! 9…now nine is a good number. Good looking when written out, and with a perfect square root of 3, also a nice number! Yeah, that’s probably enough to make everyone think I’m nuts. I swear it’s not really an all consuming obsession…just one of my odd little idiosyncrasies! So, while 2012 does not contain my precious number 9, at least it does not contain the number 11. So here’s to 2012…cheers to a great new year!

Oh, and PSS...I kinda sorta still want to write a book. Maybe not to publish, but for my own viewing pleasure...and to write out my story so I can move on. I've written odds and ends here and there to piece together. But I want to write and edit and fine-tune more in 2012.

(Disclaimer - those are not pictures of me in a white lab coat...just what I want to be doing. Wishful thinking I guess)

December 14, 2011

Who the hell are you???

‘Who the hell are you?’ I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that phrase over the past few years as people get to know me a little better and realize I’m not the person they thought I was. Apparently I don’t exactly fit into any mold. I’m quite painfully aware of that (maybe my past few posts have clued you in), but it still makes me laugh when someone clues into the fact that not everything is as it appears.

We all grow up hearing the phrase, ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover.’ Great in theory, but much harder in practice. In the very literal sense, I have to say that if the cover of the book bores me I’m sure as hell not going to take it home to read. Admittedly though, I tend to place a judgment of sorts on people as well. Or rather, an assumption? If I see someone in a suit my mind jumps to professional. If I see someone with tattoos and multiple piercings I tend to think liberal. I do it, and I know I’m not the only one. I think it’s pretty much human nature to make at least some preliminary conclusions based on the limited information that we have. It’s what a first impression is all about. And in many situations it’s important to be able to make at least some sort of judgment based on a first impression…think job interview. But a first impression doesn’t do squat to show what’s underneath. Therein lies my problem…

I have a certain ‘look’, which doesn’t always correspond with who I am. For the first, oh, 30 years of my life I took everyone’s assumptions of me and ran with them. By all means, I appear conservative, preppy, conservative…have I mentioned conservative? It’s not til recently that that’s bothered me. That’s not who I am. I can be very professional and I most definitely want to give off that impression in the right time and place, but I have other sides too. At work a while back I made some comment to one of our cashiers about being annoyed by the kids running through our store. She looked at me confused and said something to the effect of, ‘Don’t you like kids?...I always thought you were the mommy type.’ ‘Oh dear God, NO,’ is what came out of my mouth next, and she looked at me in complete shock…or horror…or something. I found her reaction so hilarious that I had to go share it with my boss, who knows me pretty well now, and whom I knew would get a good laugh. Her response was, ‘Well yeah, you look like the fucking relief society president!’ Ouch! God I love her bluntness. We laughed…because it’s true. We work in a predominantly Mormon area. We may very well be the only two non-LDS members in our workplace. We’ve bonded over that! But while she doesn’t really look the part, I do. I feel like I need to add a few visible tattoos, or dye my hair…or something.

I can (and do) laugh about the first (and second and third) impressions people get of me. If it’s not something directly related to work, more often than not they’re wrong. It’s kind of humorous in many respects. But at the same time, it’s hard. It’s hard because I don’t feel like I belong anywhere. Yeah, I look conservative. But I’m not. I actually thought moving to Utah would be easy for me because I ‘look’ like I belong here. I thought I’d finally fit in somewhere. The trouble with that is, because I look the part people assume I have a certain belief system - a belief system that does not at all align with my own. I am a liberal, and yet when out with my very liberal friends I stick out like a sore thumb because I don’t look the part. I want to go out for drinks with friends, but I don’t drink (yeah, I’m still kinda terrified of alcohol calories & of not being in complete control). I’ve gone to bars with friends on multiple occasions, and I’ve gone to plenty of parties, but it’s awkward to be the only one not drinking. I love the drum circles I’ve been to, but I don’t exactly look the part there either. I’m the type A, OCD freak looking longingly at the men and women with dread locks dancing freely in front of me.

For whatever reason, a good portion of my newly acquired friends are gay or lesbian. Maybe I feel like I fit in with them because my life experiences and lack of sexuality doesn't exactly fit the norm either. I feel like I fit in with them better than with most people, but I can’t 100% relate to their experiences either.

It’s so easy for me to retreat into my own little world of calories and spreadsheets when I feel like I don’t belong. It’s so easy for me to want to isolate and disappear altogether rather than dealing with feeling like I’m so far from ever fitting in anywhere. Bits and pieces of me fit into various places, but I feel like as a whole I’m always going to be that person that shocks everyone and leaves them asking the question, ‘who the hell are you?’

So who am I? I’m the girl who has never ever given herself a moment of down time…I was a dancer, a competitive jump roper, a girl scout for twelve years, and a music nerd to the extreme. I have a BS in Interior Design, but have never done interior design. I have a Master’s in Counseling Psychology but have hardly used it. I worked in a physical therapy office, then engineering firms, then had an architectural design business. I’ve rarely ever worked less than 80 hours/week. I started a dietetics degree but can’t seem to find the money to finish it. I come across as shy in social situations but HATE the word shy, and am very much the opposite of shy when it comes to work. I have somehow ended up as the inventory/presentation manager in a pet store. I live alone. I do most things alone. I’ve never had a boyfriend, nor do I want one. I’m okay with that - sometimes. My idea of fun is making spreadsheets and going to the library. I am a perfectionist. And that is an understatement. I’ve lived in California, Texas, and Utah. I’ve spent years of my life in treatment centers and hospitals. I have awesome communication skills at work but have no idea how to act or what to do with myself outside of work. You wouldn’t know by looking at me or my activities, but I.AM.NOT.CONSERVATIVE. I’m pretty hardened, and sarcastic, and when you come to me at work complaining about how your boyfriend kissed you but then hasn’t texted you I’ll act compassionate but will likely be thinking I don’t give a shit – suck it up and do your job (because I cannot relate…at all). I can be funny at times. I’ve had an eating disorder since the age of 9, but I know very well that my thoughts are illogical and ridiculous…and that frustrates the hell out of me. Most of the things I want or don’t want seem to contradict each other. I have walls of steel built around me – very few people get through. I don’t want to need anyone or anything, but I do, and that scares me. I look like Molly Mormon.

People who don’t know better assume I came to Utah to find myself a nice Mormon husband to settle down with so I can start popping out kids and have a big happy family. They’re wrong. So very very wrong on so many different levels. But ‘I came here for treatment and then decided to stay’ is kind of an awkward conversation, so unless it’s someone I’m trying to get to know on a more personal level, I tend to go with whatever they want to think. And sometimes I get to throw in a comment or two that really throws them for a loop!

I will leave you with a video that I found on my friend Jen's facebook page & blog earlier today because I am in love with it! I love the music and harmonies, and I love the message

November 20, 2011

Mall Madness...And Mourning What Once Was

I went to the mall today. Let me clarify – I very begrudgingly went to the mall today. It all started out with an iphone. Yes, shudder, about a month ago I got an iphone. If it’s possible to be in love with an inanimate object, I am - though I feel like I need to hide this amazing piece of modern technology because I’m so stinkin broke that I have absolutely no business owning one. Just for the record, my contract on my cell phone was up so it was only $99 when I signed my soul over for another two years. Still, it was $99 more than I should have been spending. I kinda justified it with the reasoning that I work an average of 12 hours a day and I really haven’t bought anything for myself in years outside of the necessities and the occasional latte. I deserve something for working my ass off every day. Yeah, I’m rationalizing. Truth is, I probably shouldn’t have spent the money. And I would have major buyer’s remorse if I wasn’t so in love. So, here I am, a month with this amazing toy, and out of nowhere the battery starts draining in like two hours. For 3 days I charge my phone, go to work, and two hours later it’s dead. Now, my iphone is great, but it doesn’t do me much good without a working battery. I start to get super depressed at the realization that my toy was short lived, and because I didn’t spring for the $100 warranty package I’d have to go back to my old phone for another two years. Suck. My last hope was that the guys at the apple store could help me. Turns out, there’s an apple store at the mall right next to my house. And they were, by the way, able to fix my battery problem for free. But to get to said apple store, I had to brave the mall. I dislike the mall. These days I tend to avoid the mall like the plague.

So, I’m getting ready to go to the mall. I do what any girl would do…put on my running attire. Yes, I wore my running attire to the mall because looking like I’d just gone on a run seemed more acceptable than the frumpy look of having no decent clothes that fit me. That, and being my day off, I had absolutely no desire to spend time on my hair and make-up. Not that I spend time on my hair and make-up every other day when I do go to work (It’s not really my first priority when I roll out of bed at 3am). But...I was feeling particularly lazy today.

Aaaanyways…I find a parking spot and do my best to hold my head up high and not feel inferior as I walk through the doors of Nordstrom. I do a little speed walk to the entrance of the rest of the mall (I am in my running shoes after all) and then it hits me. I see the wide expanse in front of me and I start to panic. So many stores. So many glorious stores that I can no longer afford. My chest starts to tighten as I trudge straight ahead to the apple store. I get there and breathe a sigh of relief. No more clothes…no more reminders of what I used to have…no more tiny mannequins glaring at me and the body I am not the slightest bit comfortable in. Just me, my running shoes, and my iphone. I talk to the guy at the front of the apple store and he puts my name in the computer then tells me my ‘apple genius’ will see me at the ‘genius bar’ in exactly 55 min. 55 minutes? Crap. I decide to suck it up and kill a little time by roaming the mall.

Out I walk into what used to be familiar territory. I almost feel disassociated as I’m walking, trying to stay present while being accosted by all the people at the kiosks lined up one after another in the center of the walkway – ‘try an herbal tea sample…learn Spanish in a week…this skin cream will make you look 15 years younger…try our new weight loss formula and lose 10 pounds in a week’. Obviously the best defense was to stay as close to the perimeter of the walkway as possible, where sales men and women couldn’t attack. I hadn’t walked more than a few yards when I look up to see it…BANANNA REPUBLIC. Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, White House/Black Market…all right there. My three favorite stores. I had a walk-in closet made up entirely of clothing from these three stores - back when I was financially secure, and confident in my career, my future, and where I was going. Back when I was headstrong and hopeful (okay, I’m still headstrong – just not always in a productive way). Back before I lost my business, before I lost everything to an eating disorder that landed me in hospitals and treatment centers for years. I still have a lot of that wardrobe, though very little of it fits, and even if it did, the phrase ‘all dressed up with no place to go’ comes to mind.

I decided to dig the knife a little deeper by wandering through my coveted Banana. The smell…oh that lovely familiar smell. I look around at the lighting. Did you know I used to do the lighting design for Banana Republic stores while I worked at an electrical engineering firm in Austin? Yep…I did. Oh, to wear slacks and heels to work again…to feel like a professional. I find myself gravitating toward this gorgeous sweater. I turn over the price tag…$188. I fight back tears as I’m reminded of how much my life has changed. Not that all of the changes are bad. But it’s different from what it used to be, from what I wanted it to be, from where I thought I’d be at 33…oh so different.

Today I look at the $188 price tag on the sweater and think of all the homeless people that could feed. I think of how much less stressed I’d be if I just had an extra $188 to help pay bills or buy groceries or gas. $188 means a lot more to me now than it ever did before. I’m grateful now for the ability to see things from a different perspective. I know I’m still very well off compared to many people. But I also know what it feels like to be one paycheck away from not being able to pay rent. I do have some luxuries. I have internet and cable (and now my beloved iphone), but I also wrap in blankets in the winter and sweat in the summer to avoid spending extra money on heating and cooling. I do my laundry at the Laundromat. I now shop at the DI for my work pants. Sometimes I get lucky and find someone’s used pair of Banana khaki’s for $6. That’s a good day!

I want what I once had. And I feel guilty for that. Is it wrong to want to have extra money for material things? I don’t just want material things. I want to have money to donate to charities and time and energy to volunteer more. But I want my Banana back. I want to have fancy dinners to go to, and concerts, and wine tasting events to wear my nice clothes to. I want to feel like a professional. I want to not feel like I’ve been defeated when I walk into a mall. I want to have money to finish my dietetics degree…to move back to Austin. I work soooo so so so hard, and I’m proud of that. Once I get over the fact that I’m working in a retail setting I’m even kinda proud of what I do – I’m in charge of a hell of a lot of stuff. But…I want more. I don’t care to be super rich. But oh what I’d give to be comfortable again. Is that wrong? Is that gluttonous? Sometimes I think I need to mourn what I once had and move on. After all, in many ways I AM a completely different person…a person that I’m still trying to figure out. But I don’t know that I’m ready to move on entirely. Somehow that feels a little like admitting defeat.

November 10, 2011

Who wouldn't love a face like this...

‘Picture yourself as a little girl…How would you treat that little girl?...Would you starve her?…Hurt her?’ How many times have I heard therapists ask me that question? Too many. Far far too many.

I know how that scenario is supposed to play out. ‘I would never starve that little girl - She didn’t do anything wrong – she deserves better.’ And then the therapist says something sickeningly sweet about how I am that little girl and I don’t deserve the pain I put myself through…I need to start treating myself like I would treat ‘Little Amber’. Time after time I’ve sat and smiled through that little exercise and pretended like it was some sort of enlightening experience. Time after time I’ve bull shitted my way through that conversation because the real answer makes me sound somewhat pathological. What kind of person doesn’t want to nurture a sweet little child? Me. I’m that person.

The last time a therapist asked me the dreaded question, I was sick enough of the whole charade to answer with some sort of honesty. ‘I hate that girl. That girl is evil. I want to starve her and torture her and make her disappear.’ Insert look of horror from therapist here. ‘Little Amber? Picture 4 or 5 year old little Amber. You’d hurt that innocent little girl?’ Yes. Yes I would. First of all, I hate, hate HATE the phrase ‘Little Amber’. I want to obliterate ‘Little Amber’. The term itself makes my skin crawl. Second, that ‘little girl’ wasn’t so innocent. Third, I have so much disgust for that girl that I don’t want to acknowledge she even existed.

I don’t like kids in general. Not as in, ‘I’m not really the mommy type’ (which, as a side note, I most definitely am not). No, I look at most children and see something small, dirty and needy – oh so needy. I look at children and berate myself for ever having been one, as if there were any other alternatives. The thought of anyone bathing me, taking care of me, touching me, or talking to me with those damn cooing noises sends feelings of absolute revulsion though my body. I wish more than anything that I could erase that vulnerable, chubby, disgusting, naked child - and anything to do with her.

So, anyone need a babysitter?!

I do actually have a couple friends with kids whom I’ve grown fairly fond of. Mostly because I can see the joy they bring those friends. I’m not completely cold hearted (and for the record, would never ever hurt a child). But I’m also fairly certain this isn’t a ‘normal’ response. I hope for the sake of all the kids out there that this isn’t a normal response!

Therapists over the course of time have asked me, ‘What happened to that child?…Who hurt that little child?’ Once I get over the initial internal cringing at the reference to me being 'that child', I get frustrated. I get frustrated at the calm, soothing tone. I get frustrated because I don’t want to be coddled or treated like I’m weak or sensitive - I just want somebody to understand…I want somebody to ‘get it’. I’ve built up walls around that despicable child and then dug a mote just to be safe. I don’t want anyone knowing that part of me ever existed. I don’t want to have needed anyone or anything. But apparently that’s not serving me so well in my current life.

I want to know that someday maybe I’ll be able to lower my walls just enough to let someone in…that I won’t be forever trapped alone in a place that no one can get to. I want to know (and believe) that I’m allowed to need, and even more so, to want things like food, or water, or sleep - and to know that wanting those things doesn’t make me a horrible or weak person. I want to know (and believe) that it’s okay to want to feel cared for by others. I want to know that someday I might be okay with being just a little bit vulnerable.

November 04, 2011

Identity Crisis

Identity…Who Am I? Does anyone ever really know the answer to that question? I’ve spent so many painful years working on recovery and still I find myself dragging my heels – holding on with all my might to the very thing that has taken everything from me. Why? I’ve matured…I have better insight now…I want more. So why the hell do I hold on? Identity. I have no idea who I am without my eating disorder.

I’ve always felt different. That’s how my eating disorder started in the first place. I was nine. I was at a camp states away from home. I sat in the University cafeteria with my teammates who were laughing and talking about boys, and things I just couldn’t relate to. I didn’t fit in…I never had. I came up with my own little game to keep myself occupied - How long can I go without eating? It was mine and mine alone. I had a secret that made me feel special. I didn’t need anyone else.

I’ve heard it said that people with eating disorders stop maturing socially at the age their eating disorder begins. I don’t know how much truth there is to that statement, but for me it seems about right. I’ve matured in many other ways, but socially I still feel like that awkward little girl who never fit in. I don’t know where I belong. I socialize quite well on a surface level. In business or work settings I’m confident and outgoing, but amidst groups of people my own age I feel like a misfit. My life experiences are quite different than most people my age. I’ve grown to accept and respect that about myself and in many ways am okay with it, but when I’m around others who have had ‘normal’ or ‘traditional’ experiences I feel lost and alone. I’m 33 now, and I still don’t know where I fit in.

For years…and years…and years I’ve held onto my eating disorder like a life preserver because it’s one of the very few things that makes me feel whole. It’s like a consolation prize. I have it to cling to when I feel out of place everywhere else. So much of me wants to get rid of it, except that I don’t know who I am without it. I’m a hard worker. I know that. But that’s not enough for me. I can (and often do) work 18 hours a day, but at the end of the day I go home, alone, and don’t know who I am or what I stand for. The eating disorder…the counting of calories…the exercise…the spreadsheets…the obsession gets me through the nights. How do you just let go of who you are?

In my all or nothing thinking I keep trying to find that one perfect mold that I fit into. But that one perfect mold just doesn’t exist. When I moved to Utah I came really close to joining the LDS church. My beliefs never aligned with the church…at all…but I kept thinking that I could change who I was to fit in with a group of people. They made me feel like I belonged. I think part of me was attracted to the church because it was one of the few places where I felt like I wasn’t a misfit for not wanting to have sex. Except that as it turns out, most people I met in the church couldn’t wait to get married so they COULD have sex. Lots of sex, and lots of babies. Epic fail on my part! Ironically, it was my Mormon therapist who talked me out of joining the church – about a week before my baptism date. I didn’t see it at the time, but he was right. I was joining for the wrong reasons. I’m not the slightest bit conservative…and I don’t want to be. It’s not who I am.

My latest obsession has been veganism. I’ve basically been a vegetarian since I left for college at the age of 17, minus a year when I ate turkey lunch meat on occasion, and of course my stays at CFC where I lost the battle to my dietitian after she upped the ante to 3x the calories in Boost. I could only hold my ground for so long! But recently I’ve made the transition to veganism. It really isn’t that big of a switch for me as I never really ate eggs and prefer soy milk anyway. But I get caught up in the details and the labels. I find myself stressing about the disclaimer on my box of granola bars…‘May contain trace amounts of milk’. It’s not made with milk, but manufactured on a machine with OTHER PRODUCTS that do contain milk. Is that okay? Is that ‘legal’? I have a few pairs of leather shoes that I’ve owned for a while now. Do I have to throw them away…because I kinda need them for work & don’t have money to replace them right now. I pretty much only buy ‘not tested on animal’ products, but I’ve tried natural fabric softeners and can’t find one I like so I went back to ‘Snuggle’. What if it’s not animal friendly? What then? Am I not a ‘real’ vegan? WHY THE HELL DO I CARE??? It’s a label. It’s a fucking label.

Why do I care if the fabric softener I buy pushes me over that vegan/non-vegan line? In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter. Except…to me it does matter. It matters because I’m grasping at straws trying to find something…anything to cling onto. I’m trying desperately to find something outside of an eating disorder to identify with…something that’s mine…that’s me…that I can say, ‘this is who I am – this is what I stand for.’ I’m looking in all the wrong places. Logically I know that. I’ll never find myself in any one thing. But that young girl inside of me is still trying so hard to fit in somewhere…anywhere.

Last week in my ‘taboo topic’ post I wrote about being unsure of my sexual identity (or lack thereof). I threw out the word ‘asexual’ lightheartedly, without giving a lot of thought to it. But then I received a few comments directing me to articles & websites addressing asexuality. What I found shocked me – there are other people out there with the same feelings as me. I found this in one of the articles I read…

‘In a world where sex and relationships are everywhere, life for someone who has no instinct for those things can be very isolating, lonely and distressing…Many asexuals feel “broken” because they do not experience the same wants and desires as “everybody else”. Many asexuals are haunted by feelings of shame and face harassment from peers because they don’t fit in. Many asexuals lead unhappy lives by trying to be “normal”.'

Wow. Is that why I’ve felt different from everyone my whole life? Is that what started this whole mess that became a self-fulfilling prophecy? The not fitting in, so isolating myself with my eating disorder, which really made me not fit in, and on and on and on. But the question still remains, outside of all these things, who am I?

October 17, 2011

The Taboo Topic

I don’t know how to begin this post, so I’ll just start off by saying – many of my friends are in same-sex relationships. I’m all for gay marriage and support equality. My take has always been that it’s not my personal preference, but who am I to say what’s right for anyone else. If two people are in love why does it matter what sex they are? I’ve always believed that. I still believe that. But recently I find myself questioning one small little itty bitty part about that statement…It’s not my personal preference. No, I’m not coming out of the closet or anything. But I wonder sometimes, what is my personal preference?

I’m 33 and have never had a significant relationship with anyone. I’ve gone on a few (literally somewhere around three or four) dates in my lifetime. I’m not afraid of guys in general, but I am absolutely terrified of dating or having anything remotely close to any sort of sexual relationship. It freaks me out in a way that makes me want to crawl out of my body. As much as I wish that were different, I really can’t imagine it changing. I’m not attracted to women, but I’m also not attracted to men. I’d pretty much consider myself asexual…if that’s possible for a human being.

But here’s the thing that confuses me – I hear female friends talk about their husbands or boyfriends and I feel nothing, if not annoyed or confused as to why I'm supposed to want that. But then I hear other female friends talk about their girlfriends or wives and I feel this pit…this emptiness in my stomach. I find myself wanting what they have. My store manager, whom I absolutely love, is in a same-sex marriage. She’ll occasionally throw out a comment about her significant-other and I find myself feeling a bit jealous. Not jealous of her – but jealous that I've never had that kind of relationship with anyone.

I'm not saying I’m gay – I don’t want anything to do with a sexual relationship with anyone…man or woman. So why am I having these thoughts? I’ve spent so many years so guarded – trying everything to numb myself so I wouldn’t want or need anyone or anything. But I’m realizing now that I may be just a tad bit lonely. It’s not that I don’t have some great friends. But I think part of me (the part I don’t like to acknowledge) longs for something more. I don’t know what that is or what it looks like, as I’ve never had it, but I’m finding myself feeling kind of empty without it.

Really, I just want a person. In the old episodes of Grey’s Anatomy Meredith used to talk about Christina being her ‘person’. I want that. And I wonder, when somebody finds ‘their person’ how can anyone fault them for what gender that person is?

August 30, 2011

Stuck. In. A. Rut

So it’s been a while since I’ve posted. How’s that for stating the obvious?! It’s not for lack of wanting to; more so for lack of words, or rather, lack of words that combine together to make any sort of sense. You see, I start out with a topic, but the more I write the more I start to contradict myself and/or drift away on random tangents, and the more confused I become about said topic, and then I pretty much run out of steam and the evening culminates in Amber throwing her hands up in the air and saying screw it!

I think my biggest problem lately is that I’m stuck...stagnant...doing the same things over and over (and yes, often expecting different results). I work (a lot), go to the gym (a lot), eat, sleep, repeat. That’s it. I don’t see friends anymore. I don’t do much of anything anymore because by the time I finish working too much and going to the gym too much there’s not enough energy left in me to do anything. That and, well, after a 12+ hour day in a retail setting the last thing I want to do is talk to anyone.

I feel like I’m working and working (and working), and getting nowhere financially. As I approach another birthday I have this sense of hopelessness – that I’m getting too old now and will never see my dreams amount to anything – that I threw away all that I’d worked so hard for and will be doomed to retail management forever. Not that there’s anything wrong with retail management – I have the utmost respect for many of the people I’ve worked with and for. But for the most part, I HATE RETAIL!!! As a whole, I’m just not finding any fulfillment in what I’m doing and the longer I sit in that spot the farther away I feel from my dreams, and the more my motivation plummets. I used to be full of fire. I thought I could do anything. But that fire has been squashed (can you squash fire?) over and over again in the past few years and I’m really having a hard time getting it going again.

So where do I go from here? I’m teetering on that edge - getting by, but just barely...doing enough to keep myself out of treatment, but nowhere near enough to consider myself ‘in recovery’. It’s so easy to throw in the towel when it feels like there’s nothing left to lose. I think that’s been the hardest part of this whole ordeal for me. When I went into treatment several years ago I thought I’d put everything on hold for a month or two and then go back to life as I knew it minus the eating disorder. Wrong. I didn’t know going into it that I’d emerge out of treatment 9 months later physically healthy, but without a job or a home or any sense of who I was or where I was going. And thus began an additional 2 ½ years of feeling like a loser, obsessively controlling food & exercise to make up for it, landing myself back in treatment, and repeat. It’s grown old. This is NOT how I imagined my life. So, I guess it’s time to do something different.

I’m catching up on old So You Think You Can Dance episodes. Tonight Nigel referred to two of the girls left in the competition as warriors. They’re strong. They’re passionate. I used to be strong and passionate. And I want that back. I want to go for my dreams like I used to. I want to finish what I started. I want to complete my dietetics degree. I want to move back to Austin. I WANT TO LIVE AND SURVIVE AND THRIVE!!! And I will. Now...off to summon the energy to make it all happen.