Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Why my clothes are making me sad

As I mentioned before I went to drink the last of my stash of gin (horrors! To the LCBO, post-haste!) my clothes are making me terribly unhappy. Let me explain - no, wait, there is no time. Let me sum up.

I have been doing my damndest to fight my way out of a huge (no pun intended) battle with food issues and a weight problem. It has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, but I’m finally getting a handle on it.

I’ve had issues with food since I was 11, when I hit puberty, and my parents translated my lack of complete scrawniness with me being fat. Eating in front of them, even eating healthy food, became all but impossible, and being a typical teen (with an additional nod to my stubborn self, as that seems to be holding up long past twenty) I crammed food in my mouth in private. I’d down a litre of ice cream in 30 minutes, hiding in my room. I’d stash chocolate behind my stereo for stuffing down later.

I would like to note that despite this atrocious behaviour, I was still not fat, but my parents wouldn’t relent. I was forced into one weight loss program after another, made to undertake one exercise regime after another, and generally made to feel awful about myself. A couple of times, when a program started to look at the emotional reasons for me eating, my parents pulled the funding, as they didn’t like the fact that I wasn’t just being told not to eat. And no, I’m not imagining that, they actually told me why they didn’t like the program. I started to believe I wasn’t worth much.

Things came to a head when I left home once I had a steady job (my boyfriend at the time didn’t support me leaving, despite knowing what it was doing to me to stay there, which tells you something about how much I hated myself, that I would date someone who didn’t support me trying to get myself into a better emotional state.) and no longer had to hide my eating. I had no control, or idea how to handle this newfound freedom, and my issues with food took over. I gained a crapload of weight, and finally was fat. My body now looked the way my parents had always implied, and I no longer resembled the person I had just a few years prior. I spiralled into a really awful place physically and emotionally. I hit rock bottom, and after a few years of the bottom, and not wanting to see any photos of myself, I finally decided to face up to what had been going on.

But unlike earlier attempts, this time I did it on my own, for myself, and I actually looked into the reasons for my issues with food. There are still miles to go before I sleep on all of that, but now that I am aware of the reasons, I’ve been better able to deal with it. I started to do things for myself instead of shoving food into my gaping maw. When I was employed, if I was feeling crappy, first I started buying higher quality ice cream or chocolate, and taking my time eating it instead of inhaling it. Then I phased food out, and I’d buy a new eyeshadow, or mystery novel, or bath stuff in lieu of the food crutch. I found an exercise regime I liked, and stuck with it, by doing it on my own time, and not beating myself up if I missed a day. I taught myself to cook, so that gobs of pasta and cheese weren’t my main meals. I decided to try a new sport, curling, which it turns out I love and am actually good at. I even started to feel better about myself, and eating “good” food in front of my parents was possible again. And yes, I lost (again, pardon the pun) a tonne of weight and my body started changing, but for the better this time.

Some time last year, I was actually able to eat “not good” foods, such as bread, potatoes and desserts other than plain fruit in front of them. This was a monumental achievement, as back when I was in high school, and was asked by my aunt if I wanted mashed potato with my thanksgiving dinner, my parents actually answered for me, in front of my entire extended family, that no I didn’t.

All this is good, right? Well, yes…but.

Despite all the good progress, I find that when I look in the mirror now, all I see is all work I have left to do, and then I get depressed that with all the work I’ve done, I’m still so freaking far from my goal. And I can’t go out and buy a little something to make me feel a bit better. Hell, even a nice treat of a non-fat latte is beyond my means.

Plus, with all the changes, my body no longer fits the majority of the clothes I own, unless they are from pre-blowup days, in which case they might be no longer appropriate for my life, or might be a tad worn out looking. So, now that I’m trying to get employment and generally feel good about myself and the new path my life has taken, getting dressed is depressing. I can’t afford an entire new wardrobe, so am forced to live with minor adjustments, such as a very occasional new piece, or taking pieces that are now too big, but otherwise are still wearable to the tailor for altering. Again, as these things cost money, I tend to do them very rarely, and I’ve found that when the altered pieces become too large again (which they have) instead of feeling good about the progress, I feel crappy that once again my clothes make me look gross, and it feels like I’ve not done anything.

The long and short of it is that I’m starting to slip, and I hate that. I actually found a way to fit ice cream into my budget earlier this week, and if I’m honest with myself, I ate it to feel better. Gah. If only I could afford therapy, I could talk to someone about this, but sadly, we don’t seem to have this kind of option at my school. And no, I can’t talk to my parents about financial support for that. Now, you might be surprised that I still have a relationship with my parents, based on how they handled the situation, but I’ve been able to forgive them, as I know they only did what they did out of love. Misguided, harmful love, but love nonetheless. But I'm not in a place where I can openly discuss this with them. I hope to be at some point, but not yet.

Wow. That wasn't all that short, and it was kinda depressing. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go look at my closet and weep.

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