old habits die very very hard

**possible triggering re: disordered eating

The other day I bought pita chips and hummus to bring to a potluck. The cashier was friendly enough, making comments about my purchases in that sort of non-confrontational, pleasant way. Things like, “mmm, pita chips, yum. hummus with pine nuts, looks healthy.” Without batting an eye, I said “yeah, it’s a potluck so there is always a crap shoot with the kinds of food there.” I kind of trailed off but it was very clear to me what I had just done. i justified my food purchase to a total stranger, hoping that she would “get” how healthy I was being. “look! even though i’m fat I eat ‘good’ foods!” I haven’t done this in a while and it completely caught me off guard. It’s not a mystery where this behavior comes from, most likely for any of us who have a history of disordered eating. Talking about food with other people, or eating around other people…it becomes this bizarre ritual wherein you try and tamp down any craving you have and ignore your body and what its trying to tell you. Instead, you eat “appropriate” foods in “appropriate” amounts. And it’s a constant game, this eating thing. You have to make sure at all times that you’re making it very clear that you’re a “good fatty.” Sure, you’re fat, but you’re not taking up more than your fair share of the world’s food, you’re exercising every day, you’re appreciative when someone tells you “but you have such a pretty face,” you’re apologizing for taking up too much space, and on and on.

Working to better my relationship with food (read: refusing to apologize for being hungry, eating what I want when I feel like eating it, paying attention to what my body is telling me it wants, enjoying food and not giving it moral value like “good” and “bad,” etc) has been one of the most difficult things for me in this FA journey, and I know I’m not alone. I’m trying to combat 20 years of a shitty relationship so it’s no wonder i go into apologizing mode. I just haven’t done that in a while and it kicked me in the gut a bit.

Old habit number two: I’ve been sick for the past week and a half or so. It started out as a cold or something, and turned quickly into a nasty cough and laryngitis. I sounded like death warmed over at first, but I think now I’ve cultivated the sexy phone operator voice. Anyway, I’ve been really really tired and this past week, while on vacation up in Seattle, I’ve been sleeping like it’s my job. As in, one day I didn’t get out of bed until noon. I have never slept until noon before and I gotta say, it’s not awful! And even when i sleep in that late, I need a nap after a few hours. I’ve been having real trouble not beating myself up about sleeping so much. Thoughts like “god, lazy slob” and “if you weren’t fat you’d likely be able to beat this cold by now” are constantly creeping in around the edges of my brain, and I have to beat them back with a very stiff “get the fuck out! you have no business here! also, you’re wrong!” every couple of hours. It’s actually exhausting and making me more tired – see how much unhealthier we are when we’re mean to ourselves? Hey, maybe that whole “shaming fat people into losing weight” thing doesn’t actually work! (end sarcasm)

So anyway, I want to make sure I’m not only documenting the a-ha and “I’m awesome” moments on this here space of mine. It’s important to get into the uncomfortable and ugly stuff. Old habits die hard, this is true. And they come swirling back into your world when you’re not expecting them.

Other habits that are hard to break? Lemme hear ’em! Maybe if we put them out into the universe, they’ll stay away forever?


13 responses to “old habits die very very hard

  1. Thanks for sharing this. These things have been on my mind lately, too. XOXO

  2. There’s one tape that still plays in my mind, though I can recognize it as not true, and it goes like this: “Good daughters are thin.” My mom didn’t really shame me about my size, but I always wanted her to be proud of me, and I felt like she couldn’t be really proud of me unless I was thin.

  3. Thank you for writing this. It’s extremely timely, and I needed to read this today.

    The semi-short version of what happened to me yesterday: Someone that I had good reason to believe was “on my side”, someone who, while still not a friend, was someone I considered to have my best interests at heart, someone that I had my defenses down with, blindsided me yesterday with “I’ve been thinking this for months and I’m finally talking to you about it, you need to lose weight and I can help you”. I was absolutely shocked and hurt and felt betrayed. And I was strong enough to tell her that I would not be discussing calorie counting with her (because that was her great Effing suggestion) because I had an eating disordered past.

    What I am NOT happy about was that I fell back on trying to be a “good fatty”, by telling her my numbers are good and have been for a long time. I realize that at the time I was just trying desperately to escape the conversation, and I was not thinking clearly at all, and some of my bad habits came back; namely, I used to be a people-pleaser in a big way. Like, this woman is being totally inappropriate and hurtful and offensive, and I still have the reaction of “please like me, I’m a good fatty I promise!!” *And* I told her that I knew she was coming from a place of love, which OMFG no she wasn’t. I hate that I said that! Argh.

    But. This morning I woke up, and I feel freer than I did yesterday. I cried about this yesterday quite a lot, and that dam seemed to have burst open some lingering stuff that I need to look at. Namely, I have been reluctant to own my fat activism verbally, out there in meat world, in the light of day. Because I’m a people pleaser and I don’t like confrontation, so I avoid taking controversial positions. And that has led me to nothing but selling myself short in a million different ways, and people STILL judge me and feel like they have the right to tell me what they think about my body and/or my “health”. You know, I have no control over how people see me or think about me. And someone can change their mind about me at any time and for any reason….trying to manage that is so, so futile.

    This has been rambling, but your post coincides so neatly with my own little bad habits rearing back up. Thanks for giving us the space to talk about them, because yes, shining light on them is very important!

    • thank you so much for sharing! first, a big ol fatty mcheifer BOOOOO on your “friend.” i’m so sorry she felt the need to butt into your life in that manner. secondly, i am so very happy you feel freer than yesterday! and it’s absolutely no wonder you went into defensive/good fatty mode. you were blindsided and we generally do what comes natural to us in moments like that. for you, and for MANY of us, it’s apologizing. ain’t no shame in that. maybe this time around it’s different because you forgave yourself earlier, and that is a huge step in FA! I wish you luck on putting your activism out there in the light of day!

  4. raindelayed, I am so sorry that someone that you thought was on your side did this to you. I probably will never meet you, but please know that I am on your side.
    I have been reading fat acceptance blogs and books for several years now, and I consider myself to be someone who truly believes in fat/size acceptance. I cannot believe how hard it is sometimes. Right now the body I am living in is at a bmi (bullshit I know) that is at somewhere between 25 or 26. And most of the people in my family are very fat phobic and consequently talk constantly about weight loss being good, etc. I do not always speak out as I feel I should. Certain family members are really sick of hearing me talk about how body size is mostly inherited physically, diets do not work and so on. I just feel I need to come up with the strength to be honest about my beliefs with everyone, not just my closest family members.
    When I read about the suffering endured by others I know I cannot stop fighting for what is right. My mother once told me that she believed this whole thing may become a sort of war. I think she is right. Our wonderful first lady is fighting what she calls “childhood obesity”. I think she is working for the Harvard School of Public Health, or whatever the hell it’s called. It is really about shaming people into wasting their hard earned money on diets, drugs, and surgery that is worse for them than the mostly imaginary monster they call obesity.
    I am sorry this is so long, and it’s fine with me if you can’t leave it up or whatever. Don’t stop fighting fellow fat acceptance warriors!

  5. Thank you both!
    the taking up of space, thanks again for letting me ramble on in your home. ā¤

    rhondaroo, thank you for sharing, too! I agree that keeping on, even in the face of everything that's against us, is the key. None of us are perfect, we're all going to have bad days and self doubt and the FA journey will look a little different for each of us…and that's ok. Keep on keepin' on, progress not perfection, take your pick of inspirational cliches!

  6. I catch myself doing this, too! It drives me nuts and I end up chewing myself out afterward. Why do I keep doing that? Ugh! When a friend does it I’ll stop them. Why can’t we stop ourselves?

  7. I’m actually writing a piece now about slipping back into old practices! Snap!

    I try to avoid being the good fatty. Sometimes I deliberately play the bad fatty, just to challenge people. But really, I think what we’re all striving for is to just be fatties, without the judgement. But with those messages coming at us 24 x 7, even though we recognise them for the bullshit they are, there will always be times that we slip into old habits. It’s only human nature.

    The important thing is that we put the onus back where it belongs – on those who force the messages of judgement on our fatness on us, rather than beating ourselves up about it.

    And thanks for the link love!

  8. Pingback: it’s about to get heavy | the taking up of space

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