Fear of Getting Fat

For years I’ve lived in terror of being fat.

For the past 40 years I was tied up in knots of fear, resolutions to not eat, resolutions to exercise more, I wanted to be thin more than anything in the world.

For 35 of those years I starved by any means necessary. I smoked, I took diet pills and laxatives and diuretics and used speed in high school. I didn’t use drugs to get high, I used them to stop my appetite.

The only time I gave myself permission to eat was when I was pregnant. Somehow food was a non issue when I was really feeding another human being.

Being skinny was the code for happiness. I believed all my problems would vanish if I were skinny. I still feel that way, but there is beginning to be a shift towards something other than fear.

At first, when the shift started, I was angry. When I was 35 I got really angry at myself for all those years of starving. I was angry at my body for needing food. I was upset about being weak. I was closing control.

I started to eat compulsively. I was ok during meals, but after meals I started sneaking food, hiding what I ate from other people. And I felt compelled to eat fast, to cram large amounts of food in my mouth quickly so that no one would see me eating.

As I started to gain weight I became despondent. I felt defeated. Food won. It was more powerful than me.

I’ve had different kinds of therapy and I told each therapist that my main problem was with food. (Remember, I still believed that being skinny would solve every problem.)

All the different therapies helped in their own way. But I didn’t really find relief until tonight.

I’ve been “tapping” to deal with all sorts of complaints and tonight I noticed I was feeling anxious like I usually do when evening comes. So I went inside, as they say, to find out why I felt so much tension. I discovered right away that it was FEAR that was causing the problem, specifically the fear of being fat.

I rated it a 7 on a scale from 0 to 10, 10 being the most fear I’ve ever experienced. I started tapping as I talked about the fear of being fat. When the roots of the fear or the very beginnings of the problem came, they came in flashes or mental images of events that left their marks throughout my life.

I tapped until I felt a shift. Something inside shifted and I suddenly realized I don’t have to be afraid anymore.

Even if people judge me because I’m fat or thin, and people DO judge, I don’t have to live by anyone else’s guidelines. Not the guidelines of my ancestors, or the media, advertisements, music and films, even if all those people judge me, this is my body and I decide what to eat or not eat. It’s up to me.

When that realization happened I felt the imaginary belt around my middle get looser. I breathed deeply, a long yoga breath.

When I rated my level of fear after the exhale I was at a 4.

I can live with 4 for now. In the near future I would hope to ease the fears even more and I will do more tapping to facilitate that.

I know a lot of people suffer from eating disorders. I’m sharing my story as away to extend my compassion for the others who suffer from the Fear of Being Fat. I offer you compassion and comaraderie.

I’m finding relief through mind/body integration and cooperation. I find tapping and mindfulness meditation, kundalini yoga and music as a visceral experience to be useful tools;we probably all have our own set of tools and things will inevitably work or not work depending on our constitution.

(Look for information on EFT or therapeutic tapping of the end points of the energy channels in our bodies. Also search for the Tapping Solution, #Nick Ortner, Heart Centered Therapy. #John Diepold, # Why Do I Eat When I’m Not Hungry, #Roger Callahan and many other sources.)

I still have work to do, but with tapping and other mind/body practices, I know I can do it.

I am free. You can be too.

The House is Tilted

I don’t know if it started out this way or not but this house is crooked. The chest of drawers and revolving book shelf slant toward the east. The tall bookcase in the middle room leans to the north and the floors in the front room are just warped in weird, unpredictable angles. It’s like the house has arthritis.

I’ve always loved it’s quirkiness but right now I just wish for normality. Level floors would certainly center and ground me.

Coming undone seems to be part of the nature of living. Structures, some of them miraculous, come together and then loosen up more and more with time.

When I was 30 I noticed that my hands had changed. One day my hands held the steering wheel with a light touch, slender fingers barely needing to touch the wheel. The car practically drove by itsef. But when I hit 30, as I was driving to Mount Holly from Moorestown, I glanced at the steering wheel and noticed that my hands had changed. For one thing, they gripped the wheel as if my life depended on it. And they were getting swollen around the knuckles. It really grabbed my attention.

Now, at 60, when I see my reflection I don’t recognize the woman who has replaced the young hippie. I see someone who looks like she’d be happier in the lotus pose even as she slumps across the table reaching for her coffee cup the way the drowning reach for life jackets.

I catch her looking at me while I’m observing her. Now that, my dear, is a head trip. It makes me feel like a fractal.

Just this week I noticed another change. I noticed I’m beginning to disappear, but not really disappearing. More like water color when it seeps across thick paper, changing the whole atmosphere in a way that cannot be easily replicated. Less is definitely more when you’re 60.

To Disappear

I am not the person I dreamed I could be because she was a mirage. 

I’m becoming nobody, the real me. 

Don’t worry! It is not that scary, 

It’s a relief to be free of the constant striving to be 

More proficient, more productive, 

 pure and more pristine in matters of the heart. 

It is good to let go and know that the world will continue to turn 

If I stop. 

Now that I know who I am not I am curious about what’s left 

And I’m left with choices, 

One after another. 

I choose to pray gratitude when I wake up, 

For the taste of roasted coffee. 

I choose to take ownership of my thoughts and to nurture 

Those that are either soft or fierce as I let the others flow by 

Like leaves on the stream. Or maybe I will let them all flow by, for 

Far from complacent I am engaged and unattached, wondering 

what might happen next,  

Curiosity is my soul’s sole guest. 

I am not at peace, as you may have guessed 

But in the middle of a transition, a look out point on the way to 

My next destination: the accumulation of all those matters of choice 

With which and with what tone of voice I say, “No.” or “Yes.” 

House

I have recurring dreams about being in a house that I’ve just moved into. For years it was always a big house with rooms that were haunted. But it has been changing over the past year or so. I still dream I’m moving into a new house but now it is a house with light and air, big and roomy but not haunted.

Last night I dreamed there was a room with a hot tub. I was unpacking some boxes of stuff that had been left there by a previous owner. There were lots of white clothes that would work for my Kundalini practice. (I know I don’t have to wear all white like many Kundalini practitioners wear, but I have always wanted to.)

I had just unpacked a giant swan vase that would go perfect in the training room, which is what I was calling the room that housed the hot tub. The role that water usually plays in my dreams is that of the Truth. The water always represents truth. If the water is murky or dirty then the truth in my life is not clear. The fact that the hot tub was fully functional in a clean, white, marble basin full of clean hot water is a good sign. To me it says that I am getting to the truth of the matter, a matter that once caused me pain. And the truth will be giving me relief from pain.

There was also a Japanese woman there who was going to teach me the tea ceremony. The ceremony was also going to help me with my relationship with my children. In fact, the Japanese woman and her husband were both there to help me heal the damage caused by years of the trauma they endured because of my long history of severe depression.

I woke up thinking about the value of ritual and ceremony.

I woke up thinking that some of my most heartfelt wishes were going to come true.

To practice Kundalini yoga in a more consistent manner and to show my devotion to the practice by wearing the white clothes would be a big commitment, and to go by my spiritual name 24/7 would take some getting used to, but it is something I see happening in my future, when I’m brave.

Having a good relationship with my children would be the real dream come true and is my real-life goal.

I wonder what I could do today that would be brave and move me closer to my goal.

Pajarita’s Prayer: A Short Story

The day of Pajarita’s liberation came without commotion.

 An ordinary day full of worries and wishes;

an itchy day of discontent but with enough music to make it bearable.

She had been walking forever; she looked at her dusty feet, then her wings.

Her wings were a burden;

 they gave her a false sense of pride. “Such pretty feathers.” 

 She made them fan and she peeked demurely through their silver shadows. 

“Who am I kidding?” She said to herself, disgusted and weary from hope.

 “These things are useless.”

She came to a place where one road became two.

Both roads looked a little pretty and a little ugly.

 Both had crooked houses colored pink, turquoise, adobe.

 Both had bright white shirts and patched pants that flapped 

and chattered in the crisp language of clothes on the line.

Yet there was a discernible fork and one road was not the other. 

The dilemma was that she didn’t know which way to go.

 A  breeze threw its purple shadows here and there,

 fragrant shade, sympathetic and offering the only comfort it could offer..

“Arru, arru. ShahhShahhShahh.”  It whispered.

Pajarita marked the road she was on with a little stone 

And used her wings to fly to the willow.

 Suddenly  the whole blue sky tumbled over on its side; the tree fell too but was limber enough to regain its balance with a gusty heave-up.

A peacock screamed and pierced the fabric of time and space: day was separated from night: and evening was as soft as silk. 

The houses looked like they were keeping secrets, their windows were too wide open like someone feigning innocence; their doors were shut tight.

Pope Francis said,“The kingdom of God does not come in a way that attracts attention.”

Pajarita said her evening prayers and prepared to sleep.

She trusted that the good road would reveal itself if only she sat still.

We Need The Gift

Precious wounded past,

There is no way to leave you behind any more than a river

can leave it’s bed, because where the water goes, there go its banks.

And why would I leave you

before accepting the gift you offer at the cost of a terrible pain?

Patient, you wait, sometimes for years

before I recognize what you’ve offered but always, when I have received your gift I see that my existence

has expanded, inwardly so that the bed upon which my life flows is deeper

and goes to places that were not there before I exhaled,

grateful for the awareness you’ve brought me.

Always, the gifts you bear restore my faith tenfold

and I can barely contain my joy as I try to hold the roving water.

To Eat or Not to Eat

My heart is breaking.

I think ahead to an hour from now

When the day is in full swing,

I’m trying not to feel this way, but everything I want to do seems further away from me.

I want to eat less and exercise more because that is what the media says will be my ticket through the door of good health and good karma.

Eat less, exercise more has been my mantra since elementary school. It was easier to accomplish when I snorted “whites” in the bathroom before sitting in class to learn about Mesopotamia.

How could I care about other civilizations when the size of my jeans was the most important thing?

A good day is measured by how little I manage to eat.

I need to stop trying to starve because it only compells me to feed.

I restricted food for years and years till I got angry and in a fit of tears I felt the pendulum swing to the other extreme.

I want to care about something beyond how much or how little I eat but I don’t know how.

No matter how sublime my philosophy, it all boils down to

“to eat or not to eat.”

How can this be?